Meet the Members: Samantha M. Clark

“The WLT conferences and webinars (which I also really LOVE) have taught me about craft, persevering, and the business of publishing, as well as continue to inspire me.”

— Samantha M Clark

A member of the Writers’ League since 2012, Samantha lives in Cedar Park, TX.

Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Samantha M. Clark: My middle-grade novel The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast which came out from Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster in 2018, is contemporary fantasy, and nearly all my stories come to me with some kind of fantastical element, whether fantasy or sci-fi. I also write young adult novels and recently have been playing with picture books and chapter books, and I have an unpublished novella for adult readers that I love and ideas for more of them. I basically love to read and write stories for all ages and in many genres, as long as they stretch my imagination, make me think, and dig into my heart.

Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?

SMC: Hmmm. I don’t do well narrowing down my choices with questions like this. There are so many! I’d love to have a drink with Shakespeare and ask him — or her — who really wrote those plays and sonnets? But seriously, I’d love to learn how Shakespeare and other poets like Emily Dickinson and Maya Angelou translated their worlds into words, whether their amazing use of symbolism just came to them or took a lot of brainstorming. I’m hoping the latter, since that’s what I have to do.

Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?

SMC: Could I have a Kindle stuffed with books? In that case, I’d have the whole Harry Potter series, Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Cosmic, Ready Player One, the Narnia books, the Lord of the Rings books, The Hunger Games series, all of Linda Sue Park’s books, all of Laurie Halse Anderson’s books… If it has to be one print book, I’d want a notebook with lots of blank pages. I’ll find something to write with…

Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?

SMC: So much! Early on in my membership, I attended a class by the amazing author Liz Garton Scanlon on writing poetry. I left feeling, for the first time, that while I don’t consider myself a poet in any way, I could perhaps write like a poet. Years later, I put those lessons to use while I was revising The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast before it sold. I’ve also learned a lot at the WLT conferences over the years. Agent Sarah Davies did a fantastic session on writing thrillers a few years ago, which was so informative. The WLT conferences and webinars (which I also really LOVE) have taught me about craft, persevering, and the business of publishing, as well as continue to inspire me.

Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?

SMC: I’ve always hoped for a career in fiction, just the chance to tell stories full-time. I had a career in nonfiction, as a journalist and editor, before I started to focus on fiction. But having a sustainable career in fiction has many more challenges. For a long time, I didn’t believe it would happen. I queried four novels and had more than 100 rejections before I signed with my agent. And when we went on submission with The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast, I got around 14 rejections and had to do another big revision before it sold. After it sold, I kept expecting an email saying they’d made a mistake and had meant to acquire another book about a boy who wakes on a mysterious beach with no memory. It wasn’t until I got printed advanced reader copies that I thought, “They’re probably not going to back out now.” Now the book is in bookstores and libraries, the hardcover has gone into a second printing, and foreign rights have sold in three languages. Of course, one book doesn’t make a career, but I just finished another middle-grade that’s with my editor now, and I have a young adult that will be going on submission soon. I’m working on other books and have folders full of ideas that I want to tackle in the future. There’s no guarantee that any of these will sell, but having gone through it once, I have more hope, primarily because I now know what it takes: Hard work and never giving up. I did that for The Boy, The Boat, and the Beast. It was the third novel I wrote, but by the time it sold, I had written three more novels and a novella, learned from them and used what I’d learned to revise. My plan now is to keep on doing that. Write, revise, submit, repeat. Perhaps not every book I’ll write will sell, but if I keep working hard and never give up, hopefully this first novel can build into a career.

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

SMC: I loved Sean Easley’s The Hotel Between, which was also published by Simon & Schuster last year. It’s a middle-grade fantasy about a hotel that magically connects all these different places all over the world, and the protagonist discovers the hotel through its Dallas door. It’s such a fun adventure. Check it out! And if you’re older than 12 and saying to yourself that middle-grade is too young for you, I challenge you to change that thinking. No book should have a maximum age. So dig into those younger books too. You’ll be surprised what you find.

Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion! 

SMC: Well, not so much about me, but… Keep writing. Keep believing. Keep reading! Oh, and if you’re looking for books to read, The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast comes out in paperback on June 25!

Thank you, Samantha!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

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