Check out this author spotlight for Rebecca Laffar-Smith!
You can find all her links furthest down the page, and don’t forget to check out her books!
1. Hi! Welcome to my humble blog of all things bookish! I would like for us to start by getting to know you. Give us a short bio, please!
Hey there Catrin! Well, I’m Rebecca Laffar-Smith, Y.A. Science Fiction and Fantasy author and mental health warrior. I’ve been writing professionally for more than twenty years although have only had my hand in fiction for the past seven. I have eight children’s books under the name Bec J. Smith but my true passion is for young adult novels. I feel like there is so much meaning and transformation we can share in fiction for teenagers and I write the kind of books I hope will touch people’s hearts.
2. To get to know you just a little bit better, I’d like to ask you some this or that questions. Answer 5 of these and explain why you chose this or that, or maybe an entirely different alternative!
Winter, spring, summer or autumn?
I’m most definitely a Winter baby. Although here in Australia that’s kind of a subjective answer because our winters are beautifully mild whereas our summers are scorchingly hot. I really don’t like the heat, but I love thunderstorms and the way the rain gives new life to our land and fills our dams. I’ve never had to bare a snow-filled winter and I imagine I’d change my tune pretty quick if I had to endure one.
Cat or dog?
Dog. I’ve always loved dogs most. I’m actually allergic to both dogs and cats which is why our dog is a poodle cross. I’ve had pet cats in the past. In fact one of my favourites was a beautiful black cat we rescued called Phantom. We got him as a mouser and he was excellent at his job. These days we have a beautiful dog, Carson, who I got as a puppy and trained as a service animal for my son. He’s an exceptionally intuitive and intelligent animal with a slightly nervous temperament which makes him perfect for our household.
Ninjas or pirates?
You know, as much as I love pirates I think I’ll have to go ninjas here. The secrecy, exceptional weapon and stealth training, the code of honour, all of it. I’m a big fan of spies and conspiracies and covert operations. And the discipline in training for such things. Not that I’d be any good at any of it myself. But when I’m writing, it’s the kick ass I lean into more than the rapscallion.
Plotter or pantser?
Plotter, definitely plotter. I experience a lot of anxiety, especially around my writing, and having a plan helps to combat that. I find it so much easier to face the page each day if I know what I need to achieve in the scene and where the story is going.
Book or ebook?
Strangely enough, eBook. I have dyslexia so there are certain technological advantages to eBooks that are great (like being able to select my font and background colour, the narrow screen from my phone, etc.) but I also absolutely love having hundreds of books in my phone and being able to read anywhere, even in darkness. That doesn’t mean I’m not prone to also buying far more print books than I have shelves to house them.
3. When you look for books to read, what trope or type of story will always catch your attention?
There are so many! I’m drawn to underdogs, found family, rags to riches, chosen one, friend to lover, secret underworld, lost royal. I find, regardless of genre, these are the kinds of stories I’m drawn to reading. But for genre I lean to fantasy first, romance second, and sci-fi third.
4. What do you write? Tell us about your current projects and the latest happenings!
I write Y.A. Fiction that usually have mental health or neurodivergence themes and always ventures into exploring possibility. I love delving into the unknown and asking what could be. Right now, I’m working on two projects. One is the rewrites of a first in series that I’m co-writing with my daughter. It’s a Y.A. Fantasy where a girl must venture into the land of dreams to rescue her sister (and her dragon-winged people) from a sleeping sickness that is spreading across the land. The other is book two in my Shadows of Nar series. In this one they are trying to find a cure for Niah’s terminal illness on a world where they’ve perfected humanity by eliminating all divergence. Sounds great in theory, imagine a world where there is no cancer or disability… But when you dig a little deeper you realise that eliminating divergence often means culling many of the unique experiences and lives that bring us innovation and change. As you can imagine, this doesn’t sit well with my characters, or the underground divergana who hide from their government and have plans to launch a rebellion.
5. What is your most recent release? Give us a short presentation, cover, and a link for where to buy it!
My most recent release is Spirit Talker. It’s the story of a teenage girl diagnosed with schizophrenia who struggles to understand what is real and what isn’t when what she’s seeing might actually be ghosts. It’s a beautiful coming of age story that delves into grief and depression, friendship and faith, and ultimately the importance of learning to embrace who you truly are, even if it doesn’t fit within preconceived notions of what is normal. I’m probably incredibly biased but I do believe it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. I’m so proud of this book. It’s exactly what I needed to read when I was fourteen and I hope it touches the lives of teens (and adults) who read it today.
It’s available from most retailers. You can find some of those links from my website. Or search for my name with your favourite bookseller.
6. What real-life inspiration do you draw from, and what are your primary fictional sources of inspiration (books, authors, films, music, etc.)? Name a few!
I’m inspired by so many things! I find life itself inspiring; the stories people experience, the tragedy and the truth and the heart of every life. Sunsets and waves and thunderstorms. Birds, and bees, and beasts. There’s a story in everything. When it comes to fictional sources, I have eclectic tastes. I’m a huge fan of natural disaster movies. I think these show the absolute pinnacle of people living into the best (and worst) versions of themselves. We rise up to become who we are meant to be when faced with that kind of adversity. So movies like Twister, Volcano, The Day After Tomorrow, etc. I also live action and sci-fi, so T.V. shows like Supernatural, Stargate, Locke & Key, and I’m excited about the upcoming Wheel of Time adaptation. I love books full of fantasy, and magic, and science, and power, and heart. Authors like Tolkien, obviously, but also Traci Harding, Rachel Morgan, Lauren Kate, Richelle Mead, the list is endless! As for music, also eclectic with instrumentalists like the Piano Guys, Lindsey Stirling, and 2Cellos leading the playlist alongside tenors like Josh Groban, pop like Ed Sheeran, Selena Gomez, and country like Martina McBride and Shania Twain. I like music that and lyrics that dig deep into our souls and songs that help remind us of our strength and inner power.
7. What is your writing routine? If you have one, give us the run-down!
I admit I don’t have much of a routine these days. I juggle my writing around family, study, and all the business side of an author career. But I suppose there is a kind of routine to what’s involved when I do carve out time to write. I prefer longer stretches, so a 90-minute+ block of time is perfect. Usually, I’m in a café or library because I must get out of the house to get good blocks of time where I can concentrate. I start my day by clearing the decks, this means checking there’s nothing urgent in my email or social media. It usually takes about half an hour to do that. Then I load up whichever book I’m working on, and I read over my notes. Then I dig into an editing round over the previous day’s words/scenes, before diving into writing the next scene. Sometimes I have to do more prep work, tweak my outline, or flesh out some characters, but hopefully I manage to make some good progress each day. I find reading over the previous day’s words helps me find my way back to my voice and the tone of the story so that it’s easier to continue.
8. If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice as you started out on the path to becoming an author, what would it be?
Stay with your heart. From when I was very little, being a Y.A. Fantasy / Sci-Fi author was always my passion. That’s always where my heart lay. In my early work years, I had to focus on putting food on the table, so I did mostly freelance work, which was fine. But when I did finally start focusing on writing books, I let myself work on too many things. I think it was an important part of my journey, but it’s frustrating now because I’ve been writing full-time for seven years and I still feel like I’m only just beginning because it’s only in the past year or so that I’ve been able to let go of the “other” things I write to focus exclusively on Y.A. I have seventeen published books, but only two and a half of them are anywhere near this genre. I have to say half because even my debut is more NA than it is YA. That’s made it very difficult to build an audience. With each book I feel like I’m starting from scratch. So, for anyone else looking to build an author career, I recommend finding your niche first, and then going all in on that. Don’t let yourself get tempted by the pretty ideas of other genres or other types of books. As fun as it can be to put a picture book out into the world, it does nothing to build your audience if what you really want to be writing is fantasy.
9. Last but not least: where can we find you? Drop those links!
I’m almost everywhere! You’ll find me on most social media platforms under the name laffarsmith. And I recommend chasing me down via my website: http://www.rebeccalaffarsmith.com where when you subscribe to get updates from me you’ll get my N.A. Supernatural Thriller, The Flight of Torque, and my Y.A. Dystopian Sci-Fi, City of Light, for free.