Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Talking Books with 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:

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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Thanks for this interview, Sam.  Can we begin by having you tell us about yourself from a writer’s standpoint?

Sure! Or at least I’ll try, talking about myself is always the hardest part, lol. From a writer’s standpoint, I grew up reading Toni Morrison, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Christopher Pike, Octavia Butler and Archie Comics. I hope all of those influences find their way into everything I write. I’m also a born and bred southern girl, an introvert, and a person who’s first love was and always will be words on the page.

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

I love going to the movies, anything action, horror, sci-fi, thriller, the kind of things that you can escape into, that sort of give you a break from the real world. Anytime I’m able, I’ll prop myself up on anybody’s beach, I love being near the water, it calms me and inspires me. I love to cook, so sometimes I’ll make cake or cookies to relax…and then give them away so I don’t end up eating them all in one sitting. I’ll read of course, it’s probably my first go to, because it’s cheap and easy, I can always find some corner to fold into for a little bit and get lost in somebody’s story. And I like to take naps, does that count? When I get a chance to take a nap in the middle of the day, that can feel like I’ve just won the lottery.

Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

I would say it’s definitely been more rocky than smooth. Fair to Hope has gone through many revisions, from the first draft that I workshopped almost a decade ago, and was told I should add in some vampires or werewolves or zombies to make the book more marketable; that zombies were going to be the next big thing. Then I went the traditional route of querying agents in an attempt to secure publication, but got rejected, a lot, (over 100 times), but those rejections were well deserved. The story wasn’t as flushed out as it needed to be. So I worked on it some more, and by the time I felt like the story was where it needed to be, I decided I would try to self-publish. I’d been doing some research on the whole self-publishing process, what that would mean for me since I knew I wanted to be able to approach major bookstores and ask them to carry the book. My research led me to Mill City Press, where I was able to pick a la carte the services that I felt were best for me, and for what I wanted for Fair to Hope. Through Mill City, my book was designed, formatted, released, and given extended distribution so that I was able to have actual bookstores stock it, including my local Barnes and Noble. That was a really good day, when I walked into the store and saw my book on the shelves next to other YA authors that I’ve read and admired. So, all in all, from first draft to finished book, the whole process has taken about 12 years. And it’s on going. It doesn’t stop once the book is published, you still want to work and push and engage to continually get the word out and keep the momentum up. It’s not always easy, but I can’t think of a more fulfilling reason for hard work.

If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?

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, and take the whole world with her.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

It’s a diverse book, that was extremely important to me, both Velma (my main girl) and Josh (my main guy) are black. I wanted to write something where the protagonist and the love interest were people of color - and where the world in which they interact is like the world I live in, with characters who span the spectrum of race. It also involves a system of secret societies that is brand new. It builds on the age old concept of good versus evil, but the way in which they do what they do, and how it affects the fate of the world, are new concepts. And it’s swift, which isn’t usually the case for urban fantasy – but I wanted to write something that wouldn’t require a huge time commitment or be intimidating for folks just approaching the genre.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

Christmas, because I feel like it’s a holiday where everyone tries their best to believe in the goodness of everyone around them, when people feel charitable and are most aware of how a small gesture can have a huge impact on someone’s life, even someone you don’t know. Those are themes that run throughout Fair to Hope, so I think the book could reinforce that same Christmas spirit.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

I’d always thought of Fair to Hope as a stand alone, though I have had some readers who were kind enough to reach out and say they’d be interested in reading a prequel to the book. While I’m not sure if it’ll actually happen, I can say that I’m considering it…

What’s next for you?

More writing and more books I hope. I’m currently shopping an adult literary fiction novel I wrote called Gray Salt, while promoting Fair to Hope and starting to lay down some bones for my next book. I’m hoping to have it flushed out by early 2017, and then hopefully I’ll be able to fit in that beach vacation, I’d be completely ok with finishing my next book while enjoying an ocean view.

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