I’m thrilled that we have Dan Smith here to talk to us today. I hope you all enjoy what he has to say.
I was six years old when we moved to Sumatra. I suppose it was something of a privileged ‘colonial’ lifestyle for the most part, but out there it gets dark early. And after dark . . . well, there wasn’t much to do. Cinema? Forget about it. Television? Uh-uh. As I remember it, broadcasting consisted of someone sitting cross-legged reciting from the Koran. And when VHS came around there was an occasional scratchy showing at the local club, but Planet of The Apes wasn’t the same with the action cut out to suit Indonesian sensibilities of the time. There was always cards or mah jong but, then, we had so many books.
I remember sitting in front of the bookshelves, studying the spines and covers while Mum and Dad made recommendations. We were in Sumatrafor seven years and during that time I moved from Gallico and Canning and Hitchcock to Robert Ludlum, Jack Higgins, Ken Follet, Kurt Vonnegut. I read them all, though I probably didn’t understand them completely. What I did understand, though, was the adventure and the excitement; the danger and the intrigue; the way those stories made me feel. There was a whole new world in every book. And at boarding school, during ‘quiet time’ before lights out, when others read because they had to, I read because I loved it. I could be somewhere else. I could be someone else. It was a time to escape.
After Sumatra, we moved to Brazil, to a plantation a thousand miles from the nearest city. It really was the middle of nowhere. But in the jungle darkness when the generator went off and the only sound was the chirp of the cicadas and the hiss of the gas lamps, there was always books. And when I was about fourteen I discovered the biggie. The one man who has influenced so many writers of my generation – Stephen King. And it was he who made me want to be a writer. So I started with short stories scribbled on A4 pads, progressed to typing on a green screen computer and, by the time I was eighteen, my day wasn’t complete unless I’d written something.
And now I’m a published author with a couple of novels on the shelf, and I imagine you won’t be surprised to hear that my writing has been heavily influenced by my upbringing. After all, what kind of a writer would I be if I didn’t draw on the experiences I’ve had? And the one thing that I’ve noticed running through my writing is the sense of place. The setting is as important as the characters, and hopefully the reader can feel that. I want them to be right there, where the story is happening, in a place they’ve never been to before.
Order ‘Dark Horizons’ here: http://amzn.to/jABG37
Order ‘Dry Season’ here: http://amzn.to/swdRzh
Visit Dan Smith’s website here: www.dansmithsbooks.com
Read Dan’s blog here: www.dansmithsbooks.wordpress.com