Roxanne Smolen Interview Published on: 28, Nov 2019

What was your childhood like? How has it been conducive to your career as an author?

Memories of my childhood revolve around books. I was the kid who read with a flashlight under the covers at night. I also used to steal my older brother’s comic books and read them behind the dresser so he wouldn’t catch me. Reading is the best teacher of writing. But watching TV was also influential. Commercial breaks taught me all I needed to know about writing cliffhangers.

What is it about the fantasy/science fiction genre that captured your interest?

In a word, imagination. I love how imaginative the genre can be. No limits.

What inspired you to write humorous books for young adults ranging from science fiction to urban fantasy?

I wanted to write something memorable, and the stories that stuck in my mind had humor in them. The tribbles in Star Trek. The wisecracks in the Harry Dresden series. I write for teens and young adults because I admire them. The whole world is theirs to make a difference. I like to write teenage characters who make a difference, too.

How does being a wife, a mother, and a grandmother inspire your writing?

Sometimes they inspire me to want to escape. LOL But seriously, stories are all around us, and everything my family does or says gets filed away in the back of my mind for future characters.

Your Instagram page is full of beautiful images with inspirational quotes. Which is your all-time favorite quote?

Thanks. I enjoy working on that page. I started out looking for writing quotes to inspire me, and it just kind of grew from there. My favorites vary according to my mood, but I always come back to this one by J.J. Bush: “Each day, the blank pages ahead loom large, and each day you must write away the fear anew.” I think that sums up a writer’s life pretty well.

Were the characters in Mindbender inspired by anybody you know? Or perhaps a celebrity?

Funny you should ask. Mindbender started out as fan fiction about the telepaths on the television series Babylon 5. I loved that show, and my favorite character was the telepath Mr. Bester.

How much did you research to create the character of the werewolf in “The Amazing Super Wolf”?

I did an enormous amount of research for my Wolf Boy series. All the full moons fall on their proper days. Major weather events enter the plot. For my werewolf characters, I read all I could about shape shifter legends around the world and picked out pieces that sounded plausible. I wanted my werewolves to be similar to legend, at least enough to be recognizable, yet have my own unique spin on it. Judging by the reviews, I did just that.

If you had to describe the character Taralyn in three words, what would those three words be?

Loyal. Determined. Brave.

Writing and finishing a book can take an immense amount of discipline. How do you keep yourself motivated and keep the dreaded writer’s block from attacking?

Writer’s block happens to us all, but I find it happens less often if I write every single day. To fall back on a quote by Isabel Allende: “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”

What is the most positive review you’ve ever received? What about the most negative? How did you handle both?

Reviews can help or hurt a book, and a bad review can ruin your day. My worst review was for my book, Satan’s Mirror, on Goodreads: “For a story dealing with hell and the devil himself, there’s nothing scary here.” But then the reviewer went on to describe what happened in the book, and it sounded pretty good to me, so I don’t think his one-star review would deter many readers. My Wolf Boy series has quite a few five star reviews, but I think my favorite was from an Amazon reader who said: “Purchased this book for my son for genre report in school. I read it with him and was caught up in the story and the characters.” I love the idea of parents bonding with their kids over my book. But all in all, I don’t get as many reviews as I would like. I think it’s because my target reader is too young to have an Amazon account. I do get a lot of fan mail through my website, however. I love it when they say I have an interesting take on being a werewolf. I never respond to reader reviews, but I always respond to fan mail and to comments on my Wattpad account.

What is the #1 mistake that you see first-time authors make? What mistakes did you make on your road to becoming an author?

Too much backstory. Every page, every sentence must further either the plot or character development. I know it’s hard to swallow—I had to swallow it, too. But my worst mistake was even more grievous. I wrote a short story in which the main character died at the end and sent it to the Isaac Asimov magazine for consideration. I got back a nice, handwritten rejection letter from Mr. Asimov saying it was a nice piece but if the character was dead, who was telling the story? I never forgot it.

Do you have a favorite character you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special?

My favorite character is Cody the Wolf Boy. He’s a bumbling nerd who turns into a werewolf. I wrote him in first person, right out of his head. At first, I wondered if I could pull it off—a grandmother writing as a sixteen-year-old boy. But I gathered every memory I had of my three brothers, their friends, the boys I met in school, and I constructed Cody out of all of them. By the time I finished, I knew him well enough to speak for him.

How do you feel about the shift of readers from physical books to digital ones?

I love eBooks. I don’t see a downside to them. They’re cheaper. They’re portable. You can change the font. And yet, my granddaughters and their friends all prefer paperbacks. Whenever I sell books at a book fair, I always sell out. The shift to eBooks is not going fast enough to suit me.

What is the next book you are working on?

I finished the Wolf Boy series with The Amazing Super Wolf, but I couldn’t leave that world. So, I’m currently writing a novel about Brittany, who was Cody’s love interest in the series. It’s about witches instead of werewolves, and it deals with teen depression. It’s actually my NaNoWriMo book this year. I don’t know if I’ll make the full 50,000 words in November, but I’m giving it my best try.

Lastly, could you give us a brief review of your time with All-Author so far? How has this website impacted you and what are some ways that it can be improved?

I joined All-Author back when it was called Quotes Rain, and I’m impressed by how the website continues to grow and improve. It’s been invaluable in my marketing efforts for my books. It provides a wonderful, professional- looking landing page (new authors could use it as their website.) They offer graphics and animated gifs with my book covers that I use on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And they automatically tweet about my books—a tweet I can give a second life to by retweeting it myself. You can’t get better than All-Author. Keep up the good work!

Share Roxanne Smolen's interview