Laurie and I connected via our blogs sometime ago, probably through our love of music.
Having worked as a police officer and in the prison system, he’s the writer of three novels (so far) in the “Death” series.
All the way from the land down under, please give a warm welcome to Laurie Smith.
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Welcome Laurie, so lovely to have you here. Are you a full time writer or do you have a day job?
Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately I’m retired from the workforce due to health reasons. I don’t even know if I would call myself a full time writer either. With my first two novels I wrote constantly, perhaps twelve hours a day, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. This is where retirement is good, you don’t have to get up and head off to work. When I started on the third book I tended to be more restrained and worked about five hours a day. Dividing your time as a writer can be hard. You may stop physically writing but your mind still plots, your characters vie for attention and you wake up at odd hours with, ah-ah moments. To combat this I took up another hobby, photography. It definitely takes you away from writing, to the extent that I have to make sure I don’t replace one with the other.
I’ve seen your pictures on your blog, and you have a great eye. Would you consider photography your greatest extravagance?
I spend a fair amount of time and money on it. I don’t drink or smoke so one needs to spend the spare cash on something.
I agree money is for spending. ;) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Probably my big mouth, I have a tendency to say things on the spur of the moment that on reflection would have been better left unsaid. Not nasty things, just observations and opinions that weren’t asked for.
Hmm … I’m sure we’ve all done that. Is there a profession other than your own you would you like to try?
I know you can’t class retirement as a profession, although I do it well. I think I would have liked to have been a sailor, in the Navy. I have something of an affinity with the sea; it seems to draw me to it at times.
Water does the same for me. It’s inspiring to be near the ocean. Where do you get your inspiration from?
For the first two books inspiration came from my work experience in the prisons and as a police officer. Some of the characters are loosely based on real people, as are the crimes. Kings Cross and Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, which feature heavily, are great places to set a story. I spent many a weekend in Sydney’s Kings cross as a young soldier, and I worked as a policeman in Fortitude Valley. I soaked up the grittiness of these locales and the feel of the streets never left me. With the remaining books it’s a matter of seeing what’s happening in your own country in regards to crime. Then putting your own spin on it and shaping it to suit your story and characters.
Fascinating! What are your favorite and least favorite parts of being a writer?
The favourite part would have to be creating a story, characters and plot that people actually want to read. Knowing that this creation will live on long after you’ve departed this life, the print versions are in our national and state libraries. That somewhere in the future a reader may pick it up and read something that is part of me, my thoughts and ideas. Hopefully more people in the now will do the same. The least favourite would have to be, finishing the book and publishing it, then realising you’ve spelt a foreign word incorrectly. You wouldn’t think that an, e in the wrong place would turn something from a loved one, to an item of underwear. Other than that, it is editing until your eyes bleed and you still miss something.
Don’t I know it? I’m editing right now. Name a few of your favorite authors and books, and why you like them.
In my early teens I discovered Ian Fleming and read Casino Royale. This inspired me no end and I haunted the second hand bookshops for the rest of them. I found James Bond to be a great character, mainly his tough, no-nonsense approach to the job at hand. Let’s face it; the man was a calculating killer with an eye for the ladies. Next on the list would have to be Wilbur Smith, I read his first two books, When the Lion Feeds and the Sound of Thunder after I left recruit training in the army. Great adventure novels and they were the beginning of a series in the Courtney family. There wasn’t anything pretentious about them at all, just good, solid writing and plenty of action and adventure. Edgar Rice Burroughs, with his famous character, Tarzan and don’t forget the John Carter series. Burroughs had the knack of weaving his plots and bringing the characters together beautifully. I must have read nearly all his work before I turned twelve. Phillip Jose Farmer, for his Riverworld, sci-fi series and Robert E. Howard with his array of pulp fiction characters including Conan.
Great choices, Laurie. What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?
Creating the characters, bringing them to life with all of their faults, strengths and doubts, and then watching the story coming together as I write, and the least? Having to get up, put the laptop down and do something normal. Otherwise I’ll end up with blood clots or something equally nasty.
Do you outline, plot and structure, or do you just sit down and write?
I tried plotting my first novel, managed four chapters and disaster struck. I reached over the keyboard to grab my coffee and hit all of the keys on the left side. It deleted almost everything, both on screen and in the saved file. After using a programme to find deleted files I managed to retrieve the first two chapters. I then realised they were crap, listened to the little voice urging me to change direction and started again. See, every cloud does have a silver lining.
I’m cringing thinking of all you lost, but happy it worked out.
Are you working on another book now?
I’m working on the last two books in the Death series and a stand-alone novel with some of the series characters making guest appearances. Book four, Cape of Death is set in Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, a vast wilderness with few towns. A smuggler’s boat with several illegal immigrants, a large amount of heroin, pistols and explosives on board is shipwrecked after a cyclone. A survivor is rescued weeks later then the full story comes to light. One other man, an Afghani is on the run and the remainder of the crew and passengers have been found murdered on the beach. Plus, a foreign diplomat’s daughter has gone missing north of Laura. Throw in a Russian businessman on the hunt for old Nazi gold, (see book one) who doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process and you have a story that will keep you up late. Detective Annie Leeson shines in this story and faces death and a series of events that tests her mettle. So, if you like crime, outlaw bikers, sex, adventure, drama, shootouts and explosions then this is for you.
What is the genre of your book?
Like the others in the series it falls under adult crime/men’s adventure, which is funny because women are the books’ biggest fans.
Women have good taste. ;) Why should people read your books?
They should read it if they want to be entertained, horrified, angered and stunned by the story and the depth of depravity my antagonists can descend to. Oh and if they want to be uplifted by the grit, determination, love and endeavours of my protagonists, then they should definitely read the book.
How long did it take for you to write the books?
I have a habit of writing the next book while halfway through the preceding one. River of Death, my current book took me about four months in real time. The characters start yelling at me and the next thing I’ve opened a new word document. It works for me.
Tell us about the road to publication for your book.
At this late stage of life I didn’t fancy the traditional method of publishing, with its: find an agent, find a publisher, get accepted, and wait and wait. No, this little duck decided to self-publish. I learnt how to format for e-book and print, put the artwork together for the covers and away I went. I managed to find a good printer and the end result, my work for the entire world to see. Now I’m waiting for them to see it.
Please find all of Laurie’s books on:
What has the reception been to your books?
I’ve probably given away more e-books than I’ve sold; the print versions have all sold via book launches and markets. Some readers are divided with the work, book two, Valley of Death is a little confronting for some but overall I’m happy with the result.
Wonderful to know. Some quick questions to end it off!
Aside from people/pets, what is the ONE item you would save if your house was on fire? It would have to be the large case containing my camera gear. All my manuscripts are kept in cloud.
Favorite place you’ve traveled to or would like to travel to? Alberta, Canada a beautiful part of the world.
Name a food you can eat every day. Beefsteak.
Salty or sweet? Hmm, okay sweet.
Favorite style of music? Just about anything from the 50’s through to the early 70’s.
The best gift you’ve ever received? A ten shilling note for my tenth birthday, I bought a pocket knife and too much chocolate.
Your most guilty pleasure. Laying back and watching what I want to watch on TV.
Favorite season. Here in Australia, Autumn.
Name something you cannot go a day without. A big mug of hot tea.
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?
As an author I learned many things about writing: not only from the grammatical point but the discipline of sitting and hammering out what’s floating around in your head. I have learned how to grow a thick skin and smile when people curl their noses up at your offering, and accept that your new-born baby, who is so beautiful to you but to a lot of people it looks like a spider monkey. I did learn how to create an eBook file along with the necessary formatting. How to format for a real book, hint, find yourself a relevant book template online. What type of cover to put on the front? It can be expensive if you pick the wrong one. I’m still learning about marketing and promotion and have found that word of mouth has sold many books. Sadly it won’t get you way up in the ratings at Amazon.
Eden, thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to share my writing with your readers, I appreciate it so much.
You are most welcome, Laurie. It was wonderful to learn more about you. Readers, please connect to Laurie at all his virtual homes.
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Connect To Laurie
Facebook Pages for the Death book series
Writing gritty-adult crime based novels seemed like a natural extension to Laurie Smith’s working life. Retired now after a life of working in the military, prisons, police and security he believes that he has something to write about and says, ‘You can’t be immersed in prison life, then work the streets as a copper without picking up the feel of crime and criminals. These experiences transfer easily to my books, set mainly in Queensland they add a local flavour not found in most novels of this genre.’ Laurie arrived in Australia as a boy from England in 1961 and lived in Sydney for a while before moving to Queensland. After joining the army he was stationed back in Sydney for two years before going to Vietnam. He felt drawn to Kings Cross, Sydney’s notorious red light district. This is where his first novel Mountain of Death was born. He writes the Death series as L W Smith. Retired now, he fills his time when not writing another novel in his Death series, with photography, blogging and travel. He lives with his wife Lorelle on their rural hideaway in south-east Queensland.
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