If you could spend time a character from your book who would it be?
It would probably be Odessa. She has so many unknowns to her and she is so complex that she becomes the kind of villain that you would hate but want to just give her a hug and make her feel better all at the same time.
She’s so closed off that you want to sit down with her and get to know her better. You want to know what makes her tick, what hurts her, and what has hardened her heart against the world.
If you could automatically get a skill that one of your characters possess what would it be?
I would like to have Chanel’s computer hacking skills. She can get into so many computer systems that at times I think that’s a gift that I need in my life. But seriously, Chanel is that artist free spirit type that is able to make light of tough situations and she brings a calm balance to Emilia. I think everyone needs a friend that helps us see the best in everything
Which character from your book could use a hug or slap?
Odessa could use a hug and a slap all at the same time.
Tell us about your book cover and how it came about.
For me, my book cover should always be like an art piece that summarized what the book is all about. This was no different. I wanted it to be haunting and have the focal point on a woman surrounded by nothing but woods. I wanted someone to look into her eyes and see that there was a story there.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
My characters, especially my main characters, kind of choose their own names, as weird as that sounds. But I start with the plot and as I start to plug in my characters their names just form organically. There are those times when that doesn’t happen, when it comes to my supporting characters, so a lot of them are named after people in my life.
What book do you wish you could have written?
I’m a reader before I’m a writer and there’s a lot of books that I read and think ‘oh my God I wish I was this good of a writer.’ But the one book that I wish I had written is The Joy Luck Club. Because I understood the story so well and it so perfectly spoke to what it was like for me as a first generation African being raised in America for my family.
It always seemed weird because the book was based on first-generation Asian Americans trying to hold on to their traditions and beliefs while fighting to fit in. It was exactly what I was feeling and going through. Maybe one day I’ll write my own version.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I publish my own books, so for me, the best money I ever spent is every dime that went into getting my books into the hands of readers.
Do you use beta readers if so, why or why not?
I sometimes use Grammarly. For me, it’s an easy add-on to Word. I find that that works pretty well.
What is your writing Achilles heel?
Over-thinking and over-analyzing. Storytelling should be something that flows naturally but I sometimes hinder that for myself by overthinking everything to death. It has literally stopped me from finishing a chapter because I’m overthinking the series of events.
How do you get over writer’s block?
I recently started meditating. I sit in silence and just allow the characters in my head to speak and tell their story. It has really helped to focus me. I think writer’s block is just the world around us interrupting us and stopping us from hearing what our characters are saying. So sometimes all it takes is shutting out the world for a moment.
About J.E. Smythe
J.E. Smythe is an award-winning author born in Liberia, West Africa, and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, and Gaithersburg, Maryland.
J.E. is also an attorney who attended Allen University and received her Law Degree from Massachusetts School of Law. While working as an attorney, J.E. just could not let her passion to write die. She decided to take her legal writing skills and write her debut fiction novel A Few Good Friends.
J.E. currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina where she has Co-founded Lady Esquire Group, LLC management, and publishing firm. She is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
About the Book
Title: Secrets in the Woods: An Emilia Long Mystery by J.E. Smythe
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Secrets in the Woods is a gripping tale about Emilia Long- an Investigative Reporter and her quest to find out the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death. Long’s quest begins after reading documents left for her by her adopted mother revealing that she was abandoned as an infant at a Brooklyn hospital. The revelation led Emilia on a suspenseful journey to find her birth mother.
But finding her is not so easy. Her investigations reveal that her birth mother disappeared months before her birth and that the disappearance was linked to a murder. With the key suspect in her mother’s disappearance locked away in jail on unrelated charges and the townspeople, including the Sheriff, unwilling to help her, Emilia finds herself at a dead end. In an unimaginable twist of fate, Emilia discovers more than she bargained for. Some Secrets are really better left untold.