|L.M. Smith, Author|
Author L.M. Smith writes paranormal dystopian fiction “something new and exciting and different, so many questions and so few answers” according to one reviewer about her first novel THE CITIZENS. Those who have read her second novel in the Jazz Nemesis series, THE REFUGEES, exclaim “WOW! I thought the first book was exciting, but this book takes it to another level!”
L.M. Smith originally wanted to be a professional singer. As a teenager, she frequently performed. However, she has been writing since she was a child. Today she lives near Las Vegas, and writes because “my own imagination would probably drive me insane if I didn’t.”
Don’t miss the excerpt from THE CITIZENS following the book blurbs.
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Q: What inspires you to write paranormal dystopian fiction?
L.M. Smith: Reading paranormal fiction has been a lifelong guilty pleasure of mine but my real interest in it from a creative standpoint began when I learned about the Institute of Noetic Science in southern California and read some of the studies and scientific inquiries conducted by Dean Radin. I found the field supremely fascinating and fell in love with the idea of plausible, scientific explanations for the human race potentially having supernatural abilities as a component of human evolution. When I read that human beings only actually use a small percentage of our brains my own gray matter began to run rampant with the endless possibilities for our potential as a species if we were to somehow ‘unlock’ that dormant remainder. My interest in dystopian fiction was somewhat an accident, though not a surprising one considering my parents are doomsdayers and have been fretting about the potential ‘end of the world’ for as long as I can remember.
Q: Do you write purely for entertainment? Or do you incorporate messages to your readers?
L.M. Smith: I don’t intentionally incorporate messages for my readers but I’ve had some readers derive messages from my books on their own and that, as I see it, is a huge compliment.
Q: How important is setting to making your fiction believable?
L.M. Smith: Setting is important for making all fiction believable, even if the fiction itself is wholly plausible within the confines of reality. Characters must always live in a plausible version of reality (even if that reality, for them is on another planet where amazing and wonderful things are wholly plausible) in order for the reader to both consciously and subconsciously accept the environment and experience the story from the perspective of a participant rather than just someone on the outside looking in.
If your main characters are a blackjack dealer, an exotic dancer, a cocktail waitress, and a showgirl and they’re all best friends that work together in the same establishment your readers will expect that establishment to be some form or variation of a Casino and, regardless of whether you base the story itself in Chicago or San Diego, your readers will picture the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. For this reason, it’s best to save them the jarring zaps of snowfall and lake effect and put your story in Vegas where your readers will feel more comfortable and where they will be able to believe the rest of the tale - no matter how strange and wonderful it may be.
Q: Among your many 5-star reviews (almost 50 for THE CITIZENS), one of your readers praises your book and also says it is “creepy”. How do you do “creepy”?
L.M. Smith: I know exactly which review you’re referring to and will admit that it is one of my favorites. I didn’t ‘do creepy’ on purpose but I believe that a certain sense of ‘this could really happen’ is where the creepy factor comes from. The story is fiction with vampires and torture and violence that you would never expect to find in the real world but many readers have commented that they felt like they were characters in the book rather than readers observing it and that the scenario that my characters find themselves in could potentially happen.
Creepy is something that people experience when they feel uncomfortable with an environment, individual, or idea. In THE CITIZENS the characters are watched endlessly yet have absolutely no interaction with their captors. This causes the readers, who are experiencing the story from the perspective of someone in that situation, feel as though they too are being watched. That would creep anyone out, wouldn’t it?
Q: How do you make us care about your characters?
L.M. Smith: Everyone has someone who cares about them, even if they aren’t of it and even though no one is truly liked by everyone. Having a relatively eclectic mix of characters that are vastly different in their personalities, backgrounds, and perspectives gives readers a veritable buffet of choices.
Some readers have told me that they do not like my protagonist because they think she’s a bit brash and abrasive while others absolutely adore her and think of her as tough and sassy. That’s a perfect scenario though because whether you love her or hate her the one adjective she’s never been associated with is ‘boring’ and if she is interesting enough to instill strong emotions (from either side of the spectrum) then she’s absolutely perfect from my perspective.
Of course Gordon is one of the least favorite characters I have ever written but some of my readers even find themselves developing a strange affinity for him that even they don’t wholly understand. I guess the old adage that there is ‘someone for everyone’ is more true than we realize and as long as a character is developed enough to be believable, that will be as true for fiction as it is for reality.
Q: What traits do you give your heroes? Villains?
L.M. Smith: I avoid making distinctions between heroes and villains in my books. There is conflict in my stories but both sides of the conflict fully believe that they are justified in their actions and that their perspectives and ideals are ‘the right way’ … just as people do in reality. No one truly believes that they are a villain in reality, even some of the darkest personalities in the history of mankind felt justified in their actions and viewed themselves as revolutionary individuals trying to make a difference in the world … even when their idea of ‘making a difference’ meant doing horrible things.
The only trait that I intentionally instill in either side of a conflict is a sense of personal integrity. I will never write a character who genuinely believes that they are evil and that their actions are wrong. The reader may think those things about them but the character himself (or herself) will always believe that what she is doing and the position that she is supporting is justified and noble. It’s up to you, as a reader, to decide which characters you agree with and which ones you oppose.
Q: Why are you a writer? When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
L.M. Smith: In all honesty I write because my own imagination would probably drive me insane if I didn’t and I never actually sat down and said ‘I want to be a writer’. My brain dislikes inactivity so in the moments when I am alone and the world is quiet, such as when I am lying in bed waiting to fall asleep or soaking in a hot bath, my imagination will take over and develop these little ‘what if’ scenarios where I fantasize about things like the whole world suddenly developing super powers overnight. Eventually one or two of those little fantasies will snag on something as they bump along in the river of unending contemplation that flows through my mind’s eye and will begin to replay themselves over and over again, building slightly upon themselves little by little with each repetition.
I found, at a young age, that writing them down often helped to free them from their catchment and send them along on their merry way so that the ideas could, once again, come and go with ease instead of driving me insane like The Song That Never Ends. Sometimes an idea will develop into something big enough that it will begin to merge with other ideas and, before long, I look up at my monitor as my fingers click away on the keyboard, always the slave to the fictional ‘voices’ in my imagination, and discover that a novel was born from somewhere within the chasm of near insanity.
Q: Tell us something about yourself, e.g., do your do stand up comedy? What’s your favorite holiday, book, author, character, play, movie, celebrity? What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have a muse? What's your favorite charity?
LM Smith: Once upon a time my primary aspiration was to be a professional singer, actually. When I was a teenager I sang in public settings like the county fair, community holiday events, and performed nightly dinner entertainment for tourists in a small restaurant … I’ve even written a few original songs of my own. I still love to sing but these days I limit myself to late night karaoke adventures with close friends and family on special occasions.
About L.M. Smith
L.M. Smith is both an avid reader and writer. Her favorite authors include Kim Harrison and Richard Adams. She began writing stories and poetry as a child and has always been fascinated by mythology and the paranormal.
A self-proclaimed 'desert rat', she lives near Las Vegas, Nevada with the love of her life, their three dogs, and two cats. She is proud to be an alumna of the University of Phoenix and enjoys horseback riding, kayaking, and taking long walks with Vladimir: her Doberman Pinscher.
While working on her next upcoming publication, her guilty pleasures include salt-and-pepper flavored sunflower seeds and cold, home-brewed coffee with Italian Sweet Cream ... though never at the same time because that would be yucky.
About THE CITIZENS: A Jazz Nemesis Novel (Volume 1)
Imagine a town where you can stay out as late as you want, wake up when it suits you, you never have to go to work, and everything is free for the taking. Sounds perfect right? But what if you can’t remember where you are or how you got there? What if you can’t ever leave? And what if the only other people around are hostages, just like you? Would you still want to stay?
Jasmine Marshall certainly didn’t think so until she met Justin Beck; a dashing active-duty member of the United States Army and fellow hostage. With him around life in Kolob might not be so bad after all … or so she thought. There are vampires and psychics at the breakfast table! Disturbing acts of torture and senseless violence are commonplace. Biochemical warfare is a very real threat, and the town’s mayor is an elusive mad-scientist obsessed with his own theories about December 21, 2012!
In a place where one has everything to gain and nothing to lose, one thing reigns true: nothing in Kolob is ever as it seems.
About THE REFUGEES: A Jazz Nemesis novel (Volume 2)
When Jasmine Marshall and her fellow hostages finally won back their freedom and escaped from the mysterious town of Kolob, they believed they would be rejoining civilization and resuming their normal lives. To their horror, what they found on the other side of the dense forest was far worse than anything they could have ever imagined.
On December 21, 2012, an unprecedented series of global attacks changed the world and shook the very foundations of society. A significant portion of the Earth’s population died following exposure to an illness that the media dubbed ‘The Maya Virus’, leaving the survivors to examine and question their humanity as vampires, demigods, and zombies crawled from the body bags of the aftermath. Valkyries, demons and other ancient creatures that had lain in wait for centuries began to emerge, seeking to claim the spoils and feed on what remains of mankind. Panicked governments are struggling to maintain order - some of them at any cost.
Colleen Patrick thought she was just going to the market one autumn day in 1872, when everything she knew about herself – and the world around her – abruptly changed. Living the American dream, she had been happy with her young, Irish husband on their small farm in Kentucky. Little did she know, the town’s exotic gypsy family was actually a family of Vampires with big plans for her. Plans that did not necessarily require her consent. At just twenty-two years old, tragically removed from her life and thrust into an existence for which she was carefully selected; she is now a murderer, a widow, and an immortal. As this epic tale unfolds Colleen is abruptly taken captive by a clan of Valkyries, demanding vengeance for a war that happened long before she was born, turning her world upside down once more. Now she must choose between the family that she has grown to love and the delicate toddler who's life is in her hands.
About A-MUSING ADOLESCENCE: A Collection of Thoughts from a Young Heart
From ages twelve to seventeen L. M. Smith found herself frequently experiencing a need and a desire to express how she was feeling. Fraught with the troubles of all young girls, as well as the tribulations and triumphs, she put her experiences to pen whenever something moved her. This is a collection from her heart as she experienced love, sorrow, joy, spirituality, and wonder with a passion and exuberance that only a young soul could. From one adolescent to another, this collection is both for the young, and the young-at-heart.
Excerpt from THE CITIZENS: A Jazz Nemesis Novel (Volume 1)
She was in a bedroom but it wasn’t her own. She looked around, both confused and frightened. From the looks of the scratchy, thread-bare comforter on the bed and the bland landscape painting on the wall she could swear she was in a hotel room. Half-way up the walls were covered in dark brown wood paneling, above which was loud orange wallpaper with a horrible brown floral pattern. The comforter was chocolate brown with a gold pattern over it that clashed terribly with the walls. Two small, dark wooden nightstands stood on either side of the bed with gold-leaf lamps bearing white, retro-style shades and a lime green velvet arm chair sat on the opposite wall facing the bed.
“What the hell?” She wanted to rub her eyes to make sure she wasn’t hallucinating but they hurt too badly, making her wonder what could have happened to her face.
On the nightstand closest to her she noticed a glass of water, a small white pill, and a white note-card propped up against the lamp. She grabbed the card and examined the strange red symbol embossed on the front. A thick wiggly line formed an almost complete circle except for one piece in the lower left portion that was a narrower, more zig-zaggy line. In the center of the circle there was a large dot and, beneath the circle, a straight horizontal line. She recognized the symbol immediately but couldn’t remember where she’d seen it before. It was eerie looking, though, and it gave her a sense of foreboding as she flipped open the card. Five short lines of text were typed in black ink on the inside flap:
The aspirin is for the headache.
Sorry about the black eye.
Welcome to Kolob.
Sincerely, Mayor E.
“What the hell?” She repeated, feeling even more confused than she had been before. Possible explanations started to run through her mind. Maybe she’d tried to drive after having a few too many and had been in an accident. Is this what the Fortine Inn looked like on the inside? If so someone should tell them that it needed a major remodel.
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