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Author Michael Farris Smith to Tell SHU Audience About World of 'Rivers'

Eric Hostettler

Friday, January 31, 2014 • 5:14pm

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- Author Michael Farris Smith will visit Seton Hall University to read passages from his novel “Rivers.”

The reading, part of the Poetry-in-the-Round series, will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5 in the Walsh Gallery. The event is open to the public and is free.

Smith is touring college campuses, with stops including Florida State, Mississippi State, James Madison and Texas A & M.

“I’m very excited about coming to Seton Hall,” Smith said. “There’s always a great vibe at campus events, and I like meeting the students and faculty and kicking back and enjoying.”

Smith said he hopes to have a great reading at SHU and deliver a candid and honest telling of the artistic world he’s created. “Rivers” is set in the near future.

He describes it this way: “A devastated, abandoned, hurricane-ravaged Mississippi Gulf Coast that is essentially a no-man’s land. My imagination just ran with the landscape and all the possibilities of what it might look like, who might be down there, why would they be down there, how do you survive like this? It has been rewarding to be able to share that vision with readers.”

He said he looks forward to letting others into this world. “I enjoy letting others into this flooded wasteland and letting them into the lives of the characters and their struggles,” he said.

According to Smith, every reading is different because he doesn’t pick the passages he reads until just a few minutes before each event. “It just depends which one makes the most noise in my head,” Smith said.

Smith said writing “Rivers” was a two-year process but that the work is special to him.

“’Rivers’ is special to me because it’s the most recent,” he said. “It’s kind of like when I lived abroad for a few years; my favorite place was always where I happened to be at the moment.”

“Rivers” is Smith’s first novel after writing the novella “The Hands of Strangers,” which is being re-released on a larger scale by Simon & Schuster sometime this year.

 He had confidence in the novel from the beginning. The most exciting part of writing the novel, Smith said, was being able to create his own world in his own way.

Smith is working on his second novel while he awaits the re-release of his novella. Smith said he’s happy to be working on something new, even though it took him quite some time to find an idea as exciting as “Rivers.”

In the meantime, Smith said, he’s is excited about making his experience at SHU a special one as the rest of his college visits have been so far.

“I know some writers don’t much like readings but I enjoy them,” Smith said. ”You spend a lot of time sitting in a room alone as a writer, and I love the exchange with an audience.”

The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.
 
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