I don’t know about the rest of you, but I LOVE hearing the story behind the story. Movies, books, people’s lives, random advertising, world records – I love hearing the story behind them all.
So, when I heard my friend and fellow YA author, Olivia Smit, was releasing a new book, you can bet I jumped at the chance to interview her about the book, the story behind it, and her life as an author.
For those of you who haven’t yet heard of Olivia or her books, here is a brief bio I stole off her website:
Olivia Smit loves baking, visiting small towns, and writing stories that face hard truth with hope and encouragement. Olivia has an Honours Specialization in Creative Writing, English Language, and Literature. She lives in Canada with her husband and their dog, Cassiopeia. Her debut novel, Seeing Voices, released in April 2020.
And these are her books! I love the combination of photo and sketch on the covers. Click on the image to read the first two chapters of Seeing Voices.
Hearing Lies, comes out in two weeks (July 15th), and is available for preorder now, for those who just can’t wait. Having really enjoyed her debut novel, Seeing Voices, I am super excited to read this sequel and find out what the characters from the first book have been up to.
But, until then, I hope you enjoy this interview with Olivia Smit 🙂 I sure did.
Just to start with something easy… what are five words you’d use to describe yourself?
This is hard! (But fun! I love these types of questions!) Off the top of my head, I would describe myself as friendly, emotional, intuitive, anxious, and empathetic.
Ha! Me too! No wonder we get along well 🙂
Can you tell us a bit about your books and what inspired them?
Both Seeing Voices and Hearing Lies are small-town, summertime stories about teens figuring out who they are and how to keep living through tough, painful situations. The choices we make continue to affect us and the people we love, so how do we change the narrative and continue to have hope for the future when we’re stuck in the middle of a mess?
Also included: sunshine, beach dates, first love, and a quirky (yet loveable) local librarian.
If you could sum up their themes in a few words, what would they be?
Hope is the first word that comes to mind. My books address some pretty tough issues, but I always strive to write stories that point readers back to hope. I don’t want to shy away from writing about real-life, hard-hitting issues, but I want readers to feel encouraged, like the ending of the story is a lifeline they can cling to. I often turn to books when I’m searching for something, so I tend to write stories that I feel hold the beginnings of an answer.
If I could put the heart behind my books into words, I’d probably say something like this: There are good things ahead. This, too, can be overcome. You are so, so loved.
Are any of your characters based off real people (yourself or others)?
I try not to “carbon copy” characters from real people that I know … if I do that, I just start picturing the person I know instead of the character, and then seeing them in public is too weird. But I definitely pull traits, quirks, sayings, and qualities from the people I know and love (and myself)!
Both Skylar and Mike (the books’ main characters) have little pieces of me (or who I strive to be, or who I try not to be) woven into them. For example, one of my best friends laughed after reading Seeing Voices for the first time, because Skylar’s internal monologue sounded a little too familiar to her (after hearing me think out loud so many times) …
Good to know 🙂 What is something that might surprise people about you?
Maybe how much I worry about things? I’ve been told before that I seem really confident, but a lot of the time, my brain is spitting out one million ways things could go wrong. I’m getting better at tuning myself out, but sometimes it really gets to me!
Do you have a favorite genre to read?
I really REALLY love a good YA contemporary (Brigid Kemmerer’s Letters to the Lost duology has my whole heart), but I’m also a huge fan of fantasy! I prefer magical realism, but I’ll try anything! Give me magic and dragons and I’m a happy camper!
Ahhh… I love that duology!! They’re so good.
Now, we know you love writing (because, you know, author), but what do you do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing (or working!), I’m probably reading books. I can’t escape them (and I don’t want to)! On the rare occasion that I’m neither reading nor writing, you’ll probably find me training my puppy, Cassi (we are learning how to walk politely on a loose leash right now) or baking up a storm! I’m obsessed with pastry of any kind. I’m finally pleased with my pie-baking abilities, so I’m searching for my next challenge!
Tell us more about Cassi!
Cassi (short for Cassiopeia) is our ten-month-old sweet cockapoo puppy! She loves people, rolling in the grass, and eating things that are really, really bad for her (it’s her biggest flaw). We love her to bits!
She’s so cute!! And I love the name.
With you being both a writer and an editor, I have to ask… If you could give an aspiring author one piece of advice, what would it be?
Before this year, I would have gone with the classic, “don’t be afraid to write a bad first draft. You can always fix it later: that’s what editing is for.”
But now, after first hearing it from Shannon Dittemore, my favourite piece of advice is this: publishing is not linear. Success is not formulaic. Your writing and publishing journey will not look like anyone else’s. It may take many years to sell one book, and then suddenly you may sell many at once! Or you may sell one quickly, and then spend years working on the next one.
Write the best stories you can. Put your best effort into whatever publishing path you choose. And trust that you are doing well, and it is enough.
Shannon is clearly very wise, as are you for taking it. I love that advice! And it’s so true.
Okay, final question…. do you have any unusual writing quirks?
I don’t know if this counts, but I tend to write my first drafts better at night, when I’m very sleepy. It helps me to slip more easily into the story world and stop second-guessing every word I type if I’m half-asleep while I do it!
Any other writing stage has to be done during the day, when I’m fully awake. I can’t edit timeline inconsistencies without my full brainpower. (And even then … yeesh!!)
Many thanks to Olivia for joining me today. It’s been so much fun getting to know you better!
Olivia loves to connect with readers so make sure you check out her Instagram page (it’s a lot of fun!) or, if Twitter is more your style, here’s the link to that. Also, you can read the first two chapters of Seeing Voices here, and don’t forget to preorder Hearing Lies while you’re there!