Ask the Author: Zack Smedley

What would you like readers to know about you?

Above all, I’d most like readers to know that if I’m publishing a new book, it’s 100% because I had something new to say. A lot of authors tend to take on new projects to keep their plates full–which is completely valid and the best way to build a career. But I decided early on that I didn’t want to become a “book a year” type of author, and instead only want to put out new projects when I have something new to say. So while there may be a little more time between my books, readers can be assured that they’re proportionally fuller.

What is your book about for those who haven’t read it? 

My new book, TONIGHT WE RULE THE WORLD, is similar to Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK but with a boy protagonist: it follows the journey of a twelfth grade boy–Owen–whose life is upended when word gets out that he was sexually assaulted by one of his classmates. The book is presented in two timelines: one where we follow Owen’s journey throughout school beforehand, and the other dealing with the aftermath/fallout among the local media, classmates, Owen’s mission-driven father, and Owen’s girlfriend. 

What has been your inspiration for writing it? 

I owe a lot to Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK, which had a profound impact on me when I read it back in high school. However, there are very few mainstream versions of this story with a cis boy main character. So I wanted to write one. 

What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write? 

The ending, because it’s victorious. 

What books or authors inspired you to become a writer? 

Laurie Halse Anderson remains one of my first and strongest inspirations (hence why I wanted to write this book). Bill Konigsberg, Stephanie Keuhn, Adam Silvera, and Angie Thomas were also fundamental in inspiring me to write gritty, unapologetic stories that tackle tough subject matter. 

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book? 

My advice would be that anyone can do it. Speaking as a guy with a Chemical Engineering degree–with no formal literary education–I can confidently say that if I can write a publishable book, so can anyone else. I’m of the firm belief that our skills as writers have little to do with what we’re “born” with and are almost entirely a product of how much we practice at it. Sure, some people pick it up faster than others…but I think that with enough time and effort, anyone can learn to recognize good writing, and learn to produce it themselves. 

You can find me on instagram at @zack_smedley 

You can find my book at: 

(Signed copy from local indie): 



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