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An American Betrayal

Listen: Daniel Blake Smith on writing An American Betrayal (Duration: 3:25)
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Quick Facts about Daniel Blake Smith

Daniel Blake Smith is the author of An American Betrayal, The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown, Inside the Great House: Planter Family Life in Eighteenth Century Chesapeake Society, and many articles on early American history. Formerly a professor of colonial American history at the University of Kentucky, Smith now lives in St. Louis where he works as a screenwriter and filmmaker.

Where are you from?
Wolfe City, Texas in the northeast part of the state.  "Last Picture Show" country, except now we have color.

Who are your favorite writers?
Cormac McCarthy, Richard Ford, Walker Percy, Rainier Rilke, Edmund S. Morgan

Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
In American history, the great stylist, Edmund S. Morgan, especially his AMERICAN SLAVERY, AMERICAN FREEDOM; in fiction, few grasp the essence of the American experience like Richard Ford, especially his INDEPENDENCE.

What are your hobbies and outside interests?
Film, baseball, golf

What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
Two pieces of advice:  Write toward your ending.  Remember your audience.

What is your favorite quote?
My friend Tom Chaffin wisely told me:  "Don't ever wrestle with a pig because you'll both get dirty. . . . and the pig will like it."

What is the question most commonly asked by your readers?  What is the answer?
How long did it take you to write it?  The answer:  no matter how long it actually took, "too long."

What inspired you to write your first book?
Aside from tenure considerations, it was an abiding curiosity about the differentness of the past.

Where do you write?
Mostly at my computer following the sage advice of the author of the film "Witness":  "8 a.m., butt in chair."