Samantha Bryant is a master at balancing her busy lifestyle. Using her feminine superpowers she makes teaching middle-school Spanish, raising a family, writing novels and finding lost things look easy.
Samantha is a winner of the 2016 Jacquis Award from Legendary Women for her novel, Going Through The Change. When she’s not writing she enjoys watching old movies, baking, reading, and going places. She lives in North Carolina with her family.
Now that I’ve introduced you to Samantha let’s get to know her a little better.
Hello, Samantha, and welcome. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.
Thank you for having me.
Why did you become a teacher?
I have a helping heart and learning new things is my idea of a good time. I also truly enjoyed school when I was a child. So, it seemed a natural choice to choose to teach as a career.
Though it’s been a hard row to hoe sometimes (emotionally and financially), it’s also been a joy and inspiration and gives me a feeling of purpose. Knowing I have an impact and make a difference in this world is important to my well-being.
What grade do you teach?
Currently, I’m teaching sixth through eighth grade Spanish. Across my twenty-three years in the classroom, I’ve taught a range of Spanish and English classes, as well as computers, theater, and even music to people in middle school, high school, and college.
I’m also offering creative writing workshops and classes through a local community college from time to time.
How has your teaching experience influenced your writing?
I’ve been able to parlay teaching into a variety of opportunities. It’s given me the chance to live, teach, and study in some great places: Alaska, Vermont, Kentucky, Kansas, Spain, England, and North Carolina. All these different settings feed my creativity and imagination.
Teaching has also put me in contact with a lot of different people from backgrounds that differ from my own. Kids tell you everything so teaching is full of writing fodder.
Spending time with young people exposes me to new music, media, games, and obsessions all the time.
Some of my classroom skills have proven useful in building a writing life as well. I know how to present publicly, so things like giving talks, taking part in panels, running workshops, or giving a reading were easier for me than for some of my writing colleagues who had different day jobs.
Teaching has also allowed me a great deal of autonomy. I’m used to planning out my own agenda and schedule and can be very productive even though no one is checking on my progress. That’s been really important for the phases of the writing process where it’s just me and my computer.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I came to writing through reading. Even before I could read, I was in love with story and the sounds of language. My mother and I lived at the library when I was little and read together all the time.
When I was in first grade, my teacher had us copy famous poems as a handwriting exercise. It was when I first encountered Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, and Robert Frost.
Mrs. Alsdorf could see how excited I was by the language, and one day, she leaned down next to my desk and said something like, “You know, you could write poems yourself, if you wanted to.”
I thought this was a marvelous idea, and I’ve been writing ever since. I write more novels than poetry these days, but I write every single day.
Which genres do you write?
My published novels are all part of a single series: The Menopausal Superhero Series. These novels are a hybrid of superhero fantasy and women’s fiction.
Going Through the Change, Change of Life, and Face the Change might best be described as drama-dy because they intermix serious drama with levity.
However, in varying degrees of completion, I have a women’s issues fiction novel, a middle grade urban fantasy, and the first in a women’s historical fiction trilogy.
I’m currently writing a near-future young adult dystopian romance and plan for my next book to be a gothic romance.
Among my short stories, you’ll find science fiction, literary fiction, ghost stories, fantasy, and horror.
I’m open to reading and writing a variety of genres and am attracted to many kinds of stories. I’m in this for the long haul, and plan to pursue a wide variety of characters through their trials and travails.
What do you find most challenging writing for these genres?
In writing superhero fiction, the challenge lies in finding the right balance between character development and action and adventure, though that might be said of a lot of genres.
When my work is at its most effective, readers are drawn in by exciting super heroic fights, but stay because they are invested in the characters and care about what happens to them.
What are you working on now?
My work in progress is a new novel, working title Thursday’s Children. It’s young adult dystopian romance and started out as a novella I intended to include in a book bundle with some author friends.
I love trying out new genres and was excited to write something aimed at the age group I teach. I wasn’t able to keep the story small enough for a novella, though, so here I am several months later, hoping to finish the first draft by spring of 2019.
My three main characters Kye’luh Wade, Malcolm Singletary, and Jason Berger are smart, strong capable kids and I’m loving writing their story.
The novel 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.
How many books have you written?
Three are published. Three others have complete drafts on my hard drive. Two others have incomplete drafts on my hard drive. Another exists only in notes and in my heart. Yet another lies abandoned on my hard drive. I’m also in the middle of a nonfiction book with a partner-writer.
So, I think I would count six of those as books I “have written” and three as ones I “am writing.” Who knows what the others will become? Not bad when you consider that I didn’t take it seriously until I turned 42.
What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?
I’ve been so
fortunate to find support and advice from writers whose careers are more
established than mine. I take great joy in passing this knowledge on to others.
When I teach creative writing classes, take part on panels, judge contests, or just have a good conversation with beginning writers, I am so pleased to offer help and encouragement to others. It feels like a circle of life in that way.
What advice would you give to authors just starting out?
There is no “magic bullet.” There’s no right way or wrong way to go about this. There is only the way that works for you. Building a writing life will involve a bit of trial and error, but it’s worth it for the fulfillment of a dream. Stay the course!
What message are you sharing in your books?
The Menopausal Superhero Series isn’t a message-preaching sort of book, but it does have a lot to say about friendship among women and about issues surrounding aging.
I dedicated the first book to “any woman who has ever felt betrayed by her own body.” I hope that other women recognize their own feelings and experiences in the pages of my books and find comfort by the images in that mirror.
When you not writing where can we find you?
Though I love to travel, I’ve been more of a homebody these past few years. Children turned out to be a very expensive proposition! I wouldn’t trade mine for the world, but it has kept me in a closer orbit in this phase of life.
I find a lot of close to home joys in long walks in the woods and by the river with my dog and in attending as many cultural events as my pocketbook allows.
I’m a huge fan of the Retro series at the Carolina theater, and my husband and I see at least one live performance of something by Shakespeare every year.
I always say my favorite gift is tickets—to almost anything!
What are your favorite books/authors?
I’ve been on a Shirley Jackson kick lately, revisiting The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and taking on some of her works I hadn‘t read.
I read classics and contemporary novels alongside a fair amount of nonfiction. I’m attracted to character-driven work, but I also love an intriguing setting.
I review nearly everything I read on Goodreads and would love to connect with you there!
What are your favorite TV shows/movies?
I’m chronically behind on television. There are not enough hours in the day to hold down my day job, create all the things, and read and watch all the things!
I am an old movie buff, and many of my Hollywood crushes are on people who died before I was born, like Humphrey Bogart and Gary Cooper. The Quiet Man is one of my favorite movies of all time.
I do enjoy a good superhero movie or show, so am trying to catch up on all the newest DC and Marvel creations out there. A goodly amount of my television time is spent with my family.
The youngest and I just finished She-Ra: Princesses of Power, which was great fun! The eldest and I watched The Haunting of Hill House which somehow was nothing like the book, and exactly like the book at the same time. The husband and I recently watched Altered Carbon, which was mind-blowing.
Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?
I have the best and most supportive family. I’d never have been able to make a go of this whole “writing thing” without their love and encouragement and work.
Do you have a website/Facebook page?
Are you kidding? Social media is so much fun! I LOVE being a twenty-first century girl, with the entire world at my fingertips.
I dabble in a variety of formats, so there’s a good chance we have at least one in common. Here’s my stack of current links:
Where can we find your books?
My Amazon page is probably the easiest way to access them though many of my publications are also available by request at your favorite indie or big box bookstore.
You can also subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my public appearances and new releases (I promise: no more than one newsletter per month).
Thank you, Samantha, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!