Happy Wednesday Scribblers. This week I’m pleased to welcome Todd Smith, fellow NineStar Press Writer, and author of the recently released novel Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings. The novel is not your typical story it’s a memoir, which I’ll let Todd talk more about.
Welcome Todd, I’m really fascinated by your story and your life. So, thank you for taking the time to join me here today.
It’s my pleasure.
To begin I spent some time reviewing your bio and your personal story. Oh my gosh I can’t imagine going through any of that. If you don’t mind can you tell us a little about yourself and tell us about your writing.
Sure thing. You're in good company. People generally want to know more when they hear I survived a mass shooting, but then their jaws drop when they learn that was the second time I was shot.
Wait! You were shot twice? Two different times?
Yes. I was shot on two different occasions.
Dear God, let’s hold off on that for the moment. What about your writing?
As for my life as a writer, I have over 20 years of experience. I have worked professionally as a reporter and editor for both newspapers and websites. I have a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Kansas.
In Murder, Romance and Two Shootings, I share for the first time the complete story of being shot twice in two separate incidents and a death of close friend in a gay bashing.
I can’t imagine what that must have been like. I’m guessing you share all this in your new book Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings.
Yes. The book is memoir. The first time I was shot was during a robbery attempt outside of Wilmington, DE. in the summer of 1997, just after I graduated college with a degree in journalism.
In 2008, I survived a mass shooting, when a disgruntled citizen in Kirkwood, MO, came into a city council meeting. That night he killed six people, injuring me and the mayor who later died.
Also, between these events, my best friend was murdered in Kansas City, MO, in a still unsolved gay bashing in 2001.
My book tells the personal account of these shootings, murders and my path to recovery. It details these grisly events, the downward spiral that it caused in my life and finding true love. It is also an inspirational guide for those who have survived and triumphed. With gun violence now a major part of the national conversation, I provide my own viewpoint on how it has changed my life.
I’m sure you have opinions on the whole gun debate that I would love to ask you about if that is okay? Or, is that something that is part of your novel?
The book tells my personal journey and doesn’t enter the gun control debate. Having said that, I support commonsense gun control. Millions of guns are sold today “with no questions asked” transactions. Only 60 percent of all US gun sales are conducted with background checks. I would like to see expanded background checks and also think that there should be limitations on people being able to obtain high-firepower assault weapons like UZIs and AK-47s.
Considering all that you went through what was it like to write this novel?
I spent a lot of time remembering how I felt at each of the pivotal moments in my life. Even on a regular day I can feel an ache in my hand and leg where I was shot. Writing just made it harder to ignore. Plus, you can't write about the smell of your own blood, without recalling that scent.
No. I suppose you can’t. What inspired you to write this story?
I wanted to share what happened to me, surviving two shootings was a lot, physically and mentally, especially the last one where I saw people killed. I found that writing helped me to understand what happened and how it has changed my life.
I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around all this myself so I can only imagine how this helped your healing process. Considering the nature of your book now as an author is there a subject that you would never write about?
After writing this book, I don't think there is anything in my life I couldn't talk about. As part of the romance in my book, I came "out" to my parents. As you will read in the book, that was a difficult time with my parents. And I will be honest, even surviving being shot twice; I was nervous to how my parents would respond.
Now that you’re out and have written Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings how do the people in your life support you in your writing? Or, do they? Do they know you've written a story?
Actually, my friends and family have been very supportive and all know about the book. Many of them have bought the book to learn more about what happened to me. I’ve talked about it, but not in the detail that the book provides. My best friend, who is the major character Kevin in the book, has helped market the book and talked about the book at his drag performances. In the book as well as in real life his drag name is Jade Sinclair.
That is awesome. Some of the most wonderful people I know are drag performers. I hope he’s happy with his portrayal in the book.
Yes, he has plugged the book from stage and Jade came to my first book reading/signing. One funny thing is at first he didn’t think his family would want copies and now I keep mailing them books.
I want to change things up here. Tell us, when you’re not writing what do you like to do?
On the average weekday, I love spending time with my three old son and my husband. But whenever we can, my family loves to travel.
Where are some of your favorite places to go?
Prior to meeting my husband, I had been to the 48 states. Together we finished seeing the last two, Hawaii and Alaska, beautiful and amazing places. Our last true vacation was Italy where we strolled through Venice and then saw the David, but I think my David is cuter. As I write this, we are heading off for a Mexican cruise and we will visit Tulum and Chichen-Itza which are both Mayan ruins that we have been wanting to visit.
When you’re not writing, traveling or spending time with the family what do you like to read?
I love reading travel books, comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, memoirs and newspapers. I have a wide variety of interests when it comes to reading.
Of all those what is your favorite genre?
Memoirs along with travelogues.
Cool. What do you have in the works? What's coming up next?
I have two different projects. The first involves a travelogue in Europe. Next year I will be accompanying my husband on sabbatical in Munich and will use the experience and our adventures with our son as the basis.
I just have to say here. Munich is an amazing city. I hope you and your family have a great time there. I had I blast when I was there.
Thanks. I think we will.
That is one project what is the other?
The other book I am planning on writing focuses on my friend and fabulous drag queen Jade Sinclair.
Excellent. Drag performers are such an important aspect of our Rainbow Community and one I personally feel are severely under represented in LGBTQAI Literature.
Is there anything that we missed? Is there anything else you'd like to share with folks about your novel?
All the important things that I write in the book happened. I did change a few names, and unfortunately I couldn't write about everyone who played a role in my recovery and life. Also, having a supportive family and network really made a difference in helping me finish this book.
Todd, Thank you for joining me here today and not only sharing the news about your new novel Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings but also sharing more about yourself. I’m looking forward to reading the book and have it on my ‘To Be Read’ list.
Get your copy of Murder, Romance and Two Shootings here:
About the Author:
My credentials include 20 years of experience as a writer.
I have worked professionally as a reporter and editor for both newspapers and websites. I have a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Kansas.
I have shared my viewpoints of the Kirkwood Missouri City Council shooting with the New York Times, Newsweek, MSN and local media outlets in St. Louis. I am still sought out from national media for my viewpoints when it comes to mass shootings and violence (e.g., Ferguson).
In "Murder, Romance and Three Shootings," I share for the first time the complete story of my survival and recovery from the robbery attempt in which I was shot in the leg, the Kirkwood shooting and the gay bashing death of my close friend.