Samantha Bennett’s New Release Book Interview!!!
Heather Ostalkiewicz – I’m so excited to be interviewing you today for the Threaded blog! Even though Crystal could not join us she is here in spirit and has contributed the questions. For all of our readers out there let me tell you why we’re doing this. Samantha Bennett has written a book, called Penumbra. It will be released December 18th in ebook and print formats on Amazon. You can learn more at Tributaries Press or like it on Facebook! Here is a sneak peak at the first chapter so be sure to check it out here! So, Sammie…let’s dive in. What is the book about?
Samantha Bennett – It’s a book about a slave girl, Norla, who wants to free her mother from slavery. And she quickly learns that the way to do this is a quest to find the infamous criminal, Penumbra…the word infamous is so fun…
H – How did you decide to write this book?
S – I went on a trip to Malawi, Africa with the lovely Heather Ostalkiewicz… I’m saying your last name right! And this trip just changed pretty much every thing for me. While I was over there I got to write about God’s thing for transformation, and I knew I wanted to keep doing that. So I came home and set aside all my old stories and basically I asked God to show himself however he wanted to in my writing. I had no idea how my story would accomplish that…I’m not a big outliner.
H – What’s the biggest challenge you faced while writing this book?
S – Doubt. Doubt if I’m the right person to write this story. Doubt if I got it right. Doubt if it will speak to other people like it spoke to me. Doubt in my abilities to reflect God via story.
H – So what was the best part of writing this story?
S – You guys…(Sammie tears up) I’m going to cry, the people who have come along side of me, invested hours into this story, it’s incredible.
H – Give us a glimpse into your process…
S – Pre-baby, writing the rough draft, creative process, would usually involve two to four hours of writing a day, about 5 days a week. I usually wrote at home, sometimes I’d write at Starbucks, mostly I was on my couch, laptop on my lap, staring out into the courtyard when I had no idea what the next sentence would be. Post-baby, writing happens typically during nap times, at night after she’s gone to bed, or when a lovely grandmother watches her, and I can go to Starbucks.
H – Can we talk about some characters without giving away the story?
S – I love my characters (Sammie grins big time)
H – So what do some of the characters mean to you and why?
S – I think every character in this story is struggling. And in that way I feel like they are a reflection of myself in my own life journey. So they’re really–it’s going to sound creepy, like I’m in the Lord of the Rings–but they are so precious to me. They’re like my children, because I know them so well. I know so much about their brokenness, fears, joys and dreams. It’s not flesh and blood relationships, but they feel very real.
H – Ok, without revealing too much I’d like to talk to you a little bit about your Jesus character. We don’t have to say who it is. Being one of many writers who have written Jesus characters, how do you feel yours is different?
S – I haven’t read a whole lot of other stories with overt Jesus characters, but Aslan [from the Narnia Chronicles] is brilliant. I will say that my Jesus character surprised me. He was much more human than I expected him to be.
H – So following up with that question, what does this story mean to you because of the Jesus character and the way he’s written?
S – It feels very personal. I wrote Norla as a character who is just super wounded, and I think a lot of us can feel like that, you know, through different seasons of our lives. And to write a character in need of so much healing, if you write a redemption story, you need to have an agent of healing. I didn’t want to write a story with any other agent of healing than Jesus, because I’ve found he’s the only way that works. To write any other story with a different source of healing would have felt contrived.
H – Did you feel like God’s hand was with you while writing Penumbra? If so, how?
S – I didn’t always “feel” like he was, but yes I do believe he was with me. I know he never leaves me. But there was still struggle, even though his presence is constant. He is an every present help in times of trouble, but sometimes it’s hard for me to stop and ask for help. I know now, looking back, that this whole thing was a gift, this whole story.
H – What’s your ultimate dream for this book?
S – A friend asked me before I started writing Penumbra, what I would want my reader to walk away with. And I told her that I would want my reader to know that they matter to God, and that he cares about them. That would still be my dream for Penumbra… and that it would sell a lot of copies!
H – Tell us something about yourself you’ve never said publicly if your up for it!
S – I rear-ended my husband, fiancé at the time, when I was skipping a college class so we could pick out wedding invitations. I’m pretty sure I was looking at my ring while I was driving!
H – What are you most thankful this holiday season?
S – For my wee one. Cliché mom answer. It’s true, though. She is going to be one year old a week from today, and she just started walking. She’s becoming this little person. I mean, she’s not a little baby anymore. It’s just crazy. I’m thankful to have her and to get to do Christmas with her. Last year we were all just zombies. We were sleep deprived. I’m glad to be rested and in a celebratory mood!
H – What are your favorite books and why?
S – I’ll keep the cliché answers going and say Narnia Chronicles.
H – (I get a big grin on my face) That’s not cliché but go on…
S – I mean it’s just magic, and the magic keeps going because Lewis brushes against stuff that is available to us.
H – Like what?
S – Like eternal adventures, just the idea of being a part of something that is epic, that that can be our story.
H – Other favorite books?
S – I love a good Elizabeth Peters mystery novel. I loved The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I mean that book really got to me. It’s written from the perspective of death, and it takes place during war. It’s so human. Also to be noted, Where the Red Fern Grows, read it in the second grade. I sobbed. My mom had to come to school because I was so upset. So I should probably add that one.
H – What does a perfect writing day look like for you?
S – ( Sammie laughs) I’m laughing because it seems almost like a contradiction, because writing is just hard. So when I think of the perfect writing day I think of something smooth and flawless but that has never been my experience with writing. There are some days that are smooth, but the tension is never far away. And I don’t know if I would take that away, because I have a love hate relationship with that tension. I like how I feel after the struggle. You know, it’s like a good work out.
H – What advice can you give to other aspiring writers and story tellers out there?
S – Ask for help. I think it’s our tendency as writers to try to do it alone. And yes the actual act of writing is a solitary one, but I have received so much help in the creation of Penumbra it’s crazy. God has obviously provided the lion’s share of help, but he has used other people so much, including the lovely interviewer, so I would say that writers need to reach out and get involved with a local writers group or critique partners. Try to get your work read by people who know what they’re doing. It’s really, really hard to
hear someone criticize your work, and that’s why chocolate is a must. But it is so important to improve as a writer.
H – Sammie, thanks so much for interviewing for Threaded! We can’t wait to read your book!