Cast/Crew Interview: Jordan Smith

Month of the Novel: What’s your role in Month of the Novel?

Jordan Smith: It’s more appropriate to ask what my role isn’t. Seriously, I am really doing some of everything. Producing, directing, writing, acting (the Jester in Season 1, the Captain in Season 2), editing… Maybe even something else I’m forgetting.

Mainly, though, I’m directing. My job is to have the amazing vision that brings the whole show together. Sometimes I actually feel like that’s true.

MotN: From what you’ve seen of the scripts, what do you like about Season 2?

JS: Oh, I’ve seen all the scripts and I’ve been guiding them from draft one. Again, the question here might be better put, “What don’t you like?” I’m a very happy director/producer, and I think the Month of the Novel writing crew is absolutely incredible. They’ve taken this thing to a whole new level beyond the first season.

MotN: Do you have a favorite episode from Season 1? If you had to pick based on the scripts, which episode of Season 2 do you think will be your new favorite? (You can pick your own.)

JS: I do have a favorite Season 1 episode. Hands down, it’s The Talent Show. I am just in awe of the way Sarah seems to be able to effortlessly put out hilariously random comedy. And based on that, I am guessing that I’ll really enjoy her episode in Season 2. I’m already thrilled with her script, and if you loved The Talent Show from last season, you’re in for a treat.

But I really can’t pick a favorite Season 2 episode until I see them all. Both of the episodes by our new writers have so much potential to be my favorites, and everything the original season’s writers have turned out this time is solidly brilliant. It’s going to be tough to choose.

MotN: How about a favorite character from Season 1? Is your favorite the same this season, or have your loyalties changed?

JS: A lot of people like the story-world characters best, but to me, my favorite character has always kind of been the Writer. I identify with her problems so well, and that’s where I’ve tried to push her as a character in Season 2. She’s probably still my favorite character this time.

MotN: Now, of course, Month of the Novel isn’t the only thing you do. What else are you up to?

JS: I’m into story all over the place, so I do all sorts of story-related things. The biggest thing lately, though, has been that I’ve been working on self-publishing books about writing and improving stories. I have two books out now, and I’m hoping to increase that number in the future.

MotN: Season 2 is going to be sci-fi themed. What do you like about the science fiction genre? Do you have a favorite sci-fi book or movie?

JS: Sci-fi is so much fun. You get enormous scope and epicness and it’s just cool if you do it right. It’s actually hard for me to approach a sci-fi Month of the Novel, because I find myself pushing it in a Star Trek direction, since that’s got to be my favorite sci-fi thing. Especially the movie Star Trek: First Contact. So a lot of this is about making myself be original. Part of that is surrounding myself with a team of people who are way more creative than me, and my crew has definitely come through huge on that front.

MotN: What’s your process for writing an episode of Month of the Novel? Does it differ from your process for writing other things?

JS: Writing for me is a process of just making myself do it. I’m one of those writers who doesn’t like writing, but likes having written. More on a craft level, my writing process is to figure out what I want each project to feel like, and then work hard to make every single piece of it plays to that feel. That means I have to have something to draw from, so I have a hard time writing something I’ve never done, which makes me have to work with emotion more than life.

And that gets crazy on Month of the Novel, because it’s not really all that emotional in Season 1. I’ve pushed to get more emotion into this season, and I think I’ve succeeded.

MotN: What’s the hardest part about writing for Month of the Novel?

JS: As I said, my writing has to work with the feeling I’m after. Here with Month of the Novel, I have to write comedy. While I believe I’m a funny guy, it’s always tough to write something that everyone will find hilarious.

Not only that, but somehow I got saddled with writing the finale for this season, which is really intimidating. So much rides on whether or not I can get the ending just right.

MotN: How about the best part?

JS: The antidote to the hard part. My brilliant team is the best part of writing for Month of the Novel, really. I have a fantastic story supervisor in Aubrey, and she is great in that she won’t let me keep a bad idea. She’s tough on me and I’m grateful. But hand-in-hand with that is a group of wonderful writers who probably don’t know that I didn’t figure out how to even begin writing until I saw some of their first drafts.

MotN: Where do you draw your inspiration?

JS: It’s more a matter of trying not to draw too much inspiration from outside sources. While I’ll admit that I’m influenced by Star Trek, I hope I’m being more or less original.

MotN: Have you ever done NaNoWriMo yourself? What was your experience with it?

JS: I have. I wrote, um… an embarrassingly small number of words. Screenwriting is more my thing. When the NaNoWriMo people still had a screenwriting version, I did that three times and came out a winner on each attempt. One of those scripts is even something I’m kind of proud of, four drafts later.

MotN: Just for fun, do you have a favorite food? Why is it your favorite?

JS: I’m a pizza person. Can’t go wrong with deep-dish spinach with lots of garlic. But I’m also a huge fan of falafels. And spicy Mexican food.

MotN: Is there something positively unique about you that you could tell us?

JS: I say ow a lot, even when it didn’t hurt. When people are just getting to know me, it’s hilarious because they react to it and think I’m in pain. Even funnier is when those who are close to me shrug it off and tell me they’ve learned to recognize when I’ve actually caused some damage to myself.

You can learn even more about Jordan at his website, like his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

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