Michael D. Smith was raised in the Northeast and the Chicago area, before moving to Texas to attend Rice University, where he began developing as a writer and visual artist. In addition to exhibiting and selling paintings and drawings, he’s completed fifteen novels.Smith’s writing in both mainstream and science fiction genres uses humor to investigate psychological themes. On his blog, he explores art and writing processes, and his web site contains further examples of his writing and art. He is currently Technology Librarian for McKinney Public Library in McKinney, Texas.
CommWealth is his first novel published by Class Act Books.
Beverley: What’s your name?Allan: I’m Allan Larson, the leader of the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe in CommWealth. The other actors pretend I’m not really the leader and they say Steve Constantine, who owns the coffee shop where we put on our plays, is really the leader, but really, he’s just like a business manager, he knows zilch about the theater. I write the plays, I motivate the actors, everyone knows it’s me.
Beverley: Where did you grow up?
Allan: Right here in Linstar, this fictional town on the Texas coast south of Houston that our dear author has milked before in at least one other novel. That’s another reason I’m the leader, because I know this town and what makes it tick. When I was a kid this place had maybe 20,000 people, now it’s grown insanely to something like 180,000. I’ve seen this place grow up, like a teenager who has to get bigger and bigger shoes every couple weeks. It’s an off-balance, frantic, immature sort of town, and I’m right at home here.
Beverley: During what time period does your story take place?
Allan: We have it set as just contemporary America. Turns out that dear author used the 2017-2018 calendar just to keep his facts straight, like December 14 falls on a Thursday, you know, but all the characters made him not use any actual year dates, because we wanted to keep this thing timeless.
Beverley: What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?
Allan: See, I starred in this long involved dream the author had a while back and I was such a fascinating character that he knew he had a novel practically already written from this dream. So I’m playing the part of anti-hero in this dream, but you know that even though the author claims that he was somehow observing the Allan dream character from afar, you know how the psychological Shadow works and so obviously when I’m playing the anti-hero in this novel there’s Shadow stuff of the author’s going on. Anyway, in the dream I play this supercilious guy who’s really adapted well to this new property-less society that’s just been set up, and I grab cars, computers, everything I can, and bring all my loot back to this cool mansion I’ve claimed. Meanwhile I’m writing all sorts of obscene poetry and betraying my girlfriend and all that sort of crap. Shadows have to do that sort of thing, you know. There were more parts to the dream, like I get ordered to work in Australia as a detective on a murder mystery case, and later I get sent back to the U.S. because I’m supposed to be emotionally shattered and all that, but those two parts weren’t used because the whole premise of the property-less society in part one was more than enough for a novel. There’s so much stuff about Shadow, paranoia, hoarding, human sexual manipulation, and raw survival, and it’s all centered on me. So dear author had no choice but to write my story.
Beverley: What’s your goal in this story?
Allan: Well, I’m a creative guy, and really, everything I do in this novel is in furtherance of my playwriting and acting career. Like, if I’m going to write a play about fast cars, I need a twelve-car garage full of ’em, you know, and so I need a really big mansion to store ’em in. So while everyone thinks I’m just a Hoarder, which is against the law and which I would never, never do even though the author thinks otherwise, really all I’m doing is trying to survive on a day to day basis. And of course I miss my fantastic relationship with Lisa Arlington and when she won’t get back together with me, really I have no choice but to invoke the laws of CommWealth and demand her to be my sex slave for the next thirty days. I mean, it’s a test case for CommWealth laws and really I don’t know why everyone’s so upset about it. In any case it didn’t work out and that was fine with me, because I never guessed Lisa was so psycho. That was definitely a major stressor for yours truly, by the way. She almost murdered me!
Beverley: What conflicts are you facing?
Allan: Well, for one thing, just to keep my life flowing right for my art, I need to stay a step ahead of this CommWealth inspector who’s investigating me for Hoarding. He has me pegged wrong but issues all these legalistic threats against me. And everyone comes unglued when I bust my chops to get Richard Stapke’s entire literary output published. Sure I didn’t get his permission beforehand but I think he was secretly pleased, and anyway the world needed his art whether he wanted it out there or not. And trying to get Forensic Squad to calm down and concentrate on getting my play Cabaret done is a major headache, because they keep resisting my leadership and meanwhile Richard and Jill are having this affair and Jill’s husband Steve finds out and I’ve got to keep everyone happy, you know, so we can get on with the play.
Beverley: Do you have a plan for resolving them?
Allan: All I can do is just keep exercising my leadership talents, directing the play and all. But then Steve goes off the deep end after learning about Jill and Richard, saying he wants to start this revolution against CommWealth, which anybody can see is flat-out suicide. So I have to exercise my leadership talents there as well, because the only reason I seem to go along with Steve--no matter that dear author supposes it’s just because I have no place to go after Lisa dumped me outside my own mansion at gunpoint, me with no clothes on the middle of a freaking thunderstorm--anyway, the only reason I go along with Steve’s crazy plan is to calm him down, stop this stupid revolution talk, and get everybody in Forensic Squad focused on the important thing, which is my play Cabaret. I still don’t know why people can’t just see that basic fact.
Beverley: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
Allan: Yeah, people get the wrong idea about me. Okay, so I’m supposed to function as the anti-hero in this thing. I get that, but I do feel the author has constantly mispresented me as some snivelling coward manipulator, or that I have these head problems everyone has to tiptoe around. I admit our dear author quoted me correctly in the novel--my lawyers have advised me to say this--because after all anyone can order the book right off Amazon and read all my lines right there--but I still feel it’s all, like, out of context or something. Sure, when the cops opened fire on us when we were holed up in the farmhouse, that was stressful, but really, to make me out to be such a coward about it? C’mon, I have leadership talents, I wouldn’t really start freaking out like that, would I? So my lawyers are talking to the author right now. He’s resisting writing any sort of sequel to CommWealth, but we just might have to force him to do it to set my character straight.
Anyway, any jury would see the author’s bias against me. He painted the cover of the book and although I’m front and center, he made me look like I’m about to throw up. And in this illustration he did on his website he makes me look nasty and petty: http://sortmind.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/AllanLarson-Larger.jpg. Look, guys, I’m an actor, playing the part of an anti-hero, I’m really a talented playwright leader of a great theatrical troupe. Why can’t people see that?
Blurb for CommWealth:
The CommWealth system, has created a society in which there is no legal claim to any kind of private property. Any object from your house to the clothes you’re wearing can be demanded by anyone, to be enjoyed for thirty days before someone else can request it. As actors in the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe attempt to adapt to this chaos, their breaking of the Four Rules sustaining the system, as several members navigate betrayals, double agents, and murder to find themselves leading a suicidal revolution.
Excerpt for CommWealth:Rule One - You are free to enjoy the chosen object for thirty days. During this period no other person may request it.
Rule Two - The requestor is untouchable for thirty days by the person asked. Attempts at retaliation, such as demanding unusually large quantities from the original requestor after the thirty-day period, carry stiff penalties.
Rule Three - Once you ask somebody for something, you can never ask him or her for anything else again.
Rule Four - You can never ask for the same thing back from the person who got it from you, not even after his or her thirty days of enjoyment.
Allan shivered at the reflection of his black overcoat and his striding legs on the wet sidewalk. Up ahead someone with a DreamPiston Electronics bag opened a shiny red Porsche glistening with thousands of water beads.“Okay,” Allan said, “I’ll take your car here.”
The mustached little twerp looked up. “Ahhh, crap...”
“C’mon, don’t give me any trouble. Gimme the key.”
“Look, it’s raining. And I just got these MP3 players and the new Fappy tablet—”
“Not my problem. Fork the damn key over.”
“Look, my umbrella’s in the car—can I just get my umbrella so my stuff—”
“Forget it. The umbrella’s part of the car as far as I’m concerned. Anything in the car. Besides, I just lost my umbrella a couple blocks back. I’m soaked.”
“C’mon, I just got this car the other day!”
“Don’t hand me that. The sticker on the plate says you got it a month and a half ago. You’re overdue, buddy. Now hand me the key.”
“Got trouble there?” A bright blue City of Linstar police car idled in the rain. “Got a Hoarder there?” a huge officer grinned.
“Uh, no... not at all...” said the twerp. “I just—I just can’t find the key—”
“Yeah, right—you just unlocked the damn car with it,” Allan said, turning to the policeman. “He is giving me a lot of crap about it.”
“C’mon, sir, you know better than that.” The officer’s name tag read BARCLAY.
“Dammit!” the twerp snarled. He separated the Porsche key off his key ring, thrust it at Allan, then spun around and fastened on a man coming down the sidewalk. “Give me that umbrella! Right now!”
“Goddammit...” the man grunted, surrendering his umbrella to the twerp, who grabbed it and hoisted it above his DreamPiston bag.
“We really got the Christmas spirit here, don’t we?” Barclay said.
“Really,” Allan said. “Some people...” He examined the Porsche key in the rain. “Thanks for your help, officer.”
“Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t really necessary. People are basically good, you know. Give ’em time to adjust and all, that’s what I say.”
The twerp leapt into traffic with his new umbrella and his bag, waving his free arm. A little green car skidded to a halt. The twerp ran to the window and pounded on it. “Give me this car! Right now! Damn you!”
“Jesus...” Allan said. “What a bastard!”
Barclay was out of his patrol car in a second, hand on his hand on his holster. “Sir, that’s not the right way to go about it. We need to be respectful. That’s the CommWealth way.”
Buy Links for CommWealth:Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/component/virtuemart/dystopian/commwealth-6022015-08-14-23-29-50-detail?Itemid=0
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/commwealth-michael-d-smith/1122537291?ean=2940152097313
Also available from amazon.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/CommWealth-Michael-D-Smith-ebook/dp/B013YPU5D4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478983892&sr=1-1&keywords=CommWealth+by+Michael+D.+SMith
You can find more about Michael at:Website: www.sortmind.com
Blog: www. http://blog.sortmind.com/wordpress/