Monday, November 14, 2016

Book Confessions of Sam Reed, author of 'Fair to Hope'

Sam Reed is a born and bred southern girl who grew up reading Toni Morrison, Archie Comics, Christopher Pike, Octavia Butler, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King. When she’s not thinking of what to write, she is napping or eating, going to church, wishing she could sing, trying to perfect her Grandma’s biscuit recipe, watching A Different World reruns, sitting in the sun—or reading a book.


About the Book:

Author: Sam Reed
Publisher: North Loop Books
Pages: 222
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Velma had lived two lives: her first as a former foster kid, and her second as an unlikely recruit into a secret order that satisfied her need for retribution. Her fifteen-year-old self had given up on hope, but after three years with the Taram, she’d found her life’s purpose.

That is, until she is surprisingly named Kachina, the fabled chosen empowered to fight the last battle for the fate of the world. Having to kill someone she loves was never part of the bargain, even if it means saving everyone else from damnation.

Building a normal life free from the pull of the Taram—seems like the only answer to her prayers. Except her best friend, the other Kachina, is coming. The legend is clear that one of them must die.

Velma will have to weigh the cost of her life against a world that’s constantly betrayed her and quite literally decide if she’ll be damned in dying, taking the whole world with her.

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What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

My mom, she was a writer but let it go when she had kids in order to provide for us. But she had notebooks of short stories and poems and reading them was confidence for me, because they were good, and I would think, some of that lady is in my DNA - so I should be able to do that, too. And then all the writers who I felt like were amazing at showing the subtle savagery of people coupled with our unbelievable ability to rally, and hope, and show up - folks like Stephen King, and Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison, Dean Koontz, Christopher Pike (his young adult books for me growing up were epic, always such strong female characters that had very little to do with a girl navigating a life around a boy, which was prevalent and still is in some sense, that ‘relationship’ defines you - you weren’t okay until you met him, you won’t be okay without him, that is so short-sighted for not just girls but boys too - relationships are beautiful, love is a blessing, but love yourself first), George Orwell, Zora Neale Hurston, Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was really young, probably around 6 or 7. I would write poems and share them with my mom, they were horrible, but I thought they were amazing, lol. I was probably around 12 when I started carrying around a 3-ring binder to write my first book, it was like the 1980’s version of a laptop. But I could never finish it. I would have an idea and get a few pages in, but then the reality of having to write so many pages more would become daunting, so I would feel overwhelmed and give up. Because of that, as I got older, it got easier and easier for me to decide that writing wasn’t a real career, especially being a fiction writer. The responsible thing to do was to go to college, get a degree, and then get me a good ole’ job with a nice retirement plan. But that never felt right, I always felt completely unfulfilled. It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s, and picked up a leather bound journal, and said I was gonna give this whole writing a book thing one more try, that stuff started to click into place. Then all the sudden that little journal was full and I thought, I just might be able to do this.

Do you take notes when reading or watching a movie?

Not systematically. What I do find is I’ll see a movie or read something and think, what would that idea look like if it was turned on its head? Or, man, I’d love to write something that makes me feel the way I’m feeling right now, that has the ability to engage someone the way I’m engaged right now. Or I’ll see something that just blows me away so creatively, (like the first time I saw the Matrix, or the first time I read Beloved), where I’m just sort of stunned into this place of reflection, this idea that the best stories are just about people – how with the right push and pull, those stories can completely blow your mind! 

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

Kinda? Lol, I can name the things that have really helped me, and sort of freed me to work in a way that allows me to get words on the page:
1.      1.         Write consistently but not necessarily every day. There are folks who say you should write everyday, but that doesn’t work for me, some days the words just won’t come and trying to force them either makes me feel completely defeated, or I end up erasing 100’s of words the next day when I go back and realize it was all garbage. So instead, I promise myself that I’ll write consistently, which for me means at least a few days a week. I’ll also set monthly word count goals, and as long as I meet those goals then I know I’m staying on track, but it also gives me the liberty to write voraciously when the words are flowing and to take a break when they’re not.
2.      2.         You don’t have to write your story linearly. This was huge, huge, huge for me! When I first started writing I would spend so much time stuck because I didn’t know how to get one scene to progress to where I wanted it to go. I’d know what needed to happen in chapter 10, for example, but hadn’t yet figured out how to get there from chapter 3. Then one day I was reading an article in a writing magazine and an author was saying how she never wrote her story in order, she wrote the pieces as they came to her; and it was like someone had given me the keys to the kingdom. I didn’t even finish reading the rest of the article, just jumped on my computer and wrote all of chapter 10, and then chapter 5 and then the book’s closing scene, before being struck with the inspiration for what chapter 3 needed. Now, writing that way is my norm. I write the parts that are eager to reveal themselves, and wait for those that need to be coaxed out, knowing in the end I’ll b able to fit it all together.
3.      3.         Celebrate the small victories. Writing is such a solitary practice, and it can be hard to relate it to others who have more traditional jobs. They may have had a hard day at the office, while, in the same day, you may have had the last 4,000 words feel like they were clawing their way out of you. That may be something that will be hard for non-writers to understand, so you may have to recognize those things for yourself. It’s not just writing a book that’s an accomplishment, often getting the first chapter finished is an accomplishment, or making it through your 5th round of edits, and when it’s over, realizing you still love your book, is an accomplishment. So find ways to pat yourself on the back for those things. For me, that’s single malt scotch and some shortbread cookies, or an hour to read a book that I’ve been dying to dig into. I think it can be anything that brings you some joy and peace, and I think it’s necessary. If you only celebrate sales, or rankings or anything judged by other people it can become really easy to be disillusioned, so commit to celebrating what you create on the page as it comes to life. You’re a writer, it’s not an easy thing to do, so bravo to you. 

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

I try not to, but it happens. I find that when I’m distracted it can be hard for me to flip that creative switch in my brain, and focus on getting lost in the story I’m trying to tell. Schedules can help with that, when things run smoothly, it means my time blocks are accounted for, I can check my boxes once things are done and then settle down to write without distractions. Of course, life being life, it doesn’t always work that way, but then it would be too easy right? Life is what makes things interesting.

What hours do you write best?

I write best whenever it’s quiet, when I can feel like I have the house to myself; so that’s either early morning or late night. Then I have little rituals that I do to settle in – make some coffee or tea, find the right music to play, put out the right snacks, (I tend to favor stuff like grapes in the morning, salty things like pretzels or chips at night), sit in my chair with my fuzzy blanket, open up the computer and try to fill up the white space as best I can.

What are you reading now?

Right now I’m reading Night Film by Marisha Pesssl, and am amazed by the weaving of the story, and the suspense. I’m halfway through and have no idea how it’s going to resolve itself, plus it’s just spooky enough to be a perfect Halloween read at the same time.

What are you currently working on?

I’m actually currently trying to shop my second novel for an agent, it’s a completely different animal than Fair to Hope. It’s a adult literary fiction called Gray Salt. I actually recently pitched it on Twitter as part of #DVPit which is an amazing opportunity for diversity authors, so fingers crossed it’ll lead to something exciting. I’m also working on grinding out my next book…which is in such an early stage I’m still not entirely sure what it’ll be about, hopefully it’ll let me know soon, lol.

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