Hi and welcome to Team Grimbold! Felinity is set to be the first publication under the Kristell Inkling imprint, and we’re thrilled to have you on board. Tell us about yourself. (Please include links to blogs/sites/Twitter/published works etc)
My name is A.F.E. Smith, and online I am often to be found in the form of a robin. Perhaps not the safest choice with Grim and Bold around, but I’m used to being a bird by now so I’ll take my chances. Very few people have seen my actual face … well, you know, except in my offline life. It’s not like I wear a mask to the supermarket or anything.
Anyway, I’m a fantasy writer and my first novel, Darkhaven, is due to be released as an ebook by Harper Voyager later this year – which means I’m currently in a permanent state of both excitement (making my début!) and fear (what if everyone hates it?). I have a website atwww.afesmith.com, where I blog and interview with varying degrees of, er, sporadicity, and I’m on Twitter as @afesmith. I’ve also recently made myself a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AuthorAFESmith, which does have my face on it. So if you’re curious, you know where to look 🙂
What inspired your story for Felinity?
Cats are renowned for having nine lives, so I began to wonder: what if the same cat had witnessed nine key discoveries in history? More – since we all know cats are in charge of us really, what if the cat caused those discoveries to be made? And that’s how Nein was born.
How do you feel about having an illustration accompany your story?
Excited. A little bit thrilled, actually. I’ve always longed for someone to create illustrations for my books – one of my ambitions is for my writing to be successful enough to be made into a graphic novel. It’s always amazing to see my work fire enough of a spark in someone else’s imagination for them to be able to bring it to life.
What writing projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on the sequel to Darkhaven, and a completely different adult fantasy called Dawn Rising (the first in a rather complicated five-part series), and also a young adult fantasy called Arcana. Sometimes I write short stories or flash fiction in between. Of course, all that has to fit around my actual job and my life with the other Smiths, Mr and Baby. And Baby Smith 2 is on the way …
Congratulations on Baby Smith 2! Now, the most important question – Cats or dogs?
As pets, or as overlords? I wouldn’t choose either a dog or a cat as a pet. Dogs are too needy, and I’d always suspect the cat of plotting against me. But I’d certainly back the cats to defeat the dogs if it came to an outright species war. They’re far better tactical thinkers.
- What sort of child were you?
I’m reliably informed that I was the World’s Worst Baby. I cried non-stop until I learned to read at the age of two. After that I always had my head in a book and barely made a sound. Except to ask for more books.
Of course, I was lucky enough to grow up in a house where there were always drawing and writing materials to hand, and plenty of books for all age groups to explore – so I always had an outlet for my creativity. When I was old enough, my mother introduced me to J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin and Anne McCaffrey. That was it. I’d found my spiritual home, and I’ve loved fantasy ever since.
- If you could be a superhero, who would you be?
I feel like I already am a superhero. After all, I have two identities and almost no-one knows them both. Shame about the lack of actual superpower, of course, but I can work on that. Does an infinite ability to procrastinate count?
Seriously, though … I think if I could pick, I’d be Iron Man. Because he’s a superhero not by virtue of being an alien or as a result of some kind of radioactive accident, but through the application of science and human intelligence. And that’s something I can get behind.
(I realise Batman also fits into this category, but I don’t think I could cope with all that brooding. Besides, Iron Man has a flying suit, and for me that trumps the Batmobile any day.)
- What’s your earliest memory?
You know, I’m not even sure. After a while it becomes hard to know whether you remember something, or just remember remembering it.
I definitely remember being at my first primary school, seeing a copy of Roald Dahl’s The BFG that one of the older children had left in the cloakroom, and thinking ‘Wow, that looks like a really grown-up book, I’ll be able to read that one day’. And I also remember being given a copy of The Hobbit for the first time (I think it was in a doctor’s waiting room) and spending ages just looking at the cover. You know, the classic dark blue and green and white one, slightly abstract.
Yeah … most of my early memories are about books.
- If you could sing one song on the X-Factor, what would it be?
Pink Floyd’s ‘Have a Cigar’. Since it’s about the way the music industry treats artists as commodities, I think it would be appropriate. Plus it contains one of my all-time favourite lyrics.
- What’s your biggest disappointment?
I don’t know. Probably myself. No matter how I try, I can’t stop wasting time. I have no idea what I was doing before Baby Smith was born. I must have had vast quantities of free time, and yet I don’t appear to have used it wisely at all.
That, and hot chocolate, which never tastes as good as the idea of hot chocolate.
- If you could enroll in a PhD program, with your tuition paid in full by a mysterious benefactor, what would you study — and why?
Theoretical physics. Quantum mechanics. Elementary particles. That kind of thing. I can’t think of a more fascinating subject than the fundamental fabric of life itself. (In a parallel universe, I’m basically Sheldon Cooper.)
- Who would play you in a movie of your life?
If they made a movie of my life it would have to be part fantasy. My life so far has been so normal that it would make an incredibly dull movie. So it would have to be one of those films where you see the protagonist’s imagination come alive. Then the story of my life would basically just become the framing narrative for my characters’ stories, and that would make a far better movie.
I don’t really want an actor to play me. Rather, I’d like the film to be animated, because I love animation. To begin with I was thinking Disney, so lots of pretty dresses and me breaking into song all over the place, but actually I think Studio Ghibli would be a better fit for me. Something dark and strange to match the contents of my head. James Earl Jones could do my voice. (Not that I sound anything like him, of course; he just rocks.)
- Do you sing in the shower?
Always. I sing whatever’s got stuck in my head, so these days it tends to be songs that Baby Smith likes. ‘Walking in the Jungle’, ‘The Wheels on the Bus’, or songs from the Frozen soundtrack – he loves those. In fact, I’m humming ‘Fixer-Upper’ right now.