Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we talked with Michael Kenneth Smith, the author of In the Shadows of Gold, a vividly constructed historical drama set in the American Civil War era in 1865 (read the review here).
Smith was a trained mechanical engineer and had a successful career in the auto parts industry. In 2000, he sold his business and retired. Since then, Smith has enjoyed numerous pursuits, including fishing, golfing, cooking, playing bridge, and becoming a wine connoisseur. He has also found time to edit for his local newspaper.
Web site: www.michaelkennethsmith.com
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/36UaCdo
Who and what inspired you to become a writer?
Eight years ago (or so), my wife was leaving the house to play golf. I was having a cup of coffee doing a crossword. She said, “What are you going to do today?” as she stood near the door with her hands on her hips. Flippantly, I replied, “Oh, I think I’ll write a book!” After she left and I poured another cup of coffee, I started to think about how I would answer when she came home asking me how the book was going. So, I went up to my office and brought up a blank iPages screen and stared at it for possibly a long time. Then I started to type remembering an old short story I wrote in college. Several hours later, I hit ‘print’ and read what I had written. In that short time, my life changed. I could not believe that I had written what I read and had no idea where it came from, but now I have just published my fifth book only seven years later.
What is your favorite childhood book?
“The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn!” Without a doubt this great story of a young boy captured my imagination and helped me learn to tell stories myself. My mother would always ask me to tell stories when riding in our car. The story was to end upon our arrival wherever that may have been. It could have been ten minutes or three hours. It was books like Finn that helped me do that.
What is more important: character or plot?
If the subject matter is a coming of age story, then certainly character is more important. I wrote a book “The Postwoman” several years ago about a young Belgian woman who became a key figure in the French resistance during WW2. Obviously that book was character driven. In my most recent book about what happened to the Confederate treasure after the American Civil War, the story is plot driven. So, the answer to the question is a definite: ‘it depends.’
What one thing would I give up to become a better writer?
I could easily say ‘sex’ but I’m 79 years old so I wouldn’t be giving up much. Actually, I do read good books and wish I could be that good, but down deep I don’t write for other people, rather I write for myself. The process of researching and composing a well thought out story to me is everything. I’m happiest when writing. As an aside, I always suffered from depression. From early childhood up to the time when I discovered a passion to write. From that moment, all my antidepressants went down the drain.
How hard is it to establish and maintain a character in fiction writing?
Extremely hard. Especially in a coming of age story where the main protagonist is changing. Most good book’s protagonists change. They react to the changing surroundings of the story. They learn and adapt. So, keeping the protagonist’s character true to the story is both difficult and means everything to the believability of the final product. I sometimes make a diagram of a main protagonist’s characteristics, how he/she is at the outset ending up with what he/she is like at the end. Then I can refer to the diagram anytime I’m in doubt. This gives consistancy.
Categories: BookView Review Interview