INtroducing . . . Sam Smith and Peter Tomlinson
By Penelope Jensen
Every issue, IN presents INside Authors, a look at authors from around the world who have significantly caught our attention and deserve a little space and recognition. Their writing genres vary, their styles, backgrounds and individual stories on how they achieved attention unique, and their attitude towards our industry is quite often amusing and always enlightening. Our hope is to provide a glimpse, a snapshot, an overview of some of the finest writers of our time making waves both tidal and ripple. The following two authors are this month's choices, based on the heat arising from their respective corners of the world.
Sam Smith,Fiction, Poetry, and Nonfiction
Background INfo: My name is Sam Smith and I have literally, at 60, just got my bus pass. And here is the authors blurb I usually trot out – Editor of The Journal (once of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry), publisher of Original Plus books, I am also proud to be Poetry Editor of The Select Six (BeWrite Books). Born Blackpool 1946, now living in Maryport, Cumbria, freelance writer, most recently employed as an amusement arcade cashier, I have also been a psychiatric nurse, residential social worker, milkman, plumber, laboratory analyst, groundsman, sailor, computer operator, scaffolder, gardener, painter & decorator . . . working at anything, in fact, which has paid the rent, enabled me to raise my three daughters and which hasn't got too much in the way of my writing.
So much for the blurb . . . I think, having left the Merchant Navy before I was 21, but having been involved in a war, witnessed extremes of poverty, returned to England's Swinging Sixties, and attempting to reconcile all that I had seen with Peace Love and Flowers I ended up as a writer. I drifted from job to job, ended up perched on a rock in Brixham and read in that one sitting Henry Miller's Smile At The Foot Of A Ladder. I decided that if I could write something even half as good as that my life would have been worthwhile. That was 1969. Took me until 1991 to have my first piece of writing published. Now books I wrote 30 years ago collect prizes. Oh well.
INfluences: I survived my education and family intact. Which, so far as my chosen career goes, is probably the best that can be said for both. My real education came from books, painters, composers, friends. There are just so many authors who have been an influence one time or another. Henry Miller of course. Id like to write as well as Steinbeck, huge admiration for James Baldwin, W. H. Auden, the Imagistes, Francois Sagan, Michael Hamburger . . . where does one stop? Im still coming across authors who blow me away.
Advice: Accept rejection. Put the rejected work to one side, along with your disappointment and anger, work on another project; then come back to the rejected piece, and examine it again. If you can still see no fault with it, submit it elsewhere. If something said in the rejection note has niggled away at you, though, and you can start to see a way that the work might be improved without devaluing it. Try it; and submit it again. Phillip K. Dick once received 48 rejected stories in one day. Sam Becket had his novel rejected 42 times. And I still dont rate it. Not every publisher will share your taste, some have lists full to overflowing, likewise slush piles. Persist.
Internet Presence: My novel, Sister Blister was one of the first published on the Web – by Online Originals. And was one of the first to be entered for the then Booker Prize. Didn't get shortlisted because the Booker Judge that year took against reading novels on screen. Nevertheless it gained the book, now in hardback, and me some worthwhile publicity. And I didn't actually have a PC when I first submitted the manuscript of Sister Blister. Had to get myself connected; and the rest followed from there. Though not quite. Because by then I had already started publishing The Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry, and was organising local literary events and festivals. I had a poem accepted for the Forward Prize, read for the very first time on Radio 3. And built my own website – http://members.aol.com/smithsssj/index.html – where I could link to my, by now, several different publishers. And it has been invaluable. At one time I was poetry editor of Jacobyte Books in Australia! And I've been British liaison for the River king Poetry Supplement out of Illinois. All from England.
The Future: I've been freelance now for over three years. Have got by mostly on editorial commissions and Working Tax Credit, and some extra cash from a house sale. But that cash is about to run out and so I've been casting about for some casual work. None yet. And hoping some more – paid – editing work pops up.
Regards writing – I'm about halfway through another historical novel – The Friendship Of Dagda And Tinker Howth; have started a poetry series provisionally called Scenes From Country Life, got another novel lined up provisionally titled, Combe Detective; and I'm in the process of seeing how feasible it is to start up a short-run print at home for my Original Plus books. Don't want no more boxes of other peoples un-sold collections. I've been talking to Cait Myers and Neil Marr about publishing a 5 book science fiction series of mine, but which has been temporarily lost among other schemes. And a Dutch friend and I are thinking of starting up a Writers Retreat in Spain, just south of the Pyrennes. Beyond that I just go looking for new mountains to climb. Literally.
Poetry To Be Like John Clare University of Salzburg Press 1997 ISBN 3-7052-0066-6 Skin&Bones Odyssey Poets 1997 ISBN 1 897654 03 0 Dialogues Silver Gull Publishing 1998 ISBN 0 9527668 3 3 John the Explorer Gecko Press 1999 ISBN 0 9535844 0 2 pieces K.T.Publications 2001 ISBN 0907759432 the complete pieces BeWrite e-book 2007 ISBN 978-1-905202-52-2 Rooms Oasis broadsheet 2002 ISBN 1-900996-27-8 apostrophe combe boho press 2003 ISBN 1-904781-02-0 Problems & Polemics boho press 2004 ISBN 1-904781-09-8 Rooms & Dialogues boho press 2005 ISBN 1-904781-66-7
Novels Sister Blister Online Originals 1999 ISBN 1-84045-047-9 The End of Science Fiction Jacobyte Books 2000 ISBN 174053028 4 Paths of Error: Undeclared War Jacobyte Books 2001 ISBN 174053073 X Paths of Error: Constant Change Jacobyte Books 2001 ISBN 1740530780 Paths of Error: As Recorded Jacobyte Books 2002 ISBN 1740530969 Marks BeWrite Books 2002 ISBN 1-904224-02-4 Porlock Counterpoint BeWrite Books 2002 ISBN 1-904224-15-6 The Care Vortex BeWrite Books 2002 ISBN 1-904224-98-9 Sick Ape: an everyday tale of terrorist folk BeWrite Books 2003 ISBN 1-904492150 The End of Science Fiction BeWrite Books 2004 ISBN 1-904492-70-3 The Secret Report of Friar Otto boho press 2006 ISBN 1-904781-97-7 We Need Madmen Skrev Press 2007 ISBN 978-1-904646-45-7
Nonfiction Vera & Eddys War BeWrite Books 2002 ISBN 1-904224-97-0
Original Plus Titles Andetsteds Don Ammons ISBN 0 9533591 0 7 Other Moments I R G Bishop ISBN 0 9533591 2 3 Other Moments II R G Bishop ISBN 978-0-9546801 Other Places Idris Caffrey ISBN 0 9533591 1 5 Eeeny Minnie Molly Richard Wonnacott ISBN 09533591 3 1 Forgeries James Turner ISBN 095335914X Bags of Mostly Water Sandra Tappenden ISBN 0953359158 Underland Paul Davidson ISBN 0953359166 Broadsheet Asphyxia Paul Sutton ISBN 0953359174 Carmen at the Fountain Albert Rowe ISBN 0953359182 Cuatro Poetas (transl. Machado, Neruda, Lorca & Guillen) Albert Rowe ISBN 0954680103 Yellow Torchlight and the Blues Emma Lee ISBN 0953359190 The Light Forecast Paul Lee ISBN 0953359166 Days of Fire and Flood Chrissy Banks ISBN 0-9546801-2-X
Peter Tomlinson, Poetry and Fiction
Background INfo: I was born in wartime England and evacuated to a remote farmhouse in North Wales to escape the bombing. Our living conditions were very primitive with no running water, gas, or electricity. The only entertainment was the radio, and I remember the excitement of listening to stories on Children's Hour.
When peace came my family returned to Merseyside and we were reunited with my father who sailed with Royal Navy on convoy escort duty in the North Atlantic, the Arctic, and the Mediterranean. He also served with the Pacific Fleet. We were housed in a temporary, prefabricated house on a bombed site opposite a pawnbroker's shop. We were surrounded by bomb damaged buildings, and we kids ran wild in what was to us a very adventurous playground.
I left school at the earliest possible age and was employed as a telegraph messenger boy by an American cable company in Liverpool who subsequently trained me as a telegraphist. I was conscripted into the British Army and spent nineteen months in the Middle East.
On my return to civilian life I studied at college and university and pursued an academic career. On retirement I worked overseas for a short period as a cultural guide. My main interest at that time was poetry and I have had nearly 300 poems published by about 80 poetry magazines in UK and overseas. I completed my first novel in 2003.
INfluences: I cannot think of any particular writer who has influenced me. I have always admired the well told story with a beginning, a middle, and a satisfying end. The characters have to be unique because every human being is unique. The hackneyed rehash of the well-worn fiction trail has no place in my reading list. As a child I was often enthralled by stories told over the radio, which allowed me to make my own images rather than have them imposed upon me by television or film.
I find solitary walking in the forest and hills where I can just moon around and daydream – an absolute necessity. Walking has a rhythm that contributes to creative thought. I never go without a note book or a small tape recorder because an idea can easily flash through my mind and be lost.
Advice: Writing is a harsh discipline so new writers should try and include a writing period in their daily routine and stick to it whenever possible. It is your everyday life, relationships, and background that make you what you are and contribute more to your writing than you realise. Don’t dream of taking off to a country cottage on your own, expecting to write the next best seller because it seldom works. You cannot divorce yourself from your everyday life and assume a different personality just for writing. A determination to succeed is essential; even if it takes years, it doesn’t matter.
Sad to say, all that is good is not published and all that is published is not good. Don’t give up! When you think the book is finished it probably is not; there are always improvements to characterisation, plot, and above all, polishing the language. Frequent revision is essential to achieve the smooth flow of writing that makes for easy and comfortable reading. Finally, remember that behind every good writer there is an even better editor. Internet Presence:It is very difficult getting your titles onto the bookshelf, which makes the Internet essential. Readers can’t buy your book if they don’t know it exists. Full details of my novels can be found on www.bewrite.net/petronicus_legacy.htm.
The Future: I am writing a mystery/thriller set in modern times that reaches back to the early life of the principle character. I will finish it by Christmas. I am gathering thoughts for a fourth book in The Petronicus Legacy series. I also need to find time to write poetry for small press publications and to read at festivals.
The Voyages of Delticos (October 2007 release) 978-1-905202-60-7 The Stones of Petronicus – Bewrite Books 2004 978-1-904492-76-4 The Time of Kadrik – Bewrite Books 2006 978-1-905202-42-3 Tunnels of the Mind – Bluechrome 2004 Whispers in the Dust – Hengist Enterprises 1999 Reflections in the Rock – Hengist Enterprises 2000 Echoes in the Stones – Hengist Enterprises 2001 To Tell the Tale – Hengist Enterprises 2002 The Short Straw Society – Hengist Enterprises 2002
Penelope Jensen considers herself a citizen of the world, aligning herself at this moment with the purposes of IN, where you'll find her writing articles and interviewing authors, among other things. You can reach Penny at:PenJen@inorbit.com.