Our contact at Penguin/NAL asked us if we had any interest in interviewing NY Times Best Selling author Samantha Young, especially during the release of her latest novel Before Jamaica Lane. Well, duh, that is a no brainer as we have all been fans of Samantha’s writing since reading On Dublin Street. (Oh, that scene in Braden’s house with the wall cabinet!!!!) We even hosted an on-line fan chat with Samantha. So the ten of us got together and came up with these questions! Hope you enjoy.
If you could give advice to yourself as you started writing Before Jamaica Lane, what would recommend you do differently?
I’d have made an appointment with the very nice manager at the University of Edinburgh library sooner than I did! I had to make stuff up in the story before I met with him and got my facts correct on a working university library. I then had to go back and make the changes which were sometimes bigger than I’d anticipated them being. Some of the things I learned ended up being part of the story, so yes… being more organized when it came to the research.
Which of the male characters is your favorite? Which of the female characters is most like you?
Oh it’s too difficult to choose! I love them for different reasons. I have a special fondness for Joss and Braden because it all started with them, but I do love Nate and Olivia. Olivia is such a relatable heroine and I really understand her and think many women will feel the same way. And Nate… well, I love his sense of humor and in my opinion he equals Braden on the hotness scale.
Are these characters loosely based on anyone you know?
My characters always have something in them, whether personality or experience, that comes from a real place.
Are you ever overwhelmed by the success of this series?
Extremely! It’s still surreal. It’s absolutely wonderful that readers have connected with this cast of characters from the streets of Edinburgh.
Do you have a ritual that you perform after you finish a book?
I take a day off and do something absolutely relaxing, whether it’s doing nothing at all but reading, or spending money I shouldn’t be spending, or just hanging out with friends and family. A simple ritual but much needed after weeks spent in the writing cave.
When you start writing a book and then for whatever reason need to stop, do you find yourself missing the characters you are writing about or feel like you’ve put down a good book that you’ve been reading and need to get back to it right away?
Absolutely. No one has ever asked me that question but that is so on the mark. As a writer I immerse myself in the characters. I put myself in their shoes, which is why I always cry like a baby during emotional scenes. After spending so much time in someone else’s head, in someone else’s relationship, it’s hard not to spend the next couple of days wandering around in a fog.
I plan pretty thoroughly, so I usually don’t have major plot changes. However, when I was writing On Dublin Street certain scenes changed, and the ending changed because I got to know the characters better and decided that that’s not how they would react at all in that situation.
Should we expect more from Braden and Joss?
I love that readers care so much about them that they want more, but unfortunately I don’t have any plans to return to Braden and Joss’s story. Readers can always catch up with them in the continuing series as secondary characters, but the essence of their story has been told now in On Dublin Street and Castle Hill, and returning to them would be a case of piling unnecessary angst on them, and I don’t think I can put them through any more. I think they deserve they’re happily ever after
How long did it take you to write Before Jamaica Lane?
Before Jamaica Lane took me eight weeks to write to a final draft.
Did you stop in between books to start on others?
No. I wish I was the kind of author who could write books simultaneously, but my head needs to be in one manuscript at a time for me to feel like I’m giving myself fully to that novel.
Is writing your paranormal series a different process that writing contemporary romance? Which is the more difficult genre to write?
It’s different in that there is much more planning involved for world-building in paranormal. I actually think contemporary romance is the more difficult genre to write. With paranormal there are very few limitations upon your imagination and thus your scope for a story arc. However, with contemporary romance, it’s difficult to be truly original, and so the story relies heavily upon character development. I spend a lot of time getting to know my characters before I start writing romance.
I know many beginning authors attend workshops to improve the intimate scenes. What was it like writing your first intimate scene? Was it initially a difficult process, embarrassing, or did it naturally flow once you started writing. And what advice would you give to authors that have difficulty in this area?
I have to admit I was a little embarrassed when I began writing my first intimate scene. I kept looking over my shoulder like I was afraid of being caught doing something naughty, ha. But it was just because I was venturing into something new and once the first scene was written I got more and more comfortable with it. It should flow naturally from your characters and hopefully the build up to those moments. My advice to authors having difficulty in this area is to treat the intimate scenes as part of development of the relationship of the characters. Gratuitous sex scenes in contemporary romance can often derail the story. The scenes should punctuate important moments and changes in the characters’ relationship—their first time together, the moment when the intimacy between them isn’t just about sex, after they tell each other they love each other etc. Once the scenes have purpose the characters usually help take control of them and that should help a writer get past any difficulties they’re having.
What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2014?
To continue on my healthy living path I began at the end of 2013, to reach lots of new readers, to travel to new places, and to spend more time with friends and family.
Read Yesi’s 5-star review of Before Jamaica Lane
~ About Samantha ~
New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young is a 27 year old book addict who graduated from the University of Edinburgh. She lives in Scotland.