Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? When I'm writing, I'm not multi-tasking, and that's about the only time in the day when I'm not trying to do several things at once. Because of that, I can drop deeply into the process, mostly into my imagination where so many stories and characters exist and reveal themselves when my mind turns in their direction. So much about our lives is loud and chaotic; writing and reading allow us some desperately needed quiet.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? I try to end a session of writing at a point where I know what will happen next but I don't write that next section. I make a few notes and when I return to it, I can easily pick up where I left off. When I'm really stuck, I take a walk and let my mind rest. I also allow myself periods when I don't write and I don't get anxious about it. I have work and family to take care of, so those things come first. That's my choice. I want writing to always be a place of comfort for me, so I don't harangue myself when I'm not producing. I never want it to become something on a to-do list that I must accomplish.

What is your favorite time to write? I don't have a favorite time--I write when I can, in the margins of my life. But when I have the choice, I like writing during the day when the sun creates a certain fullness that I find energizing.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? It wasn't advice, but I took a creative writing class as part of a master's degree in English, and the professor liked my work. That was all the encouragement I needed to keep writing stories So, my advice would be to encourage other writers and students, if you teach, because it makes a difference.

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? Frankly, I just recently had a collection of stories published. I'm excited about that. Mostly, though, there are so many people of different ethnicities, religions, gender identities being published, and I'm really happy to have the opportunity to hear these voices.

Joann Smith's A Heaven of Their Choosing is out now with 7.13 Books.