As the Discovery Channel’s Big Giant Swords heads into its season finale, GeekMom asked Amelia Smith, whose husband, blacksmith “Irish Mike,” is the show’s star, 10 questions about herself, and about Big Giant Swords.
GeekMom: You met Irish Mike at a con? Which one?
Amelia: We met at Boskone in 2007, at the back of the filksinging audience. We were both a little skeptical of filking, which neither of us had seen before.
GM: When did you realize your life was going to be so very metal?
Amelia: Soon after I met Mike it became clear that our relationship was moving into semi-permanent status. I went to visit him in Ireland and his bedroom was full of swords. It’s been an ongoing adventure.
GM: What’s it like raising a family around a giant swords workshop?
Amelia: Oh, fine. Kids will find dangerous things everywhere, and the workshop is a hundred yards or so away from the house. Things do drift in, but the kids get into the knife drawer or climb up the refrigerator far more often than they get into Mike’s work stuff.
GM: Mike’s a fantastic dad and you’re an amazing mom (I know because I’ve seen you guys in action). What do you hope your kids will be fanatic about when they get older?
Amelia: Aw, thanks. I don’t know what they will like. So far, Nova is taking after Mike in her tastes for bland food and comic books, while Christopher is more of an explorer of physical space and might yet become a bit of a foodie. I don’t have any set ideas about what they’ll be most interested in, but I’m hoping it will be something I haven’t even heard of yet!
GM: You’re a writer as well. Is it tough finding time to create?
Amelia: Finding time is only part of the challenge. Energy and mental focus are also in short supply as I try to keep track of who’s where and what everyone needs to be doing, plus the groceries, bill-paying, etc. When the kids were younger, they napped for a couple of hours in the early afternoon and that was usually my best writing time. I found that if I tried to get up more than an hour early, I just got too tired to think. Sleep is essential.
Nowadays, I try to get in my big blocks of writing time when they’re at school. I try to do the cleaning and grocery shopping when they’re around, both because I can and because I don’t think those things should happen off-screen. I mean, the dinner doesn’t magically cook itself, right? They should know that.
GM: Do you favor fantasy or science fiction? Why or why not?
Amelia: I read mostly fantasy and historical fiction, but I read occasional science fiction, too. The preference probably has a lot to do with aesthetics (liking tapestries and castles more than sleek metal and plastic spaceships), but it’s probably also about the ideas. I’m very interested in religions, which seem to be more often explored in fantasy.
GM: What can you tell us about what it’s like to be on a Discovery Channel show?
Amelia: It’s been an interesting experience. The filming was hectic and I found not knowing the schedules very stressful, but I don’t mind being on camera. Now that the show is on the air, I often have people come up to me when I’m out doing errands and say how much they like the show, which is actually kind of nice.
I feel a bit of distance from it, too, because although I’m involved, it’s not my project, it’s Mike’s project and I’m just helping out a bit. In my head, my career is my writing, even if it’s not profitable at the moment!
GM: What’s your favorite episode of Big Giant Swords?
Amelia: I still haven’t seen the season finale, but so far I have two vying for the top spot. For the first episode, I had no idea what to expect, what the production company had done in editing. I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
Since then, I like the episode with Sarah Robles best, although I don’t enjoy being the nagging practical person all the time.
GM: Geek or Nerd?
Amelia: I still don’t understand this question. I’m old, and when I was in high school yes, nerds played D&D and read speculative fiction, but mostly nerds were not-jocks, not-popular, not-stoners, got good grades and/or cared about their classes. I’m not up to speed on TV and movie trivia, which cuts me out of a lot of token nerd/geekiness. I say a bit of one, a bit of the other, maybe a little more towards geekery. I’m also neither an introvert nor an extrovert, I come out right on the line.
GM: What would your kids say is the best piece of advice you’ve given them? What would they say for Mike?
Amelia: They are still pretty young for appreciating advice. I’ve been working on getting Christopher to take deep breaths when he’s upset or frustrated, and I think that’s been useful to him. Nova is quite independent and social and doesn’t need much advice, though I do boss her around plenty. So far she has not taken my advice to clean her room more regularly.
Mike is good at play and has been very encouraging to the kids in their art projects. He told Nova, “You can do art any time,” which I hope will stick with her.
Big Giant Swords season finale airs Tuesday night, February 17th at 10pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel.