British author, Mike Devlin has created a delightful book, which breaks most of the rules, several guidelines, and all common sense. Albert Smith is not your usual protagonist in this funny, engaging romp around the universe. He’s not the sort of guy you would expect to save the day, get the girl, or remember to pick up his dry cleaning.
Smith gives a nod to classical Science Fiction on its way to farcical galactic humor. In an age where self-publishing can carry the assumption of sub-par writing, Smith hits it out of the park. Smith is available stateside at Amazon.
What was your inspiration for the character of Albert Smith?
Not sure to be honest. The whole idea for the story (complete with most of the characters and plotlines) suddenly came to me in a flash, as if remembering a dream. I was personally going through the worst period of my life at that time, and Smith gave me something to cling to. As for Albert himself, he has never changed from day one. He was always supposed to be decidedly average and not much to look at either; sort of a very nonthreatening kind of guy. He isn’t me – although there are some aspects of me in him. I could quite easily be good friends with him though.
Perhaps it’s a British thing, but why would anyone want to eat burgers for breakfast?
LOL no, not at all. It was originally supposed to be Egg McMuffins, but I didn’t want to get into the shady-area of trademarks and tradenames, so I changed it to ‘breakfast burger’, but then this actually better suited the kind of guy Albert is – doesn’t eat healthily or well.
What made you decide to bypass traditional publishing resources in the production of Smith?
I tried, oh, how I tried! I’ve lost count of how many agents I contacted (some didn’t even bother to reply, which was very nice of them), but even though I was ready for countless rejections, I was totally unprepared for one reply I received: essentially I was told that what I had was good, but because of the genre and the current economic climate, I was basically wasting my time. That knocked me for six.
However, my fiancee and my mother stood by me 100% and told me that Smith would be published “no matter what”, because they both truly believed in it. So we went the self-publishing route, and now I am starting to prove all those agents wrong. They say the average total sales of a self-published book, in its lifetime, is a mere 57 copies – I shattered that in three weeks without a single piece of advertising.
Are you now, or have you been under the influence of recreational drugs?
I shall let you into a little secret. When I was writing Smith, I would do my best work first thing in the morning. I’d stagger out of bed bleary-eyed from not enough sleep and too much beer the previous night, walk our son to school, come back home, grab a coffee and begin to write. After a couple of hours, I’d wake up properly, and then read what I had just written, and be completely amazed at what was on the screen, because most of it I didn’t even remember writing. The thing was though, what I had written was very good, so I stuck with doing it this way. Drugs? Nah, don’t need them when most of my brain is still asleep.
Do you think that interdimensional time travel will be common in the future, or the past, or the concurrent?
Funnily enough, the me of a week last Tuesday and the one from next Thursday were having this very same conversation earlier today!
What would you recommend to other new authors?
They must be prepared for a lot of hard work over a lengthy time-span, and they must believe in themselves and in what they are doing. They must also be aware that they will be told they are no good at being an author, because rejection is all part of the game unfortunately (although this usually comes from people in the business who don’t have a clue what sells and what doesn’t). You can never give up, and you must learn to persevere against all the odds. Oh, and there are too many people out there who are not actual authors (yet call themselves ‘writers’), but you can bet your bottom dollar they will be the first to give you advice.
Other than that, I would have to say that an ice cold beer and a cheese sandwich is always a good thing.
Are there new adventures planned for Albert Smith in the future?
Definitely! There were a few unanswered questions in Smith and some of these have been addressed in the sequel (it’s been written, but now needs tidying up and polishing), and of course, I have already been asked by readers as to whether Albert and Panda will ever become an ‘item’, so there is more on that in the second book. The first ends on a cliff-hanger (of sorts), so it does tell the reader a little about what is going to happen next – I wanted the sequel to be of a much bigger scope than the first book, because you’re always supposed to go bigger and ‘more expensive’ in the sequel, yes?
Learn more about Albert Smith and author, Mike Devlin at http://storyofsmith.com