Thursday, June 14, 2012

Interview with Graeme Smith

Today I am pleased to introduce to you Graeme Smith.

Graeme and I met on the Writer's Digest boards a few years ago when we were both working on queries and synopses.

Tomorrow, June 15th, Graeme's novel, A Comedy of Terrors, is releasing from MuseItUp Publishing.

Congratulations Graeme! [Be sure to check out the book trailer here.]

Now, on to what you've all been waiting for. An interview with Graeme!

How long have you been writing?
In terms of novel length fiction – about eight years. Of course, it sometimes feels like eighty… :-).

What inspired A Comedy of Terrors?
A bad Query :-). For those who may not know, a Query is a short (240 word or so) letter you send to a potential Agent or publisher to try to interest them. To get them to want to read more of your book. I had a book I’d co-written with another, um, writer. It had been published in a small print market, and my co-writer (yes, and I) was/ were interested in whether it had any legs in the greater market. Heck, we were greener than grass. We didn’t even know that the small-print market publish cast it into the pale as far as anyone else was concerned (blushes).

Anyway. I’d never written a Query, so I writted one :-). And I knew it was probably fairly awful (it was :-P). So I sent it to the Query Shark. But I knew she posted very few Queries, so I wanted to interest her. Get her attention. So I sent her a cover letter with the Query. Heck, now I’d call it the query for the Query :-P. But I wanted to grab her attention, so I started a little left field. I started
‘Allow me to introduce myself. I’m an Idiot.’

Suffice to say she hated the Query.
But…. She loved the intro letter. Which she posted _with_ the Query, as contrast.
Her readers and commenters seemed to feel much the same. They hated the Query. Loved the tone of the Query for the Query. So… I started thinking. And Segorian was born J.

Where do you write?
In my head. The keyboard is just the interface to the electrons :-). But, to be more precise, writing at work would be all sorts of Bad. So I write at a desk at home, when my wife’s asleep. I know three AM really, really well :-).

What three things must you have to write?
Time, a keyboard and a concept. A single ‘image’ (not a picture – for some reason, I don’t see pictures in my head. Though I do dream in pictures and colour). So ‘Road like a River’ (coming in January 2013 from Museitup) came from me chopping onions for dinner, and having a thought about a black truck driving down a dark road, the black lily swinging on the dash. The driver’s looking for someone – and it’s not good thoughts he’s having. But what if….?
Well. That’s for January, right? The whole ‘what if’ thing. Yes, I confess. I’m a pantster :-). I don’t think I have a plotter bone in my body, or drop of plotter blood in my veins. No, nor arteries either :-).

Do you prefer drafting or revising?
Drafting.  See, I walk round in short sleeves in minus twenty (Celsisus). So I sweat a…. Oh. Sorry. You didn’t mean that :-P. But I’ll stick with drafting. That’s what pantsters do. We draft, until we get to the end and the cold (I like cold :-P) wind of revision starts to blow… :-)

What do you listen to when you write?
Mostly, my characters. Lordy, they’re a chattery lot. That, and the keyboard. Or the silence – but no music.

What author has influenced you the most?
I’d love to try and be clever and say ‘the writer I was yesterday is the writer who influences the writer I’ll be tomorrow.’ But that’s not only not very clever, it has far too many words. And doesn’t begin with a capital letter, so my copy editor may get upset with me (blushes). So I’ll say, and if I may not just one, Craig Shaw Gardner and Tom Holt.

Do you have any other works coming out in the future? If so, what and when?
‘Road like a River’ will come out from Muse in January 2013.

How did you come up with your title?
For ‘A Comedy of Terrors’, I quite blatantly stole from Lord William of the shaking Spear. I didn’t even know there was a movie of the same name… (blushes). ‘Road like a River comes the nature of the main character, or one of the main characters. Charlie. He used to be a ferryman, but now he drives a truck…

How long does it take you to write a book?
There is, of course, a difference between time and duration. It depends on how much time I can spend focussed on the keyboard while doing all the other things a full time job and being a not-quite useless husband needs me to do. Well, if ever I rise to ‘not-quite-useless’ :-). But I hope to finish the seuqle to ‘A Comedy of Terrors’; by the time ‘Road like a River’ comes out. So maybe six months. If I get lucky…

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Horrible :-).

Do you work on one project at a time, or do you jump back and forth between projects?
I focus – but with sidetrips. So until recently I was:
Still editing ‘A Comedy of Terrors’
Revising ‘Road like a River’
Finishing ‘Jack Shadow’
Starting to play with a possible ‘Young Adult’ idea – Bullet and Bolt
Revisiting a more classic fantasy – ‘Night and Day’.
I guess that really means I jump back and forth :-).

What is your beverage of choice when writing?
Cold, sparkling water. With extra cold. :-).
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure my editors would call them ‘quirks’. They’d swear a lot more. And maybe shout :-). I tend to write what I call ‘bullet sentences’. That is, very short ones that I hope have high impact. And a lot of my characters have absolutely no idea whatsoever as to what is going on. Their voices trail off. A lot… :-P.

Why did you choose to go with a small press?
A friend talked me into it – yes, I’m looking at you, Lady ******! Seriously, I have a bad habit of not admitting defeat. If someone tells me something can’t be done, I have a real hard time stopping myself from not trying to do it (unless it involves heights. I hate heights… :-P). So I was taking Segorian round the world of Agents, and getting silences or Form Rejections. And this friend kept telling me about the revolution in e-publishing. Sure, I knew of it, but I was still in that whole ‘well, they say it can’t be done’ thing and mailing Agents. But one of the things about friends is, they don’t give up on you either. So thanks, Lady ******! :-)

Now for some fun questions.

 If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be?
Sometimes I wonder if I’m one already :-). We all have images we present ourselves as. There’s me, The Idiot. Some people (heck, it’s how we first met, right?) know me as him. There’s me the writer. Unless it’s paying the rent, is that a fictional character? But if I could be anybody, I’d maybe be Segorian. Or maybe Charlie. Or… hmm. Maybe I’d just be Jack, from ‘Jack Shadow’ – down, Lady Gail! But if it had to be one other people would know of already – I’ll be the anonymous fiddler in the credits for ‘Fiddler on the roof’. Feet ever unstable, but ever moving, lost in the moment of the bow on the string.

If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be, and why?
Can I have three? I’d love to sit Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein at a table – and just listen :-).

Where is the one place in the world you have always wanted to go, but have never been?
My honest answer would be ‘round the next bend’. I never get there, always want to go there, but hope to keep trying. If I had to be more specific – the middle of an empty ocean in a sailboat :-).

Thank you so much for stopping by, Graeme. A Comedy of Terrors can be found at MuseItUp Publishing beginning tomorrow. If you enjoy tongue-in-cheek humor and word play, you will like this novel.

Segorian Anderson’s an Idiot. But that’s fine with him. It’s a well paying job with no heavy lifting.

Nobody ever remembers Segorian. It isn’t magic - he just has the sort of face his own mother could forget, and she’s been trying to for years. But being forgettable is a job requirement for an Idiot.

No, he's not the Court Jester. He doesn’t wear motley (whatever motley may be). That's a different union. He’s the Idiot. In a Queen’s castle, wine spilt down the wrong dress can lead to war. So someone unimportant has to be blamed for it. That’s the Idiot’s job. He’s the Idiot that did it, for any value of ‘it’. Of course, as soon as he’s exiled-for-life out of the castle gate, he uses his back-door key and sneaks back in.

But that's not all. Someday, something really bad will happen. Really, really bad. Badder than a bad thing on a very bad day. With extra badness. When the world’s about to end (or the washing up won’t get done – whichever comes first), who you gonna call? No, not them. They haven’t been invented yet. You call the Idiot. Someone nobody will miss if things don’t work out. And now Peladon has a case of dragon.

But the dragon may be the easy part. Segorian has woman trouble, and he’s the only person in the castle who doesn’t know it. Because to Segorian, women are an open book. The problem is, he never earned to read.


  1. Congrats on your release day. Sounds like a great book; I will have to pick it up. I have come across you here and there on the query boards and laugh at your wit. It is nice to finally get a better picture of you as a writer as opposed to the avatar.

  2. Greetings, Lady Trisha :-)

    Well, if you get hold of 'A Comedy of Terrors, let me know what you think! I'll hope it's good thinks, but I'm interested in any kind :-).
    And as to the 'me-s' and the avatars we sometimes show, what if it's the 'writer' who's the Avatar and the Idiot who's real :-P? I know which one my wife would pick (blushes) :-).
    We're all so many people. And every one of those, as these things do, seems to get it's own label. So there's the short side of me. The, um, not-exactly-slim side of me. The bald, the ugly - and (with apologies to Merle Haggard :-) ) - the writin' side of me. But if I could choose, if I could 'be' any of them - it would be the fiddler, sawing away while trying to make sure his feet don't slip. And even though it's hard to hold a pen while dragging a bow - I'd still be writing :-).


  3. Awesome! Congrats, Graeme! I know 3am very well myself so I can totally relate. :)

  4. Greetings, Lady Pk!

    Well, there are worse times, aren't there? I think there's a lot of writers know what Anna Nalick ( was talking about... especially the '2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song. If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to'. Well, maybe not 'threatening'. But those rotten words can get real feisty if we don't get them out when they want to come, yes? :-).


  5. "I focus-but with side trips." Hilarious! And it describes me to a T. Wait, what was I saying? Great interview Mare! I'm so excited for Graeme. He deserves this.

  6. now is the time for the thunder, now is the time for the fool!
    congrads, sephie, from the cheese queen of blight!

  7. Lady Tammy!

    Greetings indeed! Long time, no type! (Well, that's probably my fault - I'm an Idiot :-P). And I really, really, _really_ hope I don't get the things I actually deserve. I want CoT to actually be _liked_! :-PP.


  8. Lady Velveeta!

    Of all the places to run across you - how come you never told me you were here? Well, now you know where Sephie's been. He has never left the Land - but I had to focus a little on Comedy once it found a contract. And there's another e-book coming out in January - 'Road like a River'. Nothing to do with Segorian and Sonea - but now I'll be back working on the sequel to 'A Comedy of Terrors' - 'A Not Summer Night's Scream'.
    Yes. With titles like that, there's probably a room waiting for me in the place downstairs... (blushes).


  9. I loved this interview. Graeme, you always wanted to go round the bend...great stuff, here. I can only imagine what your books hold.

    Susan Bernhardt
    The Ginseng Conspiracy


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