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See also:  Tanya Huff's Vicki Nelson Paranormal Investigator series page reading order and synopsis; 160x480

Douglas Smith

answers the Usual Questions

Photo Douglas Smith, courtesy of the author; 220x240

Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith is a Canadian author whose work has appeared in twenty-five languages and thirty-one countries (but who's counting?). His fiction includes the urban fantasy novel, The Wolf at the End of the World, and the collections Chimerascope, Impossibilia, and La Danse des Esprits. His non-fiction guide for writers, Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction, is a recommended read for any short story writer.

Smith is a three-time winner of Canada's Aurora Award, and a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award, CBC's Bookies Award, Canada's juried Sunburst Award, and France's juried Prix Masterton and Prix Bob Morane. A short film based on his story By Her Hand, She Draws You Down won several awards when it toured film festivals around the world.

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

I love to meet fans at cons or readings or any writerly event, and to receive emails from them as well. I love getting feedback from people who've read my work. I'm not sure that any particular comment from readers has affected my work, though. By that I mean that I can't point to any instance where I've decided to write (or not write) some planned story based on interactions with fans.

Rather, I'd say that I'm constantly surprised by the favourites that fans pick from my work. While some stories get mentioned more than others, I've been pleased with the variety of the stories fans select as their favourite tale.

That tells me that I need to continue to write the stories that I want to write and not try to predict what stories will be popular or well received. So, on reflection, yes, I suppose that interaction with fans has affected how I look at my work.

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

I published a translated collection of my fantasy stories, La Danse des Esprits (Spirit Dance), in France with a fine small French press, Dreampress, in 2010. The editor, Benoî Domis, asked me if I could suggest a recognized writer who would be willing to write an introduction and whose name on the cover might help sales.

That collection contained three of my Heroka shapeshifter urban fantasy stories, which use Canadian First Nations story telling traditions and mythologies. Because of that, I thought that one of my favourite writers, the multi-award winning Charles de Lint, the father of urban fantasy and whose stories often employ similar myths, would be a perfect fit. Plus Charles is a fellow Canadian. Benoît agreed.

One problem. I had never met or communicated with Charles. I had no idea if he'd even consider writing the intro. But I emailed him anyway, and he was kind enough to reply, a reply in which he apologized for not having had the opportunity yet to read my work. Which was a polite and very Canadian (and very Charles) way of saying that he had no idea who I was. But despite that, he offered to read some of the stories and get back to me.

Which he did, saying that he loved the collection and would be happy to write the introduction. As I'd hoped, his favourite stories were the Heroka tales. Later, Charles wrote saying he'd seen that I was writing a novel in the Heroka universe and that he'd love to take a look at it when I was done. Wow! Major fan boy moment for me.

The novel was my first, The Wolf at the End of the World. I sent Charles a draft copy, which he loved. He again kindly agreed to write the introduction for it as well. His intro is beautiful -- lyrical, and touching, highlighting the ongoing struggle of our First Nations peoples for justice to address past and current mistreatment, and set against the indifference of our federal government, a key theme of the novel.

So one of my favourite writers and an influence on my own work had become a fan. Very cool and still hard to believe.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

I have had ever so many writers whose work has influenced me over the years. I mentioned Charles de Lint already. Other influences include Ray Bradbury, Hemingway, Robert Heinlein, Neil Gaiman, and Tim Powers. But I'd have to say my favourite author and influence on my own writing has been the late Roger Zelazny. His Lord of Light is one of the greatest speculative fiction novels ever written. His short stories are amazing in their prose style and range of imagination.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

My grand-daughter, because she is awesome.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

Our current Prime Minister, because he is most definitely not awesome.

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

My Kobo ebook reader, loaded with books. And the recharging cable.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

I just want the chance to tell the stories that are in my head, to get them down in a form that people can read. That's first. After that, I want people to read them. Fame and fortune would be nice, but hey, I'm a writer so I keep my expectations low.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

Creating a story that is as close as possible to the one in my head. The finished story is never as good as the unrealized version that sits in your imagination, all perfect and pristine. But sometimes you get very very close. And sometimes the finished product is even better than the original inspiration.

So yeah, the creation process. It is painful at times (most times), but is also wonderfully rewarding.

That and getting feedback from readers. I had a fan scold me playfully once at a con because one of my stories had made her cry in public as she was reading it in a coffee shop. That's the reaction any writer aims for - to know that a story moved a reader or touched them in some way to elicit that strong a reaction.

submitted by Douglas Smith

12 March 2015

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Just the facts:
Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Resides: Same place (okay, actually a north-eastern suburb of Toronto). I'm a Toronto boy, born and raised. But I've travelled to over thirty countries, including Australia.

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