Cyber security analyst by day and teen fiction author by night, TU alumna Lindsay Smith (BS ’05) has published short stories in anthologies, seven books and has an eighth book coming out this fall. From Russian spies to the paranormal, Smith’s novels provide a twist to the typical coming-of-age stories.
“I like the young adult setting because it focuses so much on identity and figuring out your place in the world,” Smith explained. Using her degrees in Russian studies and computer security, Smith’s Sekret trilogy explores how to survive in Communist Russia with a KGB that can read minds. Her tagline is “an empty mind is a safe mind.” Her books grapple with ideas of censorship and citizenship, which play into her career too.
Smith works at a private company in Washington, D.C., writing cyber security analysis pieces for corporate clients. “My area of focus is Russian cyber security,” she said. To decompress from her job, Smith writes, and even in high school, “I was making up my own stories instead of paying attention in class.”
During her time at TU, Smith delved into Russian culture with a study abroad trip to Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Preparing to write with a Russian backdrop, Smith immersed herself in Russian music, history books, TV shows and movies. “I try to get into their voice,” Smith said.
Active in a new project with Serial Box Publishing, Smith is the lead writer for The Witch who came in from the Cold, which is a Cold War spy thriller combined with witchcraft. “They are trying to get a TV feel;” Every week, audiences can tune in for the next chapter, she said.
Smith’s novels are action-packed, but “It’s those connective tissue scenes where you are piecing things together or building tension up” that are the trickiest, she said. Her advice to aspiring writers is to read everything and study the various writing styles of authors. “It’s like going to the gym, you have to keep reading to keep up the muscle in your brain,” she explained.
Smith never forgets her Tulsa roots. With both parents teaching at TU, “I have TU in my blood,” she said. She got a chance to celebrate her Oklahoma roots with her short story for A Tyranny of Petticoats. The anthology showcases stories about women throughout American history making a name for themselves. Smith’s character is a dreamer from Oklahoma who wants to be a screenwriter in Hollywood during World War II. “It’s kind of a home-front story romance about figuring out her identity,” Smith said.
A dreamer herself, Smith’s creative writing allows her to look beyond the status quo and write thrilling prose that steps out of reality. “We don’t have to accept the way things are,” Smith cautioned. “We can make something more of it, and better stories build a better world.”