Friday, January 24, 2014

April Smith

April Smith has traveled to every location she writes about in her books, from the Dominican Republic to Siena, Italy, to Meuse-Argonne, France. She takes pictures and talks to people and just wanders. Back home, she outlines the story on a white board, stepping back to see the whole, and then begins writing chapters, often out of order, according to what presents itself that day. It’s a process of both intuition and will that can take from two to twenty-five years, as was the case with her new novel, A Star For Mrs. Blake.

Aside from her newest work of historical fiction, Smith is the author of the FBI Special Agent Ana Grey novels, a standalone thriller featuring a woman baseball scout, and is an Emmy-nominated writer and producer of dramatic series and movies for television. She has two grown children and lives with her husband in Santa Monica, California.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Smith's reply:
I’d hate to tell you all the books I’ve abandoned over the past year. Not wanting to badmouth fellow authors, I won’t, but it is appalling how many novels peter out after fifty pages or compromise the ending because they’re poorly conceived from the beginning. It’s rare to finish one and be happy, but I did like the mind-blowing originality and twisted daring of Swamplandia by Karen Russell, and was a huge fan of Many Rivers to Cross, a saga of Katrina as you’ve never seen it before, by my good buddy Tom Zigal. So far I’m hanging in with &Sons by David Gilbert because the writing is lovely and I’m intrigued by the portrait of A.N. Dyer, the quintessential “male American novelist” in all his narcissistic glory.

One of the best books I’ve read recently is Elsewhere, a moving but acerbic memoir of life with a crazy mother by the elegant Richard Russo. Revisiting the classic Up Country by Nelson DeMille was a pleasure. But the most stunning of all was the audio version of Lolita, a superb performance by Jeremy Irons. I’d read it decades ago but hearing it was a revelation in terms of the prose. Could be the best novel of the twentieth century.
Visit April Smith's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Star for Mrs. Blake.

--Marshal Zeringue