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Shawn Smucker will capture readers’ imaginations with this masterfully written debut novel that combines elements of mystery and magical realism.
It was the summer of storms, strays, and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident.
Twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life—the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend, Abra, in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift?
Haunting and hypnotic, The Day the Angels Fell is a story that explores the difficult questions of life in a voice that is fresh, friendly, and unafraid. With this powerful novel, Shawn Smucker has carved out a spot for himself in the tradition of authors Madeleine L’Engle and Lois Lowry.
What part of the country do you consider home?
I grew up in Lancaster, PA, the same place my ancestors have lived for 13 generations. I feel very much part of the land and the people here. Seems everywhere I turn, I run into a distant cousin.
Currently, how big (or small) is your household?
Our household currently includes my wife Maile, our six children, and me. Our oldest is 14, getting ready to go to high school next year, and our youngest, Poppy Lynne, is one year old. It’s usually a bit of a circus, but it’s a life I love.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I feel like I’m writing all the time! Besides writing fiction, I make a living co-writing and ghostwriting memoirs and autobiographies, as well as doing a little editing and consulting on the side, so I almost always have two or three projects going. But when I’m not writing, I’m probably driving one of the kids to practice, or sneaking in a date night with my wife, or reading, or trying to get some sleep.
Is there any habit or hobby you have that might surprise readers?
Between writing and reading, both of which are my favorite pastimes, most of my time is spoken for. I did take a stab at painting landscapes, and I think someday when the kids are grown and out of the house, I’d like to spend more time doing that.
You’ve just turned in your manuscript, and your editor won’t return it with revisions for at least a week or two. Where would you go for a vacation?
Somewhere in the mountains. No other place comes close. Sitting on a porch, looking out into the woods or at distant peaks, hiking and startling (and being startled by) animals going about their day: these are the kinds of activities that bring me life and help me remember how to breathe slowly again.
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Vanilla. I don’t know that I have anything else to say about that. I’m sure it tells you a lot about me.
Are you a dog or a cat person? What does that tell us about you?
Although we don’t have a dog, I am definitely a dog person. This probably tells you that I require vocal and prolific affirmation. The last thing I need in my life, alongside tough critics and rewrites, is a cat playing hard to get.
What was your favorite childhood book? What made it so beloved?
That is such an impossible question! A Wrinkle in Time, The Hobbit, The Sugar Creek Gang, Hardy Boys, Black Stallion, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia. There are just so many. I guess if I had to choose one, I’d have to go with the one I read over and over more than any others, and that would be The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. That was also the book that introduced me, at the youngest possible age, to the wonders of the novel.
How many unfinished book ideas or manuscripts do you currently have?
I have two more books under contract (besides The Day the Angels Fell and its sequel, The Edge of Over There). I have a few other books I’ve started, and a few more ideas, but I don’t like to think too much about a story until I’m ready to start putting pen to paper.
What’s your favorite movie? Favorite TV show?
My favorite movie is the Michael Mann movie, Heat. The way he juxtaposes the two main characters in dark and light is amazing, and the multiple storylines always fascinated me.
My favorite TV show?
Well, my wife and I usually turn to TV for comic relief, so I’d have to say Friends, Seinfeld, or The Office. It would be a tie between those three.
If you were casting yourself in a movie, which actor or actress would you pick? Why?
I would say Martin Freeman. I loved his work in Sherlock and The Hobbit. I think he’d be able to play my laid-back personality well, although I’m hard-pressed to come up with what the movie would be about!
Shawn Smucker lives with his wife and six children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Day the Angels Fell is his first novel. You can find him online at www.shawnsmucker.com, where you can also sign up for his newsletter.