I am very excited for this post, today we have an author interview with Olivia Smit. Her debut novel , Seeing Voices is coming out in April 15th, 2020. I can’t wait for you all to read it! I will have a review out on the blog, closer to the release date of Olivia’s amazing book.
Title: Seeing Voices
Author: Olivia Smit
Publisher: WhiteSpark Publishing
Release Date: April 15, 2020
Genre: Teen and Young Adult Christian Relationship Fiction
Skylar Brady has a plan for her life…until a car accident changes everything.
Skylar knows exactly what she wants, and getting in a car accident the summer before twelfth grade isn’t supposed to be part of the plan. Although she escapes mostly unharmed, the accident has stolen more than just her hearing from her: she’s also lost the close bond she used to have with her brother.
When her parents decide to take a house-sitting job halfway across the province, it’s just one more thing that isn’t going according to plan. As the summer progresses, Skylar begins to gain confidence in herself, but as she tries to mend her relationship with her brother, she stumbles upon another hidden trauma. Suddenly, she’s keeping as many secrets as she’s struggling to uncover and creating more problems than she could ever hope to solve.
Now here is the interview with Olivia!
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Ooo there’s so much I could say! I’ll start with some fun facts: I ADORE small towns, I love baking bread (the kneading is my favourite part!) and I recently started horseback riding (I’m hoping to enter a few competitions this spring)!
I’ve always been a reader (I read the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time when I was 6 years old) and I started writing books when I was in elementary school. Some of my favourite authors are Maggie Stiefvater, C. S. Lewis, and L. M. Montgomery.
2. How old are you?
I am 22 – turning 23 in just a few months!
3. How did you start writing?
I started telling stories before I knew how to write them down – we have a few little booklets full of stories I dictated to my mom as a child (one of them was about a skunk who has trouble making friends … but don’t worry, it had a happy ending)! Then, in grade 8, I took the One Year Adventure Novel course, and it changed everything. Finally I knew how to write a book! And I haven’t stopped since.
4. What made you want to be a writer?
I loved the way reading stories made me feel … how books could entertain me, make me laugh, help me heal, or encourage me when I felt sad. I started writing so long ago that I can’t fully remember what drew me to it, but I think it was partially because there were some stories that I wanted to read but just couldn’t find. So I wrote them instead! I think another reason I wanted to be a writer was because I loved books so much: writing, to me, was just another form of reading (where I could control the story!! What a power trip!! LOL) and I wanted to consume and reproduce stories in as many forms as possible!
5. How did you get ideas for the characters?
Sometimes they just appear in my head … I think Skylar and her brother Mike were like that. They just showed up one day, these two sibling/friends who couldn’t figure out how to talk to each other anymore. There was something so sweet about the way they loved each other – and something that touched my heart about the pain that had driven them apart – and I was CAPTIVATED. It took me almost a year to actually start writing, but I had Skylar and Mike turning around in my brain that whole time. I think Cam appeared because I wanted a friend for Skylar, and I knew she’d respond well to someone like him. And Anastasia and her sister were actually recycled from a childhood story idea that never got off the ground (in their original story, they were going to be teenage fairies), but I so enjoyed exploring their sister relationship in Seeing Voices, instead.
6. What gave you the idea for Seeing Voices?
There are so many different ways to answer this question! But really, I wrote Seeing Voices because it’s the story I was aching for. I so badly wanted to read a HAPPY Young Adult novel (I’d been in a difficult rut and kept picking up really dark, tragic stories that ended badly). I desperately wanted to see a family go through a traumatic experience and come out okay at the end of it. I wanted to read Christian fiction where God was more than just a plot device. And I wanted to see a character with hearing loss portrayed accurately, in an authentic, non-gimmicky way.
When Skylar and Mike appeared in my mind, it was a “perfect storm” … and I poured all of this aching and wanting into this story. I remember finishing it and thinking that maybe it was “the one” … maybe this was the book I’d finally polish and fix and send off to publishers, I loved it THAT much. And here we are!!
7. Which character are you most like?
I’m so torn in answering this question … because in little ways, I relate to each one of my characters. Many people who know me in real life see me in Skylar (and I’ll admit, I borrowed some of her internal monologue from the way my own mind works). When I was writing, though, I identified so strongly with Mike (emotionally, not literally – I never went off the rails like he did) that I almost wrote the entire book in his perspective, instead! I see bits of myself in Cam, too, and in Anastasia and her sister … but I guess really, I’m a cross between Skylar and Mike.
8. Do you take inspiration from your life for plot points, characters, etc?
Yes! Absolutely! I think you can kind of see this in my earlier answers, but I pull little pieces of myself and shape them into characters, and often, whatever is going on in my life will find its way into my writing!
Seeing Voices grew out of my own family experience with medical crisis/diagnosis as well as my struggles to grow up, wondering if I was outgrowing old friends. As Skylar and Mike figure out the different pieces of their lives, I was working through events from my own life, too. To be honest, sometimes when I’m figuring out something in my life these days, a line from the story will float through my head. In some ways, Seeing Voices inspires me more now than I inspired the original story while I was writing it! (does that make sense???)
9. What do you want people to take away from this book?
Most of all, more than anything, I just want people to know that they’re not alone. So often, we go through something tough and think that no one else in the world thinks the way we do, or asks the questions we’re asking, or hurts in the same places we hurt. And my favourite thing to do is read a book that reminds me that there are other people in the same place as me, so I hope Seeing Voices can be that story for someone else. I want to give people hope that families can go through tough stuff and recover, and still love each other, and come out stronger on the other side. And I want people to know that it’s okay to ask big questions about God. It’s okay to get mad and confused and upset. I hope Seeing Voices makes space for the messy, complicated bits of life … and I hope people feel like they can use that space to figure things out for themselves, too.
10. What advice do you have for people who want to start writing?
Read! Lots! Read so much! And then write often. Even if it’s just a little bit every day! Take a writing course, if you can, or check out a “how-to” book on writing from the library. Post little snippets of your work, or share them with friends and get feedback. Find a writing community and learn from them! EXPECT TO FAIL – but keep going! Keep growing … and don’t give up. Writing is fun and rewarding, but also difficult! And I’m learning all the time that it’s a long, slow game – not a short sprint.
That was a lot of jumbled-up info … but, in short, read. Write. Don’t give up. (repeat).
Angeline, thanks so much for having me on your blog!! I’m so excited to share all about Seeing Voices on Books and Everyday Life! Readers can find me at my website: http://www.oliviasmit.ca and on Twitter and Instagram as @oliviamsmit if they’d like to stay in touch. 🙂 I love making new friends and I’d be just thrilled if they reached out!
I hope you guys enjoyed the interview. I had so much fun, getting to know Olivia.
You can preorder Olivia’s debut book here: https://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Voices-Olivia-Smit/dp/1946531626/ref=sr_1_1?crid=D8QFYYKP6M66&keywords=seeing+voices+olivia+smit&qid=1583128145&sprefix=seeing+voices%2Caps%2C217&sr=8-1
All advance orders receive exclusive goodies, such as phone background, a hand drawn town map, and more! To receive these goodies, email a copy of your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org