Today is an exciting day! We get to welcome a new author to the blog and also hear about her debut novel,Flirting With Fame! Welcome, Samantha Joyce!
Lexi: There’s nothing better than your first. First love, first kiss, and first book! And in Flirting With Fame your MC, Elsie, will get plenty of firsts herself. But she must face everything in silence. What was it like to write a deaf character?
Absolutely terrifying. I wanted so badly to get it right, and I wanted the book to be about her journey, not her deafness. There would be no diagnosis to start, and no miracle cure in the end. I called on the aid of my CP’s ex-roommate who is Deaf (and who kindly gave Elise her sign name), I visited Deaf forums, I studied up on ASL and lip-reading. I even wandered around my city with earplugs in to try and get an idea of how it felt to experience the world from that perspective. I think the most eye-opening moment was when a woman got very angry at me because I didn’t hear her asking me for something (I assume directions? I get that A LOT for some reason, even though I’m usually more lost than most). When I couldn’t answer her, she threw up her arms and walked away in a huff. That was when it dawned on me how we just assume a person can hear. That was a pivotal moment for me.
There were challenges when it came to the writing aspect, too. As a writer, it's ingrained in us to incorporate the five senses when we can, so the reader is fully immersed in the worlds we create. At times, I had to stop myself from unconsciously using hearing words or mentioning sounds. I had to be aware of it the entire process, from writing to editing.
Despite all my research and dedication to getting it right, I'm sure I've made mistakes, and I own that. No one is perfect. I just hope I've created a person in Elise that people can relate to and cheer for, no matter who they are or what challenges they face.
Lexi: Despite Elsie having some difficult moments, you gave her a fun voice. She also has a good friend, something I believe everyone needs. How do Elsie’s different relationships help her change throughout the book?
I think they all challenge her to leave her safety zone in different ways. Although Jin has tried to get her to come out of her shell on numerous occasions, she’s created this bubble around the two of them in her tiny home town, so she feels safe with him. But then he leaves for school and she goes off to her own college, she has no choice but to meet new people—especially people like Reggie and Clint, who don’t have the same boundaries or fears she does. They start to show her that the rejection she’s been afraid of forever has mostly been in her head.
Lexi: Elsie experiences a life changing journey in Flirting With Fame. And I am going to guess you have also experienced a life changing journey with it’s publication. What has the process been like for you?
Publishing is such a crazy industry! There’s a LOT of rejection, a lot of waiting, a lot of brushing yourself off and trying again. Flirting with Fame was the second book I queried to agents, and the first one to be published. It’s not an easy road by any means. You really need to believe in yourself and your story.
I wrote Flirting with Fame when I was coming to the end of a full year of querying my last book. I was almost ready to give up on writing. Then the idea of Flirting With Fame came into my head, and with it, Elise, Gavin, and the rest of the characters. I sat down to write it, and it came fast. I couldn’t stop writing. Even when I tried to sleep, a scene or a character would wake me up, and I’d grab my phone and jot notes down in it (though, at 2am, some of those notes were kind of nonsensical in the morning). I finished the first draft within about six weeks. My critique partners and I polished it up, and I sent it off to agents. Kathleen (my agent), requested the full manuscript the same day I queried her. Two weeks later, she offered. And about six months after that, I had a book deal. After a year of nothing but rejections and waiting for replies, once this process started, it went really quickly. Like I said, it’s a crazy industry!
Lexi: What do you have in the works or plan to do next? Will you stay in the NA/YA genre?
I just finished drafting book two in this series. It’s a bit more adult and is sort of a companion to Flirting with Fame that will show readers Veronica (the villain from book one) in a bit of a different light. I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to tell you more!
I’m also currently revising a YA I love, but can’t say too much about yet. Though, I will say it has a touch of magic. ;)
I love the YA and NA genres, so I can see myself settling there for a while, but you really never know what inspiration will hit, so I won’t say that is where I’ll always stay. Who knows?
Lexi: We will toast to your debut! Congrats and thank you so much for stopping by the blog today. We wish you success and hope to see much more of you!
Thanks so much for having me! This was fun!