Tommy B. Smith is a writer of dark fiction, author of The Mourner’s Cradle, Poisonous, and the short story collection Pieces of Chaos, as well as works appearing in numerous magazines and anthologies throughout the years. His presence currently infests Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he resides with his wife and cats.
Did the experience of writing in a new genre help you grow as a writer and storyteller, and if so, in what way?
While my previous works have landed within the realms of horror and dark fiction, and even fantasy in the case of a few short stories, my newest novel is a coming of age story—or as I’ve also called it, a coming of rage tale, titled Anybody Want to Play WAR?
It’s the story of Bryce Gallo, a teenage boy attacked by a dog, who suffers terrible injuries. He recovers in the hospital, but is left with a terrible scar, a stark reminder of his narrow escape, and here the story just begins. It’s the tale of an outsider, of family dysfunction and consequences, and Bryce’s struggle to adjust and ultimately face the world.
While this one doesn’t fall into the horror genre, past readers will find whispers of the darkness they’ve come to recognize, and it’s my hope that newer readers should also find plenty to enjoy in this character-driven story.
As an author, I appreciated the freedom afforded in writing this particular book. Remaining squeezed inside a box for too long can become uncomfortable.
As with other occasions, once I found the proper “zone” for myself to begin this undertaking, I adapted my approach to suit the story and its direction.
I recognize the value in reading outside one’s oft-chosen genre and exploring other creative arenas. These experiences offer fresh alternatives and learning opportunities. For the sake of growth and development as an author or otherwise, it’s useful to remain open to areas for potential development.
This book allowed for me to exercise character development on a higher level, and also proved a deeper experience in world building. There are many layers to the setting of St. Charles, and that includes my release of 2018, The Mourner’s Cradle.
If handled properly, character development and world building are valuable tools which enable a seamless spectrum of possibilities. These are tools which transcend genre, skills which may serve to enhance our storytelling arsenal. To commit my best, I owe it to my readers to keep a multitude of tools within reach.
As well, I found a challenge in labeling a story which does not easily fit in the molds of standard genre fare, but authors have penned coming of age stories across many years, decades and even centuries. Why shouldn’t I establish my variation on the concept?
In the end, I’ve carry forward with my motivations, and this time, it was Anybody Want to Play WAR? A liberating task, and at its best moments, a learning experience. Just as our stories are works in progress until the final edit’s completion, as purveyors of words and worlds, so are we, as long as we are willing and determined to make it so.
— Tommy B. Smith
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Brutal injuries can leave scars. As the teenaged survivor of a savage dog’s rampage, it’s a lesson Bryce Gallo will never forget.
Struggling to cope with his damaged appearance, along with a newfound fear of dogs and mounting anxieties at home and school, he flees his suburban home into the moonlit streets of St. Charles.
Along the roads of suburbia and through the shadowed heart of the city, he encounters Wheels, a maintenance worker for a series of apartment buildings; Paloma, known to some by the moniker of Lady Luck; and a woman in a dark house who is, as far as Bryce can fathom, like no one else he has met before.
His new life is not without obstacles or enemies, he learns. The future is a battlefield. Fire and smoke loom on the horizon, and his dangerous course may see the lives of his family and friends forever changed.
Amazon Print Version: https://www.amazon.com/Anybody-Want-Play-Tommy-Smith/dp/1948042843/