Samantha is a UK based writer of fiction and articles on various subjects. Her first novel, Despite Losing it on Finkle Street, is published by Fygleaves publishing, and her short stories and articles have been published in anthologies and magazines around the world. She won first prize in The H E Bates competition and The Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre Prize. Samantha’s first single story chapbook will be published by Folded Word in August.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I loved reading and writing when I was at school, but I didn’t think it was something ordinary people did. Then I went to work for Blackwells and I realised, through meeting authors and publishers, it is something ordinary people do! I couldn’t find enough time for it while I worked full time, but when I had children I thought, it’s now or never.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I turn on my computer at 7.30 am and deal with emails, facebook, twitter etc. Then I eat breakfast and have a shower. That usually takes me to about 9.00 am when I open up whatever I’m working on at the moment. I work for a bit then I go for a short walk before lunch. This helps me to think and figure out any plot problems etc. I find I can do about 2,000 words a day, less than 1,000 before lunch and more than 1,000 after, but I don’t beat myself up about it on the days that doesn’t happen. I stop at about 3.00 pm when my kids are heading in from school and college. Then I deal with anything else – emails, more facebook and twitter, jotting down ideas, research etc. In the evening I watch a film or TV (drama) and read – all of which can still be considered work 😉
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t really believe in writer’s block. It’s just a term to describe the times you don’t feel like working, but everyone feels like that sometimes in whatever it is they do. The solution is to write. If the thing you’re working on isn’t flowing then work on something else for a while. Go for a walk, keep thinking and keep writing.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? You do need to have a plan of some sort, but I don’t plot everything out in detail. I know who it’s about and what happens and where it happens. I plan out the order things will happen in and have a very short note for each section ahead of me writing it, but I never know the exact ending before I start.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I read somewhere that agents and publishers like to see you’ve had some experience and some success and that they particularly like prize winners, so I started out by writing short stories and entering a lot of competitions, while writing a novel. It was through one of these competitions that an invitation to send in a novel was extended. Out of all the novels sent in to that call out, mine was chosen. My advice to others would be to write a lot and submit a lot. I see many hopeful writers who seem so scared of rejection they never send anything out. The more you write the better you’ll get at it, and the more you submit the more you’ll learn from the process, not to mention you’ll get accustomed to rejection, which you will have to learn to get used to.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? The highlight is definitely receiving messages from strangers, telling you how much they enjoyed the book. I also had a lovely moment at a signing when a little girl came up to me to tell me how much she wants to be a writer too.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Despite Losing it on Finkle Street explores the dynamics of two very different families. Rachel Murdoch is living a lonely village life in the Lake District in the shadow of the memory of her grandparents. When she finds a young man who connects with her, she wonders if she may have at last found the new start she is looking for, despite the opposition she faces from his family.
But is Will hiding a secret, or is it just that the emotional holes in his life go to a depth that will stretch her beyond her limits? It is up to Rachel to put together the pieces of his past, and to decide whether she is still committed enough to stand by him.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? There’s not a lot of spare time! I watch films and read, meet family and friends for drinks and food. I love going to the theatre, but don’t get the chance to go that often.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) Understand that most of this is going to be down to you, no matter who your publisher is. Engage with readers, bloggers, bookshops, festivals etc on Twitter and Facebook. Have a blog and a website. Be positive and put yourself out there, but don’t spam anyone or try to sell your book aggressively. Reply to comments and questions as much as you possibly can. Seek out any events – book fairs, festivals, readings – that you can be a part of and use the opportunity to meet people.
10.How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiences/ people There is always some truth in them. The characters tend to have bits of different people all pulled together to make one new person, and the events will be based on something that has really happened (not usually to me). But it all gets altered and re-worked and written around, so it’s always fiction in the end.