Author Terri-Lynne Smiles stops by TeamNerd to discuss her novel, Foreseen, and what makes her such a big nerd! She opens up about why she loves to read, why she chose to jump into the science fiction genre to write her debut novel and how she would survive if zombies took over.
Annabell: At TeamNerd, we’re all about nerd power and book lovin *hehe* What attributes do you have that makes defines you as a nerd?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: You want my nerd resume? Aside from a reasonably high IQ and knowing every episode of every Star Trek series, I also own the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy BBC radio series (which I highly recommend), have played all Legend of Zelda games, can speak in front of a group of 500 but fall on my face trying to talk to a gathering of four, and dressed my son as Luke Skywalker before Star Wars was re-released in 1997. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Annabell: What are some quirky things you like to collect (i.e. office supplies, stamps, rocks)?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: Odd items seem to find me. A red Swingline stapler, a rock with a photo of a tennis shoe glued on it (a variation of which makes an appearance in Foreseen), miniature Easter Island heads, a four- inch light-up plastic rocket ship with a frog floating inside, a fish rubbing, a dragon, a sword, and a picture of Spock. And that’s just in the tiny space behind my desk! (picture attached)
Annabell: Why do you love to read?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: My father was a college professor and my mother started out as a high school English teacher. Our house was always filled with books and everybody read constantly. I learned to read as my older brother did, and never stopped. To me, fiction is a natural way to learn new ideas and explore their consequences.
Annabell: What made you decide to write a book? Was your family supportive from the beginning or did they have to come around to the idea?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember, but thought there was some secret knowledge required. But I reached a point where I HAD to write. I roughly laid out the arc of the entire Rothston Series and launched into it, then backed into learning all the “secret knowledge” after proving to myself that I could string sentences together in a pleasing way. My son has been my biggest fan from the beginning. My husband is incredibly understanding and supportive although he doesn’t always get my need to keep writing.
Annabell: Baking is one of your favorite things to do. What are some of your favorite sweets to bake?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: Last year, I found a recipe that is decadent – and easy. A layer of sugar cookie dough, a layer of chopped peanut butter cups, a layer of caramels, a layer of crushed pretzels, and another layer of sugar cookie dough. That’s it. Bake and eat! I also love making cheesecake, which takes about 4 pounds of ingredients to make one cake. I need a big crowd around to eat it, though.
Annabell: Where is your favorite spot to write? Do you have a set routine or write when inspiration strikes or write in between handling everyday life?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: I jot down notes wherever thoughts and ideas come to me, and then make myself sit down and do the hard work of researching or filling in the outline in the evening when there are fewer interruptions. The actual writing tends to be obsessive. I prefer to write at my desk in the basement of my house, but I’ve written about everywhere – perhaps not the bathroom. I can’t think of anytime I’ve written in there, but I can’t guarantee that I haven’t!
Annabell: Moving onto the book: How did the concept behind Foreseen develop? What drove you into the science fiction genre?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: I grew up reading a lot of science fiction. It is the genre of ideas and that has always appealed to me, but many of the novels I grew up with are unnecessarily dense and do not have sufficient character development to satisfy me. But still, science fiction was a natural for me. The concept of adepts came from two sources: appearing professionally before many tribunals where my job was to change or “influence” a decision, and a visit to the lab of an electrical engineering professor friend of mine. She delighted in showing me various experiments that proved the principles of quantum mechanics. From there, adepts and Foreseen were born.
Annabell: How much research did you have to undertake in order to create the power behind the adepts?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: To be honest, it wasn’t that much. Physics – or more accurately, the nature of reality – has always interested me. I did some additional reading on related topics to develop the concept of adepts, and more to develop the nature of the yet-to-be-disclosed connection between Greg and Kinzie. Once the first draft for Foreseen was completed, a very gifted author, John C. Brewer (Multiplayer, The Silla Project) became my writing partner. John is a physicist and a rocket scientist. He loved the concept of adepts and made the terminology more robust.
Annabell: Kinzie is a perfect example of a nerd: she’s shy, quiet, tends to be speak all scientific-like and dresses like a tom-boy. Why did you choose to approach her character in that direction? Was there anything or anyone specific that inspired her character?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: I think most nerds have some Kinzie in them, and I wrote this book for nerds. For female nerds, I think it is harder to figure out exactly how you fit into the world and how to interact with people who do not seem nerd-like at all. This gave me additional obstacles and conflict to work with. I would not say Kinzie is modeled after any particular person. She’s more an amalgam of a lot of people I’ve known.
Annabell: Greg starts off as a player and makes a huge change gradually throughout the book. What do you hope readers take away from his character?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: The novel starts with a quote from Albert Einstein: “A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.” Kinzie fails to do this, being blinded by what she thinks the Rothston Institute should be, but the idea applies in a different way to Greg. He starts off behaving as those around him expect from someone with his looks and resources. But through the course of the book, he “discovers” the true Greg Langston which he had left behind somewhere. So, my take-away is for people to act based on their values and beliefs, not on social expectations.
Annabell: Greg and Kinzie’s relationship is a great example to how love can change people. How has falling in love with your husband changed you? What is a great lesson that marriage has taught you?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: That my husband has far more patience than I ever imagined! Actually, that is my answer. He constantly amazes me. In many ways, he doesn’t understand me at all – like with writing. He just can’t see the appeal. And yet, he is more than willing to make sacrifices because it is something I need. Marriage is like that. It isn’t a selfish tug-of-war, but rather a binding of individual wants and needs together.
Annabell: If you were an adept, what would you do with your power?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: You are going to have to wait for the rest of the series before I answer that question. No spoilers!
Annabell: Choices is the upcoming second installment to Foreseen. When can readers expect the book to be released? What are some fun inside tidbits you’re willing to give away about what readers can expect? Will Greg and Kinzie’s relationship be further tested?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: Relationships are hard, particularly in the early stages. And Greg and Kinzie’s relationship has a lot of obstacles, from very different socio-economic classes, to Kinzie’s uncertainty (for good reason) as to whether Greg loves her. That last question (and I am being vague to avoid too much of a spoiler) will be answered in Choices. But they will face new obstacles as well, including whether their love can survive too much togetherness. Choices will be out by next spring, although we are trying very hard to move that up to this winter.
Annabell: At the beginning of the book, Kinzie and some of her classmates are playing a zombie game. If you were a survivor in a world where zombie’s hand taken over, how would you stay alive? What weapons would be apart of your arsenal (you can make your own up, too!)? What would the name of group of survivors be called?
Terri-Lynne Smiles: For a writer, I am dreadful at naming things. When my son was a baby, he had a stuffed mouse named “mouse,” bear named “bear,” and whale named “kohola” which is Hawaiian for whale. So if someone made the mistake of leaving the naming to me, it would probably “Survivors” or, more likely, “Group.” As for my preferred weapon, I’d love to go with an axe or a mace just for the cool factor, but truth be told, I am incredibly uncoordinated and would only manage to injury myself. So, I’d probably equip with an AK-47 and go the “spray and pray” route. Oh, and a tank would be good too!
Annabell: Thank you to Author Terri-Lynne Smiles for stopping by and chatting with me!
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