Friday, February 8, 2013


Five questions for TROY D. SMITH...

1. Why do you always use the "D" in your name when you write?

It started in high school. I had an older friend who always included his middle initial in his signature -maybe he was influenced by Michael J. Fox -and I just thought it was cool. Nowadays, though, I am forced to use it when I'm being official -because another western author named Troy Smith came along. He was forced to go by HIS full name -Troy Andrew Smith -to distinguish himself from ME when he joined WWA. So now we both have to be very specific- last year I got very excited when someone contacted me to do an interview and feature my books on their website, but turns out they wanted the other guy.

2. What was the most exciting day of your life?

Hands down, the day my daughter was born. Followed closely by the day I married my sweetheart Robin in the historical movie theater on my hometown square.

3. Tell us something we may not know about you?

I spent two years doing missionary work (1987-1989) with Haitian immigrants- first in Palm Beach County, Florida, then in Brooklyn -speaking French and what Haitian Creole I picked up. Though I am a history professor now, I still preach occasionally at Come ToGather, an emerging church group that meets at the local Presbyterian Church, and I was on the pastoral leadership body of the church I attended in Champaign, Illinois while I was earning my doctorate.

Also, I am on the board of directors of the Standing Stone American Indian Cultural Center in Monterey, TN, and am currently helping design the center's museum.

(Here I am in my days of youthful innocence- Brooklyn, 1988. Sacre bleu.)

4. Tell us an interesting fact about your genealogy?

My family -through all four grandparents' lines -has been in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee since it was opened to settlement in 1804 (due to a Cherokee land cession.) I had ancestors serving with roaming guerrilla groups in the region during the Civil War, on both sides... and am a distant cousin of Cordell Hull, who served as FDR's Secretary of State for 11 years and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in forming the UN. My great-great-great-grandfather was the constable of Gainesboro, TN, and was killed in the closing days of the Civil War when a melee broke out while he was trying to auction off all the liquor he'd confiscated before the Yankees showed up and took it themselves.

5. What other jobs have you had?

I spent many years -from age 15 to 37, minus the two years of missionary work -as a "floor guy." I stripped, waxed, and buffed floors... it was a very zen experience in the early days, before stores started staying open 24/7 and there were always customers and employees underfoot. I thought of myself as a craftsman, and took great pride in my work -my goal was to make the floor so shiny you could read, not only the signage, but the writing on the lightbulbs overhead. I'd get locked in alone for 12 hours at a time, and finished the work in half that time... so I started writing stories to pass the time. I recently learned that one of my favorite authors, Joe R. Lansdale, used to do the same thing, and we've done some floor-guy chattin' a time or two.


  1. Troy, I love your Friday Five! I learn something about you every time I read an interview of any kind. Loved the picture, too! I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to put one up of my highschool days, but maybe someday I will! LOL I wish I had always used my middle initial when I started writing. It turns out there's another Cheryl Pierson who hired a classmate to murder her father years ago...sigh. Live and learn. Great answers. I think you need to write a book about your mission experience. That must have been very interesting!

  2. You are correct, Cheryl. Troy's interview is very entertaining--somehow I can't picture you, Troy, as a missionary, but I do believe you. I liked your Friday Five very much.

  3. Great Friday Five, Troy. I always enjoy learning something new about you. You are indeed multi-talented. And while speaking of floors, mine could definitely use a little of your professional attention... LOL

  4. Fascinating lineage, Troy. When I read about your ancestors who roamed with guerrilla groups during the Civil War, and your great-great-great grandfather who served as a constable, I wondered if any of them left any kind of written "history." If so, I can imagine how thrilling a read it would make. Nice photo. 1988, huh. I think that was the last year I enjoyed dark hair.

  5. How interesting! Haitian Creole, hmm. Bet you know Western slang too, and I can't see why they didn't do that interview with you and "the other Troy" too! Bonus!! Great five.

  6. I always enjoy reading about your floor-guy days, Troy. And a great photo. You could have been switched at birth with Sean Penn.

  7. Tom, I found a touching letter home from one of those guerrillas who was expecting to be killed soon -he made it back alive, though, even though his two brothers did not. One of the children he was writing to was my Dad's grandpa, whom he has told me many stories about.

  8. Champaign Illinois I presume. My college stomping grounds were a few miles west. Family histories are such wonderful gold mines and it is grounding to know from whence you came. Enjoyed the post.

  9. Thank you for a highly interesting Friday Five, Troy. What a multi-faceted person you are! Lots of life experience to draw on for your writing.

    I was interested in the D - which I may have missed somewhere, but I still don't know what it stands for? Is it a dark secret, or do you just want to keep us guessing? But I guess you are in good company with JD Salinger, GK Chesterton, JK Rowling et al.

    Fascinated by the family history. Mayhap that is why you became a historian?

  10. Tom- that does fit the plot of Brothers in Arms, now that you mention it!

  11. RW- yep, I spent six years in Champaign-Urbana, for grad school. I'm back home in Tennessee now, but my young'un stayed up there on the prairie... and is going to be giving birth to my first grandchild there this summer!

  12. Keith- the D is for Duane. And just about every Southerner is a storyteller, especially where family history is concerned!

  13. Hi, Troy--I'm late to the party but glad I stopped by for your Friday Five, even if it's Sunday. :)

    I remember the floor guy who worked at K-Mart when I did (many, many years ago). He always looked like he was meditating when he ran the buffer. Now I'm wondering if he was a budding writer.

    Keep cranking out those great stories, professor!

  14. I hate doing floors, but I love mowing instant gratification. The lawn is all over grown and knarly, then I mow it and it's even and neat and beautiful. So I get pride in a job well done.
    I enjoyed reading your Friday Five, Troy.

  15. But you know what I hated? Buffing all night, then coming home and having to mow the yard...