When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I’ve been writing stories and songs for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had a tale to tell, and those tales were usually reserved for sleepovers and weekend hangouts with my friends! I’ve been working on a Sci-Fi recently, but romance has always sort of come naturally to me. In my twenties, I ‘considered’ it for a long time, with my friends urging me to give it a shot. One day, I finally decided to ask myself, “What are you waiting for?” I wrote my first book “In Ten Years’ Time” and self-published with the help of PublishAmerica in 2008; it became the unfortunate victim of bad editing and I’ve had to wait out the contract so that I can revise it and try a 2nd edition. I cut my losses, learned my lessons, and moved forward. ‘Kirby’ is the first book since the experience that left a bad taste in my mouth – I’m so glad I decided to give this ‘published author’ thing another try!
What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
‘Kirby’ was never actually meant to be a book – it started out as a screenplay that I began writing in 2001 or 2002. I compiled an entire folder of notes, character sheets, and even a couple of scenes – it ended up in a pile at the bottom of this blue bin that I use to hold all of my ideas so that I won’t lose them. I came across So You Think You Can Write last year and made a split decision to enter, using ‘Kirby’ as the book I’d submit. Starting with the notes I’d left in the blue bin for a little more than a decade, I converted the unfinished screenplay into a 58,000 word book in twelve days. I didn’t make it into the second round, but that didn’t stop me. I did a couple of small revisions and queried Crimson Romance – the contract was signed by February!
Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
I think there’s always a little ‘real life’ built into the characters we write. Rachel definitely holds a few of my traits, and even a couple of experiences as far as her journey goes. And as for Joe, he’s pretty much dipped in fantasy, although I may have modeled our hero after a certain uber-hot tv werewolf! ;)
Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
Considering I was writing this monster in less than two weeks… absolutely. My brain would shut down every few hours (I was working 8-10 hours a day with a goal of a chapter a day). It was such a delicate process; if the music wasn’t right, or if my chair was uncomfortable, the struggle would be painful. I had two options when that happened: power through or fail. Failure wasn’t an option, so I’d get out of my chair and walk through the house while talking to myself about the direction of the book. I’d rationalize Rachel’s reactions and talk everything through (rather loudly, I might add!) until it made sense and I could write again.
What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
I had a bit of a personal revelation while the book was going through the editing process. My first editor suggested that I scale down one of the character’s reactions during an argument because it seemed degrading and borderline abusive. It took me by surprise because I was only writing the type of reaction I’d seen in the past; I realized at that moment that I’ve known some real jerks in my day!
What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world, publishing; about second jobs and alter egos?
Being able to finish this book in the short amount of time that I did was a total affirmation. You see writers like Dean Koontz, Danielle Steel or James Patterson and they’ve got a new book every three to six months; it blew my mind that they can crank out a story that fast! Finishing ‘Kirby’ let me know it’s possible when you’re in the right frame of mind and can fight to remain focused. My new goal has become to keep the successful marathon that became ‘Kirby’ from being a fluke. I want to have more work out there and I want to be immensely proud of it.
I learned a hell of a lot more about the publishing process, and that the right publisher will care about their authors and make sure it’s all done properly. There’s a process to everything, and this time around I enjoyed every second of it! The last book taught me patience and gave me a stronger sense of responsibility for the quality of my work; this book put the fun back into writing. Since November of last year, I’ve allowed myself to dream of writing and being published again.
Second jobs and alter egos? Been there, done that! (smile) Having an alter ego allows you to test the waters in life or in certain situations that the ‘real you’ would be too afraid to try. One’s alter ego allows them to makes moves without fear of failure, because the alter ego is strong enough to risk everything. Think about some of the world’s most popular performers: Beyonce (alter ego: Sasha Fierce) and Christina Aguilera (alter ego: X-Tina) for example – they tap into their alter egos to put on stellar performances, and often lean on who they become when they hit the stage to protect the person they really are while exploring a more aggressive side of themselves.
Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
My writing space, for the moment, is the head of my kitchen table. Just until I can get a proper writing desk to sit in front of my living room window (I’m having a harder time finding one than I thought I would!) The table is right near a window, and the sun comes in pretty bright. It calms me enough to focus; plus, it’s right near the coffee maker!
What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
The revision process bothers me the most, but I think it’s that way for most writers. My main goal is to get it all out on paper; I hate going back and finding errors. Not only is it time-consuming, but finding one actually makes me feel foolish (smile)! I ask myself the same questions when I’m revising: Really Sam? How’d you miss that? Why that mistake?
Another part that gives me trouble is actually the deadlines. Sometimes (ok, most times) a story takes forever to get out, whether it’s because of time constraints due to the day job or lack of focus. That’s why I’m so amazed by and in love with Kirby. I know I can handle a deadline now; the challenge will be to make the magic happen again.
What are some of your favorite books and why?
I love fantasy. The word fantasy is such a broad term in this sense, because in general I just like to escape when I’m reading. Because of my mother and her Pern fetish (see what I did there?!), I like Anne McCaffrey’s work and similar mythical tales. And (please don’t hate me), but I liked the Twilight series…most of it. I was obsessed with Harry Potter for a long time, and after reading Casual Vacancy, Jo Rowling remains one of my very favorite writers. Then of course I love Jane Austen; I fell in love with her work only recently! I guess if the book has an element that takes me out of mine or at the very least makes me laugh, I will probably enjoy reading it.
What are you working on now?
I’ve got another romance in the works; it should be fun! I hope to finish it soon, because I’m excited about re-submitting to CR. And also, how great is it to write a book, dream up a hero, and mold him into the kind of man that makes you tingle? I’m currently searching for photos to tack up on my wall to swoon at while I get my creative juices flowing.
Speaking of photos, I have also been considering adding a feature to my blog; I’ve been doing something on my personal Facebook page for my friends that might be fun to transfer to my author blog. It was just a photo feature I call ‘Dear Trophy Boyfriend’ – it was just for kicks, and featured Kellan Lutz (you know, my boo). I guess I’ll just have to see how well it goes over and whether or not I want to ‘upgrade’ it a bit. If I do decide to make it happen, my blog will never be lacking eye candy again!
To learn more about Samantha, visit her at www.samanthaannebooks.com.
Rachel Sirianni is a twenty-seven year old native New Yorker with dreams of becoming an editor for Equinox Publishing, one of the top imprints in the city. And it seems she’s finally gotten her foot in the door, until one wild morning turns her fast track into an uphill climb.
Unable to pay her bills, she takes an unlikely second job to make ends meet and finds herself struggling to maintain two lives – her own, and that of her alter ego. Kirby is a sassy, imaginative, and extroverted fireball whom Rachel had no idea was lying dormant inside of her.
Enter Joe, a larger-than-life, brutally hot writer with a heart of gold. Rachel can’t seem to control herself around him, despite the fact that she’s sworn off men until she can get her career back on track. Their backgrounds and interests very nearly run parallel, and the Universe seems to keep pulling the pair together – in every aspect of Rachel’s life. What happens when two worlds collide, particularly where it concerns Joe? The ride of her life may just lead to love – or it could lead back to the drawing board.
Kirby is available at: