The author interviews are now back by popular demand! To kick off another round, first up is Samantha Wood- author of an Amazon charts bestseller and one of the sweetest people I know! She is busy working on her third book and I cannot thank her enough for taking out the time to chat with me!
Samantha Wood was born in Victoria, Australia, in 1971. Her first book, the memoir, Culua: My Other Life in Mexico, was published in 2003. The Bay of Shadows, her first novel, was published in December 2016 and was inspired by the beach town where she grew up. Her next novel, Under Ten Thousand Stars, a love story set in wine country, will be released in April 2018.
Samantha graduated from Monash University with a Master’s degree in Translation Studies (Spanish) focusing on the translations of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s little-known children’s stories. She works for Ai-Media, a world-leading captioning service that provides accessibility services for the Deaf and hard of hearing. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Can you describe your latest book, The Bay of Shadows, in a single sentence?
A story about the unconventional bonds of love.
Your book charted in Amazon’s Top 100 list recently. Did you expect that anything like that would happen when you first started writing it?
I think every author hopes something like that will happen, but you never actually think it will. I knew when I first started writing The Bay of Shadows that I had something good but could never have imagined how well it would be received, especially being my first novel. That was one of the things that made it all the more special. It really was such a surprise of the very best kind!
It’s apparent from the setting of the book that you share a deep bond with the ocean. How did that come about?
I grew up in a small coastal town and so my backyard was the sea. I learned to swim in the ocean when I was very small so developed a respect for the sea, and for nature too. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t swum, and think it is such a big part of who I am that it was only natural that the book would be set by the water.
Tell us about your love for Mexico.
My mother is Mexican, and came to Australia in 1969 when she married my English dad, who had migrated five years’ earlier. We were born and raised here but there was always a fascination for this exotic faraway place that she’d told us so much about. I started travelling back to Mexico in my 20s, initially for short trips, and then ended up living there. I think it really was the making of me because for a lot of mixed-race children there is a sense of never belonging but when I went to Mexico I felt like I’d come home. It was like, “Oh, now I know where I come from.” And, of course, the people, the food, the music. It is an extraordinary culture and just love it.
How much of The Bay of Shadows is inspired from your own life?
Excellent question. I think a lot of authors will readily admit that their stories are inspired by their own lives because it is such fertile ground for storytelling. When I was writing The Bay of Shadows I had some idea that it resembled my own life, but it wasn’t until people close to me started reading it – and commenting that it was my life – that I realised how much so. There are the obvious similarities: moving to a small beach town, the shift away from city life, but also the less obvious, like the people in your life that suddenly appear as one of your characters. Elena, for example, is rather stubborn and refuses to ask for help; and that, as many of my friends and family have pointed out, is just like me!
Can you recommend some of your favourite Australian authors?
That’s a tricky one because there are so many I don’t know where to start. I’m really inspired by some extraordinarily talented female authors and am reading a couple of great books at the moment. Jane Harper who wrote The Dry is one good example, and I’m also re-reading Charlotte Wood’s Animal People, a story about a man who has a really bad day! Just superb. My absolute favourite, though, would have to be Kate Grenville She is one of Australia’s most successful authors, and for good reason, her writing is out of this world. If I can emulate her in any way throughout my career then I’ll be happy.
What are you working on right now?
I’m getting close to finishing the latest draft of my next novel Under Ten Thousand Stars, so have been typing furiously for the past four weeks. I don’t know if this will be the last draft – I never know – but think I’m getting close. The whole editing process has been a wonderful experience. It always is but, perhaps, because this is my second novel I feel more confident, and a little bit of the pressure is off. I’m loving it, although I still don’t know what is going to happen in the end. Watch this space…
So far, how has your experience in the writing industry been?
My experience has been good and bad, which I think is what most authors will tell you. There is a lot of rejection in the writing industry, and even if you are aware of that it can still be difficult getting one rejection after another. I am a hybrid author – one book traditionally published and another self-published – so I’ve been really fortunate to be able to see the industry from both sides, and the most important thing I’ve learned is that, regardless of how you are published, the only thing that matters is that you never give up on your dreams.
Do you have any writing quirks? What is your cure for writer’s block?
Not many superstitions as such, but I have time limits. I can only write in the mornings, usually starting at eight and then working until noon. After that my inspiration leaves me for the day. I wish I could be one of those writers who writes all day but sadly I’m not. The cure for writer’s block? Don’t force it! If the writing isn’t happening, just walk away. I also swim in the mornings so that really clears my head for the day ahead.
You have a very inspiring job, working to improve accessibility services for the deaf and hard of hearing. What can you tell us about it?
I come from a deaf family so think it was probably a given that I would end up working in deaf advocacy. I work for a company called Ai-Media which provides a variety of captioning services for the Deaf and hearing impaired. It might be something like subtitles for your favourite TV show, large-screen captions at a theatre show, or note-taking for a student in a lecture, but the goal is the same: it’s all about improving the quality of life for people with disabilities using technology.
That’s all, folks! If you want to connect with Samantha, visit her website now!
The Bay of Shadows, which received a full 5-stars rating from me, is available on Amazon!