2020 Debut Interview: Olivia Smit!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Olivia Smit and her novel SEEING VOICES, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Sheena on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Olivia  Smit

Olivia Smit is passionate about writing Young Adult fiction that faces hard truth with hope and encouragement. She was born in Ontario, Canada, and loves small towns: although she has never lived in one, she writes about them often!

Keep up with Olivia: Website / Twitter / Goodreads / Instagram

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Olivia: Thank you so much! When people ask, I tend to use phrases like “this is the WILDEST experience,” or “I feel like I’m living a dream,” and while both of those phrases are true, they are so small compared to how truly surreal it feels to be a debut author! On one hand, this feels so right – and on the other hand, I still can’t believe it’s actually happening. (Don’t pinch me, though, okay?)
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Olivia: I think the best part of the writing process is the beginning of the first draft, when your story idea is fresh, new, and exciting … when you’re just starting to get words down on the page and you haven’t written yourself away from your outline yet (LOL!) For me, the hardest part of the writing process is the planning BEFORE the rough draft. I write character-driven stories, which means the people I write about feel super real to me, but I have a hard time nailing down specific plot points. I am not naturally a brainstormer, but thinking and dreaming is a huge and important part of the writing process! So I brainstorm as best I can and grit my teeth until the outline is done and I can move onto the fun part – writing.  

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the inspiration for SEEING VOICES?
Olivia: SEEING VOICES is the book I desperately wanted to read when I was in high school, but couldn’t find. When I was a teenager, I wanted a happy ending! I wanted families who loved each other! I wanted characters who asked the big, messy questions, and didn’t always have neat and tidy answers by the time the book was over. I wanted to see better deaf/hard-of-hearing representation in YA fiction, and characters who discovered God in a way that didn’t feel formulaic. I wanted to see the other side of trauma: the way it affects a whole family instead of just the person who physically experiences it. And so, the hunger for this type of story really became the motivation to write SEEING VOICES.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?
Olivia: This is a CRAZY-HARD question to answer! I love all my characters and really enjoyed writing Cam, Anastasia, Skylar, and Mike almost equally. Cam is so sweet, Anastasia is so wacky, and Mike is so broken … and I feel soft and sensitive for each of them in different ways. Skylar was a lot of fun (mostly because of her internal monologue) but was probably also the most challenging character to write. I wanted her experience as a hard-of-hearing character to be authentic and believable, so I was always considering that as I wrote from her point of view. I was lucky enough to have some friends with personal experience who helped make sure I got the details right!

The Book Bratz: This book deals a lot with sibling bonds and relationships. Who are your favorite pop culture siblings? 
Olivia:The Covey family (from Jenny Han’s “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”) is one of my favourite pop culture families! The sibling relationships between Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty felt so authentic to me as I was reading: each of the characters was imperfect, and they didn’t always get along, but the bond they shared was clear. I have two siblings myself, and I love reading stories that portray sibling relationships in a positive and loving way … while still honestly showing the clashes that sometimes occur.

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from SEEING VOICES?
Olivia:My favourite books, as a reader, are those that connect with me in a way that make me feel seen and understood. The most comforting and healing books have been the ones that made me feel like I wasn’t alone, like there are other people out there who think like me and are going through the same types of things I struggle with. My hope for SEEING VOICES is that it inspires that same type of comfort in readers. I want to give people hope that they can go through tough stuff and come out stronger – that they can struggle with their relationships and still have a happy ending. I hope SEEING VOICES encourages readers to ask the big questions about God, about pain, about family. In life, we rarely get the simple, “cookie-cutter” answers we desire, and I want people to know that it's okay to get confused and even upset as we wrestle with that. I hope Seeing Voices makes space for the messy, complicated bits of life ... and I hope people feel like they can use that space to figure things out for themselves, too.

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of SEEING VOICES in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Olivia:I don’t have concrete plans to return to Skylar’s story, but I’m always dreaming about what it would be like to revisit the world of SEEING VOICES a few months after the book ends … I’d love to dive into what happens next! I do, however, have other projects in mind! I’m in the process of trying to find an agent for yet another book. The tentative title for this project is LOVE, DARCY, and I’m currently chatting through my querying journey on Twitter! (So far it’s been a lot of rejections – which is normal! I’m trying to share all about my writing journey … not just the highlights!) On top of publishing and querying, I’m writing another book as well! I’m about halfway through the rough draft, so I won’t say anything about that project – it needs a lot of work before I’ll be ready to share it with the world!


Title: Seeing Voices
Author: Olivia Smit
Publisher: WhiteFire Publishing
Publication Date: April 15th, 2020

Summary: Skylar Brady has a pretty good idea of how her life is going to turn out, and getting in a car accident the summer before twelfth grade isn’t supposed to be part of the plan. Although Skylar escapes mostly unharmed, the accident has stolen more than just her hearing from her: she’s also lost the close bond she used to have with her brother. When her parents decide to take a house-sitting job halfway across the province, it’s just one more thing that isn’t going according to plan. As the summer progresses, Skylar begins to gain confidence in herself, but as she tries to mend her relationship with her brother, she stumbles upon another hidden trauma. Suddenly, she’s keeping as many secrets as she’s struggling to uncover, and creating more problems than she could ever hope to solve.

Thank you so much to Olivia for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about SEEING VOICES and can't wait for it to be out in the world on May 14th

happy excited GIF

1 comment

  1. I've read Seeing Voices already and it's really good!! Thank you for sharing the interview, it was really fun to read. :)

    Hanne || losingthebusyness.wordpress.com


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