- an award-winning writer of CSI — but with swords and magic
Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Darian Smith
Darian Smith writes mainly speculative fiction (fantasy) and lives in Auckland, New Zealand with his wife (who also writes) and their two black cats (who don’t).
He holds two Koru Awards, is the winner of the SpecFicNZ/Steam Press manuscript competition, and a Sir Julius Vogel Award.
By day, he works with people who have neuromuscular conditions such as muscular dystrophy or charcot marie tooth disease. He is also a qualified counsellor/family therapist and can be seen – by those very swift with the pause button – on television shows such as Legend of the Seeker and Spartacus.
Darian, thanks for agreeing to be here today. While most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
It’s hard to go past a well-behaved dragon but it definitely would draw attention and at heart I’m an introvert so maybe something a bit more subtle would suit be better. A cat that can teleport, for example. Both practical and, I’d imagine, hilarious at times.
Dragons are classic, obviously. But a teleporting cat? That sounds like mischief multiplied!
What do you write? And how did you get started?
I write a fantasy/mystery blend. I started writing in my teens but started getting serious in my thirties. I’ve always loved fantasy and made up stories of my own to keep myself entertained and so writing them down seemed the next logical step.
I remember the first time I read a fantasy mystery book. I thought it was about a dragon, but the dragon was simply a murdered wizard’s not-fully-sentient pet-familiar. And the whole story was a ‘who-dunnit’? So, on behalf of younger Morgan, I’d like to ask that you make sure any readers are warned via the blurb what they’re getting into!
What do you like to read?
I mainly love reading fantasy as well. These days my attention span is a little low so lighter reading is best but every now and then its still fun to sink my teeth into something with a bit more meat to it. Which is a strange analogy for me to use given that I’m a lifelong vegetarian but you get the idea.
Lovely variety and some of my own favorite names in there.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
Only put one space at the end of a sentence
I know it’s probably less writing advice than typing advice but only putting one space at the end of a sentence is something I just can’t get my head around. I learned to touch type on an actual typewriter and computers were still relatively new so it’s ingrained in my habit to hit the space bar twice after a full stop. Fortunately, when it comes to formatting, I can do a search and replace for all those extra spaces.
It’s a question of kerning! Originally, periods were small characters, not taking a lot of visual room. But with the advent of computer fonts, most of them add extra room automatically after a period. So, the extra space isn’t needed. I know, many of my readers are right with you. But… welcome to 2021. It’s automated. Move on.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.
I hate the process but I love what it does for me. It makes life so much easier when I know what is expected of a scene and can use my brain to flesh out the little details instead of trying to figure out what actually happens next. When I try to pants, I get worried about what to do next and stall so planning is valuable for me.
I might not be a planner, but as a plantser, I can’t write without knowing where I’m going. For those of us it works for, it really works.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
The Agents of Kalanon series is murder mysteries in a fantasy world, like CSI but with swords and magic.
The series begins with Kalanon’s Rising.
Solve the murder. Stop the war. Save the world.
Sir Brannon Kesh spent years building a new life as a physician, leaving the name Bloodhawk and the war that spawned it behind. But when the King’s cousin is murdered, duty calls him back. The crime scene suggests dark magic and the evidence points to the ambassador of Nilar, an alluring woman with secrets of her own, who sees Bloodhawk as little more than a war criminal.
As bodies pile up and political ramifications escalate, Brannon must join forces with a vain mage, a socially awkward priest, and a corpse animating shaman to solve the murders and prevent another war. But who can he trust when the phases of a bigger plan take shape?
The Risen are the greatest danger Brannon has ever faced. If he and his team cannot stop the killer then all of Kalanon – and the world – will descend into darkness.
Winner of the SpecFicNZ Novel Competition
Currents of Change is an urban fantasy/paranormal romance set in a haunted house in New Zealand.
Haunted house. Haunted heart.
When Sara O’Neill goes on the run, she believes the tiny New Zealand town of Kowhiowhio is just the sanctuary she needs. Her family’s old colonial house needs repair, but it’s safe from the abusive husband she left behind. However, a hostile local holds a grudge and a dangerous presence haunting her new home threatens Sara’s chance at peace. How can she create a new life while dealing with ghosts from the old?
For local electrician, Nate Adams, parenting his young daughter alone has not been easy – particularly in a town where he is still seen as an outsider. When he meets his new neighbour, he sees a chance at a new start for them both. Even with his help, can the house – or Sara’s heart – be repaired?
Someone doesn’t want an O’Neill in Kowhiowhio. Sara’s return is awakening secrets hidden for generations.
The truth will set…something…free. A suspenseful novel about magic, secrets, a haunted house, and a touch of romance.
Building a new life while learning from a lost one.
The Psychology Workbook for Writers uses established psychological theories to help writers
develop realistic characters and conflict in their fiction.
Writers know that their characters and stories should be multi-layered and believable. Now here’s a simple workbook that uses the same knowledge that gives therapists insight into human behaviour to create fiction that hits the mark. Each chapter outlines an aspect of psychological theory as it can be used for writing and provides two worksheets to translate it into action – one to develop characters, one to develop the story.
Darian Smith is a prize winning fiction writer with a degree in psychology, and is a member of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors. He combines these two sides of his background to provide simple, easy to follow tools that make use of established psychological theory to help writers develop fully rounded, interesting, realistic characters and inject conflict into their stories.
Give your writing the benefit of over a decade of training and experience, and discover how to have readers wanting more.
Check Darian Smith out across the web!