Happy Monday readers. Please join with me in welcome Class Acts author, Michael D. Smith to the blog today.
Michael, welcome. Please start by telling us three words that describe yourself starting with A, B, and C.
Coming up with an A,B,C was quite difficult!
What are your three favorite things?
My three favorite means of expression are writing, drawing and painting. About eighty percent of my art energy goes to writing, with drawing and painting accounting for the other twenty percent.
Are you self- published or with a publishing company (if so, which one?)?
Published by Class Act Books; CommWealth
Published by Double Dragon Publishing: The Jack Commer, Supreme Commander science fiction series (four novels in the series published, one additional under contract, another being finished)
Published by Sortmind Press, which is my own press, thus these are the self-published works: The Soul Institute, The First Twenty Steps
What for you is the best part of writing?
The best part of my writing is the satisfaction that comes with a solid investigation of “what’s been psychically going on recently,” and this includes even the fun, fast-paced plots of the science fiction I do. All my fiction has a psychological quality, whether it’s science fiction or literary, and even in its humorous moments. When it’s coming out well it seems to open up new inner territories for exploration.
I also love it when I see someone reading my work and laughing; I then demand to know exactly where they are in the book. And I very much enjoy drawing the characters, and the drawings often give me feedback into character development. Some of the CommWealth characters are on my website:
What is the worst?
The worst part of writing for me is the time constraint, as I often have to subsist on short writing sessions before and after work. However, I’ve have noticed in many cases that as I near the time I need to leave for work I often come up with unexpectedly concise chapter endings. I might see that I have ten minutes before I need to wrap things up and I'm confronting three pages of notes that might stretch to ten pages of fiction, yet somehow it now occurs to me that all those notes are superfluous, that naturally Character X would do this and then that in the next few seconds and this is a perfect ending for that chapter. This has happened so often that I wonder if I haven’t unconsciously set this up.
Another “worst” might be the sense of confusion and doubt arising when a new novel starts gestating as vague ideas, scattered notes, and a blunt yearning for fiction. Yet, while the process is often painful and sometimes seems hopeless, I can’t really denigrate any of it because the power underneath all that does seem destined to lead to some important investigations, no matter how the final manuscript turns out.
Was there any particular inspiration for your characters or story?
CommWealth came from a long and involved three-part dream, and the novel is more or less a fleshing out of the first part, in which our supercilious antihero Allan demonstrates his easy adaptation to the new property-less society as he requests every object that strikes his fancy and then hauls it all back to the mansion he booted someone else out of. The dream’s second part, in which Allan is “requested” to work in Australia and becomes part of a murder mystery, and the third, where he returns to America shattered and in need of spiritual regeneration, weren’t used, but I’ve always considered that their energy is present in the novel, adding depth to the characters’ motivations. The dream was so complete and compelling that the first draft of CommWealth seemed to roll out effortlessly.
I have a blog post about the origin of the novel. This in fact is the entire dream written down shortly after I had it, and it forms my first outline for the novel:
How much is your character like you?
I try to parcel pieces of myself to all the characters, both male and female. The “ensemble cast” nature of this novel, in which half a dozen main characters take equal turns on stage, allowed me to represent some of my best and worst qualities across a wide range of characters and scenes. Allan, the narcissistic playwright and actor who forces the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe to stage his mediocre play, who hoards an unbelievable amount of consumer electronics and sports cars and isn’t above crime to get even more of what he wants, might be my psychological shadow. Oddly, it’s Erica, the betrayed girlfriend of ruthlessly charismatic bicycle mechanic Richard, who represents some of my best ideals/best self. A beautiful professional model who’s initially scorned by many as shallow and incapable, she surprises everyone with her maturity and courage and it’s her practical insight that finally challenges the folly of the dysfunctional, totalitarian CommWealth system.
Favorite writer, book?
My favorite author/book is probably Franz Kafka and The Trial, which I’ve read several times and have also listened to as an audiobook. The fact that Kafka is more and more being regarded as a humorist (especially in Europe) resonates deeply. His biographer Max Brod recounts scenes of Kafka laughing as he reads portions of The Trial to a literary group, whose members are also finding the book deliriously funny. To me there’s a psychological dimension of this humor that goes far beyond what we might now call “black comedy.” At some point I want to finish reading The Trial in the original German, but that’s a long slog for me with dictionary in hand.
When writing, which do you prefer to write with, computer or paper and pen?
I do almost all my work on my laptop, though sometimes I cut up printouts and tape notes to notecards which I can physically sort across a large table. I have a 1940’s Royal manual typewriter I sometimes use to bang out early notes. If any prove useful I’ve found I can scan and OCR the results.
Blurb for CommWealth:
The CommWealth system, has created a society in which there is no legal claim to any kind of private property. Any object from your house to the clothes you’re wearing can be demanded by anyone, to be enjoyed for thirty days before someone else can request it. As actors in the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe attempt to adapt to this chaos, their breaking of the Four Rules sustaining the system, as several members navigate betrayals, double agents, and murder to find themselves leading a suicidal revolution.
Rule One - You are free to enjoy the chosen object for thirty days. During this period no other person may request it.
Rule Two - The requestor is untouchable for thirty days by the person asked. Attempts at retaliation, such as demanding unusually large quantities from the original requestor after the thirty-day period, carry stiff penalties.
Rule Three - Once you ask somebody for something, you can never ask him or her for anything else again.
Rule Four - You can never ask for the same thing back from the person who got it from you, not even after his or her thirty days of enjoyment.
Allan shivered at the reflection of his black overcoat and his striding legs on the wet sidewalk. Up ahead someone with a DreamPiston Electronics bag opened a shiny red
Porsche glistening with thousands of water beads.
“Okay,” Allan said, “I’ll take your car here.”
The mustached little twerp looked up. “Ahhh, crap...”
“C’mon, don’t give me any trouble. Gimme the key.”
“Look, it’s raining. And I just got these MP3 players and the new Fappy tablet—”
“Not my problem. Fork the damn key over.”
“Look, my umbrella’s in the car—can I just get my umbrella so my stuff—”
“Forget it. The umbrella’s part of the car as far as I’m concerned. Anything in the car. Besides, I just lost my umbrella a couple blocks back. I’m soaked.”
“C’mon, I just got this car the other day!”
“Don’t hand me that. The sticker on the plate says you got it a month and a half ago. You’re overdue, buddy. Now hand me the key.”
“Got trouble there?” A bright blue City of Linstar police car idled in the rain. “Got a Hoarder there?” a huge officer grinned.
“Uh, no... not at all...” said the twerp. “I just—I just can’t find the key—”
“Yeah, right—you just unlocked the damn car with it,” Allan said, turning to the policeman. “He is giving me a lot of crap about it.”
“C’mon, sir, you know better than that.” The officer’s name tag read BARCLAY.
“Dammit!” the twerp snarled. He separated the Porsche key off his key ring, thrust it at Allan, then spun around and fastened on a man coming down the sidewalk. “Give me
that umbrella! Right now!”
“Goddammit...” the man grunted, surrendering his umbrella to the twerp, who grabbed it and hoisted it above his DreamPiston bag.
“We really got the Christmas spirit here, don’t we?” Barclay said.
“Really,” Allan said. “Some people...” He examined the Porsche key in the rain. “Thanks for your help, officer.”
“Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t really necessary. People are basically good, you know. Give ’em time to adjust and all, that’s what I say.”
The twerp leapt into traffic with his new umbrella and his bag, waving his free arm. A little green car skidded to a halt. The twerp ran to the window and pounded on it. “Give me this car! Right now! Damn you!”
“Jesus...” Allan said. “What a bastard!”
Barclay was out of his patrol car in a second, hand on his hand on his holster. “Sir, that’s not the right way to go about it. We need to be respectful. That’s the CommWealth way.”
CommWealth is available at:
Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/component/virtuemart/dystopian/commwealth-6022015-08-14-23-29-50-detail?Itemid=0
Barnes & Noble:
Also available from amazon.uk:
About the Author:
Michael D. Smith was raised in the Northeast and the Chicago area, before moving to Texas to attend Rice University, where he began developing as a writer and visual artist. In addition to exhibiting and selling paintings and drawings, he’s completed fifteen novels.
Smith’s writing in both mainstream and science fiction genres uses humor to investigate psychological themes. On his blog, he explores art and writing processes, and his web site contains further examples of his writing and art. He is currently Technology Librarian for McKinney Public Library in McKinney, Texas.
CommWealth is his first novel published by Class Act Books.
Find out more about Michael at:
Website: , www.sortmind.com,
Blog: www. http://blog.sortmind.com/wordpress/