Saturday, 9 February 2013

Orlando Smart-Powell, author of Folsom On Fire

Folsom On Fire by Orlando Smart-Powell is available for Kindle and the Kindle app from and
US: Folsom on Fire by Orando Smart-Powell on
UK: Folsom on Fire by Orando Smart-Powell on

Folsom on Fire by Orlando Smart-Powell
Folsom on Fire by Orlando Smart-Powell

Evil has arrived in the small town of Folsom, Mississippi, and pregnant former-slave Mary Cole must choose between surrendering to hate or fighting back.  They might have guns and a lynching rope, but Mary Cole has her axe.  What would you do to save those you love?  How much would you sacrifice? 

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Author Quiz interviews Orlando Smart-Powell...

What is it you love most about writing?
I love crafting tales that speak to those most inner parts within all of us. I always remember what I call the “Why” when I’m writing.  The “Why” reveals why we do or don’t do something.  For instance, those of us with children will usually ask them . . . after they have done something naughty . . . “Why did you do that?”  Usually you get the shoulder shrug.  But any parent will tell you, they persist and will continue to ask, “Why?”  Though the child may not know, or may be unwilling to say so, the parent usually does.  When writing, I’m that parent when it comes to my characters.  “Why” do you love or hate this person.  “Why” do you want to destroy or save the world.  Answering that “Why” question transforms my characters from just words on a page into living, breathing people who stay with you long after you’ve finished the novel.

Why do you enjoy writing in your usual genre?
I actually fluctuate between genres.  My first novel, Folsom on Fire, is a literary and historical piece, with slivers of supernatural element in it.  I absolutely love writing literary works, because I’m much more free to tease the words, phrasing and sentences.  It’s far more colorful, I feel, than general or specific genre fiction.  When I write literary works, I free to layer my story and delve deeper into the psyche of each character.  Each person, object, setting—everything within the story has meaning and conveys something germane to the story or character.  Toni Morrison, of course, is a master at this. 

My forthcoming novel, Gods of Egypt, is within the supernatural realm.  The writing process is far, far different from writing something literary works.  Again, the phrasing, cadence and word use is at a different level.  Clive Barker, the author of Weaveworld, Imajica and of course, The Hellbound Heart (aka – Hellraiser), is the one who stoked my love of the supernatural.

Is there a particular scene from your book, Folsom on Fire, which would translate well to canvas and provide a powerful inspiration for a dramatic or emotional piece of artwork?
On the cover of my novel, there is “the Tree” which stands in the center of the of Folsom.  In the novel, this fire scorched tree is a symbol of revenge, greed and perseverance of the south before the Civil War.  Now, the tree has become an entity . . . something to be feared by the former slaves, as it has often been used for lynchings.  For the white southerners, it represents what they once had and have now lost. 

If you could invite one character from your novel(s) to a dinner party who would it be and why?
Tamen—who is the main character from the novel, Gods of Egypt.  Tamen is an ancient being who has seen the world go from slinging spears and shooting arrows to dropping nuclear weapons.  He’s a walking Wikipedia.

Do you have any useful marketing tips for other authors?
Believe in your work.  If you are writing for any reason other than you love writing, it will show in whatever way you choose to market your novel.  In whatever way you can get the word out, do it.  I know we have all heard it before, but it is so true . . . If readers don’t know your novel is out there, how can they find it?

So I would say use every bit of “free” marketing you can get, starting with reviews from readers.  Use every free social media that you can.  I use Facebook to post excerpts of my novel to give potential readers a taste of the story and my style.

How do you see the publishing industry changing over the next few years?
With the advent of technology to give self-published authors a foot in the door, I see it harder to secure an agent or an editor at one of the “big” publishing houses.  So really, it is a double-edged sword.  Yes—we as authors are thrilled to see our works in print, but the marketing aspect really keeps great novels from getting the attention they deserve.  Some people still cringe when they hear that someone is self-published/an indie author.  They automatically think poorly written, lots of errors and if a publishing house didn’t pick it up, well . . . it must not be good.  Those attitudes are changing quickly.

In addition to my own editing and rewriting, I utilize an editing service.  By sheer luck, I found Critique My Novel, which is comprised of a team who have an absolute love of reading, and are not just out to make money off of authors.  One frequent compliment I receive about my novel, in addition to the reader loving the story—if I may say so—is that it is error free.  I have, and I’m sure you have, spotted numerous errors in commercially published novels and thought, ‘How did they miss that?’  Still, we continue on and don’t make a judgment about the story.  When you are self-published, an error can be far more damaging to the writer’s credibility, though the story may be fantastic.  So . . . edit . . . edit . . . edit!

Do you have a favorite review or has anyone expressed a particularly nice compliment about your writing which stands out as your most memorable piece of praise?
One reader from Amazon compared my novel’s present day relevancy to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Another reader sent me a “Twit” and said the flavor of my novel was akin to Toni Morrison, but definitely different and unique.  I of course looked up each of the reviewers to make sure they just weren’t family or friends trying to stroke my ego.

Would you rather have great reviews but average sales or great sales but average reviews?
Absolutely I would rather have great reviews.  Writing is an art form to me.  Of course I would love to have great sales too, but crafting a great novel that I’m proud of and stays with the reader for days, weeks and months after . . . is far more important.

What advice would you give to a new author who has just finished writing their first novel and is unsure as to what steps to take next?
I would say, read your novel one more time.  Have others read it and get their take on it.  Perhaps utilize an editing service where their primary focuses is on you and your novel, and not making money.  

What would you say is your biggest strength as a writer?
Once I have the story, I tell it as it is meant to be told.  I don’t take into consideration that I may offend someone or use language that may cause one to have palpitations—that’s not writing.  With each novel, I stretch the bounds of our language.

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Orlando Smart-Powell, author of Folsom on Fire.
Thanks for your comments, Orlando, and good luck with your writing.

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Excerpts of Orlando's writing can be read on his website and on his facebook account:
Facebook:  Orlando Smart-Powell

Orlando Smart-Powell is on twitter:

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Folsom On Fire by Orlando Smart-Powell is available for Kindle and the Kindle app from and
US: Folsom on Fire by Orando Smart-Powell on
UK: Folsom on Fire by Orando Smart-Powell on

1 comment:

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