Hello Sam! It is such a pleasure to have you join me for an interview. Thank you, so much! My family started reading The Green Ember books aloud after I graduated high school and all the commotion and excitement peaked my interest, and so I read them myself. Wow is all I have to say.
What made you start writing?
From the first time I was read to as a child, I was captivated. When I discovered there were real people behind the stories, I wanted to do that. There were lots of twists and turns after that, but I was always haunted by the vocation of storyteller. It finally caught up to me in a big way as a dad. I told my kids stories and one serial we shared over the years became intensely exciting for us. The Green Ember was born out of that series, and it was the catalyst for sharing my work with the world.
Did you have an idea how successful and popular the books would be when you wrote them?
No. I assumed they would find a relatively small audience and “someday” I would (maybe) write something that could reach a bigger audience. You know, after I actually got good at writing.
How involved is your family with the writing process?
They are my first audience and my most critical co-conspirators. I am writing for the kids, so everything goes through them first. They also are ground zero for the heart of the stories and my vocation as an author. The stories are for them. Other kids enjoying them is like icing on the cake. (And I LOVE icing.)
Do any of your kids aspire to be writers?
Yes. My oldest daughter is a good writer and is getting better. I love the way she thinks about stories and she has a wonderful voice and a great sense of humor. I’m excited about what she will create. My sons like to draw more, but are also storytellers. Our youngest is a performer. Anything is possible with her.
Finally, my biggest question. As a Christian, how important do you think it is for literature to lead readers to Christ and eternity? How do you personally go about doing that? C. S. Lewis said, “Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” Your books seem to be doing that. Was that one of your goals in writing them?
I am a Christian. I believe that Christ is the Saviour of the world and the King. I also value storytelling as a vocation. The best way for Christian parents to make sandwiches for their kids isn’t to always toast Bible verses or crosses on the bread, nor would we think it best if a Christian who played professional soccer shouted “Jesus saves” after every completed pass or scored goal. I don’t think Christians who tell stories serve their readers well by telling bad stories that have good truths. Storytelling is more than a vehicle for truth, it is an avenue of delight rooted in the way God made the world. We don’t do justice to God by replacing the doctrine of creation with the doctrine of redemption. Both are important. Storytelling is a broad vocation, and there is room for all kinds, but I enjoy stories that do not manipulate, trick, or dominate me as a reader. It’s more generous to give a good story.
However, stories grow in the soil of the souls of the storytellers. So, whatever makes her or him who she or he is will bubble up into the tales. Tolkien talked about hating allegory, but appreciating applicability. I like that. I don’t want to dominate readers, but I am pleased when they find applicability to their souls and lives.
I am not ashamed of Jesus. I believe in the power of the Gospel. I love Jesus and serve him. His rule is a key, not a cage. I believe I serve him best in my vocation by loving my readers and giving them good gifts that are honest and don’t treat my work as a technique to smuggle in truth. I have more respect for the truth and for the vocation of storytelling to cheapen either that way.
“A Christian should use the arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God.” Francis Schaeffer
Thank you again, so much for joining me. It is such an honor!
Thank you for having me. God bless you!
You can visit S.D. Smith at his website here to learn more about The Green Ember.