Nicholas Sansbury Smith is the USA Today bestselling author of the Hell Divers trilogy, the Orbs trilogy, and the Extinction Cycle series. He worked for Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management in disaster mitigation before switching careers to focus on his one true passion—writing. When he isn’t writing or daydreaming about the apocalypse, he enjoys running, biking, spending time with his family, and traveling the world. He is an Ironman triathlete and lives in Iowa with his fiancée, their dogs, and a house full of books.Nicholas would love to hear from you. Connect with him at the following places
Hi Nicholas, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello! Thank you for the opportunity to interview. I’m 33 years old and live in Iowa, in the heartland of the United States. I grew up in the city but I come from an immigrant family that worked in the coal mines and had a farm here in central Iowa. I have a masters degree in Public Policy from Drake University and undergraduate degrees from the University of Iowa in Political Science and American Indian Studies. I spent the first ten years of my career working for the government in work ranging from politics to disaster mitigation and recovery. My experience working with FEMA really shaped a lot of my stories, and I left that job to pursue my passion for writing. Now, when I’m not working on a story I’m spending time with my family or traveling. I also love to run, bike, and swim. I finished two Ironman triathlons in 2014 and continue to train nearly every day. I live in Des Moines, Iowa with my fiancee and our two dogs in a century old house that’s full of books.
How long have you been writing?
Since 2013 when I self published my first novel. Since then I’ve written 17 novels. 16 of which are currently published.
What was the push that got you to finish your first book?
Friends and family telling me to publish it. I’ve never had any delusions about my work being good, and it really took encouragement to realize people might like my writing style and story ideas. My first book ended up being a flop out the gate, but it picked up when my second novel took off.
Who was your biggest inspiration?
Joe Haldeman and Hugh Howey.
You have had some interesting jobs, care to tell us a little about them?
When I worked at HSEMD and with FEMA I worked in disaster mitigation, meaning protecting our infrastructure and lives from natural and man-made disasters. I also specialized in safe room construction from smaller rooms to massive auditoriums or school classrooms built to protect against tornadoes. It was in that role I learned about the hundreds of threats we faced in Iowa alone. Working there was an eye opening experience, and really helped shape my writing. I try to make my books as realistic as possible. I continue to use my knowledge and research skills from that job to create my stories.
One thing I love about your books is your characters, where do you find inspiration for them?
I’ve traveled quite a bit and I’m a people person. The best advice my editor ever gave me was to listen to conversations around me and pick everyday people to become characters. Sometimes I just sit at the coffee shop and study/listen to people who become characters. I also write characters after people I know. Friends. Family. Co-workers, etc. My major characters usually reflect traits or memories of people I’ve had relationships with at some point in my life.
Apollo is awesome!! Was he based on a dog you had?
Nope, but back when I was doing triathlons I fell in love with the breed and eventually I will adopt a German Shepherd. Right now we have a Shi Tzu and a Pitbull. Adding another dog into the mix might not be the best idea. : )
What POV do you like writing in best?
Third person. That allows me to get into the minds of multiple characters which is very important in writing thrillers.
How has your writing career changed since you started?
As my brand has grown it’s become more and more difficult to focus on just writing. I spend a lot of time doing interviews, marketing, and continuing to grow my brand. Managing my time is the biggest thing that’s changed. I used to spend way more time writing.
What does your writing process look like?
I edit in the mornings and write in the afternoons and at night. I always start a book with a detailed outline to provide a map of the story. That’s how I’ve been able to increase my word count and keep pumping out books so fast. This year I’ll have written six books!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I usually have to be at a coffee shop or around other people to work. I don’t know why, but I just can’t seem to focus when I’m by myself.
What are your writing goals for the next year?
I plan on closing out the Orbs and Trackers series and focusing on two new series. I’m not sure if the Extinction Cycle is over, but would like to continue that one at some point.
What writer have you met that made you go fanguy?
Joe Haldeman. The guy is a genius and very humble.
What is the most frustrating aspect of the publishing world?
The con artists and scammers on Amazon. I wish they would crack down more.
What are you working on now?
Hell Divers 3: Deliverance and Trackers 4: The Damned.
Name the five biggest distractions from your writing.
The internet. The internet. The internet. My dogs. The internet.
What character from your books would you most like to be stuck in an elevator with?
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Yes. I’m very accessible on Facebook. Typically I hear things about the Extinction Cycle or Hell Divers. People asking me when the next book will be out. I also hear from a lot of Vets about the ECycle and how much they enjoyed the stories. Those are the most humbling emails and messages. I’m thrilled readers enjoy the series so much.
For someone new to your books, which do you recommend starting with?
Extinction Horizon or Hell Divers if you want science fiction. Trackers if you enjoy thrillers.
Some Get to know me Questions
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love the outdoors. Whether it’s hiking or exercising. I’m an adrenaline junkie so anything that’s exciting. I really love high stakes poker and try to get to Vegas a few times a year.
What’s the best vacation you ever had?
My wedding in January. We’re getting married in Mexico and I know it’s going to be the best experience of my life. : )
What’s your favourite rainy day movie?
I don’t watch movies during the day, but if I were going to I would say The Matrix.
If you could be any age again for a week, which would you choose and why?
Probably 18. I think I would be able to perform in sports way better if I had the knowledge and drive I have now. Back then I had the ability, just not the heart. Now I have the heart, but my body has really slowed down since I turned 30.
If you could have personally witnessed one event in history, what would it be?
DDay. I know it sounds crazy but that’s the first thing that comes to mind. If I could have been there, I would have.
What's you favourite place to read?
In my leather chair.
When you walk into a book store, where do you head first?
If you had a million dollars, what would be the first thing you would buy?
A bug out cabin off the grid.
Thank you so much for stopping by Nicholas!! Don't forget to enter the giveaway guys, these books are incredible and I can't recommend them enough!!
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