01/4/13

Interview: Christopher Smith

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Today I am thrilled to share with readers an interview with Christopher Smith!  I have to say that this is an author who truly puts himself out there for his readers and fans, allowing them to connect with him on a more personal level that truly bodes well for a long lasting fan base/friendship.  I want to thank Christopher for taking the time to answer my questions and for doing so with enthusiasm and quickness!  I hope you enjoy our little chat and please feel free to ask any questions that you may have yourself!

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Christopher, would you please tell readers a bit about yourself? What you like to do for fun, types of things you like to read, your favorite “hide outs”, etc.

Mostly, I work, because there can be no success without it. But when it comes to fun, it all comes down to travel. I’ll be visiting London for 10 days in March with a side trip to Paris, and I frequently go to New York City for research since most of my books take place there. One trip involved watching an autopsy. It was unsettling and humbling, but you can’t fake a scene like that in a book (in this case, “Running of the Bulls”), so I needed to witness it–from how it happens to what a Stryker saw sounds like when it bites down into bone to how the room–and thus the body–smells. In this case, for instance, when the person’s lungs were removed, the room suddenly stank of nicotine. So, I’m glad that’s behind me.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Finding typos after I’ve paid Kirkus Editorial a significant sum of money for a “clean” copy edit….

Do you have any “have to haves” while writing? A “good luck charm”, a certain place to write, certain drink, music, etc?

I’m fortunate to have a really great office space in which to work. It’s a very large, bright room, one corner of which is devoted to writing on an iMac (the new model, just out, is fantastic), and the other side of which has a seating area for reading and for watching movies, from which I draw inspiration. I was a movie critic for print and television for 14 years before turning to writing thrillers, and movies especially help to inform my writing style, which is cinematic. When I write, it’s literally like watching a movie play out in my head, which I hope translates to the page. I watch the action unfold, and my fingers fly across the keyboard in an effort to catch up with the pace of that action. I write in silence. For me, music is a distraction. After all, it competes with the “movie.”

What is the title of your latest book? If you had to sell readers on a reason to read your book in 5 words, what would they be?

My latest book is not part of my “Fifth Avenue series,” which comprises “Fifth Avenue,” “Running of the Bulls,” “From Manhattan with Love,” “A Rush to Violence,” “From Manhattan with Revenge” and soon, “Park Avenue.” It’s called “You Only Die Twice,” a book that’s both about a woman’s attempt to survive two serial killers, and also about Biblical interpretation. Or Biblical misinterpretation, in this case, since the serial killers use psalms and verses from the Bible to justify their killings.

Five words? “Sit, hold on, blast off.”

Would you please tell us a bit about your road to writing and getting published?

I’ve been writing for 28 years. I started when I was 18. “Fifth Avenue” was finished when I was 24, I was signed by a major literary agency in New York after many, many rejections, and the book nearly sold to Bantam. They wanted a significant change I wouldn’t agree to give them, so the deal fell through. I was fine with that because they wanted a cliched happy ending, which my books tend to eschew. You never know who is going to die in my novels–including the main characters. I like that kind of unpredictability as I feel that it gives the novel real tension and weight when the villains succeed–only to be challenged by other characters. After that novel and with my MA in English behind me, I began writing movie reviews for print and television. Writing to a limited word count was invaluable to my education as a writer–it forced me to be lean in my writing. Word choice, I learned, is everything. There is no room for fluff when writing for a newspaper and especially for TV. As such, there is zero fluff or padding in my books, which generally start with a bang and don’t stop until the bloody end. Finally, after moving to a new house in 2010, I came upon the manuscript for “Fifth Avenue” in one of the many boxes I was unpacking. I sat down to read it, and decided that with a rewrite, I should try this new service offered to writers by Amazon. Within eight days of publication on Kindle, the book shot to #4 on best-seller lists in the States, and then it quickly hit lists in the UK. It remained an Amazon overall Top 100 best-selling novel both here and in the UK for seven consecutive months, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Each book I’ve written since also has hit Amazon’s overall Top 100 list. It’s been a crazy, surprising and very rewarding two years.

What is a book that you have read and loved so much that you wish everyone would take the time to read it?

Anything by Dominick Dunne. If I had to choose just one, it would have to be “An Inconvenient Woman.” But all of his novels I’d encourage people to read. I read them all again this past summer. What a treat that was. His wit and his observations are something to savor.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

The ability to morph into Jeff Bezos. I think all of us deserve a billion or two in pocket money at some point in our lives.

What does the future hold for Christopher Smith?

Three novels in 2013: “Park Avenue,” “A Rush to Murder” and “A Rush to Vengeance.” The “Fifth Avenue” series has been very popular and it will go on and on, as will other books that aren’t part of the series. Audio books and foreign rights are selling strongly, and a production company in L.A. now has “Fifth Avenue” and is considering it for a television series. It’s a long shot–it always is with Hollywood–but they did approach me and my agent first, so it’s fun to think about the possibilities, regardless of how remote they are.