Circles: A Collection of Stories

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Please welcome D. Fuller Smith to my blog. Hello Dan, welcome to my blog. Let’s get started shall we? 

Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.

Writing has been quite a journey for me. It felt good to be able to write in a way that others responded to by creating conversation and thought. Writing screenplays gave me the most immediate enjoyment as we would be on the set of a production that only existed because of stories that I wrote. Watching other talented professionals skim through my screenplays, ask me questions about what I wrote and give their feedback on how they wanted to present it was a wonderful experience. Publishing books did not produce such immediate results so the feedback from my 3 books was always cherished whenever it was given. In school I would procrastinate to write book reports that were five to ten pages long so when my first book, The Stigma in 2004, was over 400 pages it was a surprise that I was able to even write something that long. To know that people have read it and had an opinion on it still is such a wonderful feeling.

Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book? 

In the fifth grade my teacher, Mrs. Thompson, had us write a story that we read to the class. Austin Miller wrote a story that made everyone laugh when he used the phrase ‘smooth move, ex-lax’ which was a popular phrase in 1988. At recess that day, everyone said how much they liked Austin’s story then they also said that they liked mine as well. I couldn’t even tell you what my story was about anymore because I was just writing it since it was our assignment. So many of the kids told me that my story was the second best that I started to like writing, I liked hearing that I was almost as good as ‘smooth move, ex-lax.’ In my freshman year of high school I was in an Honors Writing class. My teacher, Mrs. Conway, had this wonderful wit and in liking her it was easy to dive into the assignments that she gave the class. I noticed that my writing interested others in that class as well. Mr. Frontaine, in my first year of college, made me love the craft of writing as his life took him to all four corners of the world simply for him to write about what he saw. It seemed like a dream to be able to have writing be such an influence in my future life.

How difficult was it writing your first book?

Writing my first book, the aforementioned The Stigma under the pen name J. Floyd King, was quite an ordeal. I wrote the first draft in double-spacing so I was fooling myself as to how long it was. The computer erased that draft and that upset me so much. Talking about the book did not give me the same feeling as when I read passages and snippets from my earlier writings in school. I learned that writing a book was a rather isolated experience and that did send me to the writing of screenplays for the more immediate feedback that I wanted as a younger man. Halfway through I did not even want to finish it so it was a struggle to make it to the end of the book. Holding the book in my hand though made it all worth it and I have been writing ever since.

Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?

I have never wanted to give up writing. I did look for easier paths in writing articles and screenplays. Growing out of the need for feedback helped to focus me on the craft of writing. I now enjoy the process of taking an idea that was in my mind from the world around me then turn it into a tangible series of words that the world can see. I still write to be read, that will never change. I understand that people are very busy so if they do read anything then that is a blessing in and of itself.

Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?

Writers live in their own minds. Support is appreciated even though I find that I am on this path alone. I want to support my dream of writing as a career and not just a hobby. I am the most supportive at this stage of my writing journey. It helps me in this strange world to know that I am good at something. The support of the teachers in my school career lit a fuse that still burns in me to this day.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

I am a voracious reader as well as a prolific writer. The best writers take us to a world that we do not currently live in. We cannot do many things in this world through the drudgeries of our society so the escapism of books and movies is so important. The best writers understand this and give us views of worlds that entertain us, teach us and make us feel right in the comfort of our own homes. Anyone can be a great writer, you just have to share your own unique world with us.

What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?

I was once told that we are not what we do. We have to do many jobs in order to have a lifestyle but that is not who we are. We are anything we dream of being so we must always remember that. Stay in the real world, do what you have to do and always be who you are supposed to be. The world moves so fast that it is easy to define people so never let anyone define who you are.

What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

I am a proud member of Generation X and that is who I write for. I do want to expand to the generations both before and after me which has led to amazing research. I want my writing to speak to anyone that reads it and that is my greatest challenge. I have learned so much about this world in just learning about those that are older than me and younger than me for the express purpose of including them in the stories that I write.

Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?

The cover of Circles, written under the pen name of J. Floyd King, was created by a wonderful artist named Marcos Hernandez that uses English as his second language. He speaks Spanish as his first language and it has been interesting that in talking about how I want the covers of my books (The Stigma, Circles and The Cycles Building) to look there was a small language barrier. He would listen to me in English, which he speaks eloquently, then create art that was subtly different than what I thought I had expressed. For example, I thought the spaceship should be larger on the cover of Circles. What Marcos gave me was a picture that could have been as grand as a spaceship flying into the sun or as miniscule as a pathogen entering a cell. I love the cover for that and am thankful that our difference in language might have been the cause of it.

What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?

I am working on a theme based short story book called Autumn. It is about a catastrophic event called The Fall, which is our society coming to an end and I write stories about before, during and after The Fall. Here is an excerpt from a story called The Time Traveler:

“You are welcome.  Don’t cut me off here and wait until I ask you to speak.  I have a lot to tell you and I want to get it all out before I have to start answering your questions.  So there is something that is going to happen soon and you made a mistake a few years back that will leave you vulnerable when the fall happens.  You had that opportunity to buy some land on May 27, 2014 but you decided that the time was not right.  You had the money then but don’t now so you just moved on and I was real proud of you for doing that.  It takes a lot of courage to lose all of that money and have it effect your life as it has.  You are not in any position to buy a tract of land now and that will be an issue when the fall happens.  You will be stuck in the city and pretty much everyone in the city will be killed.  The intruders you get after the fall will not be your guardian angels.  Okay, I have been talking for awhile and I want to see where you are at.”

Barry sat there processing everything he had just heard and was unable to figure out what words to use so his guardian angel prodded him.

“It turned out to be a bad choice to switch jobs in June of 2015 but you went into it with the best intentions.”

Barry finished compiling all of the words spoken by his guardian angel and found his own words to say.

“I would have stayed with Alton Umbridge if I had bought that land.”

“Although that is true, it wouldn’t have solved how upset that job made you.”

“I should have been more mature.  Lots of people have jobs that get on their nerves.”

“Yeah, it is hard to find that job that doesn’t get on your nerves.  How about when those millionaire athletes and billionaire owners have jobs that get on their nerves.  It is the vanity of a society based on making money and with the age of humanity basically being a teenager vanity is still dominant in this life.”

“These things you are saying…  How do you know so much?”

“Wow, that…  That is a good question.  Wisdom, intelligence, knowing so much really has to do with experience.  Imagine being alive for so long that you never have to worry about things working out for you.  Like you can’t see the future but you still know that the future will truly be okay.  If you grow through this life without fear of anything then you understand how fleeting existence truly is.  Vanity is like having a secret that you spend your whole life afraid that others will discover when the whole time everyone is vain and therefore they have secrets as well.  It is a shame that all of society has secrets but they are gonna get exposed when the fall happens.  What I’m saying might not make sense but I do need to move on to the plot of your life.”

Barry sat speechless on the couch waiting to see what his guardian angel was going to say next.         

           “So you are going to start going back in time a day at a time…” 

Any last words before we wrap things up?

Thank you for this opportunity. Answering these questions has been a wonderful experience. I never told the Austin Miller story before, only had it rattle around in my mind from time-to-time, so having it on paper now is elating. I had not thought about the teachers that inspired in a little bit so it is nice to think of them again. Writing has been a gift that I am so thankful that I have. I am 43 years old now and have lived enough to know that I have been so blessed so I hope that everyone feels as blessed as I do. I hope that the world learns to count its blessings as opposed to notice its differences.  

dan   

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Circles: A Collection of Stories

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