This week I have the privilege of introducing you to my good friend, Jesse S. Smith. He’s the author of adventurous novellas The Battle Of Hillsboro and Rise Of The Pagans.
Unwilling to settle for lives of quiet mediocrity, a group of local young men decide to take matters into their own hands. They hatch a plan to conquer the world, beginning with a certain small town. Putting their plan into action, they launch a series of heists to fund their army. This suspenseful action adventure is a page-turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, Jesse S. Smith earned his Bachelor’s degree in English from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. Smith’s first two published works were short stories printed in the college literary arts magazine.
Smith’s most popular work to date, The Battle of Hillsboro, is an action-adventure heist caper novella, self-published in 2009 and currently available through Amazon.com. In addition to Hillsboro, Smith has also written nine full-length book manuscripts; two other novellas; a number of short stories; and a 19,000 word epic poem in unrhymed pentameter. Of those, two of the books have been self-published: Principles for a Self-Directed Society (out of print) and Rise of the Pagans (available on Amazon.com). The rest of Smith’s writings remain unpublished at this time. Smith is currently editing two rather lengthy novels, which he hopes to get traditionally published through a professional literary agent.
Smith presently resides in Oregon with his wife and two children.
1. Tell us a little about you and what you’re working on.
Hi, my name is Jesse. I live in the great state of Oregon. I love trees, chess, and dystopian
science fiction. I have led a varied and interesting life. Currently I am editing two lengthy
novels, and I’ll say more about them in a bit!
You As A Reader
2. When did you first fall in love with books?
Books have always been a part of my life. I can’t really remember the time before I learned to read. I do remember that even in elementary school I was a voracious bookworm.
3. What’s your favorite book from your childhood?
“Tales of King Arthur” by James Riordan and “A Wonder Book” by Nathaniel Hawthorne are books from my childhood that directly influenced the projects I’m currently working on, *mumble mumble* years later.
4. Of the books you’ve read, which one changed you the most?
I think in my twenties I had an unhealthy sympathy for Nicholas Urfe, the protagonist in “The Magus” by John Fowles. Nicholas is a guy who makes some poor choices. He also travels halfway around the world to work as a school teacher in a remote location where he doesn’t speak the language. In my mid-twenties I did basically the exact same thing.
5. What’s the last book you read and your current favorite?
I am almost always reading multiple books at the same time. I recently finished re-reading “A Game of Thrones” (the first one) by George R.R. Martin; and at about the same time, I finished reading “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer-Bradley. Picking one favorite book is difficult, but if you haven’t read “White Noise” by Don DeLillo, go grab a copy. The prose is exceptional; the world view is spot-on; and the satirical presentation is in some ways almost eerily prescient.
6. If you could meet any author, alive or dead, who would it be?
I would like to talk with Ovid and Sir Thomas Malory, to learn the real reasons why the one was exiled and the other imprisoned for life. I would love to discuss philosophy and current events with Don DeLillo, John Irving, and John Fowles. But more than anything it would be fun to just hang out and party with Michael Chabon, Russell Banks, and Hunter S. Thompson.
You As A Writer
7. When did you first know you were a writer?
I was a writer before I could write. When I was very little, I would insist on putting felt tip marker to paper and recording important events, immediately after they occurred. When I was in the third grade my grandparents gave me my first journal for my birthday, and from then until college I wrote in my journal several times a week.
8. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? If so, what was it about?
My very first stories were illustrated fan-fiction retellings based on The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, and The Neverending Story. My first original story was called “Jesse’s Adventures.” It was a third-person sci-fi adventure story about a kid who acquires a rocket ship and flies into outer space with his friends, where they battle evil aliens and the mean kids from school. I started writing that in the fourth grade and continued adding episodes all the way through seventh grade.
9. What has been the most difficult part of your writing journey? The best part?
a. Being a writer is often a thankless vocation. Friends and family have generally been… less than encouraging. But the most difficult part of my writing journey has been the crucial step of finding an audience and a publisher who will help me connect with that audience. I’m still working on that.
b. Over the past year I’ve been very fortunate to connect with fellow writers on Twitter. That has been a rewarding, gratifying experience. You know how people get nostalgic for the Paris cafés of the 1920’s and early 30’s, where Gertrude Stein and Anaïs Nin and Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Dos Passos and Henry Miller and many others would all sit together drinking coffee (or something stronger) and talk about writing all day and night? In some respects, I think today’s “Writer Twitter” community has the potential to be regarded in the same way by literature lovers of the future. There are some fantastic people here, doing amazing things, and supporting each other with encouragement and ideas. Keep it up, you guys!
10. Of all the writing advice you’ve received, what helped you the most?
I am such a rule-breaker when it comes to writing advice. I use adverbs constantly (see what I just did there?) including adverbs to modify “said.” My sentences are overly long and convoluted. My writing tends to be a lot of “telling” and not a lot of “showing.” I think the advice that stays in my head the most often when I’m writing is: imagine you’re writing a letter to a good friend, and write the novel to them. That way, you have an audience in mind as you write, and with any luck, at least one person will enjoy reading it when you’re finished!
11. Tell us about your current project and any others you’re working on.
I’m currently editing two novels. Both of them are reimaginings, and both of them are in the 150,000 word long range. The earlier Work In Progress is based on Arthurian legends. I finished the first draft in August of 2016, and have rewritten large chunks of it since then; but it still has a ways to go. My newer Work In Progress is based on Greco-Roman mythology. I began writing the first draft in September of 2016. I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in July; that accounted for about a quarter of the total length. There are still a couple of gaps in the storyline, but I essentially completed the first draft almost exactly a year after I began it; which is pretty fast, for me.
Fun Stuff About You
12. Besides writing and reading, what are some of your other interests?
I have many interests! I am fascinated by science; and I have strong opinions about current events (don’t get me started); and I enjoy photography, and movies, and my family. Like pretty much every other guy I’ve ever met, I consider myself a pretty decent guitar player. When I was in 6th grade I wrote an introductory monograph on computer programming in BASIC. (Yes, I really am that old.) Through a convoluted series of life choices, this eventually led to my work as a web developer, coding in server-side and client-side object-oriented programming languages.
13. If you could become an instant expert at any one thing, what would it be and why?
If I could suddenly become an expert at something, I think I might like to suddenly develop social skills. No, seriously, I’ve read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” something like six times, and yet that objective eludes me…
14. You’ve just won an all expenses paid trip to anywhere in the world? Where would you go?
I have traveled quite a bit. I lived two years of my life overseas: one in Scotland, the other in Egypt. I have taken quick spins through continental Europe, India, Nepal, and Thailand. I would still like to visit Ireland someday; because Ireland has its own unique and fascinating culture, including a rich folklore and great music. But more than anything, having been to many places, I think I have discovered that there is nothing, literally nothing in the whole world, better than sitting on a tropical beach with a cold mixed drink. More than anywhere else, that’s where I would want to go: a tropical beach.
15. How can people connect with you?
And to top it off, you can see my self-published books from my Amazon Author page, here: www.amazon.com/author/jesse-smith
I have some other websites and social media accounts, but those are the most important.
16. Anything else you’d like to tell us?
If you have actually read all of this, then you are a champion! It’s been great talking to you. If you are a writer, be sure to follow @mlmoosauthor and talk to her about her author interview series!
Thanks for sharing a bit about you and for the shout out! It’s greatly appreciated (yes, I like adverbs too). And I can tell you, you’re much more sociable than you give yourself credit for. I can’t wait to read more of your stories! Especially the one inspired by Arthurian legends!
If you’d like to read Jesse’s books, you can find them on Amazon.