Monday, February 15, 2016

We Were Heroes Author Interview: Wayland Smith

Hello, and welcome to an all new series of author interviews.  The long anticipated anthology "We Were Heroes" will be coming out in 2016, and in preparation for this release we'll be running interviews of various contributors.

MTI:  Today I'm interviewing Wayland Smith, who contributed To Fight the Unbeatable.  Thank you for being here.

Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

Wayland Smith:  I’m a voracious reader. My primary rule of life is always have a book with me. I’ve worked a lot of jobs that  have given me interesting experiences to write about, including being on tour with the circus, private investigator, co-owner of a comic book shop, and deputy sheriff.

MTI:  Now, getting down to business; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

WS:  I started writing seriously several years ago when a friend of mine, author Harry Heckel, pushed me into doing NaNoWriMo for the first time. My first novel, In My Brother’s Name, started off as a NaNo project. As for type, my running joke is I write what the little voices tell me to. I skip around genres a lot.

MTI:  Tell me, if you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

WS:  Just one? Wow. Jim Butcher, writer of Dresden Files, Codex Alera, and Cinder Spires. I love his combination of humor, magic, and heroism. But picking just one is hard.

MTI:  Your story appears in We Were Heroes, an anthology devoted to the theme of aging, retired, or out of their element superheroes and villains.  Tell us a little bit about your contribution to this collection.

WS:  To Fight The Unbeatable is a quote from Man of La Mancha, a musical about Don Quixote. My story is about aging heroes, in this case, Alzheimer’s. What do you do when someone with the power to level a building can’t always remember who, where, or when he is?

MTI:  Indeed, it is quite a poignant topic.  As a quick aside, my grandmother played in an off-Broadway production of Man of La Mancha in the early 70's.

Moving on, who's your favorite superhero (or villain)?

WS: Again, just one? I’ll go with Nightwing, the grown up Dick Grayson, formerly Robin. He was the first sidekick to get his own identity, and I love his pre-reboot costume.

MTI:  If you, yourself, could have any superpower, what would it be?

WS:  Superspeed. I hate being stuck in traffic. No more rush hour jams.

MTI:  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

WS:  I use what I call the Gatling Gun approach to writing. Each month, I try to do at least one chapter on my various works in progress, revise other work, and look around for short story opportunities like this one. Novels I’m presently working on include Hunter, about a band of monster hunters in Boston; V-Day, my take on a zombie novel, and From the Ashes, a superhero novel featuring Steel, the main character in this short story.

MTI:  Other than your contribution appearing in We Were Heroes, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

WS:I have a novel about superhuman mercenaries called Cadre Clash that I’m in final revisions on, and hope to have out soon.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

WS:  It’s a great time to be a hero geek! I love Flash, and the Netfilx Daredevil and Jessica Jones. I’m also watching Arrow, Agents of SHIELD, and iZombie, all of which I review regularly.

MTI:  How about music?

WS:  My musical tastes are all over the road. Favorites include Queen, Billy Joel, Pink, Dolly Parton, and the Eagles.

MTI:  Can you name three movies that you could watch over and over again and not be bored?

WS:  I do love my movies. Let’s see.. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Field of Dreams, and Avengers, but there are so many more.

MTI:  Readers love samples.  Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today?

WS:   Here are a few paragraphs from Blood Of A Nation, about a man who falls in battle on the first day of the American Revolution but gets brought back as something more.

It had been such a fine day. Absurdly, inanely even, that thought kept circling in his head. As if that could negate everything else that happened. A lovely day, spring in the air, not overpoweringly hot, no rain, a good day for working the fields. McLean could remember the blue of the sky, the brilliance of the sun, and then the terrible sounds like a huge sheet ripping as the lines of muskets fired, then the smoke that wreathed everything and made it near impossible to see. Who had fired first? It seemed important, but there was no way to know. The confusion, the near panic, the thick acrid smoke from the muskets, and then the feeling of being hit by something like a monstrously strong hammer.
            There had been no pain, not at first. Just the dazed confusion, trying to work out what had happened, why he was lying on the ground. Then the burning pain, and later the slow tightness in his chest, it getting harder and harder to breathe. He tried to get up time and again, and felt weakness through his body. His legs shook, refusing to bear his weight, while his arms trembled uselessly.  He tried to cry for help, and only managed a weak croak. The long day passed, the smoke drifting away and he lay there, helpless. The fight had long ago moved off, toward Boston... He thought the militia had won, or at least driven them back. That ought to shock them, King's Army forced back by "peasant rabble." His mind kept drifting to the days before, the fights with his father, his impassioned pleas for the man to just see sense, to recognize the injustice of the King’s treatment of the Colonists.  The bitter sting of gunpowder filled his nostrils, making him cough.  The cough caused him dizzying pain, and he passed out with a tearing sensation ripping through his chest.
            He started awake. It was much later in the day. The sun had moved in its lazy dance through the spring sky.  He was terribly thirsty. He had heard some faint moaning earlier, other wounded no doubt. But now it was still and silent and he was thirsty and it was harder to breathe. It felt like he couldn't get air into his chest. The spring sun was beating down on him worse than the height of summer, tormented as he was by pain and thirst and heat. "Someone... can anyone hear me? Help me," he wheezed out, barely able to hear his own words himself. This would do no good, no aid would answer a call barely voiced. He tried to force himself up, and slid a bit down the slight slope. Fear gripped him as he remembered the Concord River. Not much of a river, true, but as he was now? He'd drown like a helpless babe. He tried to frame a prayer, and passed out again.
            It was dark. For a moment he feared he had gone blind as well, then realized he could see stars– he must have lost consciousness again. The bitter smell of gunpowder had faded, replaced by the cool scent of the river.  Insects buzzed in the darkness.  He called out again for any sort of help, and his voice sounded worse than before. Or more truthfully, barely sounded at all. Was this how he was to die? No great hero, no veteran of battles to free his land, forgotten on the first battlefield of the war, like lost luggage on a dock? He nearly sobbed in frustration, fear, and pain. "Help.... me." he rasped out again. He let his head hit the ground, exhausted by the effort.
            But wait-- footsteps, surely? He could hear the tread, even the creak of boot leather. Amazing how something that wouldn't be remarked suddenly became so momentous. He tried to call out again, and couldn't summon the breath or the strength. But somehow, the footsteps came closer. The words weren't kind, the tone not warm and caring, but they were the sweetest words he'd ever heard.
            "This one lives. He will have to do. Bring him."
            More footsteps, people coming, hands reaching for him. Lifting him up caused new barbs of pain to dig into him.  He gave a strangled half cry, and tried to resist. His powerless limbs weren't up for the challenge. Blackness rushed in on him, and blissful oblivion.

MTI:  Fantastic.  I'm suitably intrigued.  For those who'd like to read more of Mr. Smith's writing, We Were Heroes comes out February 29th!

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