My amazing friend Olivia Smit wrote a book called Seeing Voices that’s coming out on April 15th–you can preorder it here. Keep reading for an exclusive author interview with Olivia! I’m so excited for her and am also super excited to be on her launch team! Definitely pick up a copy of the book to get a great story to read while you’re at home sheltering in place 🙂
Tell me a little bit about yourself, how you started writing, and what kinds of things you’ve written besides Seeing Voices.
Hi friends!! I’m so pumped to be here! If you spend any time with me, either online or in person, you’ll figure out pretty fast that I LOVE reading. Love it FOREVER. I read the Chronicles of Narnia when I was 6 years old (it took me an entire year to get through and I did have a little help! I remember reading The Horse and His Boy and not knowing what an “is-land” was because I’d only ever heard “island” said out loud … I’d never seen it written down before).
Besides reading, I really like to sing with my siblings, bake bread, and write books of course! I started writing when I was a kid (I used to dictate stories to my mom … I think we still have a few of those little booklets lying around somewhere) but I got serious about writing books after taking the One Year Adventure Novel course in grade 8! I wrote my first fantasy novella that year, and then I wrote a full-length novel with NaNoWriMo when I was 14. I dabbled briefly in sci-fi and his-fic, but in the past few years I’ve written YA Contemporary. I’m querying another book right now, actually! I’m writing another contemporary, too, and planning one … although I have a few faint ideas for a fantasy book (with dragons??) floating around in my head. Someday …
When did you first draft SV? What was the publication process like and how long did it take?
I started writing “Seeing Voices” in 2015, when I was seventeen years old. I’d puttered around with a few ideas over the past few years, but hadn’t written anything that I was passionate about in a while. Even after Skylar popped into my head, it took almost a year before I could figure out what her story was going to look like! I wrote the first draft of “Seeing Voices” during NaNoWriMo of that year …. and then spent another two years polishing and editing! I only started sending query letters out after finishing the 9th draft and hearing feedback from almost 10 beta readers!
Once I started querying, it took about 10 months to sign a contract with WhiteFire. They were actually one of the first places I queried (and they were my very first personalized note in response – I got auto-replies from everyone else at first!), which just goes to show how slow the publishing world can work sometimes! But after spending a lot of time at the Go Teen Writers blog, it was a secret dream of mine to publish “Seeing Voices” with WhiteFire, so I was THRILLED when they made me an offer! I was sitting in class when the email came in, so I quietly excused myself and called my parents and my boyfriend from the hallway, pacing in excitement as other students walked by and gave me strange looks!
In what ways are you and your main character Skylar similar?
I think Skylar and I have a similar internal monologue – she and I both tend to coach ourselves internally as we’re going through stuff. I don’t think I’m as clumsy as she is, although I certainly do have a knack for blurting out the wrong thing at the wrong time!
What gets the creative process kickstarted for you?
Usually, the only way I can kickstart the creative process is to just sit down and write, even when I don’t feel like it. Sometimes I’ll get inspired by a really great book or TV show, and that’s AWESOME because I can sit and pour out a couple thousand words without blinking!! But most of the time, I have to put some hard work in before the passion starts to build.
What are you writing now?
I’m working on another YA Contemporary novel, tentatively called “Stealing Time”! It’s about a teenager named Ember who copes with grief by shoplifting. When she’s sent to live on her cousin’s horse farm, she has to figure out a way to move on from her loss without completely sabotaging her own life … and the lives of the people around her.
I’m also querying a book called “Love, Darcy” (you can follow my journey – mostly rejections so far, LOL – on Twitter). When Darcy’s mom walks out on their family, Darcy is determined to keep her absence a secret at all costs – even if that means smothering her mounting anxiety and lying to the people she loves.
I am in LOVE with both of these books and I can’t wait to see where they (hopefully) find homes with agents or publishers in the future!
What does a day in your life look like and what hobbies or pastimes do you enjoy?
Normally, I split my time between going to classes at my university (I graduate this month with an Honours Specialization in Creative Writing, English Language, and Literature!) and working as a youth ministry assistant at my church. When I have free time, I send out more query letters or read for fun. During the school year, most of my reading time goes towards books for class, but I try to pick up a book I love in the evenings before bed!
My non-literary pastimes include baking (I like trying new recipes, but my favourite things to make are bread and pie) and singing with my siblings! I also enjoy horseback riding and going for long walks with my boyfriend.
What’s a question you wish someone would ask you about yourself/your work/SV, but no one ever has? Answer it for us!
This is a super tough question to answer! I had to give it some thought before coming up with an answer.
Not many people ask what I would have done if WhiteFire hadn’t offered to publish “Seeing Voices” … but it was a possibility that I had to consider! Early on in my querying journey, I made a plan: I decided to query “Seeing Voices” until I had another book ready to go. No matter how many rejections I received, no matter how many years it took me to get my next book ready to go, I promised myself that I wasn’t going to give up on this story. If WhiteFire hadn’t offered me a contract, I would simply have kept querying. I love Skylar’s story so, so much, and I’m so glad I found a publisher who believes in her as much as I do!
Olivia Smit bio: Olivia Smit loves baking, visiting small towns, and writing stories that face hard truth with hope and encouragement. Olivia has an Honours Specialization in Creative Writing, English Language, and Literature and lives in Canada with her family. Seeing Voices is her first novel. Preorder it here!