Some Thoughts with ... Abby Goldsmith

3 Oct 2023

The Author/s

Abby Goldsmith

Abby Goldsmith

Abby Goldsmith has interests in social science fiction, interpersonal power dynamics, free will, peer pressure, cults, hive minds, and odd sociology. Her sci-fi Torth series, originally released on Wattpad and Royal Road with 750,000+ reads, explores these issues on a galactic scale.

Abby’s short works are published in Escape Pod, Writer’s Digest Books, and elsewhere. She is an animator with name credit on Nintendo games, and she lives in Texas with her alpha reader. Come to her website and say hi! She reads a ton and loves interacting with readers.  

The Interview

1.- How did the original idea for the Torth series appear? 
I answered this in-depth in a post on John Scalzi’s blog, here:
But in a nutshell: I wanted to explore how societies can go bad–and how a terrible society might be replaced with something better. More on that in the next question! 

2.- What would you say was the idea behind the Torth Empire when you created it?
I always wondered how societies go bad. What caused Nazism? The Salem Witch Trials? Colonial slavery in America? Jonestown? Maoism? Stalinism? The cult of Kim in North Korea? I wanted to explore that in-depth, and I came to the conclusion that the root cause is more about problematic systems than evil individuals. There are systems that incentivize bad people to rise to the top, that pressure good people to do bad things. And vice versa. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as the saying goes. Bad systems can arise out of good intentions that were never thoroughly thought through or tested. 
The Torth Empire arose from the best of intentions: equality for all. Pure democracy. Everyone votes on everything. I took that in a very dystopian direction, because I wanted to show how it can go wrong without healthy checks and balances. The Torth are something like the Borg and something like Twitter and Reddit mobs. 

3.- Initially you published it on Royal Road / Wattpad. Could you tell us how that influenced some details of your novels?
When I launched the Torth series on Wattpad in 2017, I had books 1 through 4 written, but the final 2 weren’t even rough drafts yet. I knew how to end the series, but I was struggling with life in general, wondering if I had wasted decades of my youthful life on a futile dream of becoming a best-selling author. The votes and comments from readers on Wattpad really fueled my excitement to finish my magnum opus series sooner rather than later. I could imagine how certain readers would react to certain things, and I wanted to see it. Also, I had to keep up my release rate of 1-2 chapters per week, or I would lose my hard-won audience. Some Wattpad readers have followed this series over multiple years–but life happens. People drift away if you stop posting for weeks or months at a time. When I saw that I had an addicted audience in the earlier books, I had a strong motive to complete the rest of it. 
Once the whole series was completed in 2022, I relaunched it on Royal Road. The audience on RR is brutally honest, but I actually appreciate that. Those edgelord comments caused me to do a final bunch of revisions, softening some of the abusive edges of the story. They also caught typos and consistency errors. It was glorious. 

4.- Would you say it changed much since Podium picked the series to publish it? How did you receive this announcement? 
From contract to production, Podium moves fast! They did line edits for typos and consistency. Nothing else changed, although I did request that Podium combine volumes 1 and 2. That was originally supposed to be one volume, and I had split it due to trad pub industry advice. The split always felt awkward to me. Now it flows better. 

5.- Which one of the characters you created for Torth is your favourite?
That’s a tough call! All of the characters have part of me in them. But Thomas is the fulcrum main character for a reason. Some readers say I hate him because he’s an unsung hero for the first book or two, and he is a victim of hatred and oppression. But to me, he is a hero because he is able to overcome all the crap that gets piled on him. He does the right thing, no matter who stands in his way, no matter what. He carries on even when he doesn’t receive praise for it. He has an unshakable sense of self-worth. 

6.- Apart from writing, which other hobbies does Abby Goldsmith have?
Writing does take up a lot of time around my day job. I try to stay healthy by going on walks and hikes, and swimming or skiing, and I listen to audiobooks. I also create low poly 3D art for my husband’s indie game in progress, First Earth

7.- What can we expect from Abby Goldsmith in the future?
The rest of the Torth series is coming out over the next couple of years! These books are already written and in the hands of my publisher, and they will be released every four months. 
Meanwhile, I am creating a new series set in a fantasy world where magic is overcomplicated by bureaucracy and peasants struggle to afford simple healing spells. Ordinary folks can’t guess why unicorns are extinct and skyfolk are hunted–until a bookish outsider challenges the Gnosortium by reinventing spellcraft from the ground up.