Artist of the Month: Olivia Smith

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The budding author / Photographer: Matia Schwartz

As a junior in high school, Olivia Smith is already striving to complete what many adults don’t even attempt: write a novel! What may seem like a difficult task to some comes easily to Smith, as she is simply pursuing a passion that she has had since childhood. “I’ve been making up stories for pretty much as long as I can remember,” Smith muses, “I know I was already into it when I was in kindergarten, and I just never really stopped.” Smith loves to write for a vast variety of reasons; it is an excellent outlet, entertaining, and extremely rewarding when she is able to produce a finished piece. “Writing is like making up entire other worlds to change and explore,” she explains, “I love being able to put ideas in my head into words, and it’s a great feeling when other people like reading the stuff that I make up for fun.” While Smith enjoys a range of different genres, she prefers reading and writing realistic fiction with aspects of fantasy mixed in. “That’s what my favorite book is like: an almost-ordinary setting with just one aspect of the completely extraordinary that makes the book really amazing.” Smith’s favorite book is Teeth, by Hannah Moskowitz. Smith’s favorite poem, “Hunter’s Moon – Eating the Bear,” is similar in that it is filled with richly realistic imagery and deals with a serious and universal topic, but at the same time has a mystical quality to it that haunts the reader long after the poem is finished. Smith hopes to one day achieve the same memorable effect with her own work.

Smith’s current novel is a work of realist fiction with just enough surprising twists and turns to make it interesting. Smith says of her work, “Right now I’m in the planning stage for a novel about people with good intentions making everything awful. It’s also kind of about different kinds of isolation — self-imposed, socially mandated, etcetera.” When asked what inspired her to begin writing this particular novel, Smith explained, “I think it’s interesting to write about people accidentally changing everything about a situation. It’s interesting because the character doesn’t necessarily understand why everything is suddenly different, but, as the author, I can look at all the things that led the character up to that point. I wanted to try writing characters who are, in a lot of ways, complete inadvertent messes.” This particular work is not part of a series, as Smith usually gets ideas for stand-alone books. However, she has a lot more ideas and is already planning out storylines for future works in her head. “I’ll definitely be writing more when I’m done with this one. It’s kind of hard to imagine not writing!” Smith remarks. Smith has faced some issues while writing this novel, primarily relating to her demanding school and extracurricular schedule. “Time is definitely an issue. It’s hard to find time to actually sit down and write, and it’s way easier to imagine the story out.” Smith knows that her hard work will eventually pay off, however, and plans to continue to pursue writing in college. “I definitely want to be an author. I intend to double major in creative writing and social justice.” No one doubts that Smith will go far due to her overwhelming determination, passion, and dedication. Writing is an integral aspect of Smith’s life and she cannot imagine living without it. She encourages other perspective writers, both young and old, to dive right in like she did, “I feel like lots of people are always saying that they want to write but, for whatever reason, can’t. The fact is that if there’s something you want to write, you can. It takes work, but it’s not like it’s a superhuman feat. It’s a lot of fun and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to try.”