Moonlake: Hi, I’m Moonlake Ku and welcome to the 4th episode of Writer’s Awakenings. Today, we have author Samantha Beardon with us. Firstly, tell us about yourself and your journey into writing, Sam.
Sam: I am a qualified nurse with a long career working mostly in the UK. I also paint and dye silk. I started writing seriously two and a half years ago when I wrote a novel. I had always wanted to write but life got in the way. Marriage and a career as a nurse took up my time. I wrote but mostly essays for courses and research for my masters. I had hobbies of an artistic nature but never seriously found the time to write.
Moonlake: So what are the circumstances that first drove you to pursue writing in a serious way?
Sam: What spurred me into action was talking to people on a word game site and finding the parallel life of internet relationships and sexting. I found it amazing that people playing a recreational word game should talk and fall in love without ever meeting. That unhappy people in failed relationships should think the ideal partner was waiting online, with no baggage or ulterior motives.
Moonlake: It’s an interesting phenomenon, one that I wasn’t aware of. What exactly is sexting? Never came across the term before.
Sam: Basically men wanting to chat with the idea of either a sexual meet or a cyber sex event.
Moonlake: Well, one learns something new every day. Sorry for the interruption over definition, now please continue on with the story on how this observation over a real life phenomenon led you into writing.
Sam: I listened to many people’s stories, witnessed lots of unhappiness and even got hit upon by predatory males. I have done a fair bit of studying around beliefs, behaviour and relationships and it gave me the idea to write a novel based in that cyber world. I know now that the behaviour is happening on most internet sites.
Once I had started writing and forming my characters, one wrote poetry. Poetry is not something I have read or taken an interest in particularly. I decided to write some for Eve and found I could put together a pretty good poem. So that launched my career as a poet. I have since produced a poetry book called Caught in Passion and I am about to produce a second book. I am choosing the poems now.
Moonlake: That’s interesting that you started a poet career based off the characters for a story instead of working on the story itself. So what happened to this story? Did that just fall by the wayside?
Sam: No, I finished the novel I just talked about. I wrote the poetry alongside it and still write a poem most days.
Moonlake: Okay, it’s good to hear that poetry and story writing are complementing each other in your case. And now I would like to hear more about your reflection on that first novel.
Sam: Well, I did not do a writing course, I had read lots of books and just wanted to write the story, that was in my head. I outlined the four main characters roughly. My premise was of a man chatting to several women on line, just for fun. Following these relationships and having him fall in love with one of the women unexpectedly. I had decided who it would be and I made her the main character in the story.
That was the totality of my planning. Off I went writing a chapter at a time each, from the view of one of the characters. All went well until one of the lesser characters became a stalker unexpectedly. Not only did I have to stop and research stalking …that is scary! I had rethink the dynamics of my work. This meant changing the lead character Rick to become the main character. It meant rewriting portions of the completed manuscript and changing chapter orders.
Moonlake: Wow, that’s a lot of work but you expect that for a major re-write.
Sam: If I had produced a story outline with more planning, I might not have had to do that, a lightbulb moment!
Moonlake: I’ve always been a planner but then you can always plan more. So what happened next?
Sam: Completed the manuscript and proof read it 50 times, always finding mistakes I had missed. Confident I was on top of it I gave it to beta readers and got mainly good feedback. So I published the book on Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace. It sold some copies and I started thinking about book two. I decided to do a belated writing course because I knew I had made the writing process hard on myself.
Having started the course, I realised there were still fundamental issues with the book. The book had surprisingly, a handful of good reviews. But the issues started to niggle me and so I have taken the book off sale and I employed a professional editor to go through it. I am in the process of considering her suggestions and implementing them. Then I will re-release.
Moonlake: Are you still going to do book 2 based off the sexting idea?
Sam: Yes, I am although this is a fairly low key part of the book. I am continuing the lives of two of the protagonists and there is a thriller element within book two. Their conversations including some sexting is part of the story.
Moonlake: Okay, sounds interesting. Actually, I thought book 1 had already turned into part thriller given the stalker character.
Sam: Yes, it has. The protagonist in book 1 is an ex special forces operative with the Australian army sniper and surveillance, he now works as a financial advisor in Perth. But has continued doing special ops occasionally. In book two he is involved in a special operation in London.
Moonlake: Interesting. Do you have an idea when the re-release of book 1 will be and how publication-ready is book 2?
Sam: Book two is about three quarters written so probably six months. I am undecided whether to re release book one in a month or to hang on for another two and issue it free on kindle for ten days as a taster before the release if work two. I think that is the most likely scenario.
Moonlake: Yeah, I would go for the latter route too though I don’t have much personal experience myself. But that sounds good. Now, looking back, how would you have done things differently or would you have done things differently?
Sam: Would I do things differently yes. I would always use an editor. The process of producing a good book is only partly about having a great story. Good editing is essential. I would also choose my beta readers with more care. I will plan more as I learnt that solid planning is important, but I am a panster more than a planner and I will always let my story go the way my characters wish it.
Moonlake: So overall, how far do you think you have progressed from your initial point?
Sam: I have been and l am still on a huge learning curve and adoring every minute of it. The craft and skill of authorship are huge and my skills are developing.
Moonlake: Okay, I think that brings us to the conclusion of this interview. Thank you for your time today, Sam. And I learnt something new today.
Sam: Thank you for inviting me to share time on your blog, Moonlake Ku. It has been a pleasure to talk to you. Both reading and writing gives one the chance to meet nice people that one otherwise would never meet in this world.
Moonlake: Agreed. Thanks to our readers today. We will meet again another time.