Andrew K. Smith is a Pacific Northwest native through and through. He grew up in Edmonds, Washington, but spent his undergrad years across the mountains at Washington State University studying English and creative writing. The literary and arts journal LandEscapes published both his fiction and nonfiction works there, and in 2013 he received an honorable mention for the Sarah Weems Award in creative nonfiction for an essay-length version of The Adderall Empire. Andrew worked part-time as a writer for Camp Korey, a summer camp for children with life-altering medical conditions. He currently works in Seattle as a Book Manager for Booktrope Publishing. In the near future, Andrew plans to attend law school in pursuit of a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.
Learn more about Andrew on his website at http://www.andrewksmith.tv, or you can find him on Twitter @andrewksmithtv or his Facebook page.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I started taking creative writing classes in college and then fell in love with filling in the blank page and eventually decided to get my Bachelor of Arts in English with the option of creative writing. On more then one occasion I’ve been told, “I have to watch what I say around you because it may end up in one of your stories.” This is true. My friends and family are my biggest influences.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? Everyday is a writing day. Immediately following hitting the sauna at my local athletic club I shut my door and put on my headphones listen to some Beethoven or electronic dance music and stroke the keys. I write for at least 1-2 hours day.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I have gotten writers block—sometimes I can’t write to save my life. When I get in a rut I dive into a good book and that seems to boost motivation.
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? Plotter for sure, I enjoy designing the whole plot in my head from beginning to end and then I begin unpacking those bullet points and jotting down all the details that go with the narrative arc.
5.Are you traditionally or self-published, and what was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? I’m traditionally published. I signed a five-year contract with Booktrope Editions in Seattle, Washington. Before that I was with Morgan James Publishing in New York.
It took me 13 months to write my first book, and then a few months to hunt down a publisher, and then get it into print. And everyone told me how quick that was. It was a struggle to get published and there is no guarantee that anyone will like it, but for the most part mostly everyone has so far.
Advice to aspiring writers is keep a diary, whether that’s with digital ink in your phone or your computer it’s important to constantly be archiving your ideas. It’s mandatory in my opinion that you capture those moments in words and save them for later.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? The highlight of becoming a published author has been being able to entertain people with my words. For me, there is no greater feeling then this and it’s the sole reason I keep on putting my fingers to the keyboard day in and day out.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. In my book, “The Adderall Empire: A Life With ADHD and the Millennials’ Drug of Choice” the content is raw, graphic and, relatable. There is something very different about this book and maybe because I like to say, it’s an ADHD book that’s not about fully about ADHD, it’s about the journey of a young adult and the privilege of youth—and it celebrates life. It’s very hopeful. I try to give an intense impression of how it can feel of a young person and coming of age and all that. I touch on things a lot of people look past and my friends get these things too and so many look past them.
Here is a sample:
ADHD is a bursting galactic star that crisscrosses inside the walls of your mind and twinkles—ripping your focus into several pieces. Then you are left picking up the pieces after the galactic star treats your thought process like a playground.
I’d say the ADHD-free version of me would be clear as glass, and I could look in the mirror long enough to look myself in the eyes. ADHD is colorless, or maybe black, or maybe green. Yeah, green. ADHD looks like toxic green paint dripping all over the
spokes of my soul. ADHD is several blackouts mid-sentence.
ADHD is generations of squirrels on separate wheels, running around at all hours of the day and night.
Sometimes I have several thoughts before I brush my teeth in the morning. Or maybe they are just fragments and I am kidding myself by calling them thoughts.
ADHD makes the sound snow makes: it is silent, but the more it accumulates throughout the day, the heavier it gets.
Also keep an eye out for my new book, “The Tinder Crawler” coming out late winter early spring through Booktrope Editons. http://www.thetindercrawler.com
8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? My book is targeted for 17+ Parents, teachers, students, professionals, police officers, and doctors who don’t take the drug can grow in knowledge and empathy by reading a first-person account of Adderall’s effects on a life.
9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I love running, golfing, traveling, reading, and the ladies.
10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) The advice I give new authors for building their platform is start with your personal and professional connections and then use media outlets such as twitter, blogs, and newsletters to broadcast your ideas and build subscribers. Also make sure you bug the press to reach those viewers on a larger scale, which will eventually turn into customers and increase your fan base. It’s more competitive out there then ever so don’t give up because Rome was not built in a day.
11.What is the hardest thing about writing? The hardest thing about writing is writing about people you know. I’ve lost friendships because I’ve written about them. Some were ferociously angry even though I never said anything negative about them in my composition. You can’t help how a subject reacts to your story, but even so, it hurts when they don’t understand you wrote about them because they meant something to you. As writers, we ultimately sell ourselves out. When I find the courage to write about my family, friends or some unassuming stranger, I’m not revealing a truth about them. I am revealing a truth about myself.