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Today I want to welcome friend and author Samantha Gentry. Samantha's stories aren't just hot but they strike an emotional chord with readers. So not only will you be turned on but you'll have a deep understanding of her characters.
Samantha, thank you for being here.
When did you decide to become an author?
My original intention was not to be a fiction writer, not to write novels. I had my sights set on photography as my goal, specifically travel, landscape, and nature photography. While trying to market my photographs, I quickly found that I had a much better chance of a sale to a magazine if I had an article attached to those photographs. After selling several articles with my photographs, I found I really enjoyed the writing process as much as doing the photography. From there, I turned my attention to writing a novel starting with researching the market. I made my first sale (the third manuscript I wrote) to Harlequin in 1990 for their Silhouette Desire line of contemporary romance (using a different pseudonym than Samantha Gentry).
Did you have to research forensic science or criminal psychology for your latest suspense?
I have what I consider a large collection of research books on crime, mystery, forensics, investigation…all the facets that make up a mystery/suspense story and I'm constantly adding new books. In addition to that, I watch a lot of forensics documentaries (the programs that give you facts about actual cases and the forensic science used to solve those cases). Of course, when writing anything dealing with forensics, especially DNA, you have constantly changing technology. Sometimes it's difficult to keep current between the time you do your research prior to and even during the writing of the manuscript and when the book becomes available to the public. This is especially true when dealing with a major New York print publisher as their lag time between contracting your manuscript and the book actually showing up on the shelves in book stores is much longer than the production process for ebooks. I am now having to live with that situation from one of my earlier print books. I researched the question of whether DNA could be extracted from saliva on a cigarette butt. In 1994 the answer to that was 'no' yet today DNA from a smoked cigarette is common. And I have a book out there, still available, that says it can't be done. Today's world of ever changing technology definitely keeps mystery/suspense/thriller writers on their toes and presents problems.
What tips would you give a new writer?
It can be summed up in two words—discipline and perseverance. Let's start with discipline. Since writing is most often done at home, it's very easy to become distracted by anything and everything. As I sit at my computer in my home office, I can see out the front window. Oh, look…there's the mailman across the street. He'll be at my house in a few minutes. I'd better get the mail out of the mailbox right away in case there's something important like maybe a check (rather than a bill). OR the dishwasher has finished its cycle so I'd better go put the dishes away because if they stay in the dishwasher for a few hours something terrible will happen. OR I need to go to the grocery store so I'd better make a shopping list while I'm thinking about it. OR tomorrow is trash pickup day so I'd better get it put out to the curb now so I don't forget to do it. You have to be able to ignore all those things scheming against you to rob you of your time. You need to be disciplined.
And perseverance is also necessary. It's very easy to become discouraged, especially after multiple rejections for your manuscript or a bad review for your first published book. John Grisham had 28 rejections (16 publishers and 12 agents) before he sold his first manuscript. Tom Clancy had 20 rejections for THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER before finally finding a publisher willing to take a chance on him. A bad review? It's one person's subjective opinion on one given day. Everyone gets them. Embrace the good reviews, ignore the bad ones, and move on.
Does working to a deadline inspire or annoy you?
The answer to that is…both! It annoys me in that I end up trying to force a creative effort into someone else's time frame. But it also helps me to stay disciplined because it gives me a schedule which is structure. I know that I need to write so many pages a day to stay on schedule and finish on time. If I'm on a good roll and write twice that many pages in a day, that gives me some breathing room if I run into a problem.
How do you deal with writer's block?
Writer's block? I'm not familiar with the term. Ah, if only that was true. :) How I deal with it depends on where/what/how I'm blocked. If it's the actual writing of a specific scene where I know what happens but am having difficulty pulling together the precise words, I'll skip down a couple of lines and type notes on what happens in that scene without trying to actually write it. Then when I get beyond the scene(s) where I'm having the problem, I'll pick back up with the writing of the manuscript. This allows me to continue with the linear progression of the story rather than jumping around. Once I've written the next scene or two, I can usually go back and replace those notes with the scene. However, if it's a problem with the story line and I find myself writing totally irrelevant stuff that does not move the story forward and actually brings the story flow to a grinding halt, then I move on to a different project and let the problem manuscript set for a while but continue to run it through my mind until I have the storyline problem resolved and can return to it. That could take a few hours or a few days, but eventually I get it worked out.
Now for a little fun.
If you were going to commit the perfect murder, how would you go about it?
Once I had explored all avenues and decided that murder was the only way to resolve my problem/the situation, the first thing I would do is devise an iron clad alibi, especially if I would automatically be one of the suspects. When writing a mystery, you have to decide on the ending (who dunnit and why) before you start writing so that your story moves in the proper direction and you can drop clues for the reader along the way. So, in real life I would need to construct my murder and leave no clues at all or false clues that led away from me. The first thing I'd need to do is have a solid alibi for the police to discover and verify. During commission on the crime, I'd need to be very aware of anything that could provide a forensic trail such as tire tracks or shoe prints in the dirt, organic material from a specific location on my clothes or car, make sure my hair and body is covered so I don't leave any individual hairs or skin cells. I would also need to avoid any kind of an electronic trail such as gps chip in car or cell phone, stopping any place that has surveillance cameras where I could be recorded, using a credit or debit card for anything, etc. Once I've been eliminated from their list of suspects, I need to be cautious about making the mistakes that real criminals do—the need to insert myself into the investigation so I can keep track of what the police are doing, providing too much helpful information in an attempt to explain things for them so they will look elsewhere. And the method of murder…a weapon readily available to everyone so that it can't be traced to only me.
Do you have any hobbies?
Definitely photography. At one time, I wanted to be a National Geographic type photographer…traveling interesting places to take photographs and write about it. That would allow me to incorporate my other favorite thing with my photography hobby—travel. Back in the olden days of film cameras, I had my own dark room. I also play bridge and like trivia games (been a Jeopardy fan forever).
What is your favorite time of year and why?
I think my favorite time of year is Spring. The deep freeze of winter is over and everything is fresh and new again. The shiny bright green leaves on the trees, new grass, all the brilliant colors of flowering trees, new flowers in gardens, and the colors of wildflowers covering large stretches of land. It's like a rebirth of energy.
If you could have three wishes granted, what would you wish for?
World peace, the end of hate, the end of intolerance.
Who's more fun, bad boys or perfect gentlemen?
Well, ideally it would be a combination of both. I think a bad boy, care free and spontaneous, would be more fun than the stiff, regimented perfect gentleman. But the perfect gentleman would probably be more responsible and considerate. So, the ideal man would be a combination.
You can find more about Samantha's book on her website
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Current release: EROTIC ENCOUNTERS ANTHOLOGY (Unexpected Encounter, Masked Encounter, http://www.amazon.com/Erotic-Encounters-Samantha-Gentry-ebook/dp/B00HSNU6F6/Steamy Encounter) available from The Wilder Roses Scarlet Rose line of erotic romance at The Wild Rose Press. The anthology is currently available for a 90 day exclusive at Amazon for Kindle ebook.
World Wide Release in both PRINT AND EBOOK on April 25, 2014, available at www.wilderroses.com and other online vendors.
Excerpts and reviews for the three novellas are available at www.samanthagentry.com
Recent releases: OPEN IN PRIVATE a Christmas erotic romance November 2013, and HIS MAGICK TOUCH a witch erotic romance September 2013, both from The Wilder Roses (Scarlet Rose line of erotic romance at The Wild Rose Press) www.wilderroses.com Excerpts available at www.samanthagentry.com
Coming soon from The Wilder Roses, ACCIDENTAL ENCOUNTER.