Interview with Author Daniel Blake Smith

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I was trained as an historian—was a professor of American history at the University of Kentucky for many years—so early on I was into the storytelling business.  Most of my earlier books, in fact, are works of history:  I’ve published books with major commercial presses (Henry Holt/MacMillan and St. Martin’s Press) on the founding of Virginia (THE SHIPWRECK THAT SAVED JAMESTOWN); The Trail of Tears (AN AMERICAN BETRAYAL:  CHEROKEE PATRIOTS AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS); and a family saga (OUR FAMILY DREAMS).

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I was inspired to write MR. WONDERFUL out of autobiographical motivations.  I began the work as a memoir but soon found that I wanted (and the book needed) to have the freedom of fiction, so I quickly moved beyond my own story (yes, I am a college professor, like the protagonist, Brian Fenton; and yes, I have a son—but not ‘wayward and loopy’, like Danny in the story; and, yes, my father recently passed, a small town Texas doctor just as in the novel) to create something larger, deeper, and more meaningful that takes readers well beyond the confines of my particular experience.  But watching my father go through dementia as he came near the end did serve as the initial spark to write something in honor of him.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I guess I hope that readers come away feeling that they’ve met some real, relatable, flawed, but fascinating characters who struggle with issues—success, manhood, relationships, death, loss, and legacy—that we all must confront.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I love first-person narration in novels, especially with the story set in the ‘eternal present tense’ and so this story—narrated (not always reliably) by the father and son, Brian and Danny Fenton—offered the opportunity to show how much point of view matters in understanding how life and our emotional reactions to it unfold and acquire meaning.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would love to sit down with at least three characters and ask the following questions:  1) Danny, the wayward son:  ‘what gives you meaning and purpose when you get up every day?  Are you thinking of some goal, some future accomplishment or just living moment to moment?  2) Claire Fenton:  how in the world do you maintain such commitment, devotion, and positive feelings in the face of so much negativity, decline, and loss?  3) Robert (‘Doc’) Fenton:  how could you be both John Wayne and a feeling person who reached out to others?  Why and how did you hide this secret, inner self?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook and Twitter have probably helped me reach out the most to prospective readers—in part, because I built up a pretty significant following through my previous work as a filmmaker.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Aspiring writers need to read as much in the world of writing they intend to work in—novels for fiction writers; history and non-fiction for those wanting to tell ‘true’ stories.  And then you have to write.  Write some every day, just to feel yourself giving expression to images, thoughts, emotions.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect or ‘publishable’ (it won’t be) at first.  As the great playwright, Tennessee Williams said (but it applies to all kinds of writing): “You don’t write plays; you REWRITE them.”

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Next up for me are a couple of film projects I’m trying to get off the ground—BLOOD BORN, a thriller about a down-on-his-luck 20 something young man whose world is turned upside down when he discovers that his blood can cure cancer; and I’ll be turning MR. WONDERFUL into a screenplay and hopefully an actual movie someday soon.  Book project:  I think I’ll do a sequel to MR. WONDERFUL, focusing on the antics and wild story of Danny and Dawn, the next generation, so to speak.

My website (has lots of photos, trailers, and other info about my work as book author and filmmaker):  danielblakesmith.com
Author bio:  DANIEL BLAKE SMITH is the author of several books including, THE SHIPWRECK THAT SAVED JAMESTOWN (Henry Holt); AN AMERICAN BETRAYAL (Henry Holt); and OUR FAMILY DREAMS (St. Martin’s Press).  He’s also a writer/producer whose most recent film, TEXAS HEART, starring John Savage (THE DEER HUNTER) and Lin Shaye (INSIDIOUS), is now available on Amazon Prime and on DVD.  Formerly a professor of American history at the University of Kentucky, Smith now lives in St. Louis where he works as a filmmaker and author.
Advertisements

Author: authoranthonyavinablog

Anthony Avina, (Born March 1990), is an author, a journalist, and a blogger. Born in Southern California, he has battled through injuries, disabilities, moves back and forth across the country, and more, yet still maintains a creative voice that he hopes to use not only to entertain but to inspire hope in even the darkest situations. He writes short stories and novels in several genres, and is also a seasoned journalist for the online magazine, On Request Magazine, as well as the popular site TheGamer. Having grown up reading the books of Dean Koontz and Stephen King, they inspired him to write new and exciting stories that delved into the minds of richly developed characters. He constantly tries to write stories that have never been told before, and to paint a picture in your mind while you are reading the book, as if you could see every scene of the book as if it were a movie you were watching. His stories will get your imaginations working, and will also show that in spite of the most despairing and horrific situations, hope is never out of reach. He am always writing, and so there will never be a shortage of new stories for your reading pleasure. http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s