Eve Smith – Q&A

Eve Smith is the author of The Waiting Rooms which was published by Orenda Books on 9 July 2020.

Eve kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about The Waiting Rooms.

The Waiting Rooms is a speculative thriller that takes place in the very near future, when decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well. 

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.  

2. What inspired the book?

I had the idea for the The Waiting Rooms after reading some frightening facts about antibiotic resistance. We don’t really hear much about this issue, which is why WHO calls it “the silent pandemic”. But the startling reality is that 750,000 people die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, which is more deaths than malaria. 
The premise of my novel is that no one over seventy is allowed antibiotics, in a last ditch attempt to keep resistance at bay. In the UK, the over-75’s account for a quarter of all antibiotic prescriptions. The over-65’s account for a third. And I thought, what would happen, if society had to choose? 

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? 

I have to confess I am mostly a planner. I write a framework for the book by chapter which becomes my bible where I plot out the story arc and points of tension and I include brief summaries of key plot points by chapter. I obviously don’t have all the answers at the beginning, it is a working document, but I’ve found it so helpful as I often move things around and it helps me keep track of everything. Also, when you’re dealing with three POV’s and three timelines, you really need something to keep you grounded!  

4. Having been through the publishing process, is there anything about the process of creating a book that surprised you?

The amount of edits you need to do and how long everything takes! I think I was pretty naïve coming into this process, and had no real idea how much graft you need to put in or how tough it is to get published. Which was probably a good thing! But once I commit to something, I don’t give up… 

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I have two daughters: a teen and a tween who keep me on my toes and a mad husky collie cross who keeps me fit. I do love reading. I make the distinction between writing on my computer and reading physical books. I also love to travel with my family, particularly to wildlife destinations. And friends are massively important: I’m a social creature at heart and writing is quite insular so I tend to socialise quite a bit! 

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

Ah… tough question!! Could I do one per genre?? I think it would have to be The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I loved that book, it really moved me. It goes to the heart of motherhood and humanity and the writing is exquisite. 

7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Well, I’m new to all this so haven’t exactly done loads! Maybe something useful for aspiring writers might be, what mistakes did I make that they shouldn’t?  
The answer is: lots, but here’s just one! 

Don’t send your MS out too soon. I was impatient and I always worried that someone would have the exact same idea as me and so I punted mine out too early. They won’t, so don’t. It’s about the quality of writing so wait until it is the absolute best it can be. You only get one chance with most agents. 

About the Book

Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

About the Author

Eve Smith writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. She attributes her love of all things dark and dystopian to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues.

Set twenty years after an antibiotic crisis, her debut novel The Waiting Rooms was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award. Her flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize.

When she’s not writing she’s romping across fields after her dog, trying to organise herself and her family or off exploring somewhere new.

 

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