By Michael D. Smith
Interview with Michael D. Smith:
Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of hosting Michael D Smith. Welcome Michael! I'm excited to have you here today. Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?
Michael: I’ve recently been writing science fiction that seems to be to be a mashup of literary and space opera genres. And when I do write literary novels, they’re infused with (tainted by?) science fiction or absurdist elements. I’m still struggling to define my “brand”; I don’t like the term but I see the necessity of it, as readers do size you up in a first impression. I’m starting my seventeenth novel now, and I’m proud that eight of the first sixteen have been published, along with a novella and a picture book. Of the remaining eight novels, I’m seeking to publish another two (literary/absurd again), but I’ve happily accepted that six of my novel experiments should never see the light of day.
Crystal: What are you currently working on?
Michael: The novel I’m starting will finish an existing science fiction series at seven books. I realize that at some time you have to let go of favorite characters so you can move on and grow further, although for a long time I thought I would just keep adding to that series forever. I hope this seventh novel can be a testbed for some new writing technologies.
Crystal: Where did you come up with the idea for either your current release or your current WIP?
Michael: As far as CommWealth goes, years ago I had a long three-part dream that was so psychologically on target, and so well-plotted, that I immediately knew it was novel material. Although I waited a few years to start the novel, originally called Property, once I began writing, the book emerged effortlessly. Which is rare for me, as I normally struggle a great deal with the structure of a novel through numerous drafts.
CommWealth is basically the first part of the dream, in which anti-hero Allan showcases his adaptation to the new property-less society by requesting and hoarding every piece of other people’s property that strikes his fancy. The dream’s second part, in which he’s requested to work in Australia and becomes part of a murder mystery, and the third, where he returns to America shattered and in need of spiritual regeneration, weren’t used, but I’ve always considered that their energy is present in the novel, adding depth to the characters’ motivations.
The concept of property touches us all in deep psychological ways we often don’t want to think about. Just think about “your toothbrush,” for example. The exaggerated ideas in CommWealth nevertheless encompass real ethical concerns.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite snack that you like to munch on while writing? If so would you mind sharing what it is with us?
Michael: Coffee, or cinnamon tea with lemon. But often, during the writing process, I forget to consume them.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?
Michael: Members of the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe discuss coffee shop owner Steve’s crazy grandfather; then bicycle mechanic Richard seduces Steve’s wife Jill:
“Did you hear about his grandfather a few weeks ago?” Allan said.
“Uh... no...” Lisa said. “Did he die?”
“Damn right he died. Cops blew him away in a gun battle up at his farm in Freestone County. The old coot holed up there with all sorts of semi-automatics and kept ’em at bay for three days. But Steve won’t let me write a play about it.”
“Allan, please—” Jill said.
“Son of a bitch!” came from the back room.
“In a gun battle?” Lisa gasped. “My God! What was he doing?”
Allan shrugged. “Cops said he was running drugs out of there, can you believe it? An old codger like that? The guy was nuts! Don’t you read the papers? I want to play the part when I write it! It’ll be called Standoff in Freestone County.”
“Huh...” Lisa said. “But maybe Steve wouldn’t like that.”
“Haven’t you always wanted to do this?” Steve said, emerging from the back and pitching a laptop computer into the air. It smashed to the tile and split open.
“Steve!” Jill yelled.
“Jesus!” Richard cried, laughing. “Steve, you’re nuts!”
“No, don’t worry, it doesn’t run in the family, Lisa,” Steve said, kicking the wrecked computer across the tile. “I’m not like my grandpa.”
“Don’t break the screen! I’m not gonna clean up that glass!” Jill said.
Steve maneuvered the laptop out the door with his feet. Then they heard it thump into the dumpster outside.
“Look what it did to the tile!” Jill complained.
“Well, that floor’s needed replacing for years,” Allan commented. “Why don’t you go to some tile store and make ’em replace it?”
Jill frowned. “All right, I will. Steve hates it when I do that. He’s always fixing things.” Richard was astonished by her tight angry lips.
“Hey, I never would have met him—or you all—if he hadn’t brought his bike over to get fixed,” he pointed out. Jill met his eyes and shrugged.
“Listen, is anyone cold in here?” she said. “I have a little heater in the back.”
“Well, I guess I am getting a little chilly,” Lisa said. “It really hasn’t warmed up outside yet. I thought it was like spring, but...”
“I’ve been freezing,” Allan said.
“Okay, let me get it. I’ll be right back.” Jill headed for the back.
“Need some help?” Richard said, getting up.
“That would be nice. I think it’s on the top shelf.”
Richard followed her into the back room. It was fifteen by twenty feet and fifteen high. One entire wall was shelves crammed with supplies.
Man, why do they need so much? Are they just stocking up for the day everybody runs out of everything? ’Course, that’d make them Hoarders. Not that I’d ever say anything. Hard to believe Steve needs to build even more shelves back here.
Jill dragged a stool over and climbed up. Her blue dress was like an exercise leotard, hugging her full breasts and her hips, then loosening and flowing below her thighs. She had brick-red hair and wore large dangling silver triangles from her ears. Her eyes were the strangest gray he’d ever seen.
“Here, I’m taller, let me do that,” he offered.
“No, I know where it is—back on this top shelf somewhere—you just steady me in case I fall—”
Richard gently placed both hands on her hips. She pulled items this way and that, her thighs straining beneath his fingers. “Steady, there—”
“Don’t worry, you’ve got me. Where is that thing?”
Those breasts jiggled pleasantly as she worked something free. His fingers were just an inch from her firm round ass. He felt that he was holding a magnificent jungle cat. Jill turned with the heater and started to come down. Richard took the heater and set it down. Then he guided her off the stool and into his arms.
Gray eyes. And she was kissing him, long and fiercely. He held the magnificent jungle cat and kissed her with all his soul.
Crystal: When you are not busy writing wonderful stories to keep us lucky readers entertained, what do you like to do? Do you have a hobby?
Michael: In addition to painting and drawing, I work full-time as a technology librarian, not exactly a hobby, but it does occupy a significant portion of my time. Recently I set up a monthly program at the library called Writers’ Exchange, for authors of all stripes to discuss publishing, marketing, and editing, along with anything else that comes up in the life of a writer. I think the writers are enjoying the contact and a chance to share gripes and ideas.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite background noise you like to have going while you write (TV, Music, kids playing)?
Michael: I’m into silence while writing. But I have a twenty-one and a half-year-old Abyssinian cat named Micro I hoist into my lap as I write.
Crystal: Thanks for visiting. It has been a pleasure having you visit today. Can you think of anything else you would like to share with us today?
Michael: We spoke last year and I very much enjoyed your questions then. Thanks so much for having me back again with a new set of questions to ponder. I hope your readers might enjoy CommWealth, because even though it posits a blackly humorous dystopia, there is a lot of human friendship and human betrayal, true romance as well as confused lust, to distract these characters as they try to navigate their treacherous property-less society. After all, somel theater troupe members see the opposite sex as property to be demanded, whether they’re conscious of that fact or not. The novel can surprise you as it veers between farce and bitter tragedy.
The CommWealth system, has created a society in which there is no legal claim to any kind of private property. Any object from your house to the clothes you’re wearing can be demanded by anyone, to be enjoyed for thirty days before someone else can request it. As actors in the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe attempt to adapt to this chaos, their breaking of the Four Rules sustaining the system, as several members navigate betrayals, double agents, and murder to find themselves leading a suicidal revolution.
CommWealth is available at:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/commwealth-michael-d-smith/1122537291?ean=2940152097313
Rule One - You are free to enjoy the chosen object for thirty days. During this period no other person may request it.
Rule Two - The requestor is untouchable for thirty days by the person asked. Attempts at retaliation, such as demanding unusually large quantities from the original requestor after the thirty-day period, carry stiff penalties.
Rule Three - Once you ask somebody for something, you can never ask him or her for anything else again.
Rule Four - You can never ask for the same thing back from the person who got it from you, not even after his or her thirty days of enjoyment.
Allan shivered at the reflection of his black overcoat and his striding legs on the wet sidewalk. Up ahead someone with a DreamPiston Electronics bag opened a shiny red
Porsche glistening with thousands of water beads.
“Okay,” Allan said, “I’ll take your car.”
The mustached little twerp looked up. “Ahhh, crap...”
“C’mon, don’t give me any trouble. Gimme the key.”
“Look, it’s raining. And I just got these MP3 players and the new Fappy tablet—”
“Not my problem. Fork the key over.”
“Look, my umbrella’s in the car—can I just get my umbrella so my stuff—”
“Forget it. The umbrella’s part of the car as far as I’m concerned. Anything in the car. Besides, I just lost my umbrella a couple blocks back. I’m soaked.”
“C’mon, I just got this car the other day!”
“Don’t hand me that. The sticker on the plate says you got it a month and a half ago. You’re overdue, buddy. Now hand me the key.”
“Got trouble there?” A bright blue City of Linstar police car idled in the rain. “Got a Hoarder there?” a huge officer grinned.
“Uh, no... not at all...” said the twerp. “I just—I just can’t find the key—”
“Yeah, right—you just unlocked the damn car with it,” Allan said, turning to the policeman. “He is giving me a lot of crap about it.”
“C’mon, sir, you know better than that.” The officer’s name tag read BARCLAY.
The twerp snarled. He separated the Porsche key off his key ring, thrust it at Allan, then spun around and fastened on a man coming down the sidewalk. “Give me that umbrella! Right now!”
The man grunted, surrendering his umbrella to the twerp, who grabbed it and hoisted it above his DreamPiston bag.
“We really got the Christmas spirit here, don’t we?” Barclay said.
“Really,” Allan said. “Some people...” He examined the Porsche key in the rain. “Thanks for your help, officer.”
“Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t really necessary. People are basically good, you know. Give ’em time to adjust and all, that’s what I say.”
The twerp leapt into traffic with his new umbrella and his bag, waving his free arm. A little green car skidded to a halt. The twerp ran to the window and pounded on it. “Give me this car! Right now!”
Barclay was out of his patrol car in a second, hand on his hand on his holster. “Sir, that’s not the right way to go about it. We need to be respectful. That’s the CommWealth way.”
About the Author:
Michael D. Smith was raised in the Northeast and the Chicago area, before moving to Texas to attend Rice University, where he began developing as a writer and visual artist. In addition to exhibiting and selling paintings and drawings, he’s completed fifteen novels.
Smith’s writing in both mainstream and science fiction genres uses humor to investigate psychological themes. On his blog, he explores art and writing processes, and his web site contains further examples of his writing and art. He is currently Technology Librarian for McKinney Public Library in McKinney, Texas.
CommWealth is his first novel published by Class Act Books.
Find out more about Michael at: