LT Smith

My guest this week is LT Smith who is currently a Rainbow Awards finalist for See Right Through Me and also Batteries Not Included from the anthology When the Clock Strikes Thirteen. Thank you LT for granting me this interview.

AJ: On your Facebook page, you have two of the cutest pups. Tell us about your babies.

My boys are the love of my life.  I honestly don’t know what I would do without them.  They are brothers and get on so well – even from when I first got them when they were 7 weeks old.  They are delightful in the house and will curl up and around anyone who visits.  But, as soon as they are out, they become SAS.  Everything is a potential threat – leaf, blade of grass, chocolate wrapper dancing in the breeze … And God help us all if a cat happens to stroll out of a garden.

If that happens, everybody knows about it.

AJ: Gee…better keep my boys inside then. Let’s start with some easy questions to warm you up.

AJ: Coffee or Tea?

Coffee to get me going in the morning or else it is the half-awake look. Some people may think that is quite sexy, but not if I am coming at you in my car.  So yes … coffee it is.

AJ: Dark or milk chocolate?  

I prefer milk chocolate but will ‘struggle’ with both – preferably at the same time.

AJ: Favorite sport to play?

Hunt the remote? Reboot windows? Get my sock off the dog?  All of them are fun although I do quite like the ‘jumping to conclusions’ and ‘running around in circles’ fitness regime I do at work.

AJ: Favorite sport to watch?

I am not very good when it comes to sport.  I tend to get distracted by other things rather than the sport itself, like the adverts around the arena.  Maybe this is because I don’t have a clue what is going on half of the time on the pitch or on court. I will watch the Olympics every four years, cheerfully snuggle up with a hot chocolate and watch the Winter Olympics too, struggle through the Commonwealth Games, and then the tennis when it is Wimbledon. The World Cup? I pretend to watch it and support England, and even look depressed as our boys in white are booted out.

AJ: Who is your favorite team?  

Even though I am not a sports person, I do support Manchester City Football Club.  This is because I grew up right near Maine Road and would follow the masses down the gates singing the football songs with the blokes.

AJ: Favorite leisure activity?

Reading and writing have to be at the top don’t they? But if that is the case, I wonder where walking my furry men will come? Personally, the lads always take precedence when it comes to leisure time.  They insist.  Honestly. If I want to write in peace, lads need to be knackered out first.

AJ: I can imagine. Have you seen my writing position (it’s on my facebook page. Toby insists on resting his chin on my wrist. It’s why I have so many more words containing right hand letters in my stories, LOL.

Tell me a bit about your background. How did you come to writing lesbian themed novels?

Ohhhh … I am sure people know this one to death but I just love telling it.  I started as a reader.  Don’t we all?  I stumbled across the Academy of Bards when online looking for background information as I had not long been introduced to Xena – I missed it the first time around – and by sheer accident had come across a story.  Oktoberfest by Redhawk.  I was totally hooked.  After a while of reading these fabulous pieces of fiction on this site for free, I thought to myself ‘I might have a go at that’ never believing that I would, or could, write anything.  Hearts and Flowers Border came out of it and I have never looked back.

AJ: Tell me a bit about your process…pen and paper, plotter or pantser, computer, iPad/tablet, etc.

The writing process to me is probably not the same for others.  When I want to start a story I open a word document and start to write.  I don’t really think about character or plot, I just see where the opening half hour of slamming my fingers haphazardly against the keys takes me, and if there is anything I can use. Sometimes I do have an objective in mind and I am usually sure about the genre (considering most of my work is romance … lol).

I tend to mainly use my laptop but did write Batteries Not Included completely on my iPad.  Now that was an interesting way to write as I could watch TV at the same time. 

When I first started to write I did plan or write chunks down in notebook but most of the time I completely changed it when I went back to the story. Therefore, I decided to just write instead. It is really strange to read through my ideas from back then and how I would try to link points or events.

I don’t tend to plan, and please, if you meet any of the kids I teach don’t tell them this as I am always banging on about planning being the key to good writing.  What I tend to do is begin to live with the characters and events.  They seem to take over my life at a certain point and I think about them more and more as the story develops.  When it gets to them taking over my life, it is near the end.  Then it is a case of having to let them go … something I hate doing.

AJ: Which part of being an author do you enjoy the most, the least?

I love the way the story will unfold.  When I write something and then read it back and think ‘I wrote that? I bloody well wrote that!’ Or when someone writes to me and says how much they enjoyed one of my stories. That is a wonderful feeling.

The ‘least’ thing I like could actually turn into a list.  Writing a blurb is one thing I don’t like to do.  I just can’t sum up my story in a few lines, as I am a rambler by nature.

AJ: I’m right with you there! I especially hate the short blurb…400 characters including spaces. How does anyone condense a nearly 300 page novel into 400 characters?

I know! I also struggle with character names.  I don’t like to give them names that sound out of place but I don’t want to give them names that are boring and stupid or make them seem like a right old slapper or arty farty.  I feel like a mother considering all the different scenarios her son or daughter could be in and what people would call him or her.  Remember in the Simpsons with Homer naming Bart and not realizing how it could be rhymed with fart?  That’s me.

But I think the worst bit of writing is the vulnerability of putting myself out there to be judged and criticized.  I can handle being told something constructively, but don’t like it when people say cruel or hurtful comments about what has taken me a long time to create.  We all have choices and like different things, but to be overly harsh because it is easy to say something anonymously is not something I like very much.  I would prefer for the person to come directly to me and give me his or her take on it. Then I could work on getting better instead of feeling like crap. However, I am working on being less sensitive. Fingers crossed on that one.

AJ: How much time do you spend (on average) each week writing?

When I am back at work, very little time at all.  I haven’t written anything new since the school holidays (August)  But then again, I have been editing Forget Me Not, my new one out at the end of October (just a short one), a short story for the Christmas anthology, Mary Christmas, and, as from this week, revisiting Beginnings which will be out in December.

However, when I don’t have to worry about lesson planning and marking, I can write for hours and hours and hours and forget that time actually exists. I love that.

AJ: Of the books you’ve written (Beginnings, Once, Puppy Love, See Right Through Me, and Hearts And Flowers Border, and Still Life which book was your favorite and why? Which do you consider was the most successful? 

Without a doubt it has to be Beginnings.  I loved writing ‘her’ as she near enough wrote herself.  The opening part of the story was almost like an excerpt from a diary that I had never written and I smile every time I read it – which will be quite a few times in the coming weeks as I am editing her once again.

AJ: As much as we all might love to be “what you see is what you get” kind of people, it’s often unrealistic. We tend to reveal different sides or aspects of our personality to different people we meet/know. Describe yourself in one sentence.

Loyal, approachable, sensitive, fun-loving and an animal lover.

AJ: How would a friend who knows you well describe you?

A pain in the arse that loves to tease and have fun but can also be very supportive.

How would someone who knows you as a colleague or acquaintance describe you?

Hard working, dependable and reliable. I hope.

AJ: If you are anything like me, each of your characters contains one or more of your own qualities or personality traits. Which of your characters is most like you, and which is least like you? Why?

Lou Turner from Beginnings is the most like me as she is dedicated to her job but is very unsure about things that happen in her personal life.  Lou has the misfortune of getting the wrong end of the stick most of the time and she also finds it difficult to not over analyse her relationship with others – in a nutshell, she is flirtarded.  Ms. Turner comes from a big family, her parents divorced when she was a kid, she moved to Norfolk when she was seventeen - actually … most of the first part of the book is my life, but I would like to stress something here.  Lou’s sister, Jo, is an absolute star in the book and people have written to me in the past to say how they wished they had a sister like her.  However, my sister, Ju, is even better that my fictionalized sibling.  She is my role model and second mum and without her I would be lost.

AJ: Some authors admit to having found it easy, and others have described great difficulty finding a publishing home.  Tell us about your experiences in getting your work published.

I feel I am the luckiest woman in the world when it comes to publishing.  When I started writing I never thought about publishing any of my work.  I was very contented with it being published on the web. Then, out of the blue, I received a mail from Steph Solomon from the Academy of Bards asking if I had ever thought about publishing Hearts and Flowers Border. Obviously I said no. Steph then continues to ask if I would be interested in being introduced to the lovely ladies at PD Publishing.  I honestly did not think PD would give my work a second glance, but they did.  And I feel like I have to pinch myself repeatedly every day since.

AJ: What is your worst vice? Conversely, what’s your best virtue?

My worst vice is that I never give up and will flog whatever I have to do to death. I hate to feel as if something has beaten me and will half kill myself to get it right – even if I know I am flogging a dead horse.  And then when someone suggests that maybe I should give it a rest, it makes me even worse.

A virtue … erm.  This sounds as if I should go into Miss World mode here. Actually, my vice could be my virtue too.  I persevere rather than giving up at the first hurdle.  Sounds better than the ‘half killing  … flogging a dead horse’ of the previous paragraph. 

AJ: What are you currently working on, and when can we expect to see it published?

I am considering a few things – can I say I am between books at the moment? I am currently editing Beginnings and she is going to get a huge overhaul and not just a spit wash.  I am ‘considering’ writing a short story to accompany the release of Beginningsthat maybe people can download.  If I can sort it, it will be free even without any other purchase – a bit like a Christmas present from Ylva.  But, we shall see.

I do have a few stories signed for future publication. Once and Driving Me Mad being a couple.  I am crossing my fingers for more to be on the horizon, but I need to get writing them first.

AJ: How did you come to publish with Ylva?

When PD Publishing announced they were closing their doors due to other commitments, I was approached by Astrid Ohletz to consider joining the pack at Ylva.  The way Astrid approached me was so tentative and wonderful that I was made to feel like they truly wanted me to be part of the team. 

After a while of talking things over, with Ylva showing me what they do and how it could help with my writing, I accepted.  I truly believe it is the best decision I have ever made.  Everyone at Ylva is supportive and constructive – we all want the best for each other and there is no ‘dog eat dog’ (like what I did there with the ‘pack’ image?) mentality.  We are writers who want our work to be the best it can be and the team at Ylva make that happen.

AJ: Have you always enjoyed creative writing? If not, what made you develop a desire to write several books?

Nope.  Never had an inclination to write a book in my life before Hearts and Flowers Border.  I always classed myself as a reader and not a writer. Actually, the writing part was never consciously thought about.  Firstly, I never thought I would have the patience to write in depth and at novel length.  Secondly, I wouldn’t classify myself as a romantic although my writing screams otherwise.  Finally, I never thought I had anything of importance to say – although some people reading this will say I was right on the last one.

So why am I still writing? Easy. I am addicted to it.  I love the fact that I can write the stories that I would want to read and, hopefully, other people would want to read too.  Maybe one day I will sit down and read them.  Who knows?

AJ: Thank you LT for this opportunity to learn more about you. You can reach LT Smith here:

You can find LT's books here:

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© JEN 2014