Saturday, February 14, 2015

Introducing Roland Smith

Image result for roland smithHappy Valentine's Day to my fellow readers! Speaking of Valentine's Day, here is an author whose work I just love...Roland Smith! I met Roland Smith in 2003 when he came to Iola, Kansas, for the Allen County Young Authors celebration. My family and I have kept in touch with him and his amazing wife, Marie, through the years, especially as I have attended the Warrensburg Children's Literature Festival. He and Marie have been great friends to my parents. Love you guys!

Here is a little background on Roland's life:

"I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. When I was five years old my parents gave me an old manual typewriter that weighed more than I did! It was my favorite possession. I spent hours in my room clacking away on that old typewriter. Of course, when I was five I didn’t know how to spell and I barely knew how to read, but I loved the sound and the look of the letters on the crisp white paper.

"Things haven’t changed much since then. I still spend several hours a day in my room clacking away and I still love the sound of the keyboard and the look of the letters and words that eventually turn into stories. The only difference is that I can read now and I spell a lot better...

"My wife, Marie, and I live on a small farm south of Portland. I spend my days in my basement office writing stories that usually include animals. If I’m not writing I’m traveling — doing research and taking photos for upcoming books. Or, I’m out visiting schools — something I love to do! My writing led me to animals and my work with animals led me back to writing. It’s funny how things work out. I spent over twenty years working with animals. Now I’m going to spend the next twenty years writing about animals…as well as a few other things."

Recently, I asked Roland a few questions about his life as both a reader and a writer:

1. What was the first book that inspired you to become a reader?
I began reading at a pretty young age. I can’t really remember learning how to read, although I’m certain someone taught me. The first book I remember reading, although I’m certain there were many before this, was A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden. I read it several times. I wanted to move to New York and live at the train station. It was decades before I finally got there, but I stayed in a hotel.

2. Which authors inspired you to become a writer?
All of them. I’ve read one or two books every week for over fifty years. Every one of these novels, great, good, or not so good, has influenced my writing. I'm not talking about stealing other author's ideas here. I'm talking about how they choose to tell their story. The words. The sentence structure. The plot. The characters. The rhythm of the story. What did they do right? Where did they go wrong? What would I do differently if I were writing their novel? These questions, and others, are very inspiring for me.

3. Your books are set in some pretty exotic locations around the world. What has been the most enjoyable place you have traveled to while doing research for your books and why?
The most beautiful place I've been to was Kenya. A very close second would be Alaska, where I have been many times as a biologist, writer, and tourist. My most thrilling travel experience was spending several weeks deep in Myanmar (formerly Burma), living and working in elephant camps. I was there to help elephants and do research for my novel Elephant Run. It was like going back in time a hundred years, and was remarkable in every way. Of all the places I've ever been, this was the place that changed my worldview the most.

4. From your past work in zoos, what animals have inspired your writing the most?
That would be elephants. I had the good fortune to work with them in zoos and in the wild for over 20 years. As a result elephants have been featured in many of my novels. Most notably Thunder Cave and Elephant Run.

5. What books are in the works right now?
At this very moment I’m working on the sequel to Beneath, which will be called, Above. The next book, coming out in October, is The Edge. This is a sequel to my novel Peak.

Check out more on Roland Smith from his website:

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