Meet Donald Firesmith.
By day, I’m a computer geek who works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, I have authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than I can possibly remember. I am proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although my pride is tempered somewhat by worrying whether the term “distinguished” makes me sound more like a graybeard academic than an active engineer whose beard is still more red than gray.
By night and on weekends, my alter ego writes speculative fiction (primarily modern paranormal fantasy and apocalyptic science fiction) and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. I live in Crafton, Pennsylvania with my wife Becky, my son Dane, and varying numbers of dogs and cats.
Social media links.
Author website: http://donaldfiresmith.com
Hi Donald! Thanks for joining us today.
What was it like to receive, and or see, your first piece of fan art?
I hate to admit it, but I haven’t received any yet. I do have a ready place for it on my author website, and I would dearly love artwork of the various types of demons in my Hell Holes I have bought photos of models for most of the characters, but there are a few that would be especially interesting to see as original art such as the 1,700-year-old Aileen O’Shannon or the much scared Maximillian. I will happily send an autographed book to any artistically-inclined fan who sends me some artwork I can post.
I see you initially published your first novel under a pen name. What made you decide to use a pen name in the first place and why later use your name when publishing?
My first book was special. You probably remember the scene in the first Harry Potter movie when Harry walks into the bookstore, Flourish and Blots. I loved the bookstore and imagined what it must have been like to be able to buy and read the Hogwarts textbooks. I kept hoping that JK Rowling would write some, but the three she wrote for charity were very short. I wanted a real textbook. I eventually got tired of waiting, and so Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore was born. I had the idea that the book was actually a copy of a real magic school textbook, so it needed an appropriate author: Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. Wolfrick was taken from the wolf on my Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA) coat of arms. Feuerschmied is just the German translation of my last name.
Does your writing alter ego slip into your personal life?
I have a regular 9-to-5 job, so writing must take place in the evenings and on weekends. Another big impact is that as soon as I get in bed, clear my mind, and settle in for the night, I think of good ideas for my current writing projects. Sometimes, I have to get up two or three times to write them down before I can finally go to sleep.
What is the trickiest aspect of writing a post-apocalyptic world?
I would imagine keeping it both realistic and fresh because there have already been so many books in the genre. Actually, my Hell Holes series takes place during the apocalypse (Armageddon), so technically I have yet to write a post-apocalyptic book.
How did you get started as a writer of fiction?
I was a voracious reader of science fiction in high school. One year, I kept a journal and recorded the 72 books I read. It was hard to read so many great books without coming up with some ideas myself. That’s when I started banging out short stories, most of which were sadly too amateurish to be published. I stopped writing in grad school due to my heavy load of course work. After I graduated and began working, I eventually published seven software and systems engineering books. Then, about 15 years ago, I grew tired of technical writing and took up fiction again.
Any bookish news to share that may occur in the next few months?
I am busily working away on Hell Holes 3: To Hell and Back and hope to have the completed first draft done in the next couple of months. With rewrites and editing, I hope to have it finally out in October.
You are stuck in one of your fictional worlds – what is the first thing you do and why?
If it was my Hell Holes universe, I would immediately flee south to stay ahead of the advancing demon army.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
Authors spend a great deal of time creating their labors of love. The best way readers can encourage them to continue is to leave an honest review on places like Amazon or Goodreads. I guarantee it will make the author’s day.