14 Apr 2012


You remember Husband dearest reviewing DISTANT SUNS?

Well, here's my interview with author Patricia Smith who can be contacted at PATRICIA SMITH : TIMESPLIT

  • Hello Tricia, to begin with can you tell me a little about yourself, Patricia Smith the person? 

I live in Northumberland, England, with my husband and three cats. Whenever possible we go walking in the magnificent Northumberland and Kielder hills. I started my career as computer programmer which is a bit like story writing without the emotions. At present I work at a college helping students who are struggling with their maths and English. The rest of my time is spent writing.

  • Tell me a little of that writing.
Striving to give the reader a rollercoaster ride of emotions, and excitement mixed in with a good dash of fear, all from the safety of their armchair, I did join a writers group for a while. The teacher, Edward Hughes, was very encouraging and gave excellent guidance but, as I always felt that my work wasn't good enough, that other class members were better. I soon found it destructive and it took a long time to gain the confidence and courage to share my writing with other people.
With regard to the writing of Distant Suns. At first I was totally overwhelmed, it was just too complex, so deciding on a plan of action involving breaking the story down into smaller chunks and the use of a timeline, I focused on the one piece I needed to, at that particular time.

  • Distant Suns is your latest book to be published, tell me a little about it.
Having wanted to be a writer since aged eight Distant Suns is a story waiting to be written for most of my life. Influenced by childhood conversations with my father in which we discussed the possibility of Jupiter being a failed star and how it could have become a sun, it originally started out as a short story but it was always a novel being stuffed into a small box.
A story all about survival and sacrifice, a story of two astronomers who discover a cloud of hydrogen the size of the asteroid belt approaching the Solar System and realise it is on a collision course with Earth, everything in Distant Suns is a definite possibility, it could have happened at the start of our Solar System and it could happen now.

  • You mention your father as a massive influence, what other things influenced/inspired you?
As a child always had a fantastic imagination and I have enjoyed writing all my life. I also had a fascination with science and astronomy and as an adult joined a local astronomy group when I received my first telescope for Christmas seven years ago. Since then I've spent many a night looking at the delights of the Universe and the magical wonders of alien worlds and it is this  passion for astronomy along with the childhood conversations with my father to whom I owe much that planted the seed for Distant Suns.

  • Any influential books/stories?
It was stories such as H.G. Wells's The Time Machine and, The War Of The Worlds, Asimov's I Robot, A.E. Van Voght's The Voyage Of The Space Beagle that influenced my original career choice of a programmer. More recent influential reads being The Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham, Richard Mateson's I Am Legend and Novil Shute Norway's On The Beach - the latter of which helped me in my decision to include a suicide in Distant Suns.

  • The scientific premise in Distant Suns is very credible, how did you research it?
Though it sometimes took three days to research a paragraph the Internet and in particular the NASA site proved to be invaluable in researching the technical aspects.

  • Do you have a favourite character?
I like them all but in particular I like Lauren as I'd love to be like her.

  • Any possibility of a sequel and, if so, can you tell me a little bit more?
Yes. In the sequel to Distant Suns they return to Earth, to try to save more people, after their ship gets upgraded.  As they arrive in orbit they realise the situation on Earth has deteriorated dramatically and it becomes a race against time to save as many as they can. So far I've written the prologue and chapter one. 

  • We've talked quite a lot about Distant Suns but its not your only published work, can you tell me about Time Split.
A dark science fiction/thriller aimed at adults, Time Split tells of a scientist who attempts to use a time machine to save his mother’s life by altering her past, but when he returns to his own time zone he realises his ‘harmless tinkering’ has had a catastrophic effect. 

  • And a little birdie tells me there is also another book in the pipeline, care to tell us a little more?
Yes, it has a working title of Islands Beneath the Sea and tells the story of what happens when 500 people, taking part in an experiment at the bottom of the North Sea, lose contact with the surface. It follows the fate of five of those brave souls who return to the surface to try to find their loved ones and to understand what has happened. 

  • How do we get hold of your books?
My books are obtainable from Amazon and have recently been made available on Smashwords which will allow them to be read on other formats and not just kindle.

  • Given your love of cats and hedgehogs, have you ever considered a children's book featuring them?
Funnily enough, one of the earliest books I wrote as a children's book about a witch, her grandchildren and a cat.

  • Any tips to aspiring writers?
Be aware that it is difficult to find a publisher, only rarely do these things happen overnight. 
After many years of trying the so-called 'official channels' I decided on the self-publishing route as though I got lots of positive feedback I found it was difficult to get an agent unless you had been published and yet publishers were not interested unless you had an agent.
Always be professional: read any submission rules, invest in a good front cover, remember the title is important, and if at all possible have your work professionally proof-read even if it is just a sample but, most of all, don't give up.

  • And last but not least, which book would you loved to have written?
The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe by C.S Lewis as its such a magical story.

  • Anything else you'd like to add?
Generally I've been very lucky, I've been surrounded by fantastic people, who have had faith in me when I haven't had any in myself. I've been overwhelmed by people's kindness and encouragement and have been very fortunate to have these positive influences in my life.
Thanks to my father who helps me with editing, makes suggestions for characters and situations and, generally keeps me right; to my husband, Darryl, for assuring me I'd struck an emotional chord; colleague and friend, Matthew Wheeler who not only started me off on the road to self publishing but also originally designed the website for Time Split.


Kelly said...

Excellent interview, Tracy - thank you for sharing it with us!!

I found your husband's review of the book interesting and now I'm curious about her other work.

Suko said...

Wonderful interview, with excellent questions and interesting answers. Distant Suns sounds both fantastic and plausible!

naida said...

Great interview ladies. Distant Suns sounds good as does Time Split.

Betty Manousos said...

wonderful interview, tracy, thanks so much for sharing it:)

excellent questions and answers, too.

hope you have a great remainder of your weekend.


chitra said...

you have done a excellent and neat job, kudos...

Brandileigh2003 (Blkosiner's Book Blog) said...

Love the question about the book you wish you'd written.
Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

Melanie said...

3 days to research a paragraph? That's dedication!

StarTraci said...

Brilliant interview! Good for you. I love her answer about breaking down the book into small manageable pieces. I have huge ideas and never know where to start, it seems so overwhelming. I will taker her advice to heart!


Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

Wonderful interview! :D Well done. :) Thank you!

Claudine G. said...

"everything in Distant Suns is a definite possibility." I love that phrase, and Patricia's persistence in writing. Thank goodness for persistent authors and their family and friends! Support is extremely important in vanquishing our limiting self-doubts.