Yes, KeePers, we’re giving away three signed books (two of them in hardback) courtesy of the latest author we’re interviewing.

Our very own Christi Eaton met S. D. Smith, a member of the Story Warren, at a convention earlier this year. Not only did she enjoy talking with him, but she also got multiple signed books from him to do a giveaway.

Read on to hear S. D. Smith’s perspective on writing as a Christian and creating characters.

The Writing Life

KP: What is the most difficult aspect of writing for you?

Smith: Finding a comfortable chair is challenging. I think the most important thing is to get obstacles to the story out of the way, so readers can see what you see. That can be hard, but it’s crucial, and there are a thousand ways to foul it up, on both the pretentious literary and pretty lazy side.

KP: What authors have influenced you most?

Smith: Cliché alert (but I don’t care): C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Jane Austen, G. K. Chesterton, and P. G. Wodehouse.

KP: If you could have done something differently when you were younger to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

Smith: Read more. Write more. Get tougher. I would also have more appreciation for the formative power of habits. “You are what you continually do. Excellence, therefore, is a habit.” –Aristotle

KP: Do you hide secrets or inside jokes in your books only a few people will find?

Smith: I can’t saY for surE, Sadly.

Writing as a Christian

KP: What do you mean by “writing new stories with an old soul”? How has your faith influenced your mission?

Smith: I want to write downstream of the great inheritance of Christian authors and do so faithfully. I want to echo the classics I love so much, while taking advantage of a few of modern literature’s positive features.

KP: What does literary success look like for you?

Smith: Readers who are served well (delighted, mostly) by my stories.

KP: How has your walk with the Lord impacted your writing?

Smith: Because writing is another Christian vocation, I see it as an opportunity to love and serve. I think my relationship with the Lord impacts my writing the way it impacts all areas of my life: informing and inspiring. I think it helps me to regularly reconnect to the meaning of my work, that it is rooted in love. I must not believe lies.

KP: To view it from a different angle, has your writing ever impacted your walk with the Lord?

Smith: I’m not sure. I don’t think of my relationship with my Father in heaven as dependent on my ability to perform my vocation well. However, I have learned a lot about authority and storytelling that gives me insight and hope about the story God is telling in the world.

KP: What advice would you give on what it means to write as a Christian?

Smith: To remember you are loved. To remember you are a character in a bigger, better story. To remember that your calling is to love and serve. Don’t see your identity as rooted to fame and self-expression (though it’s good to strive for excellence and success), but rooted in who you are in Christ and how you can love and serve others.

Character Creation

KP: What’s your process for creating the characters in your stories? Do you fill out questionnaires and diagram their personalities, or do you just sit down and discover them through writing?

Smith: I discover them. A questionnaire sounds good, especially if it leads to doing the work. But sometimes those kinds of things (research, etc.) can be excuses to avoid the hard thing: writing.

KP: How do you know when you’ve written a good character?

Smith: I believe them. Readers believe them. They don’t think about them much. They fit in the story in a way that does not arrest their attention.

KP: As writers, sometimes we get very attached to our characters, and it can be difficult to rewrite or cut them from the story. What has your experience been with these kinds of large-scale revisions? What advice would you give to writers who are struggling to do this?

Smith: I would say what any working author would say, and that is we cannot be precious with our prose, or our characters, or our plot. We must be willing to cut anything that does not serve the story. We must clear away obstacles! All the clichés about killing darlings and cutting word counts are true. My first book was 74,000 words and its sequel was 60,000 words. The first would have been better if it were 60,000 as well. We learn. We get better. We get less precious about ideas and particular words. Cut and kill, young writers, and your story will live. Refuse to cut and the gangrene sets in and the whole patient is in grave danger of death.

You can learn more about S. D. Smith by visiting his website.

Ready for the Giveaway?

S. D. Smith is sponsoring a giveaway of signed copies of Ember Falls, The Green Ember, and The Black Star of Kingston. To be entered in the giveaway, click the widget below and login with either Facebook or email to see all the possible ways to enter. The more options you choose, the more entries you get, and the greater your chances of winning!

This giveaway will run from September 1st–September 7th, so enter while you can!

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