A Day in the Life Interview With Mystery and Horror Author, Brian Smith

Terrie Leigh Relf: What types – and forms – of writing do you do? If you’re also an editor, what is your niche? 

Brian Smith: When it comes to a type of writing, I always abide by what Elmore Leonard suggested, which was “never open a book with weather.” I like to open with a character doing something before I go into a descriptive. For example, my short story, “Odio,”which is featured in my collection, Dark Avenues, starts out like this:

“Hey, Claire,” I said, waving her over. “Come look at this.”

This way, I’ve already got your attention because you want to know what he’s going to show her. Then I continue with descriptive, narrative, and then more dialogue.

When it comes to editing, I only edit my own writing.

Terrie Leigh Relf: How do you balance your creative and work time?

Brian Smith: I work at home, so I have plenty of creative time. I wake up at 4:30 a.m., take my dogs outside, make breakfast, bring them back inside, eat, and then write with small breaks throughout the day so my eyes don’t hurt. I stop at five.

Terrie Leigh Relf: What tips do you have for other writers and/or editors?

Brian Smith: For writers, I’d have to say what I stated in my dedication page in my book: Don’t give up. You’re gonna face rejection and criticism from everyone you meet, but don’t ever give up.

Terrie Leigh Relf: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and your creative process in particular?

Brian Smith: It can be tedious and fearful mainly because you know that if it isn’t good enough, you’ll feel bad not only about yourself, but it also makes you feel as if your writing isn’t good enough. My own creative process in general is long and tedious. I edited my book, Dark Avenues, five times just to make sure it was perfect. I took stories out and then put them back in, and I was hard on myself because since this was my first self-published venture, this book had to be perfect.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Where do your ideas come from?

Brian Smith: A lot of things, really. The title story in my collection, Dark Avenues, came to me when I wrote three topics for short stories. “Write about something you did during your childhood” was the one that stood out to me the most. The first moment that came to me was the headstone rubbings I did during summer camp, and how much I enjoyed them. I combined that with the pain of losing a lot of loved ones in my life and created a character who knew that same particular pain as much as the people reading the story have and the ones who haven’t yet. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to mold those two components together to make a believable story with a believable character. It’s good stories like this that keep readers focused on the story because of its originality and the connection that the reader has with the main character.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Where have you been published? Upcoming publications? Awards and other accolades?

Brian Smith: The Horror Zine is where I’ve been published the most. My stories, “For Rachel” and “Apartment 13” have not only been featured online, but collected in two of their many anthologies; “Rachel” earned me the title of Author Of The Month. I’ve also been featured in such anthologies as Book Of The Dead 3, Book Of Cannibals 2, The 7th Sin, Emails Of The Dead, And The Nightmare Begins, Vol. 1: The Horror Zine, Trump: Utopia Or Dystopia, The Dead Walk Again, and The Horror Zine Fall 2017 Anthology.

Terrie Leigh Relf: What are you working on now?

Brian Smith: My next project is a zombie novel in between some new short stories. I do more short stories than novels.

Terrie Leigh Relf: What challenges have you faced as a writer and/or with a particular project? How did you meet them? What did you learn from these challenges, and how did they make you a better writer and/or editor?

Brian Smith: I enjoy a good challenge. I think challenges are good for all authors because it gives us a chance to try new things and develop a twist on an old genre. The biggest challenge isn’t just starting the project, but how we finish it.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Are you plotter and planner or a discovery writer?

Brian Smith: I’ve done outlines in the past, but most of them are altered halfway through the writing process. Most of the time, I like to let the characters lead me. It reminds me of the movie, Unforgiven, when Saul Rubinek was following Richard Harris around with a notebook to write his memoir; that’s how I feel when it comes to my writing, although in this example, they can’t see me.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Are you currently a writing mentor? If so, what are your thoughts on mentoring?

Brian Smith: No, I’m not a writing mentor, but I’ve given some authors my opinion on what they should do with their stories.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Since you’re a fiction writer, who are your favorite characters? How did they come into being, and what do you love – or loathe – about them?

Brian Smith: My favorite characters are the kind who either answer the call for help when some people can’t, such as Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas and Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, but then I also like the ones who like my character, Kevin Perkins in Dark Avenues, are the kind of character who deals with a harrowing situation while overcoming their own hurdles. Most of my characters are born from pieces of myself and a little from the characters I’ve grown up with. I’ve never hated my characters unless they wear Michigan Wolverines jerseys, and even then, it’s because of my rich Ohio State background.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Are you currently, or have you ever been, in a writing group? 

Brian Smith: Never been in a writing group.

Terrie Leigh Relf: I know our readers would love to hear about your networking, marketing, and promotional experiences – including tips.

Brian Smith: I go through social media and I take the opportunity to do as many Q&A’s (such as this one here) and add links to certain Facebook clubs that will allow me to. I’ve done many Q&A’s, and one live interview (a second one is in the works).

Terrie Leigh Relf: Your thoughts on having an agent?

Brian Smith: I’ve never had an agent and I don’t plan on getting one.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Your thoughts on self-publishing?

Brian Smith: This is my first self-published venture, so the only thing I can say is have lots of patience. Self-publishing isn’t a bad thing because you have total control of your project, like when it gets published and so on, but the costs are something to be desired.

Terrie Leigh Relf: Thank you for creating the time for this interview, Brian! Check out his bio below and be sure to read his awesome short story collection, Dark Avenues.

Brian J. Smith has been featured in numerous anthologies, e-zines, and magazines in both the mystery and horror genres. His books The Tuckers and Three O’Clock, are still available on Amazon for Kindle. He recently completed a short story collaboration with fellow author Lenore Sagaskie. He lives in southeastern Ohio with his brother, the author J.R. Smith, and four dogs, where he eats more than enough spicy food that no human being should ever consume, already has too many books, and buys more, doesn’t drink enough coffee to suit his palate, and cheers on The Ohio State Buckeyes. His first book, Dark Avenues, is available on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback as of December. He can be found on Facebook under Brian J. Smith, Instagram under singleandhappywriter9, and Linked-In under Brian J. Smith.


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