Synopsis: Every day two groups secretly war for control of souls; a war that fuels the chosen for the Final Battle. A destined death-fight between best friends for the last soul and the fate of the world.
Velma had lived two lives; her first as a former foster kid abandoned by her parents, her second as an unlikey recruit into a secret order full of ritual, lore and punching that satisfied her need for retribution. Her fifteen year old self had given up on hope, but after three years with the Taram, she’d found more than just family, she’d found her life’s purpose.
That is, until she is surprisingly named Kachina, the fabled chosen empowered to fight the last battle for the fate of the world. Because having to kill someone she loves was never part of the bargain, even if it means saving everyone else from damnation.
Attempting the impossible – building a normal life free from the pull of the Taram seems like the only answer to her prayers. Except her best friend, the other Kachina, is coming. The legend is clear that one of them must die. Velma will have to weigh the cost of her life against a world that’s constantly betrayed her, and quite literally decide if she’ll be damned in dying, and take the whole world with her.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Why is this question always the hardest for me to answer, lol? My name is Samantha Reed, but everyone has called me Sam since the day I was born. I grew up in Pulaski, a very small town in southern Virginia, before moving first to Newport News VA, and then the D.C. area. Let’s see, things about me; I’m an introvert, I love all things sour so I eat lemons like oranges and drink olive juice from the jar. I think words were my first love; books came second. I love the ocean and warm weather, horror movies even though they stopped being scary ages ago, and all kinds of music.
I have a culinary degree in baking and pastry and spent part of my ‘traditional’ career making custom wedding cakes – while the bulk of my career (15 years or so) was spent as an Event Planner. For the past 10 years I’ve been the full-time caretaker for my mom, and feel beyond blessed to be able to give back to her just a little of what she’s given to me. That period of time was also when I decided to sort of chuck it all, take the leap, and look into publishing my first book, and that’s where we are now, with Fair to Hope.
Which writers inspire you and what are your favorite books by them?
It’s impossible for me to answer the favorite book question, it’s ever changing and evolving, in high school I read 1984 and The Invisible Man and was struck by being pulled along by the hand towards the evolution of something…does that make sense? Watching this thing unfold, often tragically, and being so invested that it becomes more than a story, it becomes something that shapes how you view life in general. Beloved did that for me as well, Stephen King’s IT was the first book to truly scare me, and I grew up on horror movies so it was unexpectedly exhilarating. Everything by Toni Morrison, literally everything, shaped how I categorized myself as a black woman, but perhaps no novel more than Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, I read it as a young southern teenager who’d just moved to the ‘big city’ and it gave me all these new definitions of love and security and self-awareness, vulnerability, strength, carelessness and hope.
Though my favorites list is always revolving, that book stays in my top 3. My favorite setting in books is the South, it’s in my blood, I love the slowness and the sly calculation of the people and the observations, the food, the heat, heat can be a character in and of itself, when it’s hot enough, people are inclined to do crazy things! And food too, what a person eats, how they eat, the memories surrounding what they use to nourish themselves can be one of the most telling character traits.
What inspired you to write this novel?
As I mentioned I’m an introvert, which means in most social situations, especially those where I don’t know the folks around me, I tend to people watch more than anything else. I’m always fascinated by the way people interact with each other, the subtlety of certain gestures or movements, how without even knowing them you can pick up on things about them; do they smile? Are they funny? Sad? Attracted to someone near them? Trying to get away from someone? Uncomfortable? Bored? Confident? I started to wonder about the way we interact with each other – and thinking about how we’re all connected and what that really means. What if what I do doesn’t just affect me, and doesn’t just affect you in the now…but could have an affect that echoed in a way that led to some sort of finality. I wanted to explore that idea from the perspective of someone who would have no reason to want to be connected to anyone, and what someone put in that position would choose to do if they realized their choices could literally mean life or death for everyone else.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Writing, lol. Writing is by far the hardest part. I think ideas are always there somewhere, even if it’s just the spark of something, but flushing it out and creating wholeness around it, sometimes when it can feel like the words are clawing their way out of you, can be so difficult. I feel like every time, well…okay, maybe not every time, but often when a writer sits and starts to craft a story they go through like the Superman of roller coasters; “this is great! Best idea ever! This is horrible! I’m not a writer…why am I doing this? Oh, look at that tree, I should go sit under that tree, that would be a better use of my time…oh no wait, it was just there, I just thought it, the perfect sentence for this part, why can’t I remember it? Because you suck, writing sucks…oh no wait, there it is! It’s perfect and I wrote the whole thing down before I forgot it, this is completely what the story needs, it’s perfect. I love writing. Which in and of itself as in internal dialogue can be exhausting; self motivating and deprecating simultaneously.
But then when it’s done, and you’ve basically grated off pieces of yourself to live on the page forever, you then open yourself up to judgment from other people, for critique from folks who weren’t in your head while you wrote, who may not understand why you made certain decisions, even while for you it seems so crystal clear. Hearing those opinions can be the hardest part, at least for me, because regardless of what you write, everything you put on the page is personal, it’s a part of you, so criticism can hurt. But as I’ve been told by the amazing mentors I’m lucky to have, it’s also part of the game, it’s not a surprise, it’s what you signed up for, so I’m working on growing a super thick skin, lol.
Does Fair To Hope have a lesson? Moral?
I think the moral of Fair to Hope is that we need each other, all of us, even when we don’t think we do. And that what you do as an individual matters; how you choose to live your life and treat other people; whether you’re bringing people hope or despair, even in the smallest sense, those things matter and have everlasting resonance.
What do you love most about the writing process?
I love meeting my story on the page. I love seeing how things develop, how something that started out as just one sentence can turn into pages that have a complete life of their own. I love learning to trust myself through that process, and trust in creating something that feels authentic to me…which honestly is probably slightly outside the box of what is considered normal, but I think I’d rather be weird than normal.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
Right now I’m working on my 3rd book, (Fair to Hope is my first, I’ve also written an adult literary fiction novel called Gray Salt). I thought I knew where this new work was going, but a few weeks ago it became clear that I needed to make some adjustments, so I’m in the process of outlining it and seeing where it leads. Hopefully it’ll end up being my next YA book that I’ll have ready to consider for publication by late 2017.
About the Author
Sam Reed is a born and bred southern girl who grew up reading Toni Morrison, Archie Comics, Christopher Pike, Octavia Butler, Dean Koontz and Stephen King. When she’s not thinking of what to write she is napping or eating, going to church, wishing she could sing, dreaming of owning a tiny house, watching A Different World reruns, trying to perfect her grandma’s biscuit recipe, or reading a book.