Q&A with Samantha Young

September, 2016
Samantha Young If characters in a Samantha Young novel can move beyond their troublesome, lovelorn pasts, then there's hope for the rest of us. In fact, we probably couldn't go wrong by following in their footsteps. Take Jocelyn Butler in On Dublin Street, Young's first contemporary romance: To get her fresh start, Jocelyn simply left the United States, moved to Edinburgh, and threw herself into a steamy fling-turned-relationship with a Scotsman. Doesn't sound so bad, right? Then there's Alexa's solution in the Boston-set romance Hero: She found someone else who shared her pain, and they worked through their issues together. (The fact that her "someone else" was very attractive was just a sexy burden Alexa had to bear.) Young continues her trend of sweet, sultry, pick-me-up love stories in The One Real Thing, the first book in a brand-new series. Here Jessica Huntington helps inmates at a women's correctional facility conquer their inner demons…while she attempts to suppress her own. When a set of prison love letters takes her to the boardwalk town of Hartwell—and to the doorstep of divorced bar owner Cooper—she's forced to confront the past she despises and the future she desires.

Young answers your questions about what makes an irresistible love interest, why her next romance might be set in Hawaii (for those "research trips," of course!), and how one reader influenced her writing career.


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Melanie: So excited to have the opportunity to ask you a question! Your characters have an INTENSE amount of physical and mental attraction. What life experience do you use to make your characters feel so alive?

Samantha Young: I try to use as much of my own life experience as possible and, with permission, the experiences of those close to me. We've all suffered love, loss, and the contrasting intensity of those emotions. I put all those feelings on the page. And when I'm dealing with a situation that I'm not personally familiar with, I think of my character as a friend. I think about who they are, how their past and present have shaped them, and how they would react. And then I feel it as deeply as I possibly can so that what I'm describing is as real as it can be. I haven't written a manuscript yet that I didn't bawl like a baby or squirm with giddiness writing.

Sophie: The One Real Thing has so many layers to it—so many characters and stories within stories, all beautifully crafted…. Where do you even begin?! Do you have the story lines all set from the beginning, or do some of them come to you as you're writing? In my head I imagine a huge storyboard with branches peeling off everywhere!

SY: Thanks so much for your kind words. As for the storyboard…you're not wrong! There are definitely layers to the Hart's Boardwalk series, especially The One Real Thing, because it is the introduction to the series and the characters. When I'm dealing with so many main characters, minor characters, plots, and subplots, I definitely need to organize my thoughts. I started with my characters. I printed character profiles (including pictures of actors as a muse) with their name, date of birth, place of birth, history, and character quirks. Once I had all the characters down, I built the boardwalk using maps and photos of boardwalks on the East Coast as inspiration. From there I worked on plot, figuring out how everyone's stories intertwined. And yes, it did look like a family tree by the time I was done! The storyboard is incredibly helpful, but it acts as a guide. Some plots and character profiles change as I write.

Kerry: Did you always want to be a writer?

SY: Yes, from the age of seven. My parents gave me The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis to read, and I was a goner from that moment. I wanted to experience that incredible feeling of magic over and over again, and so I began writing my own stories. They were always short stories. I didn't complete my first full-length novel until I was 23.

Brandi: How has your life changed—or stayed the same—since achieving such success with your amazing books?

SY: My life has changed significantly. Before I had success with my books, I was a very typical graduate who couldn't find a job in my area of education. I worked part-time at a job I didn't love until they let me go due to budget cuts. It was a very difficult time for me. So yes, massive changes. I went from being a debt-riddled graduate to making a comfortable living doing something I love. I get to interact with people who enjoy what I write, and I get to travel while I'm doing it.

That's how my life has changed. But it's stayed the same—in that I'm still surrounded by my incredibly supportive friends and family, who never miss an opportunity to tell me how proud they are. They keep me grounded in reality, and I never forget to be appreciative of the fact that I get to do something I love so much.

Lucy: What are the top three things an irresistible love interest should always have?

SY: Hmm. Top three….

1. A sense of humor—whether cocky or otherwise. (Cocky is always fun.)
2. He shouldn't be an over-the-top alpha, but he should definitely have the edge of an alpha within.
3. Devotion. He should feel passionately devoted to his heroine. There's nothing worse than getting the feeling that the hero doesn't love the heroine quite as much as she loves him.

Ramona: I adore your books. I feel like they're an example of what love is supposed to be in real life. Who are the authors who inspired you to become a writer?

SY: Thank you so much! I started out publishing young adult paranormal books, so the authors who inspired me to start publishing are mostly in that genre—or dystopian: C.S. Lewis, Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine, Amanda Hocking, Suzanne Collins, and Patrick Ness. It was actually one of my paranormal readers who inspired me to start writing contemporary romance. She told me she loved the romance subplots in my books so much that she'd love to see me try my hand at contemporary. And I aim to please!

Sybil: If you could bring any of your characters to life, who would it be—and why?

SY: I fall in love with all my characters, and right now I'm head over heels for Cooper Lawson from The One Real Thing. He's strong, he's sexy, and he's mature, but he has this cheeky, adventurous side to him. Mmm. Yes. Let's bring him to life, please!


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Duzz: You wrote about Boston in Hero, Edinburgh in the On Dublin Street series…. What other places are you dying to write about?

SY: If I set my book somewhere nonfictional, then I like to know it pretty well. I lived in Edinburgh, so that one was easy, but I had to visit Boston (which I have a few times) to research the city for Hero. I love Europe, so it would be great to write an epic road trip story through mainland Europe. I'd also love to write a book set in the Scottish Highlands. Oh, and Hawaii! It would be nice to go to Hawaii for book research. ;)

Maria: What's a "normal" day like for you? I'm really curious!

SY: The most surprising thing I've learned is that I'm a writer. I must have published at least ten books before I accepted that about myself. Some days, I still don't believe it. I'm so fortunate that what I know how to write is what readers want to read.

Joely: Who's your book boyfriend (aka the fictional character you wish you could date)?

SY: Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning's Fever series. He's the scariest badass around, but he just does it for me!


Do you have a question for Samantha Young? She's taking your questions on Ask the Author! Ask her whatever you want here.

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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