Thursday, 23 April 2015

Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel by Samantha Bryant

Samantha Bryant believes in love, magic, and inexplicable connections between people. Her favorite things are lonely beaches, untamed cliff tops, sunlight through the leaves of trees, summer rains, and children’s laughter. She has lived in many places, including rural Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Vermont, England and Spain. She is fierce at heart, though she doesn’t look it.

She’s a fan of Charlotte Brontë, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Neil Gaiman, Nicole Perlman, and Joss Whedon, among many others. She would like to be Amy Tan when she grows up, but so far it doesn’t look like she’ll be growing up any time soon.

Samantha writes blogs, poems, essays, and novels. Mostly she writes about things that scare or worry her. It’s cheaper than therapy. Someday, she hopes to make her living solely as a writer. In the meantime, she also teaches middle school Spanish, which, admittedly, is an odd choice for money-earning, especially in North Carolina.
When she’s not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys time with her family, watching old movies, baking, reading, and going places. Her favorite gift is tickets (to just about anything).

Connect with Samantha

About the book

Going through "the change" isn't easy on any woman. Mood swings, hot flashes, hormonal imbalances, and itchy skin are par for the course. But for these four seemingly unrelated women, menopause brought changes none of them had ever anticipated--super-heroic changes.

Helen discovers a spark within that reignites her fire. Jessica finds that her mood is lighter, and so is her body.  Patricia always had a tough hide, but now even bullets bounce off her. Linda doesn't have trouble opening the pickle jar anymore…now that she's a man.

When events throw the women together, they find out that they have more in common than they knew--one person has touched all their lives. The hunt for answers is on.

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An Interview with Samantha

When did you first consider yourself an author?

Signing the book contract made that real to me, but I think I took myself seriously when I finished the first novel I ever wrote (unpublished as of yet: His Other Mother).

What are your goals as an author? Where do you see yourself in five years?

I'd really love to be making my living solely as an author. To that end, I'm working on a wide range of projects. In five years, I hope to be sitting right here, behind my computer, 

working on the next book. I hope that, by then, the five books I already have in progress will be published and I'll be working on my newest idea.

What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?

Time. I have a day job, a husband, two kids, and a dog. Finding time to write, edit, and promote my work is my current largest obstacle. I'm fortunate in that my husband supports me in my writing endeavors or else it wouldn't be possible in our busy lives. I have had to learn to be just a little more selfish with my time and insist on daily time for my words. I'm reasonable about how much time I take and when I take it, but I don't let a day go by without writing.

Does your family support you in your writing, or are you on your own?

My family is solidly in my corner on this one. My husband has been my sounding board, a protector of my writing time, and my tech support. My daughters have been my inspiration (both in terms of story ideas and motivation to get it done). My older daughter even took my author picture!

What do you enjoy to do aside from writing?

I'm an old movie buff. My idea of a perfect date night is to take my husband to the Carolina Theatre in Durham to see something from Retrofantasma or one of their other retro series.

What genres do you write?

I write speculative and women's fiction, both with a feminist bent. I also blog, write articles for GeekDad, and even still write poetry sometimes.

Is there a genre that you've been wanting to experiment with? If so, what is it and what attracts you to it?

I'd like to get back to fairy tales sometime. Fairy tales speak to me at a deep level, and I love the paths my mind wanders inside their parameters. I have a few poems that explore fairy tale themes, and a short story that will come out in an anthology soon, but I'd like to find the right story to play with to try this on a novel-length project.

What is your writing process?

I'm a discovery writer. I usually start with just a little spark or kernel--a character, a moment, a scene, a bit of dialogue. I sit down with it and start writing, just seeing where the story takes me. When I've got a goodly chunk, I map out what I've got so far (I LOVE a good visual organizer) and try to make guesses about where it's going to go. I share some of the work while I'm writing it with my critique group--they help me find big flaws or logical problems while the project is still small and fixing them doesn't seem so overwhelming.

Once I've got a first draft, I map it out again, looking for holes, problems, and weaknesses. Then, I set to work patching it up. It's a looping process where I work on different elements one at a time, then smooth out the whole thing. When I've got a good second draft (which might really be a third or fourth draft, depending on how you're counting), I seek beta readers, then rewrite yet again. Then, it's time to find a home for the words.

I also really enjoy nature walks. I'm not quite rugged enough to call it hiking. It's more of a casual stroll through the woods or along a river.

I like to cook Indian food. I'm working my way through a cookbook called 660 curries. It's going to take a while.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I'm getting faster! It took me four years to get a complete first draft of the first novel I ever completed. It took one year to get a complete first draft of Going Through the Change. It took eight months to get that far on Change of Life (the sequel). I even finished a full draft of a middle grades novel for NaNoWriMo last year, so that one was finished in a month! Of course, the process from getting from first draft to truly finished and ready for publication is the tricky part, and the length has really varied from project to project.

How do you come up with the titles for your books? Do you find it difficult?

It's been harder for some books than others. Ideally, the title rises up organically from the piece itself, but sometimes that doesn't happen until you're practically finished with it. Titles are so important! They need to give your reader a clue about what the book is about and build curiosity. My favorite titles are the ones that you, as the reader, don't fully understand until after you read the book.

Do you ever base your characters on people you know?

Yes and No. I steal "pieces" of real people--the way someone looks, a verbal pattern, something someone said. But I've never based the whole of a character on a real person. Often, I don't even recognize the echo of my real life in my fictional world until after the fact.

Have you ever gotten an idea for a story from something really bizarre? Tell us about it.

You're asking this of the woman who wrote about menopausal superheroes. Arguably all my ideas are bizarre! The strangest one I've been turning over in my head here lately is a story about what happens to the Frankenstein monster after he runs off into the Arctic. My working title is "Adam Frankenstein in Savoonga." I'd love to write it, but I'll need some research time. Though I've lived in rural Alaska, that was in the 1990s, not the 1820s. Times have changed a bit.

What are you working on now?

The sequel! I've just gotten back beta reader comments on Change of Life, the sequel to Going Through the Change and hope to have the next rewrite complete by the end of the month.

What was the hardest part about writing Going Through the Change?

Writing a sequel is a special challenge. I've struggled with balancing filling in backstory to remind readers of book one or help readers who didn't read book one. I've had to keep going back to book one to remind myself what I said. It's the little details that didn't seem important at the time that trip me up: how many grandchildren someone has, what year they moved to the city, her favorite food. I've learned the importance of keeping detailed character notes! 

Have you ever had a particularly harsh critique? How did you handle it?

My writing critique group doesn't pull any punches. I've definitely toughened my rhino hide in my years working with them. When the critique is especially rough, I tend to shelve things for a little while, waiting for things to feel less raw and emotional before I undertake sorting through the suggestions to find the truth of what it will take to make the story fly. Usually, they're right about the problems, even if they're wrong about how to fix them. The hard part can be facing that, especially when it means the next draft needs more work than you had hoped.


  1. Thanks so much for the interview! I'm so excited about launch day today!

    1. You're very welcome! Hope it's been going well! :-D Let me know when you'd like to do your next spotlight!


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