Recently, we had the pleasure of working with author Mark Anthony Smith on the newly published book, Something Said: Fictions and Verse.
We decided to “sit down” and interview Mark after the book came out.
Here’s a transcription of our interview:
Q: What made you decide to do a collection of short stories rather than a full-length novel?
I decided to write a collection of stories to test myself and improve my skills. I really love the short form which tends to focus on one feeling, thought or issue in great detail.
Also, I wanted to build a readership and a publishing record through the small press. I couldn’t just expect a reader to dash out and buy a novel without first giving them a few tasters.
Q: Are the stories in your collection new or old?
Most of the stories are less than a year old. A few poems were published three or so years ago. But things really took off in October 2019 when I discovered the small press on Twitter.
Q: What were your goals while writing this collection?
My goals were to have fun, write something honest and choose the right words. The collection wasn’t massively planned. It evolved over the past 7 months (with three pieces published prior to that). Saying this, I did want to build on my first book, ‘Hearts of the matter’, by exploring other short forms.
Q: How and why did you get started as an author?
I’ve always loved reading. And I enjoyed English in Further/Higher education. I loved reading Horror in my teens. But Ian McEwan’s ‘Black dogs’ was so exact that I really wanted to create something whole through writing. I love clarity of thought.
Q: How often do you write?
I try to write 500 words a day when my neck allows. I don’t berate myself if I miss days or weeks because of chronic pains.
One rule I do have is: I always write before reading. I’m superstitious about reading infusing my writing. I keep the two very separate. Writing always comes first.
I try to write most days. It depends on my pain levels.
Q: Do you have any secrets to share with other writers?
Read, read, read as socialization.
If you want to behave like a Nurse, you need to be around other nurses. It’s the same with books. Try and take something away from everything you read. Enjoy both writing and reading.
Q: Pen and pad, phone, or computer?
I always write on my phone. I have word on it. I struggle with a computer because of my Cervical Myelopathy.
Q: Do you plan to attend any events such as book signings or conventions?
I’ve signed books before and I have done a schools talk about poetry. I’ve been on the local radio too. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get out and about so it looks like remote interviews and social media for promotional work.
Q: What is your hometown, and where do you live now?
My hometown is Hull. That’s where I live now – in sunny East Yorkshire. I did travel when I served in The Army. After that, I lived in Suffolk for 10 years.
Q: Has COVID 19 impacted your life, and if so, how?
Apart from the occasional requisition of a take-out latte, Covid 19 has had little impact. My children are off school. They live with their Mam. But I’m virtually house-bound anyway. So, it’s business as usual albeit quieter outside.
Q: What’s the hardest thing for you to write about?
I found ‘Tower of strength’ hard to write. I really tried to empathise with people who experienced Grenfell. I felt really drained afterwards. That news story had a massive effect on me and writing about it was a form of catharthesis. I wasn’t even there. It must have been awful.
Then, with ‘Roundabouts’, I really had to sell the repetitiveness to the editor. It was imperative to create the singular effect of going around in circles. So, sometimes, you have to defend your writing and really understand how your words work to the overall effect
Q: Tell us some more about your book.
‘Something Said’ evolved over about 8 months. It builds on my first book, ‘Hearts of the matter’. This book is more personal, I think. A lot of the works are quite dark. But it celebrates life and love too. Most of the works have been published. Some have been reprinted or adapted to Podcasts and videos. I’m really pleased with this collection.
Q: What are some of your favorite topics to write about?
My favourite topics are grey areas: correlations rather than cause and effect. I really like how the micro and the macro interplay too; the personal and the political.
Q: What’s more important: skill or dedication?
Dedication and skill are equally important. They each bounce off each other. I do think skills can diminish or atrophy if not practiced often. People are different. But we’re all human. So, we share common experiences.
Q: How hard is it to establish and maintain a career as an independent author?
Gosh! You could write the best book in the world. But you need to know how to market your work. It’s just as important. There are so many ‘best books in the world’ out there. You need to sell your writing through regular marketing and networking.
Q: Where do you see yourself going in the future?
I’m writing a lot of Horror at the moment. I’ve appeared in Anthologies published by Red Cape, Eerie River and Nocturnal Sirens.
In the future, I’m hoping to write longer Horrors for Red Cape and Wolven Moon. I’m also hoping to have a collection of short Horror Fictions out this year along with the anthology contributions.
I may write more non-horror in the future. But it’s Horror at the moment.
Q: Any messages for our readers?
I’d like to thank my readers. I’m so very grateful. Please enjoy my work and feel free to reach out or leave feedback if you’re inclined to do so.
The publisher and I love feedback through reviews or questions.
Enjoy! I hope you take something away from my writing.
Facebook: Mark Anthony Smith – Author
Contact Mark via email: MarkAnthonySmithmark@hotmail.co.uk