Samantha Bryant is visiting with us, today. Samantha, can you please tell us about yourself and how many books you have written?
Samantha: I’m Samantha Bryant and I’m an author. The first step to healing is to admit you have a problem, right? Of course, writing is not something I intend to recover from. In fact, it helps me recover from all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Writing has always been my best escape and method of processing worries and other strong feelings. Cheaper than therapy, and for me, at least, more effective. I’ve written three published novels, and three and three-quarters unpublished ones as well as a bunch of short stories and novellas. My published novels are part of a series, The Menopausal Superhero series. The others, which I intend to revise and bring to publishing-ready levels in the future include the first in a historical fiction trilogy, a middle grades book that might also be a series, a women’s fiction issues novel, and a young adult dystopian romance.
Me: I agree, writing can be extremely therapeutic. Good for you for making yours so productive! :-) What's the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Samantha: My most recent publication was a short story in a multi-author anthology. Beyond the Pane is a collection of short stories all beginning with the same first line: There was something not quite right about the window. I really enjoy prompt writing, as it takes my imagination in unexpected directions. My story, Ashes, is a bit of Southern gothic involving a young woman with an ancestral farm and an ex boyfriend who may not be entirely human. That anthology came out in October 2018, as did Off the Beaten Path 3, a collection of ghost stories. My story for that one is The Girl in the Pool, a daylight ghost story inspired by my across the street neighbor’s swimming pool.
Me: Sounds spooky! What are you working on now?
Samantha: I’m writing a dystopian young adult romance right now, with a working title of Thursday’s Children. I started it about a year ago, when I was invited to be a part of a book bundle. It was supposed to be a novella, and ready by summer 2018. It refused to be either. In fact, this book and I are arguing right now about whether it is a stand-alone or the first in a series. I love writing in new genres, and since I’d never written dystopian, young adult, or romance, this was an exciting challenge. I’m loving writing it. It takes place in a near future in which a shadowy governmental agency called the EBC (Ethical Behavior Committee) has been making “troublemakers” disappear and taking the affected children into educational centers. When sixteen-year-old track star Kye’luh Wade and her cousins escape the system and run off to their survivalist grandfather’s mountain hideaway, they must decide whether to cower and survive or take on the system and make a difference.
Me: Exciting! Well, I guess the upside of the mess we call a government, now, is that there's lots of inspiration for dystopian writing. ;-) What authors, or books, have influenced you?
Samantha: I’ve always been a voracious reader. The authors I read in childhood that stick with me are Louisa May Alcott and Madeleine L’Engle. As a teenager, I found Shirley Jackson, Daphne duMaurier, and Stephen King. I’ve also been a lifelong fan of comic books and graphic novels. As an adult, I read a little of everything. I’m part of a classics book club at my library and a neighborhood book club. The two of those bring a variety of types of books into my life and my imagination. The authors I automatically throw money at when they publish something are Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood. I like to think that my own work, like those of the authors listed above, is filled with memorable heroines with stubborn souls, tense situations, and a bit of whimsy.
Me: There are some amazing authors on that list. :-) What are you reading now?
Samantha: I do a lot of my reading in audiobook form, since it lets me fit more books into my busy life. Right now, I’m listening to an Audible adaptation of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen and really enjoying it. I just finished The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson as read by Richard Armitage, which was a beautiful marriage of narrator and text. On Kindle, I’m reading Hero Status by Kristen Brand, a fellow superhero writer I’ve recently discovered and befriended. In paper, I’m re-reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods with my youngest daughter. Reading three things at the same time in these various formats is par for the course for me. I can’t get enough story in my life.
Me: Busy, busy, busy! :-) For those who might consider reading your book, what would you tell them to expect?
Samantha: My Menopausal Superhero series is part madcap superhero adventure and part thoughtful women’s fiction about aging. I put my heroines in unrealistic situations, but treat them realistically, imagining how suddenly developing an unusual ability would impact the life you’ve built for yourself, your family, your friends, your career. The emotions of the book range from excitement to sadness, with a healthy dose of humor in the mix.
Me: Sounds like fun! What's your favorite part of being an author?
Samantha: When other people read my work and “get” it! I’ve been fortunate to have a few reviewers who clearly understood what I was going for and appreciated it. That feeling of having connected with an audience is a total rush.
Me: That's definitely an amazing feeling. Do you have a day job as well?
Samantha: Yes. Currently, I teach middle school Spanish. I’ve been a teacher for twenty-three years, in a range of places from Alaska to North Carolina; a variety of age groups including middle school, high school, and college; and a variety of subjects mostly connecting to English/Language Arts and Spanish, though there was that one time I taught music and computers, too. I love teaching, and my middle schoolers and hilarious, wonderful, and inspiring. It can be difficult balancing a writing life, a family life, and a teaching life, but I’m greedy. I want it all. So, I make it work. At least most of the time.
Me: Wow! I'm in awe of your accomplishments. My hat's off to you for being a teacher. That's a really hard job, but so important. :-) What are the hardest and easiest parts about being a writer?
Samantha: Working fast enough is my biggest struggle. Building a career as a writer requires regular output, and I struggle to create fast enough to keep up a presence, especially while balancing a demanding day job and a busy family. Since I’m in it for the long haul, I try not to worry too much about whether I’m bringing out a book as often as some of my colleagues, but I keep steady pressure on myself to produce regularly and to submit my work for publication. No one can read it if it just sits on my hard drive! The easiest part for me is coming up with ideas. I can’t seem to walk from my sofa to the bathroom without having a new idea for a story. The time to develop them is a completely different situation, of course. But, I never struggle to have something to write about.
Me: I think most of us who have day jobs can sympathize with you about the pressure to produce enough. What genre do you place your book in?
Samantha: Going Through the Change, Change of Life, and Face the Change, the three books that currently comprise the Menopausal Superhero series are cross-genre: superhero and women’s fiction.
Me: Great! Is there anything else you'd like to tell your readers?
Samantha: Um, buy my books?
Me: Ha! Yeah, that is definitely an important message. :-) And so these fine folks can do just that, are there any links you'd like me to post?
Samantha: I probably spend too much time on social media, but the good news is that you can likely find me on one of your favorites. Here’s my links:
Me: Wonderful! Thank you so much for stopping by, today, Samantha. And thank you to everyone else who joined us. Don't forget to check back tomorrow for the latest in Mistral Dawn's Musings! :-)