Today's special guest is Rusty Smith. He's here chatting with me about his novel Longworth.
While he does a virtual book tour, Rusty will be awarding 3 gifts to three lucky winners. You can enter for a chance to win, use the form below.
2nd Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card and e-book or paperback copy of Longworth
3rd Prize: e-book or paperback copy of Longworth
Bio:J. Russell Smith has spent a lifetime fighting for a sense of moral justice, on both a personal level and on a broader stage. His experiences in the Vietnam War and his graduate studies in intellectual history and political theory allow him to bring both an intimate perspective and a scholar’s analysis to the writing of Longworth. Smith is currently at work on his next two novels.
Welcome, Rusty. Please tell us about your current release.
It is a coming of age story about a young man who is caught up in circumstances beyond his control. The 60s, and the Vietnam War that defined it, was an unsettling time. Most of the young men and women who lived through that life-altering period had little idea what was going on, beyond what was reported in the newspapers. Even then, most did not even bother to read the newspaper. Yes, there were some who recognized the situation for what it was and responded accordingly, but most were just ambling along trying to figure it all out. Carson Longworth was not atypical of those individuals who had, heretofore, not been involved in politics to any great degree. He had emerged, like his contemporaries, from the stifling conformity that was the 1950s.
The music, as an example, that emerged from that era was as creative, mainly as a response to the political atmosphere and the War, as at any time in US history. It was a reflection of who we were and what we were doing. As events unfolded during that period, folks began to gradually understand and respond accordingly, particularly to the political folly that was unfolding. This, of course, would lead to the very real, but unnecessary, deaths and injuries in a conflict in which we had no business being involved. And, it will turn out; many of our future political leaders would learn little from that disastrous encounter. The ill-conceived wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, two egregious examples, are a direct result of our hubris.
What inspired you to write this book?
While it is a little more complicated than this, it essentially boils down to two things: It was a cathartic experience for me in the sense that I needed to put down on paper the pent up feelings I had from that experience. I needed to fully understand what had happened to me and others in that exercise in futility; second, because I had/have strong feelings about the conduct of the Vietnam War and just how powerful the 60s were, I felt the need to educate the public. Some who lived through that time will hopefully conjure up some memories. Others, who did not, will, hopefully, receive both a message and an education.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I am in the midst of writing a science fiction novel set in the Pacific Northwest. The notion came to me in a dream/nightmare.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not certain there was an epiphany of any sort where I woke up and decided I was a writer. It was more of a metamorphosis. Clearly, though, I decided in the last decade or so that I would like to write. When I finished Longworth I decided that I would not be bored in my dotage; that I wanted to write more.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Unfortunately, I do not write full-time. I own my company, thus my time is not my own. About the only time I can write at present is when I steal moments here and there. It is not to my liking. I intend to change that in the near future. In the interim, I play golf or ride motorcycles to change the scenery somewhat.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I honestly do not know how to answer this, except to say that the entirety of Longworth was written between the hours of midnight and 6:00am. Late night seems to be when I do my best work.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I had no particular ambition to be anything in particular. It was not until I was in the Marine Corps that I decided that I would like to be a college history professor. That, of course, did not happen.
Because the 60s was such an exciting and volatile period, most do not realize how much that period changed our country and, by extension, the world. With this novel, my hope was to enlighten the reader. If he/she lived during that era, then perhaps this would conjure up some memories. Many who have read the book have told me it brought back memories both good and bad. For those who did not live through the 60s, and the Vietnam War that defined it, I would hope they would receive an education and realize the import of the message.
Thanks for being here today, Rusty!