By AK Dale
SALEM, Mass. – He will deliver to you come rain, come shine, be it any season, Robert Thomas Smales can be counted on.
But we are not talking about his job as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service.
This is a story of Robert Smale…the writer.
Born, raised, and still living in Salem, Smales, a confessed Milk Duds addict, and father to a nine-year-old son he calls “the best thing that ever happened to me,” has been writing for just under two years now.
“I’ve been writing for about 19 months now and I suspect that may make me the youngest writer you will interview this month, despite the fact that I’m 43 years old,” Smales suggested. “In that time I’ve managed to get almost a dozen short stories accepted for publication in various magazines, e-zines and anthologies.”
Just because he may be new to the publishing/self-publishing scene, it doesn’t mean that Smales isn’t new to telling tales.
“I’ve always been a storyteller,” he said. “Ask me how my day was, and I’m off and running with some kind of story from my day. It’s not a conversation, it’s a show. I’ve always been able to write. I graduated with a degree in English, and you can’t do that without writing some serious papers.”
Smales has always been a reader and has been doing so since the age of three. He can recall reading Watership Down when he was six.
The evolution came full force last year when he picked up on the art of writing.
“I decided to try writing some stories down, and again I was off and running,” Smales said. “At the moment I’m writing a lot of horror, but that’s not all I write. If there’s a story involved, I’m pretty much in.”
Smales uses music for focus rather than motivation or stimulus.
“I’ll put on one song through headphones on continuous replay, a little loud,” Smales said. “It seems not being able to hear anything helps me stay focused and avoid distraction, even though my greatest distraction is having the internet at my fingertips.”
Yet it doesn’t always come easy for Smales to find time to get at a keyboard and start creating new tales.
“It is pretty hard sometimes, and the hardest part is finding the time to write enough,” he said. “After working full-time, then after work trying to be the best father I can be, I don’t have a lot of daylight left to get the writing work done. My solution? I generally sleep about four hours a night. While the rest of my neighborhood sleeps, I’ve usually got a light on and I’m tapping away on the keys.”
In his short time writing, Smales has learned the highs and lows of the trade, taking them both in stride.
“The most rewarding thing I’ve come across so far is someone really enjoying my writing, whether I’ve scared them, made them laugh, or even cry,” Smales said. “That, to me, is the bomb. The most unattractive thing, for me, has been coming across someone who doesn’t like horror pigeonholes me as a ‘horror writer’, and then won’t give anything else of mine a chance. I write horror, sure, but that’s not my whole story, nor is it all I write. Why should it be?”
He even overcame some early criticisms. But maybe it was what wasn’t said to him that kept Smales plugging along
“I’ve had critiques of my work that were brutal, and made me wonder ‘why am I bothering with this if I suck this badly,’” he said. “ But no one actually told me I couldn’t do it. They may have left me feeling as hollowed out as a human canoe, but at least they didn’t tell me not to bother.”
Smales, who enjoys fishing, kayaking, and canoeing with his son, has hopes for the future which stands before him, a vast and open slate of possibilities.
“My goals keep changing for me as I write more and more,” Smales said. “I started out just wanting to write stuff people would only laugh at if they were supposed to laugh at it, stuff that would affect people the way I wanted to. I did that. Then I just wanted to get a short story published, accepted by someone ‘official’, and I’ve managed to do that. Now I’d like to get a longer work published, or the small collection I’m working on. Get back to me after that and we’ll see.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION on ROB SMALES and his WORKS,
The Press thanks you for taking the time to read this column/article. The Press is an Alan Dale creation and is inspired by his DEAD NATIONS’ ARMY (DNA) book trilogy which launches in July with his first novel, “Code Flesh.” The Press hopes you consider subscribing to the site and look forward to more interviews, news features, columns, and many more in the future. Once again, thank you for joining us here at the Press!