Author Spotlights are back! This month we have a great showcase of amazingly talented writers for you. I say that each year. LOL. It’s true! But I'm biased because I respect and admire my fellow authors with sincere zeal. Putting yourself out there to be judged and critiqued isn’t easy. These individuals know and understand firsthand what I’m referring to.
As writers, we have to know, study, and better our craft to be taken seriously. Practice makes perfect, and perfection definitely doesn’t come over night. When you know better, you do better! Having and maintaining a healthy work ethic goes hand in hand with success in the writing industry. And you most certainly need to have a thick layer or two, of tough skin.
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I met Brian W. Smith a few years ago. His smile was contagious, and his well of knowledge runneth over during an informative session for new authors. The way he spoke candidly, yet, passionately about the industry evoked everything within me to learn all that I can about my craft, publishing, and longevity. I admire his hustle. I am a fan of his work. I am glad to call him a friend. Let’s give him a grand Kickin’ It With KeKe welcome!
Author Brian W. Smith
Brian W. Smith is the bestselling author of fifteen novels. His novels have appeared on several bestsellers list to include: Dallas Morning News, Amazon, Black Expressions, and others. Brian has owned a publishing company and is currently signed to an imprint of Simon and Schuster. He is also the host of the popular literary internet radio show, The Scribe Spot.
Brian holds multiple college degrees to include an MBA. When he is not writing novels and touring he serves as an Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing at Collin College and Dallas Community College in the Dallas, TX, area.
KC: First, I want to thank you for letting me interview you. I know you are a very busy man. It’s a wonder you were in one place long enough to keep still and answer my questions. The hustle is real, ya’ll! It’s a pleasure having you.
KC: So tell us, how long you have been writing?
BWS: I’ve been writing for a little over ten years.
KC: What genre do you write or prefer writing?
BWS: I write in Contemporary Fiction and Mystery genres. However, I’m my own boss and not contractually bound to any major publisher so I can jump from genre to genre. I have a few non-fiction projects brewing.
KC: How did you know you wanted to become an author/writer?
BWS: I’m not one of these authors who knew he wanted to be a writer since he was a child. I didn’t write my first novel, Mama’s Lies-Daddy’s Pain until I was 35 years old. I wrote it because I was pissed off about a personal situation I went through.
KC: I’ve heard the story, and it still leaves me in reverence whenever you speak about it. Your strength in the way you chose to handle the situation is astonishing. Don’t know if I could have taken the route you did. But as a huge fan of your work, I am so glad you put it into a book.
KC: What inspires you to write?
BWS: Unique stories and the need to eat and pay my bills.
KC: What message do you want readers to take away from your work?
BWS: I try to challenge readers mentally. I’m not looking to drive home any message other than to encourage readers to be open minded. I try to write the type of novels that make readers stop and say to themselves, “Wow, I never thought about this topic in that way.”
KC: And you certainly do that!
KC: How would you describe your writing style?
BWS: Blunt. Non-apologetic. Rhythmic. Clever.
KC: Great description! I concur. I’m still waiting on If These Trees Could Talk II. If you guys are not familiar with the title, you are missing out on great storytelling. I need answers!!! LOL…
KC: Who are some of your favorite authors?
BWS: Fiction Authors: Stephen King, Harlan Coben, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Tami Hoag. Non-Fiction Authors: Dennis Kimbro, Brian Tracy, and Malcolm Gladwell.
KC: What are some of your favorite books?
BWS: Fiction: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Non-Fiction: What Makes the Great, Great by Dennis Kimbro, Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun by Reginald F. Lewis
KC: Gone Girl is on my list. The movie was just as amazing as the book, which is rear. I’m so glad I read the book first, though. It is a classic.
KC: What is your formula when working on a new project? (Do you listen to music, use an outline, meditate, or simply start typing?)
BWS: I use a Narrative Arc for each story (meaning I write down the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution) and then I go from there. I don’t do character outlines and all that stuff. I usually make up the names and personalities while I’m sitting there writing the story. I often write the ending of the book first—it’s a lot easier to get to your destination if you know where you’re supposed to end up. The places I write vary. Sometimes I write in my home office, but I have a tendency to watch too much ESPN, so I like to get out of the house. A lot of times, I’ll go to the library or to a diner to write. Several of my most popular novels (Nina’s Got A Secret, BEATER, and QUAGMIRE) were written in a Panera Bread shop a few miles from my house. I go in and find a quiet corner, order something to eat, put on my headphones, and write until they kick me out.
KC: It’s awesome. I love finding quiet places to write. It gets my creative juices flowing. And as a fellow author, you know there is nothing like it.
KC: If you could collaborate with any of your peers, who would it be and why?
BWS: That’s a tricky question. Authors are so damn fickle…but, based solely on talent, I’d like to co-author a book with Eric Jerome Dickey and/or Harlan Coben. I have a series of anthologies that will be dropping over the next two years. Each one will feature me and a female writer. The first is titled The Letter. It will feature Monique D. Mensah and me. That will drop in the Fall of 2016. In Spring 2017, the second anthology, The Affair, will drop. That book will feature Marissa Monteilh and me. There will be three or four more anthologies featuring myself and some other popular female authors, but I don’t want to say their names because we haven’t finalized negotiations yet.
KC: Sounds fantastic! Can’t wait to read them.
KC: What advice would you give aspiring authors?
BWS: Wow, it could take hours to answer this question because there is so much to learn. I’ll just leave these few nuggets for the aspiring authors who are reading this: 1.) Study the craft! Take Creative Writing classes so you can learn basic writing principles like: SHOW don’t TELL; how to write dialogue; and how to Outline your novel. 2.) Writing the book is the easy part, trying to sell the book is where it gets hard. 3.) It takes 10 years to become an overnight success. So, if you’re looking to get rich quick, then you should find another career. 4.) If you’re looking to be praised and not criticized, then you should find a different line of work. When you write a book, you leave yourself open to other people’s opinion so make sure your skin is tough enough to handle the attacks that will come your way. 5.) If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense. Everything you do should have a tangible Return on Investment (R.O.I.). Save the elaborate book release parties and video trailers for the stuntas and/or people with money to burn. Spend your money on things that will put you face-to-face with readers (i.e., booth rental at literary festivals).
KC: Preach! I’m still relatively new to the industry, so I take advice whenever it’s offered to help me along the way. I still remember the things you spoke about the day we first met. Since then, I’ve studied, researched, practiced, and know I’ve gotten better each day.
KC: What are you reading currently?
BWS: Nothing. I’ve been focused on editing my next novel, Glass Houses.
KC: How can readers find you?
BWS: Just type in Brian W. Smith or Hollygrove Publishing on Facebook. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at Brian W. Smith.
KC: As an author, do you think using social media is a great source for gaining new readers/supporters?
BWS: I think using SOME social media is useful. I spend most of my time on Facebook because that’s where my target market hangs out. Like I said, if it don’t make dollars then it don’t make sense.
KC: Tell us about your latest work?
BWS: GLASS HOUSES is my next novel. It’s about three brothers who decide they are going to go beat up their brother-in-law after they find out he’s been beating up their little sister. Things get complex for readers when it becomes clear that each brother has his own issues. For instance, one of the brothers often beats up his own girlfriend. So, he’s forced to deal with his own hypocrisy. GLASS HOUSES will drop on July 28, 2016, and will be available in Ebook on Amazon.com and in paperback at my website: www.authorbrianwsmith.com
KC: I cannot wait to read it!
KC: What’s next for you?
BWS: I’m converting several of my books into screenplays by the end of this year. In 2017, I will be going to Law School.
KC: That is amazing, Brian. Congratulations!
KC: Do you believe networking is crucial to being successful in the writing industry? Why? Why not?
BWS: I believe the QUALITY of your networking trumps the QUANTITY. Networking with a lot of people can make you popular, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. Conversely, if you network with the right people, you can use those relationships as the foundation for prolonged success.
KC: Where do you see yourself in five years?
BWS: In five years I’ll be an Attorney specializing in Family Law. I will continue to write novels. If I still have the time, I will continue to work as an Adjunct Professor at a local college.
KC: Where do you want to be with your writing in five years?
BWS: In five years, I’ll still be writing, but I’ll be writing because I want to and not because I need to.
KC: Tell us something that you live by daily, that we can carry with us that should inspire and motivate us to pursue our purpose?
BWS: I pray daily and focus on those things, things that I can control: my work ethic and attitude. God will handle the rest.
KC: Amen… One of my mantras is “I’m right where God wants me to be, and when He elevates me, I’ll be ready to receive it and know it’s for me. I don’t desire what others have. I want the blessings God has for me.”
KC: I like to incorporate fun and excitement into my blog interviews during the author spotlight segment. This gives readers insight as to who you are as a person. Fun facts are my way of doing so, plus, I get to learn something about you too.
KC: What is your favorite color?
BWS: Brown…in all shades.
KC: What is your favorite food?
BWS: Okra w/shrimp and sausage
KC: What is your favorite pastime?
KC: Football or basketball?
BWS: Football – New Orleans Saints all day #WhoDat
KC: Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
BWS: LeBron James; best all-around player I’ve ever seen AND considering how much UNJUSTIFIED criticism he gets, the young brotha still represents himself, his family, and our race, EXTREMELY well.
KC: Thanksgiving or Christmas?
BWS: It’s a tie…they both are special.
KC: Books or movies?
BWS: Books. The older I get, the less patience I have to sit through a two-hour movie.
KC: Winter, spring, summer, or fall?
BWS: Fall. I’ve got a “fiyah” Fall wardrobe.
KC: If you were allowed only one thing with you during the day, what would be the thing you pick?
BWS: I would choose to spend a day with my mother. She passed away in 2003, but I’d give anything to be able to take her to lunch one more time.
KC: Breakfast or Lunch?
KC: Please list your website so the audience can stay connected with you.
BWS: My website: www.authorbrianwsmith.com
Here are Brian’s social media handles. Connect with him for updates and more.
It has been a delight chatting it up with you today, Brian. I wish you continued success in all of your endeavors. May God shine His light on you, always. Thank you for Kickin’ It With KeKe!
Until next time Be Inspired, Be Encouraged, & Be YOU!