Up Close with Author Raina C. Smith
Friday, February 10, 2012
GoLocal decided to catch up with the eclectic Smith to get the inside scoop on what readers can expect in her new book. Smith, a proud Rhode Island College graduate, also shared details about her broadcast journalism career and future writing plans.
Can you briefly discuss the plot of The 13th Apostle?
Father Joseph is a devout priest with a sad but inspirational backstory living in Rome when he stumbles upon a well guarded ancient scroll shrouded in secrecy at the Vatican. It was written, he learns, over two thousand years ago by a man believed by a select few to have been a mysterious thirteenth apostle of Christ. When the disturbing prophecies of the scroll are revealed to Father Joseph he is certain the end of days for man is here and he is compelled to embark upon a journey around the world on a quest to save the soul of mankind.
He is unaware that Glenn, an angel from the highest order of heaven, has already descended to earth to determine whether man has finally and completely emptied his soul of purity of heart of his own free will. If so, man’s demise is imminent. Glenn’s work is interrupted when the underworld sends Falene to place a well thought out, diabolical wager with the angel; find the last soul on earth with the purest of heart then turn him or her over to her to be tested. In no other way could the true resolve of mankind be measured. Glenn accepts the bet. If he loses, then all of humanity will be turned over to hell, the abode of the devils where the wicked
Did your own religious beliefs influence the story at all?
My own religious beliefs did influence my story. So many times as I wrote, I thought about my own profound interpretation of God. I thought long and hard about what I think is right and good and how human beings should conduct themselves, aside of what I did and didn’t learn during religious services growing up. As an adult, my relationship with God is more private and personal. I take what I’ve learned from various religious doctrines, I embrace what I think is moral and just and decide for myself how to honor and respect God, myself and the world around me to bring peace and happiness into my life. I used this philosophy to help bring depth to my characters, whether they were good or evil.
Based on the subject matter, The 13th Apostle sounds like a research-intensive endeavor. What kind of research did you conduct for the book?
The 13th Apostle was extremely research-intensive to write. Whether I was researching Catholic prayers in Italian or the layout of the Vatican or what type of birds are native to Eastern Nebraska, I had to spend hours upon hours learning that which I knew nothing or very little about. That was the fun part! When you write a story that takes place in parts of the world you’ve never been you need to be able to paint a picture so clear you put the reader right there in their mind. For those readers who have visited such locations, you better be on the money or your story won’t feel credible to them.
The hallmark of a great fiction book is to force the reader to say to themselves, “Could this be possible?” Every detail matters. I lived with my thesaurus and dictionary at my fingertips during the writing of The 13th Apostle and I used every research tool available to me to help bring a dramatic and intense story to life. Whether I was using the internet or in person interviews, I made sure I found a way to find any information I sought. I knew the success of my story depended upon it. For me, there is nothing more fulfilling than to know you’ve produced a flawless story.
What do you hope readers take from The 13th Apostle?
I would like my readers to consider their own actions in their life and how they feel they measure up against the good and evil test. Everyone, whether they will admit it or not, has at one time or another acted in a manner they would agree is not in keeping with their own personal definition of what is right or good - for themselves or others. When evil stared them down, how did they react? Did they falter in its presence or stand and fight, no matter the consequences?
I would also like my readers to consider the human race as a whole and think about how they feel about what we’ve done to each other, the earth, to the animals we share the planet with and to our very own souls and how we can change things for the better, beginning with ourselves.
Can you talk a little about your career in television and radio?
I am a proud (cum laude) graduate of Rhode Island College where I majored in Communications. Here is where I received absolutely everything I needed to be a successful professional in broadcast journalism. RIC professors offered a well-rounded curriculum as well as sound advice. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to take an internship at WPRI-TV where I was later hired as a television news reporter after first working for ABC6 News. I loved being a news reporter and traveling Rhode Island and Southern New England, covering newsworthy stories. I later left television to join WPRO-AM radio as Ron St.Pierre’s co-host and executive producer of Ron St.Pierre & The WPRO Morning News. I am proud to say I’ve worked with the best talent in television and radio here in the Providence market.
How did your broadcast background help prepare you to write your first book?
Being a broadcast journalist helped me tremendously when I decided to write my novel. When you are a news reporter you go to the location of a story, you see what’s going on, you hear the action or dialogue at the scene and you interview the newsmakers. Using scene video, sound bytes and my audio tracks to help tell the story, I would produce a two-minute news piece to broadcast live during various newscasts.
The process of writing a scene in a novel or a dialogue between characters is not dissimilar. I first see the scene in my head, I give the characters dialogue and then I look around and make the setting exactly what I want it to be. I labor to make everything as detailed as possible. I want my readers to see, hear, feel, breathe and know everything my characters do to make them feel they are there with the characters. The reader must feel the characters emotions and identify with them in order for it to be believable and for the reader to care about the characters and what’s going on in the story.
When I have it perfect in my head, I play it over and over and write down everything I see and hear. I edit it and tweak it and work it until it feels right. I don’t think I could have ever written this novel without having had the opportunity to work as a news reporter. For this, I am forever indebted to and thank ABC6 News and WPRI-TV and WPRO-AM.
Lastly, what are you currently working on?
Currently I am working on a media campaign to promote my novel The 13th Apostle, which takes up most all of my free time. The 13th Apostle has been the focus of blog stories, newspaper articles, Web site features, television and radio interviews, including The Rhode Show on FOX Providence and An Hour with Bob (Venturini) and now GoLocalProv!
During what little time is left over, I am writing the sequel to The 13th Apostle. It’s not yet titled, but I already have 10 chapters written and it’s GREAT!
Meet Raina at a book signing event to be held on Sunday, February 19 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Providence Public Library on 150 Empire Street. For more information about this appearance visit the Providence Public Library's Web site. If you would like to learn more about Raina visit her at www.rainasmith.com. The 13th Apostle is available for purchase at Amazon.com.
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