Writer of the Week: A. K. Smith

A K. Smith holds a special place in the heart of McDaniel College. Smith worked at McDaniel in 1994, back when our campus was still Western Maryland College, before seating herself in Mexico as one of the next generation of American authors. Despite not being extremely well known, her novel “A Deep Thing” is a lovely piece of literature that attempts to define and display the epitome of the new Great American Novel. The best part? One of the major settings is McDaniel itself.

Smith’s writing career began, as most do, in little blurbs hidden away in a document folder. Smith notes that whenever she wanted to write, it was small things that would take a place on the back-burner until there was time to work on them, and then they would expand drastically. It was her father’s words, however, that broke through to Smith and gave her the freedom to truly write.

“When I lost my father, his last words inspired me,” she says. “He told me to do what I love and not worry about climbing the ladder.” It’s advice we all hear sometime in our lives: do what you want and forget about making big money, because money’s not going to satisfy you, right? Smith took those words to heart, and years later, she released “A Deep Thing” to the surprise and delight of many.

A Communications and Journalism major, Smith’s writing style isn’t totally unfamiliar; it has partially absorbed her experience as a journalist, given that she’s spent time in her own college newspaper. Her writing is reminiscent of Dean Koontz and Blake Crouch: heavily suspenseful, thrilling, and engaging throughout. Her debut novel, “A Deep Thing,” follows Kendall and her stepson Ryder throughout the East Coast and even the Yucatan in a search for her late husband’s hidden secrets. This novel is a page-turner if ever there was one.

Smith’s idea for “A Deep Thing” was inspired partially by McDaniel, as well. “While I worked at WMC, I heard an urban legend that a tunnel ran from Lewis Science Center to Camp David,” she says. “I was fascinated by this rumor and hiking in the area around Camp David, so I used this urban legend and the close proximity of Camp David in the story.”

In addition to this, Smith’s other major source of inspiration was the Yucatan itself, specifically the beautiful cenotes—underwater caves filled with fresh water—dotting the landscape.

“My novel was born in the Yucatan,” Smith admits. “We drove over uncommercialized dirt roads and in the middle of the jungle [a taxi driver] let us out and we walked back a jungle road to a beautiful hole in the ground.”

Smith’s work is available for purchase on Amazon, as well as in bookstores. Here’s hoping she releases many more fantastic novels to delight and inspire us in the same way she was.