Author Interview: Olivia Smit

November 30, 2019

 Words cannot describe how excited I am for you to meet this debut YA author. She has a fantastic writing voice, and y'all need to go pre-order her book now.

 

Olivia, welcome!

 

Tell me about your book

My debut Young Adult novel, Seeing Voices, releases with WhiteFire Publishing on April 15, 2020.

 

Seeing Voices follows the story of Skylar Brady, a teenage girl trying to figure out how to navigate the summer before graduation, her first job, and her brother's strange behaviour ... all while coming to terms with the fact that after a car accident several months ago, she has lost the ability to hear.

 

Back cover copy:

Skylar Brady has a pretty good idea of how her life is going to turn out, and getting in a car accident the summer before twelfth grade isn’t supposed to be part of the plan. Although Skylar escapes mostly unharmed, the accident has stolen more than just her hearing from her: she’s also lost the close bond she used to have with her brother.

 

When her parents decide to take a house-sitting job halfway across the province, it’s just one more thing that isn’t going according to plan. As the summer progresses, Skylar begins to gain confidence in herself, but as she tries to mend her relationship with her brother, she stumbles upon another hidden trauma. Suddenly, she’s keeping as many secrets as she’s struggling to uncover, and creating more problems than she could ever hope to solve.

 

I love this concept, and I think you've written something teen readers will absolutely enjoy and devour. Now, what is the hardest part of the writing process/writing this book?

One of the most difficult parts of writing this book was making sure that I was portraying Skylar's hearing loss in an accurate and authentic way!

 

I did lots of research, both online and in the library, and had several of my friends who are hard of hearing or deaf sit down and read through a few scenes with me.

 

Growing up, I read a lot of books that portrayed hard of hearing or deaf characters in ways that I found frustratingly unrealistic (in some cases, even gimmicky), and I desperately wanted to write a story where the main character's hearing loss was authentic without being the central feature of the plot.

 

This is so huge! Research when it comes to representation is enormously important. Favorite scene to write?

This is a hard question to answer!

 

There is a scene about 3/4 of the way through the book that involves a burned pan of brownies and a handful of firefighters ... I was pretty excited to sit down and write that one! But overall, the tender scenes are probably my favourite. There are some pretty raw moments between characters later on in the book .. they made my heart swell when I wrote them and sometimes they still make me cry when I go back and re-read.

 

Firefighters and burned brownies, what more could you ask for in a book. Ok, favorite question: favorite character?

I'm extremely fond of Skylar for a number of reasons, but my all-time favourite character in this book is probably Anastasia, the head librarian (and Skylar's boss for the summer).

 

Anastasia is one of my oldest characters (I first started playing around with her story when I was in high school), but I could never really get her story off the ground. After I started working on Seeing Voices, I was thrilled to realize that while Anastasia had never really worked as a main character (when I was in high school, she was a teenage fairy in a fantasy world!), she fit perfectly into Skylar's story in a completely different way.

 

From fairy to librarian, I absolutely love it. Final question! Advice for writers?

Read LOTS of books.

 

Read books within your genre. Read books that are the absolute opposite of what you want to write. Read as many different types books as you can! I cannot stress enough how much I have learned simply by READING. Because I try to read outside of my comfort zone, occasionally I pick up a book that I don't want to finish - and while I do try to finish even the books I don't like, sometimes I will allow myself to put a book down halfway through.

 

My personal rule is that I'm allowed to do this if I can verbalize why I didn't like the book. If it "just didn't catch my attention," I have to figure out why. Was it the characters? Did the plot feel unrealistic? I need to be able to identify what it was that I didn't like before I stop reading, and I feel like I learn a lot this way! It keeps me sharp and helps me stay aware of habits or stylistic choices I don't want to emulate.

 

So, so, so important, especially the point of reading outside of your genre. Thank you for joining us! Readers, go pre-order her book and give her a follow! 

 

Pre-order link: http://whitefire-publishing.com/read/product/seeing-voices/

 

Bio:

Olivia Smit was born in Ontario, Canada, and loves small towns: although she has never lived in one, she writes about them often! Olivia is currently pursuing an Honours Specialization in Creative Writing, English Language, and Literature at a local university, and she’s passionate about writing Young Adult fiction that faces hard truth with hope and encouragement.

 

Social Media Links:

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/oliviamsmit

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/oliviamsmit/

Author Website: https://oliviasmit.ca/

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