Thursday, February 20, 2014

Interview with Sean T. Smith.

Full Name:
Sean T. Smith

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
My kids call me “Daddy Bear.”

Chapel Hill NC.  I lived in Canada until I was ten, then my family moved to Miami.
That must have been quite the adjustment to move from the north pole to the tropics!
Yeah, there was a bit of culture shock.  In Canada, the kids all played hockey during recess.  In Miami, it was basketball and palm trees.  But I consider myself a “Florida Boy” now.  I loathe cold weather.

Current hometown:
Jacksonville, Florida

Favorite city and why?
San Francisco.  Although I've only been there once, I was amazed by the beauty of the place.  Great weather, proximity to the mountains and the ocean, fantastic restaurants.  But my family is all on the east coast.

Birthday / Age:
July 31, 1968.  I'm forty-five.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Over the hill.

How would someone else describe you physically?
Big.  Imposing.  I'm six-four, two-hundred sixty pounds.

The first thing people notice about you is…
My height.

Religion, if any?
Southern Baptist with a Liberal bent and a propensity for backsliding.  I'm working on that.

Are you superstitious at all?

Any phobias?
No.  Although I hate spiders.  Not a phobia, but if there is one in the house, he doesn't get put outside gently.
I never understood that.  Don’t people know that if you let a spider go outside that it will just find another spider and make more spiders?
Exactly.  My wife will pick one up with a tissue and put it outside.  She's a better person than I am.

Do you smoke / drink?  If so, what?
Yes and yes.  Cigarettes and beer.

Any bad habits?
laughs*  Cigarettes and beer.  And the use of the word “that.”  I like the word too much.  Oh, and long paragraphs.
An author friend of mine suggested that if you find yourself over-using a word you can run an auto-replace and replace it with something ridiculous as a reminder to replace it with something different.  Haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds like a pretty neat trick in theory.
That's an interesting idea.  *grins*  See? I can't help myself.

Current occupation / Dream job:
I own a small food wholesale company.  Which is a euphemistic way of saying I'm a “meat-man.”  I've done it for twenty years because it gives me a great deal of freedom, and at this point I may be unemployable.  My dream job is to write full time.
What steps are you taking towards achieving your goal?
Good question.  That's where the rubber meets the road, right?  I'm disciplined about my writing.  While I may go for an entire week without cranking out pages, but I'm outlining or doing research during that time.  When I'm driving, the radio is generally off so that I can think about whatever it is I'm working on.  And then at the end of that “down time” sometimes I'm able to binge-write for a couple of days, where I get up at seven and stay at my desk until two in the morning, fueled by coffee, totally immersed in my work.  I love those days.  So I guess, the answer is, I'm working very hard to get to where I want to be.  I've got this trilogy coming out, and I'm well under my way on my fourth book.  I'm focused now on the writing, not on the marketing and promotion, and that will be a weakness for me.  I figure the most important thing is to write true, and hopefully someone will notice.
That’s the most important part, but the promotion part is important too.  As an author, you are your brand.  You can’t just wait for someone to come along and discover and celebrate your work.  You have to spend almost as much time promoting your work as you do writing it.  It’s a dirty deal, but it’s the only one available.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I love the outdoors, so hiking, fishing, canoeing, and diving are at the top of the list.  I like to hang out with my kids.  I love long walks with my wife at the beach, watching the dolphins and whales offshore.  The afternoon every blue moon when we can go and listen to some live music by the water.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
I have none.  One of my writer colleagues said he was cultivating slow friends.  I'd say that's a good idea.

Weapon of choice:
In the event of an apocalypse?  M-4 carbine with an under barrel M-203 grenade launcher.  Fitted with a suppressor and starlight scope.

Do you have any special skills?
I'm a halfway decent guitar player and songwriter.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I attended the University of Florida, and I'm not sure what for.  *chucklesI majored in Political Science, dreamed of becoming a U.S. Senator.  Let's just say I lacked the requisite discipline to make that happen.

If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
No loans, thank God.  I paid off my library late fees last year.

Any pets? If so, what are they and what are their names?
My Alaskan Malamute Beowulf died a couple of years ago.  He was the greatest dog ever.  My dog now is Puck, a Newfie/retriever mix with the saddest eyes I've ever seen.  He's a rescue dog; one look at him and that was that.  We also have a cat named Missy, but I generally don't claim her, and the feeling is mutual.  She belongs to the women in the house.

What is your favorite animal?
Wolves.  Or dolphins.  I can't pick one.
We’ll see if we can get them to cross-breed so you can have a pet wolphin.
That would be a noble creature.  Scary looking, but noble.
Plus they’d probably shed all over your pool.  Maybe we should rethink this.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
All things Italian.  I hate liver.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
“You may destroy me, but you will never defeat me.” - Hemingway, from The Old Man And The Sea.  It's hard to live up to, but I try.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
My two sons.  Being a dad makes me a better man.  It's the best thing about me.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
That first smoke.
Do you remember your first?
Yep.  Drinking on a fake ID at a heavy-metal club in Miami with my Cousin.  I felt cool.  Of course, I wasn't.  I was nineteen.

Ever had your heart broken?  Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
A life without heartbreak was never a life at all.  I've been lucky enough to love and be loved by some incredible women.   But I've been happily married for ten years now, and I've got to make sure I'm not sleeping on the sofa tonight.

Ever broken someone’s heart?  Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Yes.  There are many stories; some are true and some are lies I still tell myself.  I've hurt people who trusted me with their hearts.  The hearts we break are the ones we shouldn't, and the ones we regret shattering are the ones that matter the most.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
When my boys jump into the bed in the morning with my wife and me and they chortle “Daddy, let's snuggle,” I think to myself, “How did I deserve this?”   That sounds cheesy, but it's true.  It's not just one thing, it's a process, I guess.  Being a family, though, that's the best thing. It's the most important thing.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Are you kidding me?
Nope.  The response on that one is about 50/50.  And even then the answer is usually kind of glib.  But when people answer honestly it makes for an interesting interview question.  It takes a fair amount of courage and self-knowledge to admit the worst thing you’ve ever done.  I understand if you’re not up for the challenge.
Well, there are no bodies, but there are skeletons.  A truthful answer is that while I consider myself to be a decent, fiercely loyal person, I have had times when I was neither, and this has hurt people I loved.  I almost died a few years ago.  I was septic with pneumonia.  Lying there in a hospital bed with the white sheets and the beeping sounds and antiseptic smells blending with the scent of sickness and death, I looked back at my life and choices.  And somehow, I managed to reach all the wrong conclusions.  I decided I had sacrificed too much for others, that it was time to take care of “me.”.  I twisted something good into something selfish.  That might not be the kind of answer you are looking for, since it's not just one thing.  But somewhere along the line, there was a shift in me I embraced.  It was a change I should have examined and rejected after some clear introspection.  Not having that discussion with myself until it was almost too late is the worst thing I've ever done.
That’s a much more satisfactory answer.

If you could kill one person, who would it be, and why?
There is no one I'd like to kill.  I'm pretty sure I have it in me if my family were under threat, though.  I don't think I would lose sleep over it.  I hope I never find out.

What do you do?
I write books.  *sniff*  That felt good to say.  Objects of Wrath comes out in February with Permuted Press.  It is the first book in a trilogy spanning four generations, and begins now, with World War III.  The books are dark, because that's what the apocalypse is, but even in the maelstrom, there is hope, love, and rebirth.  I try to write characters that are nuanced, flawed, and believable.  There are firefights, tank battles, and HALO jumps, but the story is about humanity.  The constant battle between good and evil raging in all of us, the part of our collective soul which refuses to be defeated, and how faith, loyalty, and love stand toe-to-toe with the darkness.  Darkness is hungry, but light will always banish dark.

How did you get started doing what you do?
My father takes the blame.  Dad read stories, from Lord of the Rings, to Dune, to Nine Princes in Amber out loud to me and my brother and sister and mother.  We didn't have a television, (no joke) but my father read every night for years to us for hours.  He was a carpenter, law-student, attorney,  writer, and always an inspiration.  When I decided to move to Nashville and write songs, he and Mom were cheerleaders.  “Go for it!”  And I did, then spent more than ten years in Music City learning lyric and melody and humility.  So it had already started then, but  “what I do” was not quite in full swing.  I hadn't met the right girl yet, and life wasn't done with the kicks to the teeth life seems to excel at.  I knew I needed to write for my own sanity, and I'd been writing songs from Florida.  Then, my father had two strokes.  Shook me to my core.        Dad was in the hospital, and I wanted to give him something to cheer him up, and I started writing this extended card.  I cut and pasted pictures, and I wrote a narrative of how I felt without the constraints of rhyme and meter.  I wrote something true, and that resonated in my soul, and that night I started my first novel.  Long answer to the question, and one I hadn't really thought about until now.
Long answers usually make better interviews.   I hate it when I get back an initial questionnaire full of “Yes.” and “No.” and one sentence answers.  It makes for a boring interview that no one wants to read.  Although I’ve only abandoned, maybe, five interviews for being so boring that I didn’t want to subject them on the world at large.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Place butt in chair... start writing.  I hear folks complaining about writer’s block, unfinished projects, books that linger for years.  The thing is to sit down and do it, rather than talk about doing it.  I've got a whole lot to learn about the business and the craft and I'm probably the last person to ask.
But I like to write while lying in bed propped up on a pile of pillows.   Am I doing it wrong?  All kidding aside, that’s what most of the writers that have managed to figure out how to support themselves with their writing suggest.   It all boils down to two words: “Writers write.”  You want to procrastinate or whine about how tough it is?  The world is filled with whining procrastinators that aren’t up to the challenge.  If you want to write, write… just don’t expect to get rich off of it while you’re still alive.  Those famous authors that every writer wants to be?  They’re like people that won a lottery, and then another lottery that only winners of the preceding lottery are allowed to play in.  But instead of it being a lottery, you have to write a book, then write another, and another, and keep writing them for the rest of your life.  So, yeah, it’s not for everyone.
No, it's not for everyone.  In fact, I sometimes wish, in darker moments, that I lacked the compulsion to write.  But the fact is, I can't not write.  It doesn't work.  If I never make a living, then so be it.  I love writing.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past?
I finished the last book in the Wrath Trilogy last month.  I finished two books last year, Children Of Wrath, and Wrath And Redemption.  My first book comes out next month, Objects Of Wrath.

Give us a little history if you will. What projects are you working on now?
Aside from anxiously awaiting the release of my debut novel Objects Of Wrath, I'm about a quarter of the way through my next book, The Tears Of Abraham, which deals with the next American Civil War.  I'm not sure whether it will be a stand-alone or whether it will evolve into a series. It's about a Special Forces soldier trying to make it across the country to his wife as war breaks out all over the United States.

What are you watching?
I watch very little television.  I like The Walking Dead, Justified, and Breaking Bad.  The last movie I watched was Absolute Clear, a documentary about the second war in Iraq.

What are you listening to?
Some acoustic singer songwriter stuff.  Bluebird Cafe live.

What are you reading?
Generation Kill. I just finished it, and it's a taut, disturbing portrayal of an elite Recon Marine unit in the second Iraq war. I read it for research, but it was a fantastic book.

Favorite author / book?
Steinbeck, East of Eden.  The man was a genius.  Hemingway comes in right behind him.
Favorite book by Hemingway?  I’m awful partial to Garden Of Eden.
That's the second-hardest question you've asked.  Hmm.  To Have and Have not.  Harry Morgan is one of my all time favorite characters.  A good man doing shady things to feed his family; yeah, it speaks to me.

Favorite band / song?
Springsteen, Badlands.

Least favorite band / song?
Anything that calls itself “country rap.”
I just discovered that was a thing recently while doing these interviews.  I don’t think that should be allowed to be a thing.
Precisely.  Country rap is an abomination.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
I'd write full time and never get out of my cozy pants except to go fishing.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met?
You get three choices: Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Jesus Christ.
If that’s your answer to all three choices, I say well-played, sir.
Well, what's the setting?  If we're sitting down to have a drink in a dark, smokey pub... Dead: Leonardo da Vinci.  Alive: Springsteen. Fictional: Gandalf (because that might lead to one hell of a journey!)

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Best job:   Writing for Permuted Press.
Worst job:   One weekend over Thanksgiving I worked in a dog kennel.  Not only was it disgusting, it was heartbreaking.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
Fair enough.  Let me know if you change your mind.  I can always add stuff in later.

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
I'll put the word out at Permuted.
Please do.  I think I already have a few of their authors in my collection, and I think I messaged whoever moderates their Facebook presence about offering to interview their authors, but if they made a general announcement about anyone wanting to be interviewed to contact me I don’t know about it.

Got any questions for me?
You’re a “writer”.   Make one up.
If you had one wish from a benign genie, what would it be?
Oh!   A benign genie!  I didn’t know they had those kinds of genies!  Oksy, I’d ask to have my writing career fast-tracked so I could just stay at home and make a decent living supporting myself writing.  Nothing too extravagant.  I just want to be able to afford a car and a hose and maybe have a fenced in yard where I can let a couple dogs run around so I don’t have to walk them.  I don’t have extravagant tastes.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
Thank you!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote. All of them.

About the Interviewee:
Originally from Miami, Florida, Sean moved to Nashville after sporadically attending college at the University of Florida.  The record deal fell through, and Sean was alarmed to discover he was not Garth Brooks, nor would he ever be.  He spent the next decade writing songs in Music City, mentored by some great writers Like Jon Robbin, Ralph Murphy, and Bob Alan. After moving to Jacksonville and starting a family, Sean turned to writing fiction.  Objects Of Wrath will be available February 25 from Permuted press; it can be purchased through the Permuted website, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble (for Nook), and

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
He is currently working on ten novel-length book projects which will be released in 2014.
He also publishes themed collections of interviews from his interview blog You Are Entitled To My Opinion.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces electronic music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
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Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
And here:
Check out his electronic music here:
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Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
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Join the group for The Arkham Film Society here:
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