Ask the Author: Lauren Smyth
What would you like readers to know about you?
First of all, thank you for having me on your blog! My name is Lauren Smyth, and I’m a sixteen-year-old writer with a passion for all kinds of adventure and storytelling. I’ve been writing ever since I was very little, moving from “short stories” (created with red markers and printer paper) to store advertisements, video game scripts, coffee table books, and two full-length novels.
What is Stories of the Night about for those who haven’t read it?
My first book, Stories of the Night (available soon), tells the story of a young girl named Alisen who is plagued by repetitive dreams about the end of the world. One day, a new student transfers to her school who happens to have the same name as a character in her dreams. They get to know each other and decide to research the dreams, only to discover that everything they thought was fictional has a counterpart in real life. Slowly the pieces fall into place for the dreams to become reality, and they realize that only they can stop impending world war.
What has been your inspiration for writing Stories of the Night?
My inspiration for this book was derived from my experiences in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), a civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force that teaches cadets about basic military etiquette and aviation. At first, I was simply intrigued by how ‘cool’ everyone in CAP seemed, with their military uniforms and shiny black shoes, and I started writing stories in my head about what would happen if the CAP was forced to act like the real military. The story grew from there and eventually departed from its roots in the CAP, though it still plays an important role in the story.
What was your favorite scene or part of Stories of the Night to write?
My favorite scene in Stories of the Night to write was probably near the beginning, where the main character (Alisen) and her new friend from school (Kale) are working together to research the dreams. I really enjoyed writing all the characters they met during this time and giving each of them hilarious idiosyncrasies. I remember having a movie of the scenes in my head while I was writing, and it still makes me laugh.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
One of the biggest inspirations in my life as a writer was Jules Verne, a popular French author from the 1800’s. At first, I really struggled getting into his books. I didn’t have a working knowledge of French idioms at the time, so some of the jokes flew right past me. A few years later, I picked up 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for a second time and was totally hooked! I didn’t look up from that book for hours, carrying it around with me everywhere I went and reading in any spare moments. I was fascinated by the complexity of the characters and how much detail Verne gave about the simplest events. Many of Verne’s scenes are so small – for example, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea takes place almost entirely on a small submarine, and its sequel on a deserted island – but he was able to pack a story filled with interest into this tiny space. Later I discovered that Verne had written fifty-four novels as part of his Extraordinary Voyages, and that peaked my determination. If he could do it with a pen and paper, I could do the same with a computer!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
The best advice I can give to aspiring authors is, don’t be afraid to look around and draw inspiration from others. Don’t copy and don’t plagiarize – of course! – but no matter how good of a writer you are, there will always be someone who is better than you. Maybe your strong point is well-developed characters, but you’re not so good with describing scenery. This is where inspiration from others comes in. It’s important to find a style that you enjoy reading and analyze why you liked it so that you can use those same skills in your own writing.
Once again, thank you so much for having me!
Since Stories of the Night isn’t available yet (though it is scheduled to release later this year), here are some links to my website and social media: