Hope you enjoyed the Part 1 of my Interview with Sam, and it has hopefully inspired you somewhere to do something. It’s only when we humanize things – the impossible meets the possible.
Pragati: What was your entire journey of writing this book? Share with the readers your joys and disappointments.
Sam: It first started out in 2015 with a big major story from Nele’s group, how she was nearly taken away for good – a story with an international plot, parallel timelines coming together and splitting again. I already tried to form an overall plot and some character details, but I struggled very much with major gaps in the story and also in transmitting emotions. It was quite complicated, to begin with.
While building Nele’s character, I recognized that I needed to write a book on how her journey began. After meeting my editor, the real journey began. I tried to write a “good” book, went chapter by chapter and this slowed me down. I started getting frustrated. I am blessed since I don’t suffer from writer’s block, but I do jump around between chapters to optimize.
While Ayden’s story is very powerful, it is very simple and fast – hence, this book became my try out book. This was the book where I was going to experiment with my process and learn everything that there is. So I put together the plot, structure, character details and fought through writing the first draft within three weeks (not counting preparation). After that came to the editing process which was important but frustrating at the same time. My editor and I would have a number of discussions and arguments around what parts to keep and what to omit. Then came the beta testing phase, where a group of people read parts of my book and gave me feedback. I struggled with feedback, I struggled with inefficiencies. And after we finally finished everything and edited it, we went into final proofreading.
Oh and I totally forgot to mention that we had an amazing illustrator from Sweden. She did a great job and I really wished to get more images done for the book. But the book wasn’t for sale yet, so I went into learning a lot about self-publishing. Something which sounds very easy, but once you go into the details – it tends to get tricky. It wasn’t very hard for me to form a publishing company (since I have been founding start-ups in Switzerland for a while now).
We published the book and started with the whole marketing, a totally different story, which is even harder than writing a book. (laughs) But hey it’s about the journey, isn’t it?
Pragati: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
Sam: I had some insightful conversation with my beta readers from all over the world. One that impressed me very much was an experienced editor from the US. She wished to get more detail on the violent parts of the book – which made sense as the first version of the book has been sugar coated. But on the other hand, she was very unhappy with Nele having a weakness for Tina. “So it’s totally OK to display domestic violence but it’s a huge problem to show two women kissing each other.” (laughs) On the other hand, I spoke to some Americans about the police situation and how desperate the situation gets in some areas. For sure what I enjoyed most was learning more about Nele’s group and friends. It’s pretty hard to get in contact with anyone of them, but whenever I could manage, it was a revelation. Like talking to people from another world.
Pragati: What is your advice to writers?
Well, don’t try to be a writer (smiles), think of yourself more like a story teller.
- Being a good writer is very, very hard, and there are too many requirements to that, but forming a story and fighting to bring it into a book is doable.
- Writing a good book is extremely hard. Making your first book a good book is nearly impossible. So just write a book and know to yourself, that the next one will be better.
- Get help as early as possible – I went on to Upwork, looked for a junior editor, who could give me feedback. (Yes, feedback can be painful, but finishing a book will always be an emotional and painful journey.)
- Get beta readers early on – I used Upwork for this as well, pay a diverse group of about 10 people to read your book (trust me, it’s not expensive) and ask for structured feedback. (Getting feedback from many people, gives you great insights into what is working and what is not.)
I think most people who want to be good writers are looking up to their idols like Stephen King, a real master of his field. They try to imitate what they think great writers do. And then reality kicks in and frustrates them to the point that they stop.
Furthermore, most want to make their first book a bestseller, as it is so much work to write a book, so the first one has to be great. And if the first one is great they would be motivated to go on otherwise they know they are not good writers and stop. But that’s not a good idea – I try to think of it in a way where I want to write many books and the current one is just one little step in the entirety. And to be honest, I’m at the very first baby steps of becoming a writer – sure I published the first book and founded a Swiss publishing company, but that’s still far away from anything else.
And oh yes, it’s a hobby that costs money and doesn’t bring any money. I do all kinds of marketing and I have a good overview of all the channels, but I think it needs 2-3 books and maybe 2-3 years to get any foot in the door (money wise).
Pragati: Tell our reader’s a little bit of what you love doing, how you relax, your hobbies and your passions apart than writing.
Sam: The most important thing in my life is my wife – she is absolutely amazing and a blessing for every day I’m allowed to wander this rock floating in space. Besides that, we both love to skydive, fly around in the sky as well as wind tunnels. Business and coming up with new ideas is also a passion and a hobby for me, I don’t like to think of it as work, I like to think of it as a possibility to build something.
But to be honest, I also spend some time just procrastinating and not being very productive (laughs)… So there are several hours every week where I have no idea what I did.
Pragati: What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
Sam: I’m getting back to focussing more of my time on business. Something I really like, but something that will cut into my writing time. At the moment, I’m working on finishing “Jane’s Deception”, the next book of Nele’s Fellowship. And I have two more books in the making. The book of Nele’s youth, where she was dragged around the globe by her mother, who was a failed actress. But for sure Jane’s story is the most important one at the moment.
It was an absolute pleasure doing the interview. Sam was extremely patient and is passionate about all the things he does (not just writing).
“You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.” -Dorris Lessing
We hope you enjoyed these special posts in our entertainment section and this special coverage which had a lot of tips for writers.