Ricochet: Swift Montana Smith is back
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Swift Montana Smith is back. This time with a novel that picks up where his first book of short stories leaves off. In his first book, "Read My Shorts," Smith devoted nearly its second half to "Edgar Winfal - The Lucky Stone." In this undertaking, tentatively titled "Ricochet," Smith expands the saga of Edgar Winfal into his own novel, the first in what Smith hopes will become a series.
Swift Montana Smith is back. This time with a novel that picks up where his first book of short stories left off.
In his first book, "Read My Shorts," Smith devoted nearly its second half to "Edgar Winfal - The Lucky Stone." In this undertaking, tentatively titled "Ricochet," Smith expands the saga of Edgar Winfal into his own novel, the first in what Smith hopes will become a series.
"Edgar Winfal has an uncanny ability to see things in a certain fashion," Smith noted. "This not only makes him a crack shot, but he's able to ricochet bullets with great accuracy."
"With this ability, comes a disability," he continued. "Winfal has moon blindness. He can't see in low light. When the sun goes down, he becomes totally blind. He tends to shy away from dark places and go to bed early. It's kind of a conflict with his sight ability."
In the short story, Winfal lived with his wife and son in 1870s Mauch Chunk where he worked as a railroad detective. One day, he came home from work to find his wife left him with his son.
"That's exactly what happened to me two years after I had written the story," Smith said. "It was weird that my wife did to me exactly what Edgar's wife did to him. It was like I had a premonition that this was going to happen, although I'm not saying that I thought it was going to happen to me."
In 2002, Smith began having chest pains that compromised his health until he had the problem corrected with open heart surgery in 2007. In 2003, while he was searching for a diagnosis, he wrote his prophetic short story. As soon as he was well enough, his wife left him and took his three sons.
"Before that, I had a wife and three kids, running a business, and writing a book," He said. "I was getting about three hours sleep every night. It could have led to my illness."
Now, he's healthier and without the business, wife and kids, he has plenty of time to write, and plenty to write about.
His Edgar Winfal story wants to come out. "When I write, I go into a dream state," Smith said. He'll start writing at nine in the morning and not take a break until he feels his stomach grumbling. "I'm thinking, it must be lunchtime and I'll look at the clock and it's six o'clock at night."
"It's like getting trapped in a space-time continuum where you lose all concept of time," Smith explained. "It's like when you sleep. You're not conscious from the time you fall asleep to the time you wake up. It's that kind of thing. That's what happens when I write fiction."
In his vision, Smith becomes part of the story. "I'm typing as fast as I can to keep pace with my vision. I didn't worry about punctuation. I just try to get the story down as fast as I see it."
Smith grew up in a family where he and his dad hardly spoke. The only time they shared a room together was when his dad sat in front of the TV and watched Gunsmoke, Bonanza or Have Gun Will Travel. That was as close as they got to bonding.
At the age of 11, Smith saw the film "True Grit." "That was my first experience with John Wayne," Smith said. "I fell in love with that movie." To this day, he watches "True Grit" at least once a year.
Smith watched every John Wayne, started researching about him, and transformed "the Duke" into the father figure that he always wanted. "I modeled myself after the Duke," Smith said. "He was my idol."
After a stint in the Navy, Smith moved to Walnutport, met a girl with a horse, and they married, and he adopted western wear.
He learned about Cowboy Action Shooting, joined that coterie of Western buffs, and finally felt that he was in a company of like-minded people.
He had the opportunity to write for the Society's monthly newsletter, The Cowboy Chronicle. "I wrote the first story, 'Tales of a Greenhorn,' and sent it to the publisher, and they published it. "
He was encouraged to write a story every month. "After four years," he said, "I had enough stories to publish 'Read My Shorts.'"
Asked how he feels about his new book, Smith replied, "I'm hoping my character will be someone that my readers will look forward to visiting when my books appear on the shelves. I don't know how long or how many books will be written about Edgar Windfal, but I do know that I already have thoughts and ideas for a third story in the series. I do believe that once my books appear to the public; there will be people who will enjoy reading them, and looking forward to the next book in the series."
"I want people to read it and enjoy reading it," he noted. "Money is not the object. If I have enough money to buy a cheese steak, I'm happy."
Smith is currently polishing his Edgar Winfal story and looking for a publisher.