Guest writers series: an interview with Sam Schenk

I have another author from the Witchy Fiction project stopping by today. First time author Sam!

Hi Sam, and welcome. Please tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a professional woman in STEM, the other parent of an autistic gayby, and an observer of human behaviour.  I’m a bisexual Xennial.  I watch/read sci-fi and fantasy (and spend a lot of time on Twitch), play video games, scuba dive, and write as a means to relax.

If you were to have a personal familiar, what animal would it be?  

This has changed a lot over the course of my life, if you would have asked 10 years + ago, I would have said a dog or a horse, but these days, it’s probably something small and easy to take care of – like a hummingbird.  That’d be cute and useful!

Where in the world do you live, and what do you like most about it? 

I live in beautiful Wellington, New Zealand.  There are a lot of things that are amazing about this city, not the least that it’s liberal and transport accessible.  If I’m honest, my favourite thing is the lack of humidity – because it all gets blown out to sea.

Self-care is very important for writers, tell us how you look after yourself?

I spend a lot of time on twitch and playing video games as escapism, but I find writing relaxing too.  It’s more recognising when I need some time to myself and taking it.  That’s not always easy with Ms. 5 around, but I try to make it work.

What kind of music do you like to listen to? 

I’ve got an obsession with Bass YouTube at the moment – particularly Charles Berthoud.  Check him out, he’s amazing.  I prefer orchestral/instrumental game music or jazz without words most of the time.

What genres do you like to read in?

 My core genres are dystopian fiction and transhumanism, but I like anything with a speculative angle.  I do a lot of beta reading through facebook groups and I’m not selective with what I read there.  I like to think of it as a broadening experience.  I can read anything as long as it makes me think.

What are you reading right now?

Currently ARC reading The Key to All Things.  Early days, but I like the premise.  I’m also going through and rereading Overdues and Occultism, it’s the first soft copy of the Witchy Fiction collab that I’ve been able to acquire.  I love my signed copy ❤

What’s a book that you have on your shelf which you’re particularly fond of?

I have Gulliver’s Travels.  I know, it’s old, but it’s still one of my favourite books.  The copy that I have I got on my OE trip to Italy, it’s nothing special, but I have some really nice memories of that trip, when I was obsessed with classics and looking forward to visiting Villa Adriana.

What book do you love to recommend to people? 

Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Mariller.  It’s the only book that I’ve not been able to put down…three times.  She just writes the forest so well – she has a real connection to a type of setting in a way that I wish I had.  Before I moved to NZ, I picked up a hardback copy of her book.  When I realised she was a Kiwi, I was really hoping that I could meet her.  Sadly, I missed my chance at CoNZealand.  I hope there will be another one.

Can you name some formative books for your own writing?

In terms of writing style, I can’t point to any particular piece.  I’ve always loved older characters, and for that I blame tv shows more than books, like STNG and Highlander: the Series.  I always wondered what was going on with the older characters outside even the young adult series I read, and I wrote quite a bit of fanfiction to that effect.

How do you organise your personal library?

I’m mostly digital these days – search engines are my friends.  Most of my physical books I recognise by sight.

Creative writing as a teenager, did you do it?

Definitely.  I started my long term work in progress as a teenager.  Originally, my main character was based on Xena, Warrior Princess, but she’s very much her own person these days.  I still hope to publish it one day.  I did a lot of writing while I was a checkout chick, fanfiction mostly.  I remember a short piece that I wrote around the Go board game which I quite liked.  I have a big bag of receipt paper from those days that I rummage through every so often.

What do you do/where do you go for inspiration? 

Diving is a great inspiration for me.  You really can’t be absent or thinking about work when you’re under the water.  Without a clear aural sense, the world is really different, but for me it doesn’t cause panic.  You move with the current. It makes me feel at peace with the world.  I like to try and find beauty in unusual places, like a plant growing out of a crack in the sidewalk.

Do you have any writerly superstitions? 
I save most of my superstition for dice/cards.

If you had infinite time, opportunity and resources, what’s your absolute dream writing project? 

I would love to do a travel blog – spend months integrating with a different culture and write down my observations, then turn those learnings into a speculative piece.

Any advice for anyone who’s struggling with their own writing? 

Be gentle with yourself.  Struggling with writing rarely causes a good result.  If you need time, give yourself time.  My own journey was to incorporate writing into my occupation, even though it isn’t creative writing.  That has given me the space to rediscover the themes that I want to write about, and given me the freedom to fail.

Do you prefer quiet, ambient sound or music while you write? 

Ambient music for sure.  Something that doesn’t have words, or isn’t recognisable to me (eg music from a game I’ve played, or music in a language I don’t know).  I love running bass with interesting alto or tenor riffs.  Lyrics/Treble are the last part of music that I hear, which is unusual for a writer I suppose.  I was a cellist in high school, and still have my instrument.  I’d love to get back to it at some point.

And now, onto your favourites: 

Hogwarts, Narnia, Neverland or Westeros? 

To live in, or read? Read, Westeros. I’ve never read the original Peter Pan. With Ms. 5 getting into reading, I may soon get an opportunity!

If you were stuck on a desert island with one book, one music album and one podcast, what would they be? 

One book – it would probably be some sort of an encyclopedia of useful things for surviving the wilderness. One music album – orchestral final fantasy 7 most likely.
One podcast – hm. It would probably be a go podcast, maybe by BattsGo because he has so much varied content. Guaranteed I will have made myself a go board within a few months to kill time.

What’s your favourite song to sing at Karaoke? 

Kiss from a Rose, Seal.

Favourite song to sing in the shower when no one else is home?
 I don’t really do that – but it would probably be something from a musical – like Oliver or Les Mis.

Pokemon: if you were a trainer, what pokemon would be in your team?

 I’m not much of a pokemon player – and what I do know is very old school.  Probably Gyrados, Onyx, Machamp, and Charmander as a core with filler of whatever else was good.  I know that’s probably not the strongest team, but they’re the guys that I liked playing with the most.

The weirdest hobby you have, other than writing? 

I do a little bit of streaming on Twitch.  I’m not popular or anything, but I like to talk to people while I’m playing.  I got into it trying to speedrun a puzzle game.

What is your favourite bird?

I’ve always been fond of hawks and eagles. I don’t have a specific one I love, though.

Sam Schenk

 Sam Schenk is a business analyst by day, a mum, writer, and gamer by night.  She was born in Canada, raised in Texas, and matured in New Zealand, where she’s lived for the past 20 years.  She has just released her first publication, A Gap in the Veil, in a collaboration with Contemporary Witchy Fiction.  She loves beta reading, watching great sci fi, and scuba diving when she can get out.

Follow Sam on social media Twitter and Goodreads

Get a copy of A Gap in the Veil on sale now, part of the Witchy Fiction project.

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