This is the forth in the Vanilla Heart Publishing author interview series, and this week I'd like to introduce Smoky Trudeau (Zeidel).
Anne: Welcome to my blog, Smoky. Now, about your name....
Smoky: Confusing, I know—I’ve published my books up till now as Smoky Trudeau, but I’ve added the Zeidel recently, so from this point on, that’ll be the name on my book covers.
Anne: What is the title of your most recent release with Vanilla Heart Publishing?
Smoky: Observations of an Earth Mage. I’m really proud of this book. It’s a collection of prose, poetry, and photographs celebrating the beauty and splendor of our natural world. Vanilla Heart managing editor Kimberlee Williams had never published a book with color illustrations before, so it was a leap of faith on her part to take on the project. Actually, come to think of it, it was her idea to begin with! Vanilla Heart Publishing has published all five of my books, and I am anticipating they’ll publish my sixth, when it is finished.
Anne: Do you have a specific writing space? If so, what ONE word best describes it?
Smoky: Yes, we have this little porch tacked onto the back of our cottage—we call it the Milk Room—and that’s my studio. One word? Creative-chaos. (Is that cheating, hyphenating the word?)
Anne: Not at all, you’re a writer! Do you belong to any writer's organizations? Which ones and why?
Anne: Do you belong to a critique group, have a critique partner or depend on beta reader(s)?
Smoky: I haven’t belonged to a critique group since the release of my first novel. I taught fiction writing for many years at several community colleges in the
Midwest, and I found after that, if I tried to join a critique group, people put the burden of the critiquing on me. They kind of dubbed me the writing guru, and were afraid to critique what I wrote, since I was the professional writer. But my best friend, Kat, is an editor and avid reader. She reads my stuff, and I’m grateful she does it. She’s a tough critic! There’s a scene in my first novel, Redeeming Grace, where two of the characters get into a physical altercation. Kat made me act out the scene, blow by blow, with her, to ensure it really could have unfolded the way I described it. (Lucky for me, I’d written it correctly!)
Anne: How long did it take from the moment you decided to write to when you sold your first book?
Smoky: I was a journalist for several years before I started writing short stories and novels, so I had the benefit of already being well published when I finished writing my first fiction. My first short story, “Goodbye Emily Dickinson,” was published by the first place I submitted it, a literary magazine called Potpourri. Unfortunately, they’re no longer in business. That short story went on to be published in a slightly different format by the acclaimed literary magazine, Calyx, and later, again in a slightly altered state, by Vanilla Heart’s With Arms Wide Open anthology. Anyway, because I was already sort of a known entity, I didn’t have any trouble getting Redeeming Grace published in 2003, by the second publisher I submitted it to. Unfortunately, they, too, went out of business not long after the book was released. Discouraged, I didn’t resubmit to anyone else for a few years. Then a friend of mine, Vila Spiderhawk, encouraged me to submit both Redeeming Grace and my second, recently completed book, The Cabin, to her publisher, Vanilla Heart. The rest is history.
Anne: How many rejections did you acquire along the way?
Smoky: I mentioned “Redeeming Grace” was published by the second publisher I submitted to? Well, the first one I submitted to originally said they wanted it. I drew up a marketing plan and made plans to travel to the publisher’s city to meet with them. At the last minute, they backed out. No contracts had been signed, so that was their right. Funny thing is, about a week after I signed with the company that did originally publish “Redeeming Grace”, I got a letter from the first publisher saying they were sorry they’d backed out, and was the book still available? It was bittersweet.
Anne: What kept you going?
Smoky: What keeps me going? Curiosity. Something I call wonderlust, and no, that isn’t a typo. I define wonderlust as the urge to constantly be asking yourself, “I wonder what would happen if…”
Anne: Describe your current work-in-progress.
Smoky: I’m working on a brand-new novel right now, but it’s in its infancy, and I don’t want to talk too much about it yet. Not that I’m superstitious, but I don’t want to anger my muse by saying the story is going to be about one thing when Madame Muse has different ideas.
Anne: What is your writing schedule like?
Smoky: I’m a morning person. That’s when I do my best writing.
Anne: What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Smoky: Not getting distracted by three cats and a dog. Also, the pull of Mother Nature, who frequently lures me away from my computer and down to the ocean, or out to the desert, or up into the mountains. I’ve got incurable wanderlust as the partner to that wonderlust I just described. When the two team up, it makes writing difficult. Of course, I look at my adventures as research! The nice thing about being a writer is everything is research.
Anne: Are you a glass half-empty or half-full kind of person?
Smoky: Definitely three-quarters full. My glass is never at half. But there’s always room for more, so it’s never completely full, either.
Anne: Please complete this sentence. "I'm happiest when.."
Smoky: I’m happiest when I’m in a place of extraordinary wonder and beauty in nature, with my husband Scott, be it exploring a tidepool, sitting beside a mountain stream listening to the music of water dancing over the rocks, or hiking in the desert.
Anne: Your website or blog, please.
Smoky: You can actually find me in several places: My Blog: http://www.authorsmokytrudeau.xanga.com
My Websites: http://www.smokytrudeau.com/
Anne: Thank you, Smoky. It’s been a pleasure.