Joining Curiosity Quills for another edition of our Author Spotlight: Question & Answer Coloumn, is Samantha Bryant, author of recently released menopausal superheroes short-story collection, FRIEND OR FOE, which hit Amazon on June 15, 2017!
In the comments, please join us in asking Samantha Bryant anything you’d like to know about writing, her new book, and life in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Or you know, just throw something completely random at her to keep her on her toes!
Who are you and where do you call home right now?
I am that quiet bookish girl who used to watch you from the back of the classroom in high school, the one they always give a makeover to in the movie and it turns out she’s secretly hot. Except I won’t submit to the makeover because make-up is itchy and my toes only like Converse sneakers. So, my hotness is still a secret.
I currently live in Hillsborough, North Carolina, which is home to a ridiculous number of writers considering the size of the town. There must be something in the water. I’m originally from Kentucky, four blocks from Ohio, but in my heart, I’m still from rural Alaska, where I spent my twenties and early thirties. I feel more at home the fewer signs of human habitation surround me.
Tell us about your latest book: your inspiration for it, how you got through your most difficult challenge in writing it, and what you love about it?
My next two releases are both in my Menopausal Superheroes universe. Friend or Foe and Other Stories, a collection of side tales set in the universe releases in June 2017 and Face the Change, the third novel in the series comes out in July 2017. I’m still working from the original inspiration that started this whole crazy ride: the thought that, if hormones cause superpowers (as they seem to often do for adolescent mutants), then menopausal women should have a corner on the market. Why should kids have all the fun?
Writing a series has proven very challenging. There are a lot of details to keep track of, threads that run through all three books and won’t resolve fully until we make it all the way to the end (which I think will be Book 5). To keep it all under control, I’ve become the Queen of the Graphic Organizer, making time-lines, charts, diagrams, bubble maps, character sheets, and lists of all kinds to help me stay consistent in the details.
Writing superheros is fun. Writing superheroic and menopausal women is even more fun. The characters continually re-inspire me. I keep writing because I want to know how it all comes for them. It’s a whole different ballgame when the superheroes have careers, families, history, entanglements, and responsibilities. Stories just pour out of these women. They’re the best imaginary friends a girl could have.
What are a few of your hobbies?
Between my day job (teaching middle school Spanish), my family, and writing, I don’t get as much time as I might like to pursue my hobbies, but I have a few. I love playing board games, reading, walking, baking, talking about random things, running with my dog, and watching old movies. I dabble in swordplay, and would like to get back for more classes in German longsword. I love road trips and travel and hope to sell enough books to spoil my family with some excellent journies
If you had your own food truck, what would it serve?
Cookies! A constantly changing variety, with an eight to ten minute wait for each order, so you could have your cookie so fresh from the oven that you have to bounce it in your hands so you don’t burn your fingers.
What do you want to get better at doing, writing-wise?
Time management. Especially since I balance my writing life with another full-time job, the more efficient and streamlined I can make my process, the more of my words will make it out into the world where others can read them. I want to be able to write faster without losing quality.
What TV series are you into right now and why?
I’m a dabbler. I watch a few episodes of something, then wander off to watch something else instead. It gets tricky because, if I’m watching with someone else, we both have to be available at the same time and I’m smack-dab in the middle of what my mother calls “the busy years” with two kids at home and two busy careers. I love Netflix because I can watch at my own pace. I don’t even have cable anymore.
I just finished the first season of Wynonna Earp and enjoyed it immensely. I’m watching Iron Fist with my eldest daughter, which is interesting because I haven’t finished Daredevil, Jessica Jones, or Luke Cage yet and those stories feed into each other. I’m excited that Jane the Virgin just released another season on Netflix. I’m still sad that I’ve watched all of Miss Fisher’s Mysteries because I want more. The husband and I have been watching Killjoys. I’m introducing the youngest to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
What movie do you quote the most?
The Bryant family lingo is an odd pastiche of old movies, television shows, and song lyrics. We swear by our pretty floral bonnets that you shall not pass because wherever you go there you are and baby, we were born this way.
What do you collect, even a little bit? Tell us about your favorite one.
Converse sneakers. I have some twenty-odd pairs, including my wedding shoes which were special ordered with “The Bride” embroidered on the side. My current favorite is to wear one of the Batman and Robin high tops on one foot and a Wonder Woman on the other. My newest is a pair of lowtops covered in colorful calaveras. The most comfortable are plain red, but I’m afraid to wash them again because they will just completely fall apart.
What’s your preferred genre of book when you just want to escape?
Gothic mystery. Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson. I love the high drama and spooky atmosphere. I just re-read Rebecca and it’s still so amazing.
What do you like to do on vacation?
Be outside some place beautiful. My day to day life is full of hundreds of people under fluorescent lights, and I have to be “on” all the time, so I’m looking for quiet and slow and contemplative when I’m on vacation. I want things to do, but in a slow explorative way, rather than a frenzied schedule way. No theme parks or dance clubs for me. I’m more the “climb the mountain and sit and stare at the view” girl, or the “walk the beach so long you have to take a taxi back to the hotel” sort. A perfect vacation day starts with coffee in a pleasant seat with a nice view and a quiet companion, and includes a lovely walk, some time to write and read, excellent food, and perhaps a movie or a game or a soak in a hot tub in the evening.
Is there another genre you’ve been itching to write in?
I have lots of stories waiting for their turn under my fingers, some in draft form, some just ideas beating around in my attic, along with the bats in my belfry. Things waiting in the wings right now include: a historical fiction trilogy, a middle grades magic story, a women’s issues fiction piece dealing with mental illness and infertility, a young adult post apocalyptic romance, and a side story for the Menopausal Superheroes, as well as the rest of that series. I also really enjoy reading steampunk and gothic mystery, so may eventually get to play in those playgrounds as well.
What unusual object do you like to bring with you if you leave the house?
A large colorful straw hat with a nice broad brim that will both embarrass my daughters and keep my nose sunburn free.
If you had a champion racing pigeon, what would you name it and what would its tagline be?
In the ludicrous and unlikely scenario in which I own a bird at all, let alone one that I race for sport, it would need a Roller Derby name, something both literary and violent like Lady MacDeath (That is a Dagger You See Before You!) or Pain Eyre (I am no bird!) or Sylvia Wrath (I eat men like air!). Because that’s how we roll.
Finally, give us one recommendation for something - movie, TV, game, food - that you enjoyed recently.
My husband and I are playing Pandemic Legacy with some friends right now and loving it. It’s tense, but still friendly because we’re working together to try to survive another round. Co-op, but still full of suspense and pressure. Each game builds into the next, starting you higher or lower depending on how it went, and letting you choose new skills and advantages, so it has that role-playing campaign feel, but with the easier logistics of a tabletop board game. I think our “year” will take us three years to actually play thanks to all our busy lives, but it’s a great game.
About Friend or Foe: A MenoPausal Superhero Short Story Collection
There’s always more to the story, hidden in the white space between chapters, in the time gaps between novels. There’s what came before and after, and meanwhile… when our attention was elsewhere. The other side of the story, including the part our heroines didn’t know. This collection peeks around those corners and explores the dark alleys of the Menopausal Superhero series.
Peer into the past to discover how Cindy Liu became a mad scientist. Follow the bus at the end of Book 1: Going Through the Change. Find out how Patricia “Lizard Woman” O’Neill spent her Christmas holidays. Flash forward for a hint of where the series may yet lead.
These aren’t your father’s superheroes. Whether you’re already a fan or are just meeting these characters for the first time, Friend or Foe explores what it means to be a hero at any age or stage of life.
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads
The next installment awaits...Author Spotlight Question and Answer: James Aquilone