Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

My name is Tim Smith, and I write romantic mystery/thrillers and contemporary erotic romance.I live in Dayton, Ohio, andIretired early, so let’s let the age question go at that, shall we? I know it’s odd to meet a guy who writes straight contemporary erotic romance, but that’s just one of the unique things about me. In addition to being an award-winning, bestselling author, I’m also a freelance writer, blogger, editor, and photographer.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

I recently released my newest summer beach read, “Once Upon a Sunset” (Key West Heat #3). I’m still getting good reviews for my most recent romantic mystery “The Other Woman” (Vic Fallon Book Four), and my next romantic spy thriller “The Neon Jungle” (Nick Seven Book 6) was just accepted for publication by Extasy Books.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I got the writing bug in high school but didn’t do much with it, beyond short stories that I wrote for myself, and online product reviews once we entered the internet age. It wasn’t until I hit the middle-aged crazy years in my 40s that I decided to seriously pursue writing. I’ve always been drawn to mysteries and spy thrillers, especially private eye and crime caper stories,so I decided I wanted to write my own.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It wasn’t until my first book was published 17 years ago, and I received great reviews for it. Even then I didn’t really think of myself as a “writer,” but when my third book was released, I did a book signing tour in the Florida Keys, where most of the stories take place. I walked into a book store in Key Largo where I was scheduled to appear and saw my books alongside those of some Florida authors whose work I admired. That’s when it hit me and I thought “Smith, you have arrived!”

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

I had this idea for a spy thriller I wanted to do and one day I challenged myself to either write the damn thing, or stop talking about it. Several months later, “Memories Die Last” was released, and introduced a new character named Nick Seven.He’s still my most popular and enduring character. Seven is sort of an everyman in that he gets to do all of the things I can’t but wish I’d had the opportunity to do. He was the go-to CIA spook for getting the job done, he left the government rat race to run a bar and restaurant in the Florida Keys, he has a hot Barbadian woman living with him, and he never loses at poker or Blackjack. What a life!

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

The story involves a repressed memory for the hero, something very painful from his past that he can’t bring himself to face. He is forced to confront it in the story, and must resolve the conflict to achieve inner peace and move on with his life. Hence the title “Memories Die Last.”As an interesting side note, this wasn’t the original title. At the last minute, I did a search and found that the title I had chosen had already been used several times, and my ego forced me to come up with something original. I recalled a book by Harold Robbins called “Dreams Die First” and I thought if dreams die first, then perhaps memories die last. Problem solved!

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

I write in thepulp fiction, noir style that was popularized by writers like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Mickey Spillane, with cynical characters,snappy dialogue and moody atmosphere. Since I write for an erotic romance publisher, that presents a challenge, coming up with something different in each book. Let’s face it—there are only so many ways you can write erotic encounters that haven’t been done before. Comes a point when you have to wonder, “How many different positions are there??”

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I will often draw upon my own life experiences to a small extent, such as character quirks or isolated events. Something may happen and I’ll think “What if this happened instead?” I have used that on occasion to develop plots, but those incidents are just the stepping off point for what follows. I’ve been accused by friends of basing characters on them or a mutual acquaintance, but they’re all composites. When someone says that to me, I refer them to the “work of fiction” disclaimer at the front of the book.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

Many of my books take place away from my hometown, so travel is a nice necessity. A lot of my stories are set in the Florida Keys, including the entire Nick Seven spy series, which gives me an excuse to travel there for research. The Vic Fallon private eye series takes place in the opposite direction, on Ohio’s Lake Erie coast, near where I grew up. That’s good for a trip every summer to scout locations and look up old friends. I’m a stickler for accuracy when it comes to atmosphere and local flavor. The last thing I want is for someone to read one of my books and wonder “Has this guy ever been here?”

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

The covers were courtesy of my publisher, Extasy Books, under the supervision of Angela Waters. She and her designers always come up with something eye catching.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If there is a message in any of my stories, it got in there by accident, trust me! There may be a subtle message dealing with relationships, or the good guys doing the right thing against impossible obstacles, but I don’t like to clutter up a story with a lot of preaching. I write to entertain. I’ll leave the messages to the poets and self-help writers.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?

I don’t really keep up with new authors as much as I should, but I have a few favorite writers, including James W. Hall, Nelson DeMille, and Carl Hiaasen.When I need inspiration, I’ll re-read something by Chandler, Spillane or Ian Fleming. What strikes me about any of the above is their ability to craft characters and locations in a realistic manner. I’ve been influenced by their ability todeveloppersonalities that step off the page, and vivid atmosphere that drops the reader into the action. One of the nicest compliments I consistently receive is when someone tells me they felt like they were in the scene with the characters.

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

It was actually a couple of friends. I did the first one to prove to myself that I could write a full-length thriller, then decided to show it to a few people for a lark. I hadn’t considered seeking publication but the initial response I got was positive, and they encouraged me to go further with it. I was off to the races.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I’ve been writing for many years, both fiction and freelance writing. Since I took early retirement, I consider writing to be my full-time career now. I’m always working on new stories, writing blogs or reviews, and picking up freelance assignments. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and now I’m getting to live that dream. I’m also having fun with it, and that’s important.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

In my latest private eye mystery, “The Other Woman,” I was obligated to include a few erotic encounters, per my publisher’s guidelines. When I write these scenes, they are always a natural part of the plot, and never gratuitous. More than one reviewer commented that the erotic scenes were almost a distraction and slowed the pace. In retrospect, I would have toned them down, or eliminated one of them. That was a piece of advice I took to heart while finishing my next book.

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

My first choice would be George Clooney, because he has some of the personality traits of my lead character. Laidback personality, ruggedly handsome, kind of a smartass, quick with a quip, and able to handle the rough stuff the bad guys dish out. If I were casting this in an earlier time, it would’ve been Burt Reynolds for the same reasons.

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

If you have a story concept and you’re passionate about getting it told, then stick with it and see it through to completion. Realize that getting published, even self-published, is hard work, and so is the promoting you’ll need to do after publication. My best advice is to get an impartial critique of your final draft from someone who won’t be afraid to give you an honest opinion. That means someone other than a family member or significant other. And don’t be afraid of constructive criticism. I’ve released 22 books and my editor still finds mistakes. The only time I get upset is if they’re little things that I should have caught.

Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

I know this isn’t in the literary realm, but my fantasy meeting would be with Frank Sinatra. It would be fun to talk with him over a steak and a drink so I could ask him one question about his life and career: how did you do it??

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I’m a film buff and my tastes tend to favour classic movies, especially film noir crime capers with Bogart, Alan Ladd, and others of that era. I’m also a Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds fan, and I own every James Bond film. Having said that, let me state for the record that Sean Connery was the best 007 ever. My TV preferences range from dramas like “Blue Bloods” and “NCIS” to comedies like “Modern Family.” I also like to watch classic TV sitcoms and dramas. I’ve never gotten into reality TV shows, but I’m amazed at the new concepts they come up with for those things. It just proves that some people will do anything for a few minutes in the spotlight, no matter how idiotic it makes them look.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

 “At least he tried!”

Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

There are several places where people can keep up with me. My website, www.timsmithauthor.com, is one, and I have an Amazon author page, a Goodreads page, and I’m on AllAuthor.com.

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