Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Sherwood Smith Interview - A Sword Named Truth

Photo Credit: ©Lynne Glazer

Sherwood Smith started making books out of paper towels at age six. In between stories, she studied and traveled in Europe, got a master’s degree in history, and now lives in Southern California with her spouse, two kids, and two dogs. Smith’s the author of the high fantasy Sartorias-deles series as well as the modern-day fantasy adventures of Kim Murray in Coronets and Steel. Learn more at


What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
First of all, thank you very much for hosting me on your blog!

I’m a fairly boring person overall. The item from my past that seems to surprise people most is that I once had to defend my life with a switchblade. (I was a clueless just-turned 21, hitchhiking around Europe at the time. But I’d been studying fencing for a while. )

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’ve been a writer since I was six. I was a storyteller before then—I have one of those split-second memories of being in kindergarten, and the teacher asked me what my painting was about. I knew it was scribble-scrabble at the time, because I was drawing symbols to keep up with the story evolving in my head.

This memory is brief but quite sharp: I’m standing there next to the drawing on cheapo newsprint clipped to an easel. I’m telling the teacher (her name was Mrs. Darling) about this long story. I got to the robbers chasing my protagonist when she blinked slightly, and her expression intensified. I still can’t quite define her expression, but in retrospect—this was the mid-fifties, when conformity was so very much a part of the culture—I wonder if she was thinking I was . . . let’s say, a crayon short of a full pack.

Anyway, I started writing the stories down the next year (I already knew how to read, I’d been reading since I was three or four, but writing was a struggle) on paper towels. So it was always there.

If you could be a character in any novel you’ve ever read, who would you be and why?
First would be a character in one of my stories who hasn’t come out in print yet. In other people’s stories, oh, why not Elizabeth Bennet? She gets a great house, she’ll have a great life, and her mind is such fun to be in! Why not?

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
That would be Jilo hearing the Great Hum. I’m a visual/audial writer. The sight, the sound of that episode wrenches my heart and fills it at the same time.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Finding out that a person I’d never met was reading one of my books minutes before they died of cancer. That someone could find something worthwhile in that book at the most extreme moment of their life has been profoundly moving and rewarding. I wish I knew what part of the book they were reading. Maybe it’s better not to know—writers can try to grasp the relationship between a book and a reader, but it’s like trying to sculpt water. Heck, meaningful passages from my own reading will get a “Huh?” from other readers. We all bring our own perceptive lens to our reading, but even so, I’m so grateful that something I wrote could reach another person in that way.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your characters?
Being a visual writer, I don’t really create characters. They pop into my head as vivid images, and I discover their backstories as I write them. I think the biggest surprise was writing about one when I was a teen, though I didn’t understand their motivations.

Then when I revisited that story in my forties, I began to understand what a very long game they were playing.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Read! Read widely, non-fiction as well as fiction. Live all those wonderful lives, and think those fascinating thoughts.

Who has had the most influence in your life?
Living or through books? Through books, probably Jane Austen. Living? Too hard to single out any one person.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
The most pleasurable have been the white-fire stories, the ones that write themselves, while I serve as conduit. I live them while writing them. There have been very few of these—under a half dozen in all my sixty years of serious writing. But I remember each one.

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
Getting to travel around the world.

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
I am a complete and total chicken. I was scared plenty as a tiny kid—beginning with someone popping a balloon in my face at my first birthday. I remember that. Have hated balloons ever since.

Another was in first grade, and the air raid sirens went off on a day that wasn’t a Friday (back in the fifties, they blew every Friday, and we’d practice drop and cover . . . as if that would do any good when an atom bomb went off). The principal summoned our school out to the blacktop to inform us that the Soviets had launched . . . a sputnik.

We six year olds thought that that was the atom bomb coming, and I remember standing there half-stooped over, as if I could get to the blacktop to duck and cover faster. Then I realized how stupid that was while standing in the open like that, and that I was toast no matter what I did. That helpless horror is still vivid, probably why I have never liked horror films. There was enough horror in early life.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
What scenes I’ll write tomorrow!

Where can readers find you?
I’m Sartorias at Dreamwidth and Livejournal. I try to do Twitter for five minutes every couple days, but it’s hard to remember and I hate the format. Too brief, can’t keep up! I also have a bunch of posts up at Book View CafĂ©.

Untested young rulers must cooperate to protect their world from the magical threat of the mysterious kingdom of Norsunder in a new epic fantasy trilogy set in the same world as the popular Inda series.

The first installment of a trilogy, A Sword Named Truth launches readers into a story of non-stop action, politics, and magical threats leading to Norsunder's return. Our heroes span continents and cultures, ambitions and desires, but share one characteristic: they are young leaders. Many are rulers of unstable nations, growing into their power and their identities, but they seek ways to trust and bind themselves together--and find the strength to defend against a host that has crushed entire worlds: Norsunder.

With incredible powers only hinted at and enigmatic characters who appear in strange circumstances, the magical empire of Norsunder has loomed as the ultimate villain in Sartorias-deles, portending a battle to come, with the very highest of stakes.

Set in the complex world of Sartorias-deles, Sherwood Smith returns readers to the enthralling saga begun with the military action of the Inda series and continuing in the magic-based cultural drama of Banner of the Damned, bringing together deadly high politics, engaging worldbuilding, and nuanced examinations of power, love, and betrayal. 

You can purchase The Wishing World at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SHERWOOD SMITH for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of A Sword Named Truth (Rise of the Alliance #1) by Sherwood Smith.


  1. "What is the last movie that you saw at the cinema?" Hmm, maybe something in 1997 or so? I know I saw "Basquiat" in the 1990s.

  2. The last movie I saw at the theater was Unplanned and Breakthrough this year.