Sirkka Smith lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she’s spent most of the last five years in the fictional town of Lingen or stuck on Mt. Arin somewhere.
Besides writing, common activities include puzzling over the peculiarities of human interaction, blurting out impromptu song lyrics, and getting robots to do her chores for her. She enjoys most caffeinated beverages.
You can find out more about Sirkka and The Third Thing at sirkkasmith.com
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Questions & Answers - Author Interview
Q. Let's get this one out of the way! Was "mountainpox" in The Third Thing inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic?
A. Actually, it is not related! I'd already finished writing by then (the publishing process takes a while) so the story of The Third Thing takes place in that rosy, pre-covid-pandemic world that seems so long ago! And while it started to feel like a case of "life imitating art" for a little while at the start of 2020, mountainpox is actually a very different type of virus. It's one of those obscure viruses that actually isn't that widespread and hasn't been studied enough. I drew more inspiration from the ebola outbreaks and my own experiences with shingles.
Q. What inspired you to write a story about love?
A. Love is one of those universal things that we all want and we can all relate to. This story doesn't just focus on romance, but on those deep love ties in multiple types of relationships that really hold us together and support us when the going gets tough. It's also about finding love, and realizing you deserve it, when maybe you aren't the type of person that always fits in or makes connections easily.
Q. Let's talk about that. Your story has some neurodiversity and characters who aren't your typical hero and heroine. Why did you choose to diverge from the usual type of romantic leads?
A. Writing my characters this way just happened naturally, as there is a little part of me in every character I write. But in general, I enjoy seeing underrepresented types of characters, especially as the leads in a love story which can be some of the more stereotypical roles. Although my characters' particular struggles share something in common with my own, I know that having difficulty connecting with others is a widely relateable concept. Many people feel that way for various reasons, or they don't see themselves as being somebody's ideal match, especially when they're in their 30s and still just trying to figure out adulting. Xo and Elliot are not typical. But that makes them who they are, and I think there are a lot of readers who can relate and who will fall in love with them anyway.
Q. Are any of the characters in The Third Thing based off people you know in real life?
A. Nope, they're all figments of my imagination. It's not autobiographical either! The whole thing manifested in my head and this book is your passport to visit. It's a little weird in there, so take care.
Q. Heh heh... I'll be sure to watch my step in Lingen. So this is your first novel, but you have been writing for a long time, haven't you?
A. Yes, I "published" my first book was when I was 6 years old. It was a six-page story starring a horse (named after my brother) with handwritten text and an illustration on each page. I made photocopies with my father's help, "bound" them with the all-important "professional clear plastic binder" and distributed them to family members. Unfortunately, I neglected to keep a copy for myself, but they might still be out there somewhere.
Q. Is that "professional clear plastic binder" thing a Calvin & Hobbes reference?
A. But of course!
The Third Thing
- Title: The Third Thing
- Subtitle: A Novel
- Author: Sirkka Smith
- Publisher: Taricha Books
- ISBN: 978-1-954087-01-9 (trade paperback)
- ISBN: 978-1-954087-00-2 (ebook/epub)
- Page count (print): 410
- Word count: ~133,500
- Release: April 28, 2021
Love. Friendship. Weird Birds.
A socially-awkward artist and a shy photographer shadowed by a mysterious virus must face their fears to find love.
She: A bird artist struggling to understand humans. He: a shy photographer coping with the aftermath of a deadly disease.
Love brings them together on remote Mt. Arin. Do they have what it takes to survive the experience?
"The Third Thing" is a novel with quirky small-town characters, sweet romance, action, humor, and hope.
Love. Friendship. Weird Birds.
Xiomara (Xo for short) relaunches her artistic career with a bang—or rather, a crash—when she moves to the small mountain town of Lingen to paint birds. She’s determined to get her life back on course by pursuing what she loves, and she is sure that can be accomplished with a practical approach. But love is hard to reason with, and while Xo readily understands her avian acquaintances, humans have always been a bit of a conundrum.
Elliot is an unassuming photographer who is smitten when Xo disrupts his quiet existence. His penchant for attracting disaster has left him scarred by his past and tongue-tied when it comes to revealing his growing feelings for her. But this shy, unlikely hero can’t help trying to protect her from anything that could harm her—including his closest friend.
Can Xo and Elliot find love in spite of themselves? Or will Elliot’s past destroy their chances?
This is a story about old-fashioned love in the modern day, with quirky characters, a dash of suspense and adventure in the mountains, and a unique perspective on romance, friendship, and sacrifice.
Find out more about "The Third Thing," a novel by Sirkka Smith, at sirkkasmith.com