Interview with Aaron Smith
Aaron E. Smith, when I chitter backwards to one, you will awake with the belief that I am a close friend. You will cooperate with this interview by answering all my questions in an open and honest fashion. Let us begin� three, two, one.
Personal Journal � Local Time: AC 6051.08.01
I have traveled many light years looking for suitable worlds to explore. Since there was nothing more interesting than the occasional slug in the surrounding systems, Earth will have to do for now. While it is likely that humans aren�t much more intelligent than the aforementioned slugs, I shall fulfill my duty to the best of my ability and report my findings to my superiors.
In the course of my investigations, I have been tasked with the duty of determining which, if any, worlds in this particular galaxy are worthy of joining our universal alliance. To this end, I have abducted several of the carbon-based life forms that inhabit this planet for purposes of study. With the �probe� phase of my research complete, I need only to conduct a simple interview and then wipe their memory before returning them.
My first subject is an interesting specimen that I learned about while perusing something called an internet. This internet appears to be some sort of self-torture device that humans use as a strange form of interface between machine and organic beings. I call it torturous because it is so hideously slow that, in a race between it and a glacier, I would wager on the glacier. Ah, but I digress.
While using this infantile attempt at technology, I came across a particular section of binary code that falsely touts itself as literary entertainment. In truth, the vast majority of it is nonsensical drivel that serves only to further deepen my belief that the internet is a device of torture. Just as I was about to toss all my findings in the virtual recycling bin, I stumbled upon the human specimen that I previously mentioned. He, it would appear, is one of the few writers who have managed to craft something worthy of occupying my time.
Whether or not my interview will produce any tangible results will be determined after I return him to Earth. (It will be most amusing to hear him attempt to explain his whereabouts to his spouse during the last few days.) The subject in question, Aaron E. Smith, came to my attention when his story, The Words and Deeds of Men, was voted as the reader�s favorite tale in a small, long running e-zine.
It should be noted that Mr. Smith was completely unaware of my true form during the questioning process; most humans are squeamish around creatures gifted with more appendages than their own. When I return him, he will awake and believe � at least initially � that the entire thing was a dream. I provide the interview here for future analysis, and to include with my report to my superiors.
Good Morning, Aaron. I trust you have recovered adequately from the probes. Why don�t you begin by telling me a little about yourself?
Aaron Smith: I came from the womb with a fever for the arts. As early as elementary school, I displayed a knack for improvising sketches and scenes that our class had the opportunity to play with. That love for the arts remains present in my life to this day. And though certain types of arts would hold dominion over my life at various times, writing is the one that seems stickier than the rest.
Juxnezlyth: So, was The World of Myth the first magazine to formally publish one of your stories?
Aaron Smith: Yes. I had been reading through the site for a couple of years. I wasn�t a member but I just wanted a feel for what was out there and what was being published.
Juxnezlyth: Interesting. Tell me more of your writing history.
Aaron Smith: I can recall writing a satire of Shakespeare�s �Hamlet� for our senior Shakespeare day. In college I wrote tons of Dungeons and Dragons adventures for my friends to explore.
After marrying my awesome wife, Amy, we became members of an improvisational comedy troupe in Indianapolis called �Phil in the Blank,� and wrote murder mysteries together that we performed at a dinner theatre in town.
My current dedication to writing has evolved over the last few years. After taking a writing course at Butler University, I sat down to write my first novel. Still unpublished, it allowed me to grow as a writer and find a significance to it that goes beyond a simple desire.
Music has played an important part in my life as well, and greatly influences my writing. Having played drums in various bands from high school and beyond, I commonly listen to music as I write, to put my mind in a similar emotional condition to the story I�m writing.
Juxnezlyth: Music, you say. Allow me to relax you with some background tunes by one of your favorite bands. Which of them do you prefer?
Aaron Smith: If I had to pick one, I�d say Duran Duran. They�re not exclusive, mind you. What I listen to when I write depends on the emotion I�m trying to connect with. It varies a lot� Peter Murphy, Pink Floyd, Great Northern, One Eskimo� you get the idea.
Juxnezlyth: It sounds as though your interests reach further than just fantasy. What else have you dabbled in?
Aaron Smith: I�ve written many scripts and dramas for various reasons, and have acted in a couple of independent short films, including �Dark Entries,� a twilight zone type of short, and �Faith.� (Playing the parts of Satan and Jesus in said films) Having also caught the acting bug at certain times, I have had the privilege to appear in a handful of television commercials over the years, and did voice-over work for the local Children�s Museum�s Planetarium exhibit.
Juxnezlyth: What was your reaction when you learned that readers voted your story as their favorite � in two consecutive issues?
Aaron Smith: It was satisfying. It was the first time I�d had anything published. I was grateful that so many people enjoyed it.
Juxnezlyth: Hypothetically speaking, let�s say that I was an alien who happened to stop by your planet to evaluate it for inclusion in a universal alliance. With that in mind, what would you say is the greatest weakness for human beings?
Aaron Smith: Their tendency to force everything around them to their will. Just because something doesn�t sit well with our ideals doesn�t mean it needs to be changed. That represses what I believe to be our greatest strength, our individuality.
Juxnezlyth: Is there a solution for that weakness?
Aaron Smith: None that I see. I don�t think there ever has been or ever will be. It only takes one malcontent to start a landslide of conflict.
Juxnezlyth: I see. Let�s move on. How do you maintain the creative spark?
Aaron Smith: As a grown adult, I am sad to admit that the simple fascinations that we so commonly find as children are so difficult to enjoy now. Writing has reversed the aging process for me somewhat. It allows me to go back to the places I long ago abandoned to find my long lost, favorite things still there waiting for me.
My relationship with my wife and our children also help to nourish that part of me. Days of pirates, superheroes and pretend keep my creative spark alive. Without them I would not be the person that I am today, or ever be the writer I aspire to become.
Juxnezlyth: It sounds as though writing holds a significant place in your mind.
AS: There is a true power in that kind of communion. We all crave it, and need it to be whole. That is why I love to write. It is a communion with friends, strangers, and critics, who all desire nothing more than to belong� to something outside of themselves.
That is my hope for those who read my stories. I hope that they are led back to those places that were long ago abandoned for maturity�s sake, to find the welcome mat of youth still lying at their doorstep.
Juxnezlyth: Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?
Aaron Smith: Yes, very much so. Being the husband of a pastor, I�m more driven to discover spirituality. It is at the center of the lives we share and is most responsible for the two of us growing closer together. I believe that is the true blessing of marriage � that two become one. In my story, for example, Chendrelle and Simeon Kane share a spiritual bond and that connection makes them more powerful than they could ever be alone.
Juxnezlyth: How does spirituality affect your writing?
Aaron Smith: I think it drives all of it. Everyone is searching for meaning in their life. Some find it, and then spend their life struggling to make it prosper. That is probably the one basic conflict that we, and all of our favorite literary characters possess. My characters don�t always represent my personal beliefs. To make them do so would be limiting. Broken people will sometimes accomplish wonderful things and ethical people sometimes choose to further themselves at the expense of others. That, for me, is the wonder of writing.
Juxnezlyth: How does your greatest fear stack up against your wildest dream?
Aaron Smith: The fear overshadows the dream. For example, the loss of one of my children, or my wife would be devastating to me emotionally. I�d do anything to prevent that, including giving up a dream to win the lottery.
Juxnezlyth: Again, hypothetically speaking, let�s say a handsome, multi-appendage alien gave you the power to rule the world. What are some of the first things you�d change?
Aaron Smith: After acknowledging the existence and benevolence of alien life, I�d eliminate corporate America�s influence on our government. I�d also pass a law to make all chocolate free of charge. There�s about 20 or 30 other things I�d like to change, but that would be enforcing my will on the world.
Juxnezlyth: Let�s further imagine that this technologically advanced alien � did I mention that he was handsome? � allowed you to travel back to any one point in your life. What would you do differently?
Aaron Smith: Not a thing. I�d like to remove the bad things, but at the expense of the valuable lessons I learned from them? Now I wouldn�t mind returning just to visit. I�d like to spend time with my granny again, for example. Not to do anything differently, but to simply enjoy the relationship. She had a huge impact on the person that I am today.
Juxnezlyth: Do you have any final thoughts before we conclude this interview?
Aaron Smith: I want to express my gratitude to TWoM readers and to those who comment on the forum. Even those who aspire to be writers but haven�t crossed the threshold yet.
Wait a minute. Why are you putting those gloves on? I thought the probe time was over.
Juxnezlyth: It appears there were some areas I missed. You display an unusual spark of intellect for a human. Perhaps there is hope for your species after all. However, it is too soon to tell. Additional probing will provide the answers, but first I must put you under� listen to me.
I will again chitter backwards. When I get to one, you will fall asleep. When you awake, all that has transpired � including the probing � will seem as nothing more than a dream. Three, two, one� sleep.