Interview with Jake smith, Part 2
After reading Wish, there was so much I wanted to ask - hence a two-part interview with Jake Smith. Be sure to read Part 1 of this interview if you haven't already, and leave a comment on both posts for a double entry in the drawing. Now back to Jake . . .
Q: What are three "fun" or "unique" things about you?
Oh, wow… My greatest sports accomplishment was in high school when, as a freshman shortstop, I was part of the team that won the state championship and my brother, a senior, played second base. We grew up turning double-plays in the front yard with ground balls our dad would throw us; and to actually play at the varsity level with him, turn double-plays, and then win a state championship was pretty special.
Both my wife and I have two degrees each in wildlife sciences, and we spend a lot of time outdoors hunting and fishing — my thesis project for my undergraduate degree involved putting radio telemetry collars on sharp-tailed grouse and then following them around in the middle of the night (as in, 2 a.m. – 4 a.m.). That’s when I heard my first wolf howl (this was in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula). We even worked a prescribed burn on a jack pine forest that year, and I remember standing next to a 30-40-foot high jack pine tree and watching it go up in flames in about five seconds; the heat wave almost blasted me over.
And finally, I can’t raise one eyebrow. Seems everyone else in my family can. It drives me crazy.
Q: What are some novels/novelists that you enjoy reading in your spare time?
Spare time? With three kids? Ha! Seriously, when I do get a chance to read, I actually like reading some of the great young adult adventure stories available to kids right now, or, more accurately, talking to my children about what they are reading. Right now, I’m reading some excellent nonfiction accounts as research for the second novel I’d like to write. But for enjoyment, anything from Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) to Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games) to Dan Walsh (The Discovery) to Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain). Actually, Stein and I share an agent in Jeff Kleinman.
Q: How would you encourage someone not interested in sports or who feels your story would be depressing to give Wish a try?
First, although Wish does involve baseball, it’s not really about baseball. Even my agent doesn’t like baseball! But he felt drawn to it because the family aspect spoke very powerfully to him. And I won’t kid you — it can be difficult to read. But the unfortunate reality is that so many families are dealing with something difficult such as cancer or other diseases… but they’re not just dealing with the difficulties. They’re also dealing with the hopes and dreams and wishes of all families. And hopes and dreams and wishes are always filled with a lot of inspiration, encouragement, and moments that make your heart soar.
Q: What feedback or responses to your novel have touched you the most?
Two things. I gave a talk recently at a bookstore in Michigan, and it was done in partnership with doctors from a nearby children’s hospital. They brought along one of their parent advocates, someone who had dealt with cancer in his young son (and successfully, too). He “welcomed me to the extended family” of those who have dealt with pediatric cancer. That was a tremendous honor.
And then, I have both received letters and saw in reviews in places such as Amazon in which someone said they closed the cover on the book and joined the National Marrow Donor Registry at www.bethematch.org because of the story. That was always the ultimate goal of the book, to write a story that would motivate people to join the registry and maybe save someone’s life. That’s been a pretty significant “wow” moment for me.
Q: What words of hope or encouragement would you give to parents of a child diagnosed with a serious illness?
Wow, that’s really a difficult question, as parents who have to fight alongside their child against a serious illness are some of the strongest people I know. I suppose I would tell them, very simply, that they are not in that fight alone.
Q: After such a powerful debut novel, I have to ask what ideas for future novels you might have planned.
I’m working on developing one that, hopefully, is equally inspiring, family-centric, emotional, and — as Tyndale House likes to call Wish — “fiction with a mission.”
Q: How can we support, encourage, and pray for you, Jake?
The greatest encouragement would be to spread the word about Wish because, as is already happening, it just might motivate someone to join the bone marrow registry. So many people are in need of a bone marrow match, and if we can keep the conversation about Wish going, recommending the book to friends, etc., maybe, just maybe, it will wind up with someone who is encouraged to make a difference and will, in fact, be called to be that life-saving match for someone.
Readers can also keep in touch with me via Twitter, Facebook, and Website/Blog.
To enter the drawing for Wish, simply answer the following question and leave your e-mail in a safe format. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook.
Question + E-mail:
Do you enjoy sports - either as a participant or just watching a favorite team?
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- E-mail required, one entry per person. Odds of winning are based on number of entries.
- Contest ends at midnight on Sunday, July 13. No purchase necessary.Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail by Tuesday, July 15. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.Eligibility: US and Canadian addresses, 18 and older