Interview with Tanya E. Williams, Author of A Man Called Smith

12 Aug 2019

What can you tell us about your new release, A Man Called Smith?

A Man Called Smith is an emotionally gripping historical family saga told from the perspective of two characters, a father and his daughter beginning in 1949. It is the third book in a three book series however the series can be read in any order as each book stands well on its own.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I have always been a story teller at heart. Growing up, despite my painfully slow reading practices, I enjoyed historical stories and epic sweeping tales such as Gone With The Wind. I loved getting lost in another time period and spent a great deal of time thinking about what life might have been like throughout history. I suppose it was the stories themselves that inspired me to become an author.

My first memory of entertaining myself by making up a story was when I was about five years old. I was playing at the grassy edge of an alfalfa field talking to the ever illusive crickets. I crouched along, weaving a story about the life of the crickets as I tried desperately to spot one. Of course, whenever I drew near to the sound of the cricket’s song, they would become silent and then the singing would begin again somewhere behind me, so back I would go, telling the story I was creating while I searched the tall grass for a cricket sighting. In the end, a quiet form of self entertainment developed and I have continued the practice of story telling ever since.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

I tend to be a read it once kind of reader so if a book captures my attention to revisit it again either through memory or through an actual reread, then I know the book has captured me in a meaningful way. The following books have done that for me.

1) Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
2) Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
3) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
4) The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
5) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

Great question! There are many authors I would want to talk about characters, story telling, and craft with, but I have to say that I would probably want my first guest to be an avid reader such as Oprah or Reese Witherspoon as there is simply nothing better than connecting with another book enthusiast over the love of a good book. My first question would be the same as yours above, what are the top 5 best books you have ever read? And then I would have my pencil ready as my “to be read” list grew in spades in a matter of a few moments.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I enjoy pretty much every aspect of the writing process but my favorite is the excitement of the first spark of an idea. I love the rush of having an idea appear before me. Jotting down those first nuggets of inspiration is like planting a seed of hope. Those tiny fragments of an idea are what fuel me forward with every story.

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day varies depending on what aspect of the writing process I am working with but it always begins with a cup of tea, a short meditation, and a “to do” list. I typically write in the morning. I prefer to do edits in the afternoon when the time comes and I enjoy both the change of pace and the move to the couch that editing brings. When I am deep in the writing phase, I block out a solid three to six hours of each day so I can hold the story line and the characters close to my heart as we move through the story together. If I am researching, I can be found at the library, watching a movie, taking a tour, walking the streets of the city I plan to write about and so much more. I go where the research takes me and it is a much loved aspect of writing historical fiction for me.

What scene in A Man Called Smith was your favorite to write?

So many of the scenes in A Man Called Smith are filled with deep emotion but my favorite one to write was the gathering coal scene. It is a dark scene for sure but it was the way it flowed out of me that makes it my favorite. It was as if I was watching a movie unfold before me and the words just magically landed on the page. I felt the chill in the house. I shook my head just like Jarred did and I shuddered along with Calla as she removed the rug. I desperately wanted to step in and stop Calla from going down the stairs and yet the words just continued to flow. It was both a chilling and exhilarating experience as a writer.

Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?

I try to live my life in a state of gratitude so my favorite quote is “there is always something to be grateful for, sometimes, you just have to dig a little to find it.”

Tanya E. Williams is the author of the new book A Man Called Smith.

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