Today I’d like to welcome Ron D. Smith to Off the Page chatting about his latest YA book, The Night Budda Got Deep In It.
About the Author:
I started my adult life as a journalist, but gave it up when I realized I wasn’t going to become Walter Cronkite. I grew up in small towns in Missouri and Iowa, which make my adopted hometown of Louisville look like Manhattan.
I envy the dialogue of Daniel Woodrell, the sense of place of Silas House, and how Wendell Berry makes writing seem deceptively easy. I appreciate Elmore Leonard for being Elmore Leonard. I don’t write like anyone but me.life as a journalist, but gave it up when I realized I wasn’t going to become Walter Cronkite. I grew up in small towns in Missouri and Iowa, which make my adopted hometown of Louisville look like Manhattan. (From Goodreads)
1. Tell a little about yourself, what you do when you’re not writing, what are your aspirations for the future?
Family occupies my time. My wife and I have two teenage daughters. They’re good kids, but I’m sometimes in survival mode. They gave me a shirt that says “You can’t scare me. I have daughters.” As for aspirations, I’ll keep clacking away on the keyboard. Andy Rooney said when he retired from 60 Minutes that writers never stop writing. Hmm. He died a few weeks later. Perhaps that’s not the best example.
2. When and why did you start writing?
I was sure I wanted to be a news reporter when I was sixteen. I went to a top journalism school and got a job in TV news after graduation. I didn’t realize it was the writing I liked a lot more than the reporting. I eventually went into advertising, again doing a lot of writing. As I kept getting farther away from writing in subsequent jobs, I discovered how important it was to me.
3. If you could only read one book over and over again for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Great question. I would read a book on how to write great novels so that I wouldn’t have to read just the one book.
4. Give us some back story about The night Budda Got Deep in It, where and when did you write it?
“Budda” (as in “melts like butter”) is a relatively short book compared to my previous novel. It took about a year to write it. I like to write in the morning, sometimes at a desk and sometimes lazing on a couch, if it’s a Saturday.
5. What inspired your story?
I was walking in the forest one day when I found some magic mushrooms… oops, that was another time. The book starts out with the title character on a Greyhound. I got the idea when I was riding a bus with a bunch of teenagers. I kept noticing one kid, whom I didn’t know well, on the fringe of the group. Other than when he was being pestered by his older brother, no one paid him much attention. I wanted to write a book about a kid like that—one who had little self-confidence—and put him in a difficult situation that he had get out of on his own. Maybe along the way, the character would realize he had more potential than he realized.
6. What was your favorite part of The night Budda Got Deep in It to write?
When Budda gets “deep in it,” I have to get him out of it. That’s when he starts to realize he doesn’t need others to draw him a map. I enjoyed giving him the chance to see what he could really do.
7. Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
My next novel is much more serious than anything I’ve written. It takes place in the aftermath of a mass shooting in small town. It explores how a community might deal with such a situation. Try to imagine a place where everyone knew the victims, including the family of the killer. Imagine what it would be like for the killer’s family to go on living in that town.
8. Are you a Pantser or Plotter? Why?
Do you remember in school being asked to do an outline before writing a paper? I did not like that. At all. Still do. I like to allow the story and the characters to take me where they will. This means my next novel may end up being about furry animals instead of a mass shooting.
9. Do you have any tricks to your trade, bottomless coffee, a magic pen, a special muse?
I have some magic beans that I traded for our cow. I’m going out to plant them now.
10. If you could be any fictional character for a day, who would it be and why?
Jason Bourne, of course. All the physical deftness is nice, but I’d really love to rattle off perfect French, Russian or Spanish in the right situation. And if I could also throw in some Farsi once in awhile? That would be very cool. The whole amnesia thing would have its benefits, too.
Be sure to check out Ron’s book!
Fifteen-year-old Budda Jessico would first have to be noticed to be unpopular. Instead, he leads an unremarkable and anonymous life in suburban St. Louis where he lives with his over-protective father and his bullying older brother.
At the urging of Blood Mama, a voice only Budda hears, he catches a bus to Kentucky to rescue his former foster sister, Addie. As soon as Budda reaches Louisville, he goes to a McDonald’s for the first time in his life where he meets the resolute Baresha, a fellow runaway on her own adventure.
Budda’s mission to find his sister later goes awry. He hitches a ride to Valkyrie, Addie’s hometown, in hopes of saving her from some danger Blood Mama won’t reveal. Instead, Budda encounters her blood kin, led by the ominous Odyn Starkwether and his violent brother Dickie. A drug shipment controlled by the Starkwethers has disappeared and so has Addie. The brothers have a mess to clean up, and Budda is soon in the middle of it. At first, Budda goes along willingly, if it will help him find Addie.
Before long, though, Budda realizes it’s sometimes better to stay put.