(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – I read and reviewed the science fiction novel Fall of Zona Nox in March of this year. Afterwards, I reached out to the author, Nicholas Woode-Smith, requesting an interview. He graciously accepted.
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Myself: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?
Woode-Smith: I have always adored coming up with stories and interesting worlds. This started in school, when I used to come up with scenarios and worlds for my friends. Later on, I started playing video games. In particular, a game called Spore: Galactic Adventures. The game allowed the player to craft scenarios and stories for other players to enjoy. I created a series of sci-fi stories, detailing the exploits of birdmen warriors, pig-headed merchants, and an army of masked troopers.
The story-telling capacity of the game had its limits, but I still had more stories to tell. So, I decided that I wanted to write. And it seemed I became half-way decent at it.
Myself: What is the first piece that you remember writing?
Woode-Smith: The first book I remember ever creating was a little illustrated book with a stapled spine. It was based directly off the 1st level of an old game called Age of Mythology and was a gift for my grandparents. Not sure where it is now.
Myself: It seems that video games had a significant impact on your early writing efforts. Do you think that video games are a way to stimulate the imagination?
Woode-Smith: Definitely! Games are like any other form of escapism, with one crucial addition. While you are definitely being inspired and gaining ideas from books, film and TV, it is ultimately a linear and passive experience. When in video games, you are actively participating in the story, making choices and shaping your experience. What is that but storytelling? Video games, at least for me, were my first foray into storytelling.
Myself: What was your favorite class in High School?
Woode-Smith: Definitely history. History, when studied properly, is essentially just a story. It’s a narrative of humankind and I find it fascinating to this day.
Myself: That is an interesting way to look at history. I too find it fascinating.What is your academic and work background?
Woode-Smith: I studied politics, philosophy, and economic history at the University of Cape Town. I have worked as a social media director for a non-profit, and a managing editor for a political commentary website. I write non-fiction articles commenting on politics and economics in South Africa. My main job is my fiction writing.
Myself: That is a bit backwards from most authors I have spoken with. They have to make writing their second job. What part of the world do you currently live in?
Woode-Smith: Cape Town, South Africa. The real-life location of Hope City, the setting of my Kat Drummond Series.
Myself: Do you think that living there has affected your writing?
Woode-Smith: Definitely. My urban fantasy series, Kat Drummond, is set in Cape Town. And people familiar with the city can see the flavour of the city infused into my writing.
Myself: How do you relax? What are your hobbies?
Woode-Smith: I love video games and have been playing a wide variety of games since a young age. I also enjoy painting, building and playing Warhammer 40k. Of course, I enjoy reading as well. Fantasy, sci-fi, and history.
Myself: What’s the earliest book you remember reading for yourself?
Woode-Smith: Probably a Goosebumps. Maybe Narnia. I loved both.
Myself: Did you read much growing up?
Woode-Smith: I was lucky to have parents who instilled in me a love of reading. I read constantly growing up.
Myself: What book that you read as a child stands out in your memory?
Woode-Smith: The Rift War Saga by Raymond Feist. I adored this series and it definitely had a profound influence on my writing.
Myself: What have you read recently?
Woode-Smith: The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. A true horror.
Myself: What is your favorite genre and book?
Woode-Smith: Fantasy has a special place in my heart. But, I’d consider Catch-22 to probably be my favourite book.
Myself: Where is your favorite place to read?
Woode-Smith: I have cultivated a habit of reading before bed. So, I struggle to read anywhere but in bed.
Myself: Do you prefer paper or eBooks? Do you listen to audiobooks?
Woode-Smith: I prefer paper but don’t mind reading on my Kindle. I struggle with audiobooks.
Myself: What books do you recommend to others? Give as gifts?
Woode-Smith: I recommend Catch-22 to everyone. It’s an amazing book.
Myself: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Woode-Smith: My dream is for my books and my worlds to become a part of the lives of my readers. I’d love for a fandom to develop around my books, with my stories eventually making their way into series, games and other mediums.
Myself: How did you pick the genres for your stories?
Woode-Smith: I adore fantasy and sci-fi. Reading it, playing it, and watching it. So, it was easy to pick my genres.
Myself: Where do your story ideas come from?
Woode-Smith: A combination of inspiration from games, film, other books, and real world history.
Myself: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
Woode-Smith: I am an intense outliner. I like to create a scene by scene outline before I begin writing in earnest.
Myself: Do you ever find yourself ‘becoming’ one of your characters as you write?
Woode-Smith: Probably. But I always adore it when the characters are their own separate individuals. When it feels like I’m truly interacting with a thinking being, that is when I’m pleased with my writing. So, my goal is for me to not become them, but for them to become their own persons.
Myself: About how long does it take you to complete the first draft? How long do your revisions take?
Woode-Smith: Usually 1-2 months. This is more because I’m balancing my time between marketing and my freelance writing. If I could dedicate more time to writing, then I would be able to churn out a book reliably once a month.
Myself: That is an impressive writing schedule.How much research do you put into a novel?
Woode-Smith: A reasonable amount. A lot of the time, I am basing my writing off research I’ve already done.
Myself: What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?
Woode-Smith: Hardest thing about writing is self-doubt. It’s incredibly easy to doubt one’s own abilities, and this leads to low enthusiasm, inconsistency and, at worst, giving up. Easiest is getting better. Just keep practicing, learning, reading and honing the craft and you will improve.
Myself: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Woode-Smith: Just write. I know this sounds trite, but there is no better advice. Just keep writing, practicing, honing the craft. And most importantly, don’t overthink the writing. Perfection is a scam. It doesn’t exist. If someone out there enjoys reading your own, it is perfect enough.
Myself: What novels/works have you published?
Woode-Smith: There are 14 main novels in the Kat Drummond Series, with two side novels. In the past, I published 9 sci-fi novels but I unpublished them so I could re-write and combine them into 4 novels.
Myself: Looking at your website you have a very aggressive schedule for future Warpmancer book releases. Is that the rate which you normally produce a new work?
Woode-Smith: Warpmancer is mostly already written. Books 1 – 3 are already written, with book 4 being 50% done. I am spending most of this year re-writing the existing books and then writing the final 2 and a half books. As I mentioned before, I can produce a book in 1-2 months. So, it is at my general rate.
Myself: What are you currently working on?
Woode-Smith: I am currently working on the latter half of book 4 of the Warpmancer Saga, Conquest of the Defiant.
Myself: How should your fans follow you or get in touch?
Woode-Smith: The best ways to get in touch would be to sign up to my newsletter and my Facebook group. Links below:
- FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/troopers.crusaders
- Newsletter: https://nicholaswoodesmith.com/subscribe/