She did it!
She really did it!
My friend, Samantha Bennett, she really has published her first book!
Fascinating and Creative.
I love Penumbra!—-and I know you will too!
My friend is so much more than an extremely talented writer, but she is sooooo that! Here are just a few Q&A’s we did together to help you get to know her! If I can, please allow me to encourage you to check out her first chapter here and once you have been hooked, get read to order a book for yourself and a gift for a friend on December 18th on Amazon.
Soooo, grab your coffee and snuggle up for a little chit chat because here we go, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you, Samantha Bennett.
Jenna: Sammie, I am so thankful you have chased your dreams and have allowed your inward impression to become and outward expression. So I have to know, what inspired you to write your first book?
Sammie: Well, I took a creative writing class in college that sort of got the wheels turning. I loved the class, loved the process of writing stories, and I had this itch to write a novel. So I read a book by Stephen King called On Writing that really broke down the craft. He talked about writing a little bit each day, and I decided to try. A few months later I had the first draft to my first novel.
J: It’s amazing how many people are involved in the creative process, some we will never meet and some we do life with everyday! Penumbra is such an unusually beautiful word, how did you come up with the title?
S:I love this story! One of my best friends, Heather Ostalkiewicz, and I were at Starbucks, and she gave me a box with a bow on top. Inside the box was the word “Penumbra” written on a note card along with its definition, Latin roots, all that. She had just visited her parents in Maryland, and her dad had introduced her to the word. Since Heather knows I’m also a lover of words, she wanted to share this new word she’d learned. She could have kept it for herself, but she felt this nudge to give it to me. I’m so glad she did.
J: I’m so glad she did too! There was certainly a message wrapped up for you. This leaves me wondering is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
S: I cringe a little when it comes to combining a “message” with story. See, I’ve read some books where the author definitely wanted to teach me their message, and the story suffered as a result. Instead of letting the story speak, I felt like the author was speaking, and quite frankly, I was no longer in the story world. With that little disclaimer in place, I will say, yes, there is a message or theme to this story, and it would be that we matter to God.
J: Wow! I love that, and I couldn’t agree more. What each of us have to give is so important and it really does matter. Where does someone like you go to for inspiration? I guess another way to ask that question is what books have most influenced your life?
S: The book of psalms comes to mind. It’s so wild and free and just so emotive. For a long time, I thought that certain emotions were “bad.” But you go to the psalms and you find anger and sorrow, and also elation and relief. There is great suffering and great joy, and always this thread of hope. That’s beautiful.
J: Raw, vulnerable, and real written works of art can change us, the readers. What an awesome opportunity! I can imagine it would be difficult to begin learning about these techniques of the art of writing. If you had to choose, which author would you consider a mentor?
S: I’d have to say Francine Rivers. I love her Mark of the Lion series, Redeeming Love, and her two most recent novels that are a generational saga. First off, she just rocks at storytelling. Her plotting, her characters, they are all just superb. You don’t want to put her books down, because she knows how to tell amazing stories very well. Second off, she doesn’t shy away from hard things. She writes from such a human place with so much authenticity. Third off, she writes redemption well. It doesn’t feel fake or contrived when she writes it, and that’s a huge accomplishment.
J: I have to say, Sammie, I did not want to put Penumbra down. I was hooked and had to know what was going to happen! I am so thankful you created this work of art. So where did it all start? Do you recall how your interest in writing first originated?
S: Oh wow, in writing since I was teeny tiny. Last year I was looking through my box of childhood things that my mom has kept. And it was just so obvious that I was going to be a writer. There were so many stories in there—mysteries, adventure stories with our miniature schnauzers, just all different kinds of hand-made books. I lost track of that for many years, but a college writing class reminded me of my childhood ambitions.
J: Isn’t that amazing! The dreams of a child, with nothing in the way! There is something so pure and simple about that. However, as an adult there are less simple parts of accomplishing the dream. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
S: Finishing it! I didn’t outline with Penumbra, so I was learning alongside characters. And for a recovering control freak, that’s not easy. It’s horribly difficult! I had to trust God, trust the process, trust that I was writing toward a conceivable end. I only knew the next little bit. That’s all I ever knew. And that was the hardest part.
J: Wow! What an incredible journey. I am thankful you allowed the characters to organically become. There was nothing that felt forced in who they are, what they discover about themselves, and what choices they make. I’m sure there were other hard parts of this journey such as the challenges in bringing Penumbra, as a whole, to life.
S: Oh wow. There were a lot of challenges. Writing characters with emotional honesty was probably the biggest challenge for me. I had written a few earlier manuscripts, and I always received the same feedback—the characters lacked emotional depth. Which was so frustrating because I didn’t know how to fix it. Well, I learned that I couldn’t give my characters something that I didn’t have. I first had to learn about emotional health in my own life before I could translate it on the page. And I’m still learning!
J: I love how you allow yourself to be in process- it is something I am learning so much about! But now that this process is over, I have to know what’s your favorite part of the book?
S: I have two! I don’t want to give too much away, but the climax of the book is my absolute favorite. It was so thrilling and surprising to write, and I hope it will be as thrilling and surprising to read. I also love the relationship between Norla and Pallo. Their love story is such a core part of this book, and I learned a lot about myself and my marriage in the writing of it.
J: Sammie, I have to totally agree and say those were some of my very favorites also. Thank you so much for giving me your time and allowing me to preview this amazing story. I’m looking forward to the sequel (wink, wink, hint, hint….lol) For all of you, my hope would be you feel closer to Samantha and that you can’t wait to read Penumbra (like it here on Facebook!). I’m ordering my copy on the release day, December 18, 2012….make sure to get yours also! “See” you soon!