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Book Blog Tour with Laurie E. Smith

Name: Laurie E. Smith Please give us a short introductory bio. As a freelance commercial artist, I share a home studio with my husband of 24 years (who is also an artist) in the Little Italy district of my home city. I've loved writing all my life (enough so that I spent four hard years winning a B.A. (Hons) in English and Philosophy), and I have posted over 1.23 million words of fan fiction on Archive of Our Own, but only in the past two years have I achieved my lifelong goal of writing and fully editing an original fiction novel. I'm active in my local SF&F fan community and take part in our local science fiction convention every year, running several hours of programming over the course of the weekend (including a live reading of "Eye of Argon", widely acknowledged as the worst piece of fantasy fiction ever written). I've also done voiceover work (including narrating two audiobooks) and hope to get back to that sometime in the future. My first big accomplishment in VO was writing, recording, and producing a 45-minute science fiction comedy album, "Welcome to the Departure Lounge". In 1996 I was nominated, together with my husband, for an Eisner Award for my colour work on "The X-Files" comic for TOPPs. And last year I was Fan Guest of Honour at Keycon 34, which was more fun than can possibly be legal. **************** Where in the world are you? Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. **************** Where in the world would you like to be? I've always had a desire to visit Ireland, where my mother's side of my family got their start. **************** Books – buy links: N/A Website link: N/A Blog Link: N/A Social Media (Please provide links & handles): Facebook: (@lauriesmithauthor) Twitter: (@lsmithnovelist) **************** Favourite book: "Watership Down" by Richard Adams. **************** Favourite snack when writing: Being a Type II diabetic, I don't do a lot of snacking. When writing I generally stick to coffee (two cream, two Splenda, plus maybe a dash of cocoa or cinnamon). **************** What do you write on – computer (what type) – software –pen and pencil – quill and vellum – and tell us why. I write on a 20" 2009 iMac running OS X El Capitan, using Scrivener. The desktop is our commercial art machine, and it's at my desk so it's in a comfortable convenient place where I'm already conditioned to have a work-like frame of mind. As for Scrivener, where do I begin? So very many useful features, especially the "binder" where I can see all my chapters and reference at once, and the split-screen function for comparison of documents and images. **************** Where do you write? (Can you post a photo?) As is usually the case with working artists, my desk looks like a paper bomb hit it. ("The future will be paperless", they used to say in the 1980s. HA!) So here's a photo of the space directly above my desk, which I find just as interesting.

**************** What are your current projects? I'm just finishing up line edits/proofreading on "The Codex of Desire", a rousing tale of love, war, lust, secrets, and betrayal amongst intelligent feathered theropod dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous Era, as seen through the eyes of a human paleontologist. (There are also three more novels in various stages of first draft: a sci-fi piece featuring a Wiccan and a Southern Baptist who must work together to solve a series of ritual murders, a first-person alternate history in a universe where microbes have achieved sentience within the human body, and a utopia which turns out to be a dystopia after all.) **************** Can you share a little of your current work with us (no more than 1000 words)?

Click the link to read the excerpt. **************** Why did you write that? What inspired it? If you mean the novel as a whole, "Codex" came to me as a seed idea: sentient dinosaurs with two cultures mirroring the ninja and the samurai of ancient Japan, and a pair of star-crossed lovers who must overcome great obstacles to be united. The final product has mutated a great deal from that initial concept: for one thing, the "star-crossed lovers", who were originally the focus with a throw-away slave girl character to arrange their first meeting, turned out quite differently. Instead the slave girl is now the protagonist (and a very interesting character she is, too), the male MC is the fulcrum around which the action swings but is at the mercy of forces beyond his control, and the female lover has become an idiot savant who has no agency of her own. "Codex" reverses the usual romantic/heroic tropes: the male lead is in the "damsel in distress" position (captured by his enemies, held imprisoned, depending on the slave girl to act on his behalf) while the slave girl is the active agent who, along with the female antagonist, keeps the plot moving. If you mean the passage I've shared with you… This is the first point where Raoul Deguchi, the human palaeontologist, is telepathically connected to the memories of Tir'at~Esk, who is the male MC of "Codex". So I did everything I could to pack in as powerful a sense of Tir'at's personality as possible, while introducing a theme which recurs throughout the novel (the mouse/prey who is helpless against the predator because he strayed too far from his proper place). This is also our introduction to the world of the Greatest, the sentient saurians of the distant past. **************** Do you have any advice for other writers? Write. A LOT. It took me those 1.23 million words of fan fiction to get to the point where I was practiced enough to tackle a full novel, so it doesn't really matter what you write as long as you're putting in the hours in your chosen field. When it comes time to write your first draft — just write it. Don't pause to edit, don't get anxious about how "good" it is. Almost every first draft every written has been crappy. The point is to tell the story to yourself so that it's clearer in your head, and you can always clean it up during editing. You can't edit what you don't have. Your first draft WILL need editing. There's no way around it. I found it best to put "Codex" aside for four months after I finished the draft: it's amazing what a fresh pair of eyes you'll have after the break, and it will be much easier to see what needs re-working, changing, and outright removing. **************** Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? I have a couple who jockey for the top position, but for the purposes of this interview in relation to "Codex" I have to say Richard Adams. He has a lovely clean writing style, yet it's highly evocative and full of emotion, plus his grasp of mythic structures and how to weave them into a narrative is first-rate. **************** Can you tell us a writerly joke? "The human brain is a miraculous thing. It works 24/7 every single day from the day we're born — pausing only when we sit down to write." **************** Anything else on your mind? I can't tell you how nervous I am about tackling the query letter for "Codex". Honestly, it gives me the quivering horrors. There are so many ways to write one, so many pieces of conflicting advice out there, and SO much at stake! But I know I'll get through it — I'll just have to do the research and give it my best shot.

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