I've recently been nominated for two awards. Yay me! The first is the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, for which I was nominated by not one but two wonderful writers and fellow fantasy lovers, Tricia Drammeh and Lindsey J Parsons.
The second is a brand-new and super-shiny award, the Flight of Fantasy Award. This one is specially for fantasy writers, and was created by another amazing writer and all-round lovely person, Sophie E Tallis.
Both these awards ask me to list a certain number of things about myself. So, rather than cheat and let some of the points stand for both, I present to you The Ultimate Super-List of Everything You Always Wanted To Know About A.F.E. Smith … And A Little Bit More Besides.
Seven facts about me
1. I love to sing. I don't have a particularly good voice, nor do I have the self-confidence to perform. But when I'm by myself in the house, I can belt out a tune with the best of them. I've even been known to participate in karaoke.
2. I'm fascinated by philosophy, particularly the philosophy of identity. What makes me 'me'? Would I still be me if I was only a brain in a vat? If I was only a copy of my brainwaves loaded into a computer? If I was split into two identical copies of myself? That kind of thing.
3. Like Simon and Garfunkel, I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail. But I'd rather be a nail than a hammer (more useful). I would certainly rather be a forest than a street.
4. I'm a Pisces with Sagittarius rising. Which makes me a big bundle of contradictions. It also makes me able to simultaneously believe in astrology and think it's a load of old tosh.
5. I like narrowboats. With the invention of the Kindle* removing the need for a vast physical library, I'd seriously consider living in one.
6. On the other hand, I've also always wanted a vast physical library. Preferably one where the bookcases are tall enough to require a stepladder. And all the books are beautifully bound hardbacks, arranged by genre and author. And the whole room smells of words.
7. A.F.E. stands for … just kidding. (Though incidentally, an anagram of A.F.E. Smith is this fame. Coincidence?**)
* Other e-readers are available.
Eleven more facts about me, this time fantasy-related
1. The first children's fantasy book I ever read was probably Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper. It's the first in The Dark is Rising sequence — give them a try if you haven't already.
2. On the other hand, it might have been Ursula le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea. Not that I'd call that a children's book, exactly. Young adult, maybe? Anyway, the Earthsea books are another set well worth investigating if you're unfamiliar with them.
3. The first adult fantasy book I remember reading is Dragonflight, from Anne McCaffrey's Pern series. I still enjoy her books as light fantasy reading. And I still want to Impress a dragon.
4. None of the points above take into consideration Tolkien's work, because The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings seem always to have been part of my life. Maybe I was born clutching them in my tiny fists. (If so, I apologise to my mother.)
5. The first fantasy book I ever wrote was about a flying rabbit called Superabbit — whose nemesis was, unsurprisingly, called Superfox. I was six.
6. My favourite children's fantasy author is the late, great Diana Wynne Jones. If you've never read her stuff then you're missing out.
7. The best children's fantasy books I've read as an adult are the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. I mention these as often as I can, because they're awesome. Read them, dammit.
8. Some of my favourite adult fantasy novelists are Jacqueline Carey, Juliet Marillier, Terry Pratchett and Robin Hobb. Carey wins on intricate plotting, Marillier on romance, Pratchett on comedy and Hobb on the ability to interweave multiple storylines. All four are excellent worldbuilders.
9. I used to love Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, but only got as far as book eight or nine. (In my opinion, a fantasy series can only grow so long before it essentially turns into a soap.) Nevertheless, I would like to finish the series someday … when I have several thousand hours spare to remind myself of what's already happened.
10. An excellent adult fantasy I've read recently is Jo Walton's Among Others. This is both a fantasy story in its own right and a love song dedicated to speculative fiction of all kinds, so if you're a fantasy fan then you should check it out.
11. I love fantasy because it's exciting, it makes me think, it allows me to explore things that aren't possible in real life, it reveals all kinds of aspects of human nature, it stretches my imagination and feeds my soul's desire for heroism … if you want to know more, read this post.
At this point I'm meant to nominate and notify a whole lot of other bloggers, but my experience of these things tells me that not everyone likes being given such rigid instructions. So I'll just say that Tricia, Lindsey and Sophie are three fabulous bloggers who you should visit if you haven't already, and here – in no particular order – are several more. If you're one of them then please feel free to participate in the relevant award, but please also feel free not to! (Note that I haven't listed anybody tagged by Tricia, Lindsey or Sophie, even though many of them would be on my list too.)
Sammy H K Smith
Luna (Moon, Light and Shadow)