Phoebe Smith was born in Sacramento, California. She studied writing at Humboldt State University and subsequently lived in Bulgaria and Germany as an au pair for several years, before returning to California and diving into a career. She currently lives in a small town in wine country with her partner and a dangerously large cat. She enjoys geeking out on craft beer, cooking, travel, anything related to geese (including actual geese), and modern jazz. She wrote and illustrated her first stories in the first grade and hasn’t ever stopped. As well as fiction, poetry is a secondary passion of hers: as a student, she won the Jody Stutz prize for best poem and had a poem published in her university’s literary journal.
Q: Do you have a favourite quote? (From a book, film, song, speech…)
A: This is an impossibly difficult question because I’ve got a million, but here are a couple:
– ‘Love is a hole in the heart.’ – Ben Hecht (but as seen in the last line of my favourite book, The Cipher)
– ‘The universe is a cruel, uncaring void. The key to being happy isn’t a search for meaning; it’s to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually, you’ll be dead.’ – Bojack Horseman (my favourite work of art in celebration of nihilist/realist humour)
Q: Is there a book that you keep going back to, and if so, how many times have you read it?
A: It’s a very strange one, but my favourite book to date is The Cipher by Kathe Koja. I get lost in the way she writes, and I find it delightfully haunting without any connections to what you typically see from the horror genre. I love when authors find a way to make a story entirely frightening without conforming to the predictable confines of horror. I’ve read it three times and will certainly do so again at some point.
Q: What is the least interesting part of writing for you?
A: Something that sort of killed a tiny piece of my spirit for writing was realising at a certain point that you needed to actually research certain aspects of your story on which you don’t have expertise to make your story believable enough that your readers would buy into it. I think I was thirteen or so when I came to this point of authorial maturity. I suppose the research is still not my favourite part, as it draws out the flow of my writing process, but of course it’s necessary to pull together a good story.
Q: Who is your personal inspiration?
A: I have a number of them, but perhaps the most compelling is my dad, who has always encouraged my work and is my most reliable reader, and has threatened to haunt me if I don’t publish a book before he dies.
Disquiet. Squirming, urgent agency: this moment is unbearable. The doorman, Bernie, has hastily shoved everyone out at exactly 2am as he always does, his fervent protection of me and the other Gordie’s staff, and of his own anticipated bedtime. It’s 2.05 now. Through the padded door, you can hear the multitude of muffled voices coming …