Monday, February 13, 2012

Robert Louis Smith Author Interview

Photo Content from Robert Louis Smith

Robert Louis Smith, author of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans, has numerous degrees, including psychology (B.A.), applied microbiology (B.S.), anaerobic microbiology (M.Sc.), and a Medical Doctorate (M.D.). He serves as an interventional cardiologist at the Oklahoma Heart Institute. He is married and the father of two young children. He began writing Antiquitas Lost in 2003 while studying at Tulane University in New Orleans.


How would you describe yourself in three words?
Persistent, determined, stubborn.

Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Oklahoma and grew up there. As an adult, I have lived in Atlanta, New Orleans, Nashville, and Florida, though my family and I moved back to Oklahoma about 5 years ago.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Become President or a billionaire entrepreneur. I also contemplated becoming a writer or a heart surgeon. Kids think they can do anything.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
As a reader, I appreciate authors that are good at creating tension. I think this trumps everything else. As a writer, I appreciate authors who write clever prose and can texture their writing with nice sensory imagery.

For those who are unfamiliar with your novel, Antiquitas Lost, how would you introduce it?
Antiquitas Lost is a bildungsroman and classic quest fantasy about an American teenage boy who begins an impossible journey with the goal of saving his dying mother. There are creepy, flesh-eating monsters and one of the principal characters is a Bigfoot. I have read some twenty or thirty reviews of my book, but the reviewer who best 'gets me' summed it up as follows: "Antiquitas Lostis a nostalgic trip to another world. It borrows much from an earlier period of books, comics, and movies and comes off as an original homage to everything loved about youth . . . " (From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer January 17th, 2012).

How did you come up with the title and cover design?
Geof Isherwood (the illustrator) and I obsessed over the Antiquitas Lost cover image for weeks, and discussed many ideas. After we agreed on an idea, he worked very hard to create an image we both liked, but I fear we didn't get it quite right. The cover image has been panned by almost everyone who has mentioned it (so bad it's good? You decide). Perhaps if there is a second edition we will be able to remedy the problem. As for the title, our all-powerful weapon is called the Antiquitas Trident, and it is indeed lost, so . . .

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Yes the book is the beginning of a series. The second is well underway.

What is the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
The rest of my life. Ha! Writing is work, and requires a lot of discipline.

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
I enjoyed writing the scenes with the flesh eating monsters called the salax. My editor described these scenes as "strong and bizarre," which is sort of what I was going for. I wanted to create new monsters that were all my own. The salax have been described as "more fitting to Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinthe than Tolkien's Lord of the Rings," and everyone seems to comment on them.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The following is a short excerpt quoted in a review of Antiquitas Lost at in October 2011:

"Then the salax leaped across the encampment and sat Marvus back up against the tree. Holding him there with one claw, it opened its mouth and spat a glob of sticky saliva onto Marvus's chest. The glob quickly solidified into the weird silvery webbing. The creature spat again and again, contorting its stomach and neck with each effort, as if working the material up from deep within. With each spit, another swatch of silvery glue matted Marvus to the tree. When finished, the creature lumbered back to the cauldron."

No peeks yet from book two!

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Here I will plagiarize a good bit of wisdom attributed to our 30th President:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

Has a review or profile ever changed your perspective on your work?
I like to read my reviews. Thankfully, most have been positive. Some of my reviewers complain about things that I purposefully wrote the way I did, and I feel that they "didn't get it". A few of the reviews that have been critical have been terribly poorly written themselves, which always amazes me (there was one that gave the impression the person wasn't writing in their native tongue). But all that said, every review has some good bit of advice to pick up on. After all, each reviewer has given their time to read my book, and I appreciate that. Every reader experience is valid.

If I came to your house and looked in your closet/attic/basement, what's the one thing that would surprise me the most?
The old comic book collection and all of the Marvel comics and Star Wars action figures. My poor wife.

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
After reading The Amityville Horror when I was 10 years old. I was seeing pig demons around every dark corner. What were my parents thinking?! I was also pretty worked up when my pregnant wife and I were huddled away in downtown New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and when the streets began to flood . . . Now that is a good story.

If you could be any mythology creature, what would you be?
Anything that is really strong and can fly. Magic powers are always a plus.

Favorite places to travel?
Any place that has old castles, is haunted, or has a deserted beach with blue-green water

List 3 of your all time favorite books?
Ouch, picking three is hard. Here are some that come quickly to mind:
Stephen King's The Stand
Stephen King's Pet Sematary (forget the movie, the book is great)
Tolkien's The Hobbit
C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Victor Hugo's Les Miserables (abridged version)
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

What book are you reading now?
I'm on the fifth book in the George R.R. Martin series (Dance with Dragons). Before starting that series I read The Hunger Games series and Stephen King's 11 22 63 (That was an awesome book). 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Honestly, I work a whole lot. Early evenings are spent with my young kids. Late at night is for reading and writing.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?
I think I would just stay me.

Antiquitas Lost tells the story of a boy named Elliott, a lonesome kid with deformities on his hands and feet who is uprooted from his home after his mother falls gravely ill. When they move to New Orleans so his grandfather can help care for her, Elliott learns that the old man's eighteenth century mansion hides an ancient secret. While checking out some eerie paintings and strange relics in the basement, Elliott strays through an ancient passage into a tumultuous parallel world, full of bizarre creatures and warring races. He has stumbled into Pangrelor, the most ancient of all worlds and "mother to all the stars in the sky." As he learns to navigate his new surroundings, he discovers wondrous abilities he never dreamed he possessed, and an abiding connection to the primitive, alien world that will forever change him. But he must proceed carefully. For he soon learns that his actions in the ancient world will impact the upcoming battle for Harwelden, Pangrelor's greatest civilization, and will also resonate all the way back to New Orleans, perhaps deciding whether his own mother lives or dies. 

You can purchase Antiquitas Lost at these following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ROBERT LOUIS SMITH for making this giveaway possible.
2 Winners will receive one Copy of Antiquitas Lost by Robert Louis Smith.


  1. hmmmm thats hard, would have to be all of my star wars books, anything by tamora pierce and ashfall by mike mullin :)
    thanks for the giveaway