Today we’re joined by Sam. Sam is an amazingly talented up and coming author who has some truly fantastic stories in the works. She has an incredible enthusiasm and curiosity, both signs of a great writer. Sam has recently started identifying as ace, but has been writing for quite some time. She has had stories published in a literary college journal and online. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I am an author and all of my novels focus on four themes: how history is defined, identity, choice, and how victory can sometimes be a defeat. I am a huge history nerd and it’s always fascinated me that history actually changes the farther you are in from the historical event and that your understanding of that event is determined by your source of information. Obviously, if you’re reading about Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland, you’re going to get a very different perspective if you learn about the invasion from a Polish historian as oppose to learning about it from a German historian. But it also depends on when the source was published. A book published in 2015 is going to have a very different opinion than a book published in 1950.
And this connects to the topic of identity. A lot of my work tries to explore identity-whether that be racial, sexual, national, whatever-and it’s deep connection to one’s own society and history. Can one have an identity without a history or cultural reference? How much of one’s identity is an internal mechanism and how much of it is an external mechanism.
I feel that choice is a pretty popular theme for a lot of writers, and I approach choice as if it followed Newton’s third law motion: for every action there is a reaction. I like to study choice as being something that will have the consequences you intend and are prepared for and unknown consequences that you weren’t prepared for or even intended as well as consequences you won’t ever know about either because they occurred in a location you didn’t know existed or because it took decades for it to have the full effect. And I like putting choice up against fate, although I add my own Heisenburgian twist to that relationship, haha.
The idea that victory can sometimes be a defeat was a very popular motif during the World Wars and it’s something that has always fascinated me. What do you do when you’re in a situation where they are no good options, where only half of the world is going to benefit and the other half won’t? And how do you deal with that decision on a spiritual/intellectual/moral level?
Right now I am working on four major projects.
The first project is the Nothing but Glory series and it is a fifteen book socio-political fantasy. It takes place after the Second Shadow War and is about Alexander Phillips, a veteran, who can’t let the war go. After interviewing the surviving participants, Alex publishes a fifteen book series that follows thirteen leaders as they rise to power, how they handle a world war that is catastrophic in scope, and watches as some are overtaken by their sins and some rise to lead a stronger, but dying world into an uncertain future. I’ve finished the first book of this series and hope to have it published soon.
My second project is a sci-fi trilogy about the coming Singularity and how that is going to affect human development and identity. I’m currently writing the first book, Heroes which is about an off world colony where there is no history, no death, no war, no disease, and no crime. It is a perfect world as long as the citizens don’t mind following the rules and being observed by the four Guardians at all times. There is a small movement known as the Time Keepers who are desperately fighting to preserve their history and bring freedom back-even at the cost of peace and prosperity.
My third project is called Stairway to Heaven and it is about Greg Zook, a drug addicted billionaire who can turn into an anteater. His parents were superheroes during the Golden Age of superheroes, but, unfortunately, the apple has fallen very far from the tree. After receiving 300 community service hours for reckless driving, Greg decides to open a boarding school for other ‘gifted’ youngsters and quickly regrets it.
And my final project is currently called the Undesirables. It is about a world where Heaven, Earth, and Hell have merged into one and are under threat from an ancient Lovecraftian like evil. The angel’s solution is to create a team of the damned and despised to go where angels cannot and demons won’t dare in order to defeat this great evil. If they succeed, they’ll be guaranteed salvation.
What inspires you?
Well, I think it’s kind of obvious, but my biggest inspiration is history. My favorite period of history is the Victorian Era and the 20th century It’s really fascinating to read about the Victorian Era and see all this hope for the future, but underneath that hope there is also this anxiety about where they were going and what it meant to be human. A lot of fears we have nowadays such as immigration, globalization (which it can be argued is a modern form of colonization), identity, machine vs man, and total destruction of all life on the planet were things that were being discussed during the Victorian Era as well as the 20th century. I also find the American Civil War and World War I to be the most fascinating wars in human history. I think they’re fascinating, not only in the terms of the destruction they inflicted, but because of the ideological, political, moral, and social elements that were in the balance.
Another major source of inspiration are the old science fiction writers such as Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Philip K. Dick. I am definitely more of a sci-fi/speculative writer than a fantasy writer, although I play with both genres, and that’s because of those men. Reading their books really teaches the mind how to look at things and ask not only why, but why not, which I think is very important for writers. When their characters make decisions, I think why they don’t do a certain thing is just as important as why they did a certain thing and those kind of questions can lead in interesting directions. And they also taught their readers how to look at their society, their government, and their technology as something that could be used for good, but also how they could be used for evil. They were not very trusting guys, haha, and they were very good at subverting expectations.
And finally, music is a huge inspiration for me, particularly music by David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Flogging Molly, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty. I’ve created whole books simply by listening to a David Bowie album, haha.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I don’t think there’s a specific moment when I thought to myself, I want to be a writer. Writing for me is as vital as breathing. However, I think it’s only recently that I’ve really come to believe that my stories could actually be turned into novels and maybe, just maybe, I might make some money off of them, haha.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
Well my favorite symbol to throw into almost all of my novels is the white tulip and you can guarantee that at least 90% of my character’s names are historical references in some shape or form.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Damn the torpedoes, haha. If you have an idea, go for it. It doesn’t matter how crazy or big or insane it may seem, if you believe in it, fight for it. Don’t let anyone tell you it won’t work or you’ll never be able to sell it, because that’s simply not true. Also, realize that creating art is a long, miserable, lonely process with no guarantee of any lasting success, but at the end of the day you’re going to come the closest you can to having a piece of your soul in your hands. So don’t listen to the doubters, especially if it’s that small voice in the back of your head, and keep creating.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I am asexual and aromantic.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I’ve occasionally encountered disbelief. For some reason, people find it hard to imagine that being ace is a real thing. The best way to handle it, is to just explain that yes, it’s a real thing and no it doesn’t mean you need mental help or that you’re in denial about your own feelings, but also realizing that at the end of the day, they don’t have to get it.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The two misconceptions I run into the most are a. you are doomed to a long, lonely, and miserable existence and b. something is broken inside of you or you must have suffered some extreme, sexual trauma when you were a kid to be ace. Neither of which are true.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
First, I would say that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you and that you’re not broken or a freak. I know it can be hard, especially when people don’t realize or don’t believe in being ace, and they try to press you into being like them, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you.
Second, having the occasional sexual/romantic thought/desire doesn’t negate your identity. Occasionally I will look at a guy and think damn. Doesn’t mean I’m not ace, just means there is something I find appealing about the guy. Usually it ends there with me and then I look at the guy again and ask myself what I was thinking. But even, if it doesn’t end there for you, it doesn’t negate your identity. It just makes it richer.
Third, you don’t owe your identity or an explanation to anyone. You only tell people when you’re ready and when you want to and if they don’t get it, you don’t have to explain it. And if they get upset, that’s not your problem. Your orientation belongs to you and you alone and you get to deal with it the way you think is best, not the way your friend, father, or boyfriend/girlfriend thinks is best.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Thank you, Sam, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.