Author Karen Rose Smith Guest Blogs

August 15, 2012 at 10:49 pm (Guest Blogger) (, , , , , , , , , )

I find interacting with authors on Twitter to be very exciting, and it’s always fun to share my twittering adventures with my fellow readers and blog subscribers.  Karen Rose Smith is a best-selling, award-winning author.  Her 80th novel will be published in 2013.  Below, she shares a little bit about her life as a writer.

What Inspires Me

Writing and living are interchangeable for me.  They are so glued together that I realized while writing this blog that whatever inspires me for one inspires me for the other.  Peaks and valleys in one affect the other.  So when I think about inspiration for either writing or living, I can lift my heart in these ways.

Ever since I was a young girl, music has made a difference in my life. (That is probably why one of the romances in my new series revolves around music.) Until I was five, my parents and I lived with my grandfather and my aunt.  After that they lived next door.  I come from an Italian heritage, and my grandfather was an immigrant.  He played the mandolin beautifully.  On weekends friends would stop by with guitars and an accordion, and he and his friends made music.  That music brought into the house fellowship, fun and a sense of well-being.  Also in my grandfather’s house was a player piano.  We inserted what was called a “roll” and a melody magically played while my mother and I would sing along.  She played the piano herself, and I would accompany her, too.  It was natural for me to learn to play the piano myself.  Through the years I learned to express emotion through the playing.  I found joy and inspiration in the music.  With this history, I never just listen to a song.  I feel it.  Today I listen for artists and music which can stir that deep creative part of me, whether it does that by bringing back memories, lifting me to a mountaintop, soothing pain and stress away, or urging me to write a particularly emotional scene.  Music lifts me over the writing bumps or life’s bumps.

Traveling to a place with power also renews me.  I believe everyone can find places that fill them with peace and an overwhelming sense of well-being.  When I was a child, I had access to a relative’s farm.  There was something about the fields of grass, the scent of orange blossoms and honeysuckle, the playfulness of kittens around the barn and the beauty of horses in the corral that always washed over me in a particularly healing way.  I loved just being there and soaking it in.  As an adult I feel drawn to places where I can feel a power greater than myself–the ocean, the cliff dwellings in the southwest, the Appalachian mountains, the big blue sky over Santa Fe, Sedona and the Grand Canyon, a memorial garden my husband and I created in memory of my parents in our own backyard.  All of these places, as well as the memories from being in them, fill me up when I am empty and help me to keep going.

Since emotion and my creative energy are also integrally linked, the people I love and who love me also inspire me.  My husband reminds me that I always say each book is different and eventually my characters show me the way.  Talking to my son long-distance reminds me the bonds between a mother and child are never-ending.  When my BFF’s daughter runs to me for a hug, I am inspired to look at the world through her eyes–in a more innocent, unspoiled way.  My writing friends listen and help me get unstuck when a scene or character is being stubborn.  Also my three cats, Ebbie, London and Zoie are constant companions who remind me to be playful.  Ebbie joins me when I work or listen to music.  London curls on my lap or beside me for an afternoon break.  Zoie exhibits pure kittenhood. Their presence fills me with a sense of  joy and contentment.

Inspiration surrounds me in many forms.  I just have to know how to listen, where to go and whom to turn to in order to find it.  Somehow I always do and life and writing flow on.
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Interview with S. Smith

June 15, 2012 at 4:07 am (Interviews) (, , , , , , , )

I’m excited to share with you all an interview with S. Smith, author of Seed Savers.  The book is my top favorite pick for young adults this week, this month, this year, and possibly this decade.  The interview may contain some spoilers.

1.       This is quite a political statement, was that your intention?

Not so much.  I think it was more about my love of good food.  Seed Savers is a love story starring home-grown food.  I love food—growing, harvesting, cooking, eating, and sharing it.  And I think a lot of people these days maybe are missing out on that.  I grew up on a small family farm and we always just ate what we grew, putting the fruit and veggies up for the winter and enjoying the goodness of how much better everything tasted than the “store kind.”  Sure, politics obviously comes into the book, but it’s much more than that.

2.      I read on your blog that Senate Bill S510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, inspired the story line.  But what made you choose to tell the story through the eyes of children for children, instead of writing a piece more geared towards adults?

Actually, although I mention Senate Bill S510 as being the idea behind my story, I believe I wrote Seed Savers prior to hearing about it.  I started writing Seed Savers in April of 2010, and most of the internet frenzy on the bill came out after that.  I think a friend told me about the bill after reading a draft of my story—it’s hard for me to remember exactly.  The inspiration for the book and the reason I wrote for children is covered in the blog titled “How It All Started”(May 2012).

3.       There are many documentaries floating around about the habits of companies similarly described in the history of your futuristic world.  Have you seen any of them? If so, which ones did you consider the most inspirational or informative? (I’d like to watch them.)

Here in Salem we enjoy the Salem Progressive Film Series, which is a “volunteer organization dedicated to educating and raising awareness of important current events.”  They bring in great documentaries and speakers once a month.  I have enjoyed going to many of these.  I’ve watched movies on water, dirt, food, urban gardening, MONSANTO, etc.  As mentioned in the “How It All Started” blog, Food, Inc. truly was a part of the inspiration for my book.

4.       You must be a gardener! What are your favorite household ‘crops’? (Mine are lemon balm and rosemary  – for the smell, of course.)

Oh my gosh.  Well I do live right in the center of town, so I only have a very limited amount of space for my own little garden, but I do love growing tomatoes—I’ve been starting my own from seed for about the last four years—and yes, the fresh herbs are wonderful (cilantro, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsely, dill, oregano….).  I also have strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and one boysenberry bush.

5.       The lupines are a symbol of safety for the children during their flee from oppression to knowledge and fruitfulness (both literally and figuratively).  Why the lupine? Does it hold special significance for you?

Well, I think that’s covered in the book.  Mt. St. Helens is sort of in our backyard here in Oregon, so we get a lot of coverage about whatever is going on up there.  I either heard on t.v. or read somewhere that lupines were the first plant life to come back after the devastation of the volcanic eruption and I jotted it down to use in my book.  I still have the scrap of paper on which I wrote it down.

6.       Seed Savers is reminiscent of titles like The Giver and Invitation to the Game.  Do you often read dystopian society literature? What are your favorites?

The Giver is one of my favorites.  I also really love Fahrenheit 451 and The House of the Scorpion.

7.       Your book is peppered with verses from the Bible as well as symbols regarding Mother Earth.  Do you mind me asking about your religious beliefs? What’s your life’s mission statement? (This is something I find particularly fascinating about writers in general, how C.S. Lewis’ beliefs seeped into The Chronicles of Narnia, the infrastructure of Orson Scott Card’s science fiction and that of Mormonism, and so on…)

“To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly…” 🙂  I am a Christian, but more importantly, I had to be true to my characters.  I didn’t want flat characters, and children at that age often do go to church and have strong beliefs.  My two favorite books, Peace Like a River and The Secret Life of Bees, both have spiritual themes running through them.  And let’s not forget that Twilight begins with a quote from Genesis.

I certainly hope the book can be viewed for all of its layers and not dismissed on account of some Bible verses.

8.       When can we expect Book Two in your series?  Have you written the whole series and just timing their releases or are you writing as you go? (I’m dying for the next installment already!)

Thanks! Book two, Lily, will probably be out sometime in August.  It is completed and in the editorial process right now.  Treasure will be available on Kindle devices soon (in process right now).  I have not written the entire series yet, but do have a brief outline.  I am currently about one quarter of the way through the first draft of book three.

9.       The kids do a lot of traveling as they run away from home to Canada, in the last third of the book.  Do you enjoy travel? Have you been to Canada? What are your favorite things about both your hometown and your favorite place to visit?

Is this a spoiler?  Yes, I enjoy traveling a lot, but as I get older, I dislike flying more and more.  I have been to Canada, but only British Columbia, not Quebec.

Oregon has often been referred to as “the Eden at the end of the Oregon Trail,” and for good reason.  It is very green here, and we have gorgeous lakes, rivers, and forests.  I live in the Willamette Valley, so when I go to a place without mountains in the horizon, it’s a bit disconcerting.

My favorite place to visit is Logan Pass on the Continental Divide at Glacier National Park in Montana.  Even though I live in a valley, I absolutely love standing on the top of high places and looking down.  🙂

10.   Is there anything you’d like to share about yourself or your work to your readers and fans that hasn’t already been discussed?

I think Seed Savers is very timely in regard to topics such as the urban garden movement, food deserts, childhood obesity, school gardens, etc. The science teacher at my school (who also has a gardening class) was very much of a help and encouragement to me as I was writing the story.  We like the idea of kids having a novel to read in science or gardening class for that literacy tie-in.  In regard to my writing process, I don’t always know what my characters are going to do next.  They often surprise me as much as they might surprise you (perhaps even more so!) 🙂

Thank you for interview!

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