Who is Author Daniel Blake Smith?
An Emmy award-winning filmmaker and writer, Daniel Blake Smith wrote and produced the feature film, TEXAS HEART (Indie Rights, 2016), a crime thriller starring John Savage (THE DEER HUNTER), Lin Shaye (INSIDIOUS), which is now out on Amazon Prime. Smith, who earned a Ph.D in American History at the University of Virginia and taught at the University of Kentucky, is also the author of four books in American history, among them the prize-winning An American Betrayal: Cherokee Patriots and the Trail of Tears (Henry Holt, 2011), The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown (Henry Holt, 2008) and Our Family Dreams: The Fletchers’ Adventures in 19th Century America (St. Martin’s Press, 2016). His most recent book, Mr. Wonderful, is a novel out on Amazon. A native Texan, Smith now lives in St. Louis, Mo.
What’s this book “Mr. Wonderful” all about?
A middle-aged history professor at a forgotten “directional school,” Brian Fenton suddenly learns from his revenue-challenged college that he must either take early retirement or expect to double his workload and with no pay raise. At the very time he confronts the embarrassment of his job going south, Brian learns that his loopy son, Danny, is paying a surprise visit—which can only mean a hand out for money, another failed job, and a need to crash somewhere. To top it all off, Brian is fielding frantic calls about his aging father who’s declining rapidly with dementia. Once a family doctor in Juniper, the small Texas town where Brian was raised, “Doc Fenton” is going down fast—forcefully reminding Brian of his own mortality and the many painful issues separating him from the close relationship he had hoped for but failed to develop with his difficult, domineering father—a man only his devoted, loving wife could call “Mr. Wonderful.” At once a comic and heart-wrenching family saga, Daniel Blake Smith’s warm and funny debut novel offers a piercingly honest window into how we struggle to make sense of ourselves, our families, and our life purpose. If we’re lucky, we discover Mr. Wonderful.
How did you get the idea of writing this book?
Although most of the story is fictional, it draws on the very real world of my father (“Doc Fenton”) whose recent death prompted me to explore who he was and how he has shaped my life as well as that of my own son (“Danny”). So some real family history prompted the start of the novel and the rest—life as a professor (which I was for 30 years!) and growing up in a small Texas town (“Juniper”) were also true story elements in an otherwise fictional world I created.
Where can readers contact you?
Readers can contact me via my website: danielblakesmith.com.