Author of the book series She Named Me Wolf
Kasey: I want to start with a big THANK YOU for that amazing excerpt from book one of your The Many Lives of Wolf series! Great choice, by the way. It completely pulled me in, and now I HAVE to read the rest!
Tenkara Smart: Thank you, Kasey. I am sincerely honoured to hear you say that, and hope you like the entire book!
Kasey: From reading your author bio, you graduated with a Bachelor in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from San Diego State University and received a Diploma in Graphic Design from the Art Institute. Growing up, was becoming an author always on your life path?
Tenkara: Not at all. Most of my life, I dreamed of being a marine biologist. However, over time, I realised I didn’t like math and I knew that I’d have to take a lot of related courses to be a marine biologist. When I was in high school and university, I took my first literature classes and loved reading and digging into writing. I liked to ask questions like: Why did the author write that? What’s the significance of this scene, or this character? What are all the obvious meanings, and the ‘not-so-obvious’ meanings? I also had loads of respect for people that were well-spoken/well-read, and I wanted to be one of them, and that’s what led me to pursue English Literature as a major/Creative Writing as a minor.
Kasey: You and your husband seem to have a very full and adventurous life. Where, or how, did you two first cross paths in life? Are you guys individually adventurous, or did one of you show the other how to live life at its fullest?
Tenkara: That’s a great question. I’m not sure I believed in soulmates until I met my husband, but I am a 100% believer now. At the time we met, we had one, mutual friend, and through this mutual friend, I knew a lot about my husband even before I met him, often hearing about his worldly adventures. I knew that he was Australian and had lived and worked all over the world, including the Middle East, Africa, and the United States, and at the time, I was an avid ‘holiday’ traveller myself, so I was very interested in meeting him because he sounded so cool.
We finally met when my husband was visiting our mutual friend in San Diego. At the time, he was living and working in South Sudan, and my husband will tell you that when he first saw me, his heart said, “There she is.” I was overwhelmed with feelings for him, too, and after that first meeting, I told others, “That is the coolest guy I’ve ever met.” A year passed and we didn’t see each other or speak during that entire twelve months. A year later,we had the opportunity to meet up again through our mutual friend, and both of us jumped on it. This time, I had the most incredible experience: As I spoke to him at dinner, with a person sitting between us, it’s as if everything and everyone else in the world around me dissolved and only he and I existed. I have never had an experience like that before. It was like a scene from a movie. Again, he returned to South Sudan and we didn’t speak again, but we thought of each other all the time. A year later, fate brought us together again and we met up for dinner through our mutual friend, and since that time, we have never been apart.
We both love to travel and we’ll go on some kind of adventure/trip whenever we can. In fact, in several weeks, post COVID, I go on my first dive trip to the Great Barrier Reef, a bucket list dream come true.
We travel as much as we can, and sometimes decide on a dime to get up and go. For example, one Sunday, we were in an Irish pub in San Diego watching the Aussies play in the World Cup Rugby match in London. It was around ten in the morning, and I joked with my husband and said, “We should go to London.” He said, “When?” and I replied, “Now.” He said okay. I thought he was joking, but within one hour, we were packed, driving to LAX, making a flight reservation and hotel on the phone as we drove, and four hours later we were off to London. Also, as my husband has lived and travelled all over the world (even more than me), he had two key destinations he wanted to share with me: Kenya and Japan. My husband ran a safari camp in Kenya for years and wanted to introduce me to the experience. I’ve now been to Kenya several times for safari, and it’s become one of my favourite places to visit. I can tell anyone who isn’t sure about going on safari that there is no more ‘zen’ experience if you ask me. When you sit and watch lions, leopards, elephants, cheetah, etc..all in their natural, wild habitat, you don’t think about things like work, what you’re going to eat for lunch, or what the weather will be like tomorrow. You are just in the moment, totally, completely mindful. We also love visiting Japan and staying at onsens, eating food, drinking sake, and the culture and people of Japan. We also lived in Doha, Qatar before moving to Australia, and I totally enjoyed the Qatar lifestyle and culture. Now, we are planning to work until we can retire in the Puglia region of Italy.
Bottom line: We both love to travel, eat, and drink.
Kasey: You’re book series is heavily influenced by enlightenment, which is a belief system that you hold. Was there a specific life event that gave you your spiritual awakening, or has it always “been there” for you?
Tenkara: It’s always been there for me. At six-months old, I was adopted into a wonderful Italian-catholic family. Though I grew up catholic, I always had a strong belief, even from a very young age, that I was put into that family for a reason. I felt like it wasn’t my first incarnation and that at some point, my path would become clear to me. When I met my husband, all the paths in my life felt like they led me to him. I think I sound crazy saying that, but it’s true; everything in my life – all the twists and turns – made complete sense when I met my husband. In fact, even writing a book wasn’t something I planned to do, but with the support of my husband, I’ve been able to write and publish my first book. Additionally, since we’ve been together, we have had experiences with a ghost. Again, I think I must sound crazy, but we are two sane, professional, mature people who can’t explain things like the tap coming on in the kitchen while we’re watching tele, or the lights turning on everywhere in the house at once, or how things that get moved on our walls and floors. When this first began, I was creeped out, but now I welcome the experiences.
Kasey: When did you decide to start writing as an author? What influenced the main topic of The Many Lives of Wolf?
Tenkara: Though the book is fictionalised, I had heard stories from people I trust that led me to write She Named Me Wolf, including the paranormal aspects. I felt that others might relate to the story and feel the same as me, questioning what is real, what is not real, and what is possible. I also felt the main characters of Wolf and Polly were endearing and inspirational and deserved the spotlight, showing that even in the worst circumstances a person can choose which path to take and adjust, if needed, in order to grow stronger and stay the course to becoming a caring and loving human being.
Kasey: When you first started writing the first book, did you plan on it turning into a series, or did it just turn out that way for the main characters?
Tenkara: I did plan on making it a series because of my belief in past lives. I felt that the story of Wolf and his belief that he was a samurai warrior named Junsaku in a past life deserved to be a second book about his life as the warrior, and so on. I have the following main characters already outlined in my series, all past lives of this one soul that we first meet in the body of the young boy, Wolf: Book one – Wolf; Book Two- Junsaku, the samurai warrior; Book Three- Bartholomew, an executioner in medieval London; Book Four- Koinet, a Chief in the Massai Mara, Kenya; Book Five- Vladimir, an assassin from Belerus, and lastly, Book Six-we’ll return to the story of Wolf. And, who knows, one or two more characters may be added!
Thank you for giving us all a little more insight into your life and how it has influenced your amazing writing style! I know that I, personally, can’t wait to read the entire series!