I’ve Got Questions for Curtis Smith

Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.

The Lost and the Blind by Curtis Smith
  • What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?

The title is The Lost and the Blind. It’s a novel from Running Wild. It comes out September 5th. If you’re a Kindle person, Amazon and Bookbub are offering it for .99 during the first week.

  • In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?

The book follows a boy through his senior year of high school. His mother is an addict, and his father is serving a life sentence. The boy struggles to survive—he’s often hungry—and sometimes scared of the men his mother has crossed. In the background, a war is brewing, and the military, the one option he thought he had as an escape, is looking more and more daunting. Yet there are good people in his life—and he, in turn, is trying to walk the right path. But it’s not easy.

  • What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?

Literary fiction—perhaps with an overlap into upper-level YA, given the age of its protagonist.

  • What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?

We’re waiting on reviews—the first one came from Forewords Reviews—and they called it “lyrical,” “poignant,” “gritty,” and “undercut with scathing social commentary.” I’ll take that.

  • What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]

Sometimes it reads like The Grapes of Wrath, and sometimes it’s like Huck Finn if Huck set sail through dopesick, small-town America instead of down the Mississippi.

  • Why this book? Why now?

I don’t know if there’s a real why beyond the fact it’s the only book I could write at the moment. I wrote it during the pandemic—and it helped me through—and I’m guessing some of that period’s anxieties made their way into the pages.

  • Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?

I’ve been a teacher most of my life—thirty-three years as a public high school teacher working with special-needs students—and I’ve been teaching college the past seven years. I still enjoy the classroom, and I’m thankful for that.

  • What do you want readers to take away from the book?

Maybe to think a little more about the lost and hungry among us.

  • What food and/or music do you associate with the book?

There’s food—or a lack of it. Music plays a role—the boy’s boss plays classical music as they paint and strip wallpaper. The boy doesn’t know much about it—but he comes to enjoy it.

  • What book(s) are you reading currently?

I’m teaching a course about the study/writing of the novel—so I’m spending the summer rereading the books I’m doing this semester—The Virgin Suicides, The Handmaid’s Tale, Love Medicine, and Election. I’m also working my way through Demon Copperhead, which covers some of the same ground as The Lost and the Blind.

Curtis Smith

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Buy the book from Amazon.com or Bookshop.org.

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