This week it is my pleasure to interview Veronica Smith. Would you please introduce yourself to my readers, Veronica and share something about your life.
Ciao, y’all! I’m Veronica Smith from Katy, Texas (that’s just west of Houston). I write horror of all kinds. I have a novel, novella, and a short story series published on Amazon. I also have over 18 short stories in various anthologies (books of stories by various authors) and my short story collection will be published in the spring of 2019. By day, I do computer drafting for an engineering company and I’m hoping to win the lottery so I can write full time.
When did you write your first book and how did it come about?
I got the idea for Chalk Outline (my novella) listening to a song on the radio on the commute home and heard the phrase chalk outline. My mind started to churn (like it always does on that hour long commute) and I wondered what would happen if someone could lay inside a chalk outline and see the killer. It took over a year to write and I self-published it on Smashwords and Amazon in 2015. One day I’ll work on a sequel to it.
Do you always write in the same genre or do you mix it up?
Mostly I write horror, but Chalk Outline (which is a form of horror) is actually a detective book with a hint of supernatural to it. Two homicide detectives, Darius and Jake, in Houston (yes, I tend to write about places I’m familiar with and all locations are actuate) are trying to find a serial killer who kills children. They meet a woman who can lie inside the chalk outline of a victim and see the last few seconds of that victim’s life. Unfortunately, she discovered this because her own daughter was an earlier victim. She helps them try to solve the case as well as others they encounter.
As far as horror goes, I go heavy on zombies. My short story series is zombie but each chapter book focuses on one character in a different city in Texas at the start of the outbreak. They all take place at the same time. Eventually they’ll all meet and after the initial 6 books I have planned, I’ll have a full size book with all of them in it.
I also love horror that can actually happen. That’s the scariest kinds of all. I have written stories on women home alone during home invasions, being carjacked, and oddly enough (one of my last ones) caught with her pants down in a public bathroom in an empty arena. This one was based on a nightmare I had.
Speaking of nightmares, they do make the best stories. My husband had a doozy once and I had to turn it into a story. He shudders every time he reads it now.
When you write, do you start with an idea and sit down and let it evolve, or do you make notes and collect ideas on paper beforehand?
Stories come to me out of thin air in the oddest places. I’ve gotten more than one story started from ideas while shampooing my hair. Many I get on the commute home. My latest one (which has no home yet), was inspired by a song my son played me.
Anything longer than a story and I try to lay it out. Or at least keep track of timelines, characters, etc. My novel, Salvation (which is a zombie post apoc book), has a lot of characters. While writing it, I didn’t keep track of any of that (this one was my learning experience). On my first round of edits, I found a character alive in one chapter who had died two chapters before that. I stopped right there and created a reference document for everything. Now I do that for all books and currently my short story series. Those timelines are very important when some of them meet up.
Would you like to give us a short excerpt from one of your books?
How about something from my short story series? This is from Between the Pages – Chapter One: Carrie.
“Are you all right?” Carrie asked Renee after she woke up.
The night shift played hell with one’s sleeping schedule and she was still rubbing sleep from her eyes when she walked into the living room.
From the look of it, Renee was already about halfway through her new book but she herself was looking bad. She was coughing and sneezing, her eyes red and bleary. Even as Carrie asked, Renee grabbed another tissue to blow her nose. Carrie noticed all the crumpled tissues in the small decorative trash can next to the sofa. Then she saw blood on the one in Renee’s hand.
“Renee, how long have you been blowing out blood?” Carrie asked her concerned, coming closer and looking her over, “Actually, how long have you been like this?”
“Just a couple of hours. Maybe three or four, maybe more. I don’t remember,” Renee admitted, sounding a bit confused, “I think I caught a cold from someone else camping too.”
She sneezed unexpectedly, unable to get the tissue up in time, and sprayed mucus and blood all over the carpet.
“Renee!” Carrie was alarmed. “We need to get you to the hospital now! This is no cold.”
“I’ll be fine,” Renee suddenly slurred, “I want to finish this chapter.”
“Forget the damn book!” Carrie yelled, grabbing it up. “Wait. What the hell is that all over your hands?”
When she took the book from her, she noticed dark smudges all over both thumbs and a couple of fingers on Renee’s hands.
“The ink’s coming off the pages,” Renee answered slowly, as if she were having trouble thinking, “I think Karl Hood changed printing companies or something and this one did a really cheap ass job.”
Renee stood up to take her book back and lost her balance as she swiped the air, completely missing it. She fell to the carpet, landing in the remains of her bloody mucus.
“I’m calling an ambulance right now,” Carrie said, tossing the book on the sofa. She picked up her purse and dug for her cell phone.
“Noooo!” Renee wailed and ended it in a growl. Carrie turned around to see Renee back on her feet, her teeth bared and her hands curled into the claws. It seemed odd to see those bright blue painted nails in such an aggressive manner. Renee seemed to have forgotten the book sitting on the cushion.
“Renee?” Carrie asked, backing off fearfully.
This was not Renee.
Renee shook her head in confusion and waved her arms around wildly. She smacked herself in the head a couple times and growled again. Carrie watched in amazement as Renee’s face contorted as if in pain. It alternated from lax to angry, as if she were fighting some inner demon. Dropping to a knee, Renee stopped for moment, breathing deeply. Carrie took a step forward, her arm outstretched to help when Renee looked up again.
This definitely was not Renee!
The murderous expression was alien on her normally sweet and smiling face. Already she was getting up, her eyes never leaving Carrie’s face, her mouth opening as a primal scream found its way out. Carrie ran to her bedroom, her purse slapping her thigh as she ran. She slammed the door and locked it an instant before Renee’s body hit, shaking the door in its frame. Carrie backed up and dialed 911. All she got was a busy signal.
“What the hell?” she thought as she checked her phone’s signal strength.
It was fine so she tried again.
We’re sorry, all circuits are busy. Please try your call again later.
Renee kept slamming into the bedroom door and screaming incoherently. Carrie could hear the sound of her fingernails raking the wood. It sounded like she was punching and slamming her head into the door as well.
What had happened to her?
Who is your favourite character and why?
Currently it’s the character in Between the Pages - Book Three: Jamal “JJ”. Books One and Two are around 8K-9K words each. I haven’t even finished Book Three and I’m over 15K. Jamal is 17 and about as prepared for a zombie outbreak as anyone. Which means not at all. His situation gets drastically worse when he is responsible for three small children whose parents became infected. I liked him when I first started writing it but I already love him more. He was always mature for his age but I think this is what really makes him grow up. With children involved, the risks are so much higher. I’ve probably got another 2K words to write in it.
Which of your books gave you the most pleasure to write?
Between the Pages – Chapter One: Carrie. I actually started this series as one book before I was contracted to write Salvation. I put it on hold and when I went back to it, I remembered how much I loved my version of how the zombie virus spreads. No one has anything like it.
What is the best marketing tip you have received?
Do the cons and festivals. Put yourself out there with your book. I do at least 3-4 local cons and festivals a year and I love it. Online it seems your book is just another cover on Amazon. But with my own table at an event I can dress up the table. Explain more about my books and just chat.
How would you describe yourself?
I talk loudly and with my hands (half Italian so I can’t help it). But I don’t talk that much. I used to be horribly afraid to speak on a stage or in front of people. Doing the events, I’ve gotten over that. If I see you walking by, you will hear me say something to you, even if it’s just a hello. I’m kind of dark and have a love of everything horror. My husband watches more “chick flicks” than I ever would. He’ll have on Chicago or something like that and I’m going to the other TV to plug in Event Horizon.
What do you do when you are not writing or reading?
Besides working, my husband and I love to watch any type of crime show. NCIS, Criminal Minds, etc. I’m seriously into any kind of post apoc movie or show so our DVR is full of them. But since it’s October, I have a serious need to get my yard set up and spooked out. It’s been raining here so much we haven’t had a chance to do so yet. Usually I have it done before the month starts.
If you could holiday anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?
Scotland. I love the pictures of the hills and castles. I would love to go on castle tours.
If you have owned pets, do you have a funny story you would like to share with us?
We’ve had dogs and cats (still do) and used to have snakes. I don’t know if it’s a funny story but it was an eye opener for me. We were always very careful when we fed our snakes. They only get fed in separate containers and we only clean on other days from feeding days. One night we were rushing and tried to do both. With our two largest snakes (Macklotts Pythons) I would keep them both draped over my shoulders and in my arms while my husband cleaned the tanks. Or vice versa. On this night he had finished cleaning so he took the male snake (George) and I was only holding the female (Angie). (yes from the George Lopez show). I wanted to thaw some frozen rats in the sink and was dumb enough to reach in the sink and flip over the baggie in the sink full of water. Angie struck. She bit my hand just below my thumb. Now I’d been bit by our smaller snakes and that was no big deal. Angie and George were about 8 and 9 feet long but pretty skinny. I’d never been bit by either until now and boy did that hurt! She clamped on too. Normally they bite you and let go. Not this lady. My husband had to put George in the tank and it took both his hands to get her off me. I had a perfect imprint of her teeth on my hand (pythons have complete rows of tiny needle like teeth). So from then on feeding day was feeding day and cleaning day was cleaning day.
What is the biggest factor for you when selecting a book to read?
It’s a combination of things. I love a catchy title. A cool cover is nice but I’ll look past that and read the blurb. If it’s interesting I’ll buy it. Sometimes I find something so unique and amazing sounding I’ll stop my current book to read that first before going back to my current.
Do you have your own website?
I have a WordPress, which I guess would be considered that but I don’t update it near as much as I should. I have a Facebook Author page as well as an Amazon Author page.
Are you working on a new book at the moment?
I’m multi-tasking right now. Haha! I’m working on Book Three: Jamal “JJ”, hoping to be finished with it soon. I’m doing the edits with my editor on my collection, Transparent Walkways, on the 3rd round right now. And I write stories whenever the mood strikes me.
Here are all my links: