S. D. Smith is the author of the middle-grade adventure fantasy novels, The Green Ember, The Black Star of Kingston, and Ember Falls (The Green Ember: Book II). Despite spending time as one of the top 100 best-selling authors on Amazon and seeing the audiobook for The Green Ember hit #1 in worldwide sales on Audible, Smith notes that he remains an award-losing author. His debut novel was a runner up for both World Magazine and Audible’s Kid’s Book of the Year Awards.
Lion-O from the ’80s cartoon Thundercats, Lassie, Robin Hood—these and other characters and stories proved influential for Smith during his growing up years in West Virginia, and then as a missionary kid in South Africa. Perhaps no story had more power than Narnia:
With Narnia, something I cannot really describe began to happen as Mom read to us at night in our home, way back in an Appalachian hollow. It was my first experience of magical transcendence. (“5 Questions with S. D. Smith“)
Nevertheless, Smith fell for the cultural stereotype which identified boys as non-readers, and left his love of books for a time. His return was inspired by a Shakespeare play which led him to The Lord of the Rings and Enders Game.
Certainly Smith’s early love for stories and fantasy became a part of him, but his writing didn’t take off until, as an adult, a father, he began telling stories to his daughter, then to her and her brother, and eventually to all the family. Initially they would sit out on the porch and watch deer and rabbits in their yard, and he would make up stories about the animals.
During the next ten years, the tellings morphed from backyard fare to nap time and bedtime stories that became the rough outline for The Green Ember and the related books, The Black Star Of Kingston (a prequel) and Ember Falls.
Of his fiction, Smith said,
This story is a bit of a throwback to a time when storytellers were more eager to ennoble virtue, while at the same time it’s just a fun tale. It’s about a pair of rabbit siblings, Heather and Picket, who, in terrible personal peril, discover a world wounded to its soul. They see how their own stories are linked to the wider world’s calamity and have to find a way to overcome in the face of betrayal and disaster.
I loved telling these stories to my kids and I enjoyed turning those tales into a novel. (Ibid.)
Smith is not one dimensional. He’s husband to Gina and a father of four—two boys and two girls. He loves soccer, has a ready sense of humor, is an educator, and cares deeply for families. The latter led him to found Story Warren, a collection of people who identify as “allies” to imagination. Their purpose is to help parents as they foster imagination in their children. They do so through their web site but also through the Inkwell Family Conference and of course, through books.
About his storytelling, Smith says, “I love to make stories. I want them to be good.”