Friday, 22 November 2019

I Interviews

Interview: Shawn Smucker

In 2017, you wrote your debut novel,The Day the Angels Fell, for young adults.Now you are transitioning to an adult fiction title with Light from Distant Stars.Why did you decide to switch your audience?

I don’t see it as a huge switch, actually. My YA books are enjoyed by adults as well as young people, and a story told well in many cases can be appreciated by a wide agerange. But some of the themes in this book, such as how parents and children can grow apart, might only be fully appreciated by people who have lived long enough to see this happen.

 

Light from Distant Stars Book CoverCan you provide a brief description of Light from Distant Stars?

This is a novel primarily about a child’s relationship to his father, the mistakes they both made through the years, and how long it can take us to find each other again. The main character, Cohen, finds his father nearly dead in their family funeral home and spends the next week thinking back over the formative events of his childhood, trying to find out where he and his father lost each other and what happened to the faith of his childhood.

 

Your main character experienced some traumatic events in his life that affect both his past and his present.Can you expand on this?

Everything we have experienced finds its tangible result in the relationships we have now. I think Cohen is trying to find an explanation for how he’s become who he’s become, and where his relationships with his father and God havegone.

 

Although Light from Distant Stars covers some difficult elements, it is also a story that explores grace and hope. How is this portrayed in your story?

It’s a dark story at times, but at the heart of it is a man trying to find his father. And in the end, he has realizations about himself and his dad that change the way he views the events of his life. I think we are all given this task—to try to bring hope to the things that have happened to us.

 

Repressed memories are an underlying theme in Light from Distant Stars.Did it require specific research to understand how memories impact one’s overall outlook on life?

I was mostly intrigued with how children create imaginary friends, and how this sometimes happens as a way of coping with life that doesn’t fit their ability to understand. This continues into adulthood in some ways, as I think all of us createSmucker Shawn1 imaginary or reproduced versions of our past that we can live with. Cohen is in this phase, trying to figure out how he is going to define his life with his father.

 

Do you have a favorite character?

I love Cohen as a boy. I love his hope and the way he views the world from a sheltered place. As an adult, he makesme a bit sad because of how he responded to what life handed him, but I understandhim too.

 

Readers have compared your writing to James L. Rubart and Neil Gaiman.How do you feel your style is similar to these authors?

I’m very intrigued with stories that take place at the edge of the imagination, with one foot in reality and one foot in something that might be beyond reality or a reality we don’t understand very well. I think this is similar to Rubart and Gaiman. I’m very flattered by the comparison.

 

What are you working on next?

Another tale that has one foot in reality and one foot in another world.

 

How can readers connect with you?

Readers can find me at www.shawnsmucker.com.

 

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