It’s my pleasure to share the storage room today with fellow Insecure Writer, Samantha Bryant to talk about her latest book. Going Through the Change is going through a change in price for a couple of days in early August. On August 5th and 6th you can get the Kindle edition for free on Amazon. Check it out at: http://bitly.com/face-the-change
Interview with Samantha Bryant, author of Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
A: I’m a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a novelist by night. I also have a home and family to maintain (husband, teenager, third grader, and rescue dog), so I’m chronically busy. Besides writing, I love to travel (when I can afford it), watch old movies, read, and bake.
Q: That does sound busy! How do you fit writing into your life?
A: Determination. When I was getting ready to turn 42, I decided it was time to take myself seriously as a writer and find out if I could make a go of it. So, I committed to a daily writing habit. I use a gamification tool called The Magic Spreadsheet which awards you points for meeting the minimum writing goal (it starts at 250 words and ramps up as you increase your level) and for not breaking the chain. My current chain is over 600 days! I definitely don’t want to break that chain, and that motivates me on the days when it’s more difficult. At first I wrote late at night after my family had gone to bed, but eventually I adapted to creating in a chaotic environment. These days I write in the midst of my family life. I like to think I’m like Jane Austen that way.
Q: So, menopausal superheroes?
A: Yep! I love superhero stories, but I get tired of every story being about an angsty teen or twenty-something. I was talking with my husband one day about the idea that superpowers are entwined with hormones (we’re geeky; we have conversations about things like that). I said, “If that’s true, then menopausal women ought to be the most powerful people on Earth!” He told me to write that down. I did, and a novel was born.
Q: Tell us about your heroes.
A: There are five women at the center of this book, all going through menopause when another kind of Change takes them. This is not a world where superheroes are a known quantity, so they all just think something is wrong with them at first.
Linda Alvarez is 48 years old, married with grown children and five grandchildren. She’s always been a housewife and is still deeply in love with her husband. Her world is turned upside down when she unexpectedly becomes a man and develops superstrength.
Patricia O’Neill is 58 years old, never married and a successful businesswoman. She loves her life. She and Dr. Liu have been friends since college, so when she has trouble with an itchy patch of skin, she asks the good doctor for help, and ends up transforming into a dinosaur like creature with impenetrable skin.
Helen Braeburn is a 63-year-old mildly embittered divorcee and real estate agent. She’s dissatisfied with life and a little estranged from her grown daughter. When her hot flashes develop into the ability to wield fire, she is excited by the new prospects that brings to her life.
Jessica Roark is 32, a former gymnast thrown into early menopause by the loss of her ovaries to ovarian cancer. She has two young sons, and a husband she no longer feels connected to. One day, she trips and doesn’t fall, but floats. She spends much of the book trying to bring her strange power under control.
Dr. Cindy Liu is a 67-year-old mad scientist, though she doesn’t know she’s mad. She would say she is merely driven and misunderstood. She’s the link that binds them all, and, in the grand tradition of mad scientists, has been experimenting on herself as well.
Q: I know you have two daughters. Has that been an influence on your writing?
A: Definitely. First, they are one of the reasons I went for it and took myself seriously. I wanted them to have that model in front of them: a woman who pursued her dreams actively.
Secondly, I want them to have more actual strong female characters in their reading and viewing lives. Too many stories don’t get past “strong” and write these weirdly overpowered paragons that are just as alienating as doormat women. Too many superhero stories get caught up in marketing the sexual attractiveness of the women rather than their skills and what makes them interesting as people. These women I’ve written are women first; the powers are just the latest problem in their lives.
Q: What was your path to publication for this book like?
A: When I finished writing this book, I’d already been submitting a literary women’s fiction novel around for a while and I was frustrated with the glacial slowness of that process. When you’re submitting to larger publishers, it seems to take six months between each step, so it had taken nearly two years just to gather a handful of rejections. (That book is currently out on submission, and I haven’t heard a thing: since November).
For Going Through the Change, I only looked at small, independent publishers hoping to find more support than I would going it alone and indie, but still maintaining some control. I found Curiosity Quills through an online friend, Matthew Graybosch, who has one of his books published by them. I really liked how transparent their model was–the royalties sharing information is clearly laid out on the submission guidelines page. It was easy to tell what you were signing up for. So, I sent a query. The whole process, from query to contract signing was very fast (approximately two weeks!).
Working with CQ has been wonderful so far. Though the company is growing quickly, it still feels small. I can reach out to the people I need and get responses quickly. The tone is supportive and kind. They’re good folks.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’ve just finished the sequel to Going Through the Change (working title Change of Life). I’m waiting for feedback from the acquisitions editor before I start working on the third book in that series. I’ve got a short story and a novella from that world coming out in anthologies soon.
Another book I’ve written (Cold Spring, historical women’s fiction) is out to another acquisitions editor right now. I’m working on the second book in that trilogy. It’s requiring a lot of research as I am woefully undereducated about WWI and the period between the wars, which are the years I’ll be writing about.
I’m also working on a middle grades novel off and on (Rat Jones is a Lacrosse Witch). On top of that, I’m still blogging and writing short stories. It’s busy, but I love it! I get cranky when I’m not able to write.
Q: Where can readers go online and find you and your work?
A: It’s all online these days, isn’t it? Luckily, I enjoy this stuff. You can find me all over: on my blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+
Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is now for sale by Curiosity Quills. You can find her online on her blog, Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+.
As far as my own insecurities regarding my writing, I am holding my own this month. I have my WIP out with a few beta-readers, am making progress on an old manuscript, and am spending time with family these days. We’ll see how I feel after I get my beta-readers’ comments back.
Also, I am still open to having guest posts on my blog. If you’ve got a new book coming out in the next few months, or just have something you want to say – please contact me.