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Some say it fell from the stars, from the warrior's cluster.
Whitson Mariner, The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner, p. 165
This article is on a subject existing outside the universe of The Green Ember series.

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I believe in the power of stories. I believe that when they hint at a rebuke to the darkness, when they whisper to us that a hero may rise to set things right, they tell the truth. So in a way, these stories are true.
— S. D. Smith on his books, The Last Archer, p. 127

Samuel Dale "S. D." Smith is the bestselling author of The Green Ember series, a succession of middle-grade fantasy-adventure novels. He is married to Gina Smith, with whom he has four children: Anne, Josiah, Micah, and Norah.[1]

Official bio

"S. D. Smith is the best husband Gina Smith has so far had and father to four Smithereens who are still young enough to appreciate what passes for his wit and wisdom. Sam is a West Virginia native, a sometime sojourner in southern Africa and the Caribbean, and current resident of his house.

Sam is an award-losing author, having featured as a runner-up for the West Virginia Fiction Award, World Magazine’s Children’s Book of the Year, and Audible’s Kids Audiobook of the Year. He has also lost every other literary award ever given over the entire course of human history.

Sam is a co-founder of Story Warren, a site for parents and others who love children and want to be “allies in imagination.”

Sam has spoken at conferences and classrooms across the country, occasionally doing what disgraced former experts have called, “a pretty decent job.”

He enjoys soccer, West Virginia sports, reading, eating chocolate chip cookies, getting letters from readers, and spending time with his family."[2]


Early life

I started writing about dogs and spacemen, but at some point, I fell for the ‘boys don’t read’ nonsense. Boys think that’s something girls do. It was a big problem for me and I only rediscovered reading in my late teenage years. [The Lord of the Rings and Ender's Game] were just hooks and I fell in love. I have been trying to make up for lost time ever since because I spent so much time not reading.
— S. D. Smith[1]

S. D. Smith was born in Huntington, West Virginia, on February 11, 1977. He is the middle child of five children: three brothers and one sister.[3] He was also raised in the aforementioned state for a period of time in his childhood, but has also spent some of his young years in Ohio, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng (South Africa; as a missionary kid) and briefly in Puerto Rico and Zimbabwe.

As a child, Smith's mother read him The Chronicles of Narnia.[1][4] When he was age 12, his family moved to South Africa, where his father worked as a church planter. When he was older, he moved back to Beckley, West Virginia, earning a living as an adult educator.[1] West Virginia's "wild landscape" amid the Appalachian Mountains provided inspiration for his imagination as a child.[5]

On June 17, 2000, Sam married Gina Hanks.[6] They have four children together: Anne, Josiah, Micah, and Norah, all of whom they homeschool.[7]

Eventually, he began to tell stories to his children about the rabbits that frequented their backyard. Years later, he was encouraged by his family to write the stories down, which resulted in The Green Ember series.[1]

The Green Ember series and literary success

In 2015, Smith published his first book, The Green Ember, with an initial print run of 1,500 copies,[8] by way of Story Warren, LLC, which he co-founded with Andrew Mackay.[1] The funding for the publication of the book was raised in part through an initial Kickstarter fund, which raised $21,908 with the help of 577 backers.[9] Encouraged by the apparent positive reception the book received, Smith proceeded to write and publish in July 2015 his first book in his prequel series Tales of Old Natalia, The Black Star of Kingston. Smith then raised $55,508[10] by way of another Kickstarter fund and self-published his sequel to The Green Ember, Ember Falls.[4][5] The anthology book The Last Archer in his A Green Ember Story series was published in December 2017, with the Ember Falls sequel Ember Rising following in March 2018; like the two previous main series books, its publication was also aided financially through a Kickstarter fund, which raised $81,448 with the help of 1,971 backers. In December 2018, Smith published his second book in Tales of Old Natalia, called The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner. The following year saw the release of The First Fowler (a direct sequel to The Last Archer) and the announcement of the fourth and final main series installment: Ember's End.

Smith's The Green Ember was nominated for multiple awards, including World Magazine’s Children's Book of the Year.[11][12] His books and audiobooks have held prestigious places on multiple bestselling charts, and he was featured in's Top 100 Bestselling Authors list for a period of time.[4]

He currently lives in Grandview, West Virginia, with his wife and children, where he enjoys spending time with his family, writing, and reading the works of authors that include G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien.[13] He is a devout Christian and currently attends church in the Grandview area.

He is the co-founder of Story Warren, LLC, which is the company that publishes his books.[3]

Much to his surprise, The Green Ember series has proved to be rather popular, as he has sold hundreds of thousands of books and has been listed as one of the Top 100 Bestselling Authors on Amazon and The Green Ember's audiobook has spent time as #1 in worldwide sales on Audible, even briefly surpassing the popular Harry Potter series.[3][4] On account of the extremely positive reception to his books, in 2017, he decided to quit his day job and work as a writer full-time.[14]

Other projects and future

Smith has spoken to filmmakers about possibly creating a movie adaptation of The Green Ember, a possibility about which he has said:

It’s a little bit surreal, but it’s also what people do every day. Meeting all these people, I’m hopeful that at some point down the line we’ll have a movie[.][4]

In an interview posted by New Seddleton Official on their YouTube channel, Smith said the following about a possible TV/film adaptation of The Green Ember:

I am considering it. . . . I will say that that's not my focus. . . . I can't make a movie right now, unless someone has $40 million they want to give me, so I'm just not focused on that as, like, my main thrust[.] . . . I'm actually leaning more toward, like, wanting to do a [TV] series because . . . you can be so much richer with storytelling. . . . The feature film thing is not as viable anymore[.] . . . When you do a series, you know it's gonna be different. And I 've heard from a lot of kids . . . who would say . . . "You know, it would be great if you do a series, but don't change anything." That's crazy—we can definitely change some things. So what I want to do—what I care about is keeping the heart of it[.] . . . [The Green Ember] is not a sacred writing. I want to keep the heart and soul of it, [and] the details are not as important.[15]

In the same interview, on possible future writing projects he may be pursuing, he said:

I do have some . . . specific plans. I wrote . . . a young adult novel which I'm not sure . . . [is] ready to go, but I'd like to share it at some point. But yeah, I've got a lot more ideas, and one of them I'm particularly . . . excited about . . . [but] I don't want to say too much about it now. . . . I will say that I'm excited about the story that sort of blends . . . a low fantasy sort of storytelling with my heritage as an Appalachian . . . but also brings in a lot of my experiences as a kid who lived in Africa[.][15]

He says he hopes to share the low fantasy story in the "next few years[.]" By the end of 2020, he had finished the novelette, asserting a hope to publish it in the "not too-distant future."[16]

On January 5, 2021, Smith revealed that he has a book for writers, titled Make. Believe., in the works, as well as an introductory writers' course.[16]

Writing advice and theory

Don't be afraid to start out small; be faithful in the little now, and better things will follow in the future.
— A summary of S. D. Smith's writing model

Smith believes it's very important to maintain discipline in writing. "Don't wait for perfection," he says, "you don't have to be perfect. Show up, do the work. . . . that's the way to be[come] good." He suggests writers shouldn't try becoming "the next Harry Potter," and that starting out with a small audience for one's writing is ideal, because it serves the specialized needs of a few people better than a general story would for a larger audience.

He subscribes to Jack London's theory on inspiration: "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." He links not waiting for inspiration to what he believes about doing the work of writing rather than waiting for perfection. "[I]nstead of passion or inspiration, I would adopt the word determination, because determination is about decisions[.]" He believes inspiration comes when one determines to write—even if what one writes isn't perfect—and that inspiration and passion often follows. "Not always, but . . . that's sort of like the truism that you'll hear from almost every writer, every kind of creative person[.] . . . Show up, and just do the work, and you're brave in that way."

S. D. Smith opines that young writers should focus on getting good at writing, rather than getting published immediately. Smith believes that the primary purpose of writing is to bless others, and calls writing a "vocation," equating it with other careers insofar as they are all meant to benefit someone else.[15]


The Green Ember series

  • The Green Ember
  • Ember Falls: The Green Ember Book II
  • Ember Rising: The Green Ember Book III
  • Ember's End: The Green Ember Book IV

Tales of Old Natalia series

  • The Black Star of Kingston: Tales of Old Natalia 1
  • The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner: Tales of Old Natalia 2
  • Prince Lander and the Dragon War: Tales of Old Natalia 3 (upcoming)

A Green Ember Story series

  • Potter's War: A Green Ember Story (unpublished; at special events only)

Green Ember Archer series

  • The Last Archer: Green Ember Archer Book 1
  • The First Fowler: Green Ember Archer Book 2
  • The Archer's Cup: Green Ember Archer Book 3


Award Category Recipients Result
World Magazine's Books of the Year 2015 World Magazine's Children's Book of the Year for Ages 9-13[17] The Green Ember by S. D. Smith Finalist
Audible Awards Audible's Kid's Book of the Year The Green Ember by S. D. Smith Finalist
West Virginia Fiction Awards West Virginia Fiction Award The Green Ember by S. D. Smith Finalist


  • Smith's favorite book series is The Lord of the Rings,[18] and it is also one of the few books he confesses to rereading regularly.[19]
  • The Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible is S. D. Smith's favorite book of all time.[19]
  • Smith's favorite Green Ember characters are Heather Joveson,[20] Helmer, Maggie Weaver, and Jo Shanks.[18]
  • S. D. Smith does his writing in a small building nearby his home called "The Forge".
  • Smith identifies (in terms of writing) neither as an outliner or a seat-of-the-pantser. Rather, he describes himself as "down the middle" on the outlining-pantser spectrum.[15]
  • When asked whether he creates characters based on real people, Smith responded that some of his characters were "[l]oosely based sometimes, but not often. There are a few characters [in The Green Ember series] whose names honor real people."[21] One example of this would be Eefaw Potter, who was inspired by potter Eddy Efaw.[22]
  • Smith believes himself to be allergic to rabbits.[23]

External links

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