I have no idea if John has visited Africa, I keep meaning to ask him, and maybe he’ll tell me in the comments below. Either way, he is familiar with many things African and I can resonate with the way he sees that Dark Continent. He is one of my favourite authors and I think the Great Dictator series books are amazing. John comes with my personal badge of approval!
After taking a BA(Hons) in history, I got a job with an American publishing house, where I stayed for ten years. At last, wearying of the corporate world, I took my leave and from then onwards vowed to be my own person. I went for any job that would give me enough freedom from targets and goals to allow me what I always wanted to do most; to write.
When I was growing up, I would read anything, anytime. My mum’s magazines, the small print on medicine bottles, the ingredients on food packets, advertisement hoardings, never letting go, always reading everything from beginning to end. It was my world. People would bang on the door to query my welfare when I got engrossed in a book while on the loo. Words intrigued me, their use, their sound, their texture. How they could make me feel. How they could manipulate me. But above all, I was fascinated by writers (yes, even by those who were employed to write instruction manuals for vacuum cleaners) who could write in a way that would compel the reader to go on reading. Unputdownable. Writers who would make me want to turn the page.
And I became their disciple, learning from their talent, their ever-dutiful student. And I found that more often than not the most intense feelings and emotions could be expressed in the simplest of words. Plain language and choosing the words carefully. That is all that it ever takes to communicate effectively, and you can get to anything that you want to say.
The greatest moment was when someone browsing the ‘net in Russia saw my free short story, Learner Driver, on Smashwords and contacted me. She was a teacher of English. At first she translated one of my wacky stories books into Russian as an English language teaching aid for her students, but then came a surprise; they were enjoyed so much for their content that a Russian publisher wanted them all, to publish in Russian for general distribution – – and then I got an email from one of the translators to tell me that my wacky stories books had reached the top of the bestseller list at the biggest bookshop in Moscow!
I also started writing for teens (young adults). I have four young adult novels independently published, a book of children’s stories called Wacky Stories for Grown-up Kids, a book called A Layman’s Guide to the Meaning of Life and Death, and an adult thriller series called The Dictator Thriller Series, all available to view on Amazon USA and Amazon (UK) and on my website at http://johnmwsmith.my-free.website/ . And you might even wish to look at Strange Times, my FREE book of short stories.
Most writers get disillusioned with the writing ‘game’ at some point, but to people like me I would say, if you really believe you can write well, just go on writing and marketing your work and allow the future to take care of itself. You may yet be surprised at what can happen! Even if you have little time available, working 60 hours a week at any old boring day job, as I do. And don’t conform, and never be afraid, for if you do you will become boring, and it will show in your writing.
Wise words from a very talented author. Thank you, John for agreeing to be my guest this week. Do go take a look at his books, the links are above.