An Interview with William Leverne Smith: Back to the Homeplace
William Leverne Smith is the author of Back to the Homeplace a novel set in 1987 small town America that deals with a family in crisis following the death of their matriarch. The family must travel to where they grew up...the Homeplace, in order to sort out family secrets and to find their legacy.
William was born and raised on a midwestern farm. He and his wife now live in a cabin in the Missouri Ozarks.
Interview by Bonnie Diczhazy
What inspired you to write this book?
I grew up in a family on a farm near a small town in west central Iowa during the 1940s and 1950s. This book was an opportunity to write about my life and neighborhood without feeling threatened by the people still living there. I enjoy writing about family relationships, implications of birth order, small town interactions and reactions family sagas! Now, there are four books, with a fifth on the way. Also, my Dad had a few different ideas about the farm than I did. Some of my ideas are reflected in the series of books that have emerged.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I am sharing my impressions of the impact of personal relationships in our lives. If you are not an observer of personal interactions, my stories should make you more aware of them. Also, though it wasn't necessarily intentional, I am a very positive person. So, a positive outlook, a positive outcome and positive motivations appear fairly regularly in my stories.
How do you come up with ideas for your characters?
They are all based on what I've seen in the people around me. I use a lot of composites. I mix and match characteristics in people. What I've seen in a man's behavior, I may show in a female character, or vice versa. I am fascinated by birth order impacts, so those are demonstrated, as well.
What books have most influenced your life?
Historical biographies and non-fiction about the early days of the United States are what I read. If you can see an influence from those in my writing, I would appreciate it if you would share that with me. I think my writing is mostly influences by the people with whom I have interacted over many, many years.
What are your current projects?
Currently, I'm finishing a collection of short stories, "The Founding of the Homeplace." I went back to 1833 and researched the history of the southern Missouri Ozarks community where my Homeplace stories are set. What was life like there during the Civil War, for example. "Devastating" is the answer, and this knowledge has created some great new stories - but also set the stage for the later years about which I wrote originally.
Also, I'm writing a Weston Wagons West series of historical fiction family saga stories where fiction characters appear and share the actual stories of my ancestors, from colonial days into the nineteenth century. There are now 15 of these stories on Hubpages: http://drbill-wml-smith.hubpages.com/
What was the hardest part of writing?
First, making the time to get "down on paper" - on the computer - what is constantly being created in my mind.
Second, once the stories are written down, they have to be rewritten and edited into good readable form. It would be easy to move too quickly, at this point. I tend to want to get back to the new ideas, but I must stay with the rewriting long enough to had a good finished product.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Each person must listen to their own voice, or voices. If you are a writer, the voices will be there and you should follow the voices. For me, I create a place and a character, and that character tells me the stories. Others are likely different. Listen to your voices.
Where can we find you online?
My home blog for The Homeplace Series is: http://thehomeplaceseries.blogspot.com/ - all new things I do will be discussed there. Even the Weston Wagons West stories tie into The Homeplace Saga stories, so that is the place to go.
Every week, I post family history stories at: http://drbilltellsancestorstories.blogspot.com/
Last updated on September 8, 2014
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