N. K. Smith has been writing in one fashion or the other since the early age of 10 years old. Her first short story, written in fifth grade, was a summer camp mystery.
Now, N.K. is realizing her childhood dreams with her first novel Old Wounds.

Having lived in several places throughout the northeastern United States, N.K. has now returned to her native Indiana where she lives with her husband, two children and three cats. She has an avid interest in natural, organic and sustainable living and lives a vegan lifestyle.

* Where are you from?

I’m from the American Midwest.  Born and raised in a few locations including Chicago, Illinois.

* As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

When I was very young, I wanted to be a nurse or a teacher.  I still have a drive to teach, but I lack the time and energy to get back into school for it.

* What do you do to unwind and relax?

Play with my children.  I listen to good music and read good books, but honestly what really rejuvenates me is silence.

* What is your favorite food?

Tofu.  It’s incredible healthy and versatile.

* Tell us your latest news.

The second in the Old Wounds series will be released April 28th, 2011.  It’s called Little Battles and it’s the continuation of Sophie and Elliott’s relationship.  I’m currently editing the third installment called Weight of the World and am in the beginning stages of editing the final novel in the series.

* When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I started writing complete short stories and series of stories about 12 years ago.  I really considered myself a writer when I couldn’t shut characters up in my head.  Now they talk and talk and talk until I have to email myself from my phone in the middle of the night.  I text little pieces of dialog, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

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* What genre are you most comfortable writing?

I am most comfortable writing drama, specifically grief.  I find human nature fascinating in its diversity.  It’s interesting to see how many people share a similar experience and yet react differently to it.

* How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
I just took a line out of the prose.  I hate coming up with titles, but when I re-read a passage, I thought it would make a good title, so I used it.  It’s hardest to sum up stories in a few words.  It has to be something catchy and telling, and it causes me a lot of stress.

* Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Dig deeper into people.  It’s easy to write people off as jerks, but once you look deeper into who they are and what has tinted their life and perceptions, it’s easier to see them as whole people and find compassion for their situations.

* How much of your work is realistic?

As a writer, I hope ALL of it is realistic.  I don’t write sci-fi (at least not right now, I have in the past), so my intention to deal with real human situations realistically.

* What are your current projects?

I’m currently editing the three novels that finish out the Old Wounds series.

* Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’ve always told stories in my head to amuse myself.  There is so much of life that is spent doing mindless tasks.  My brain started filling the voids with stories of made-up people when I was very young.

* Can you share a little of your current work with us?

From Little Battles:

“S-S-SSSophie?”

I didn’t look up when he said my name, but I didn’t want him to be upset that I didn’t respond.  He’d take it as me not liking him or something, and then the kicked-puppy look would appear.  “What, Elliott?”

“Are y-you o-o-okay?”

Closing my eyes, I tried to banish what I heard in my head.  Shhhh!  Quiet, Sophie.  Don’t wake your mother. I nodded against my arms.  “I’m good, Elliott.  Don’t worry about me.  I’m fine.”

 

 

* What is the hardest part of writing?

Finding time and quiet spaces to do it.  It’s easy to come up with stories and dialog, it’s difficult to find the time to write it down.  I have hundreds of scraps of paper with little snippets written on them.  I have a binder to keep them in and I review them as much as possible in order to work them in.  If I don’t write it down, I lose it forever.

* What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Keep writing.  Write a certain amount of words each day whether it’s forced or it flows.  Just write, and then revise.  Take a break from your work before you revise and edit.  Look at it with new eyes.

* Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Sometimes.  It’s less now than ever.  When I experience it, I just move on to something else.  I don’t force a scene or dialogue.  There are enough scenes and stories in my head to write something different if one thing won’t flow.

* Who is your favorite author and why?

I can’t answer this question.  There are too many brilliant authors I enjoy to pick just one.

* What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Real, raw human emotion and realistic dialogue.

* What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I wake up at four in the morning and write or edit until five-thirty or six-thirty depending on when I have to go my job.  Then around nine at night I write or edit again.  I usually go to sleep around midnight or after, sleep for a few hours and then get up and do it again.

Twelve years ago, I could write for eight hours, but now I’m pretty lucky to squeeze in 2 to 4, depending on the day.

* What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I put my iPod earbuds in.  Most of the time I don’t listen to music.  I just listen to the silence and the characters speaking in my mind.

* What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like playing with my kids, reading, listening to music, and sleeping.  I work a lot, so there’s not much time to do those things.  I make the most of my commute and the few hours a day I have with my kids.  Reading is something I’m able to fit in daily when I work out.  E-readers are pretty darn awesome and they’re easy to use on the elliptical.

* What does your family think of your writing?

My kids think it’s cool.  My son’s finished writing his first story for school and it was really cool to work on him with concepts like setting and plot.

* What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?

I’ve learned that I can write something I love one day and in a few months I’ll re-read it and have no idea why I wrote it.  It’s amazing how after you step away for a while, you become less subjective.

* Which is your favorite of the books you have written?

I really like Weight of the World because it explores Elliott quite a bit.  I’ve just written another novel (non-Old Wounds), which hasn’t been shown to anyone and I really, really like it.  I would say it’s my favorite, but that may just be because it’s something new.

* What books have most influenced your life?

The Lord of the Rings, Testimony, Catcher in the Rye, The Pearl, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Giving Tree, and Fox in Socks.

* What are you reading now?

The Call of Cthulhu and the New York Time’s Portraits.

 

From Weight of the World:

I knew my father was wrong about music.  Dr. Emmanuel was right on the mark about it being a way to praise God and His love, but he hadn’t been wrong about my soul being marked.  He was not wrong about the wickedness within me.

I knew Sophie wouldn’t understand.  I knew she didn’t see me like that.  Her eyes were clouded because I was the only person not looking to take anything from her.  I only wanted what she would or could freely give, and she knew it.  That was why she could fall asleep around me.

 

 

* Do you see writing as a long- or short-term career?

I’ll always write.  I would love it to be a career, but even if it can’t be, I’m satisfied with only having it as a hobby.  I have enough stories to write my way through life, but who’s to say how long or short that will be?

* If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in any of your books?

Absolutely!  It’s a shame there’s no time-machine or instant editing program that changes words in already-printed books.  I wonder if any author, musician, actor, artist is ever truly satisfied with their “finished” version.

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