This week we’re ecstatic to have author Samantha Joyce on the blog! Samantha’s debut novel, Flirting with Fame, was released on February 29, 2016 from Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster, and the companion novel, Dealing in Deception, will be out on November 14, 2016. Samantha’s smart, funny style captivates her fans whether reading her work or just following her social media pages. Find out more about Samantha’s books, process, and bunny, Spike!
1. What was the inspiration behind Flirting with Fame?
Flirting with Fame is the story of Elise, a girl who was deafened and scarred in a freak accident when she was younger. Not knowing how to cope with everything, she began to write, and to her surprise, her books became bestsellers. Now, a TV studio has decided to make the books into a television series starring her celebrity crush. All of this would be cool, except Elise panicked when her editor asked for an author photo all those years ago, so she sent a picture she randomly plucked off the internet. With the TV producers wanting her on set to consult on the series, Elise tracks down the woman whose photo she used, and hires her to play her author self. But when she starts to actually fall for the actor she once only crushed on, Elise begins to wonder if hiding who she is really is what she wants.
The road to publication with this book actually came quite quickly. It was one of those stories that just poured out of me, and I’d completed it in less than two months. A few months later, I had an agent (I cannot say enough good things about my AMAZING agent, Kathleen Rushall. I adore her), and after a few revisions, we were on sub to publishers. I believe the offer came a couple months after that. It was one of those speedy processes you rarely hear about in publishing. This industry generally runs pretty slow. But when things start happening, everything seems to go double-time.
Much of the inspiration came from my own shyness and my numerous awkward celeb crush encounters (I’ve said some pretty embarrassing things in the presence of celebrities). As I considered a career as a writer (which seemed nice and solitary), I wondered what it might be like to be a best-selling author who achieves celeb status, but carries my own insecurities. With social media and stuff, it’s hard to remain anonymous. Many authors use a pen name to try to keep some privacy, but I decided Elise, my main character and a best-selling author, would take her need for anonymity one step beyond a pseudonym—she would use a fake author photo, too. The rest of the story kind of went from there.
2. Can you tell us about challenges in writing your first book?
This was actually my third book. The first one is locked up tight and shall never see the light of day. The second one I queried and, although it got some great agent feedback, it ultimately never got an offer. So I think one of the biggest challenges was telling myself to keep writing, despite all the rejections in my inbox. It’s easy to get caught up in your own head and convince yourself you aren’t good enough. But the key is to keep going, keep pushing, and keep learning. The best thing you can do as a writer is to have a great group of critique partners who can show what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right. And they’ll cheer you on when everything feels hopeless. I’m pretty sure I would have given up on this dream without my CPs. They were always rooting for me, just like I will always root for them.
3. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That we all have flaws, and that’s okay. Our flaws aren’t what define us. Embrace your flaws. They make you you. And appreciate your scars, whether they’re internal or external. I once had a good friend tell me that scars aren’t a weakness—they are proof of our strength. They remind us that we survived, that we won the battle. I’ve carried that lesson with me everywhere I go, and it made it into this book. For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt uncomfortable in my own skin, and never good enough—never smart enough, never pretty enough, never thin enough. I’ve had moments where I’ve even convinced myself I’m not as deserving of love or happiness the way others are because I’m not perfect. But the truth is, no one is perfect, and no one is 100% comfortable in their skin all the time. Which is actually kind of sad. We need to learn to love ourselves—all of ourselves—as we are.
4. Why do you write about romance?
Because I’m a big sap, haha! I’m a sucker for a good love story. I love happily ever afters, and fairy tale romances. Not to say I don’t also have a soft spot for tear-jerkers (some of my favorite books are ones that made me sob like a baby), but ultimately, I enjoy a good love story. Relationships are never perfect, and they grow and change as each person grows and changes. I think there’s something fun about digging into what makes us fall in love, and what ultimately keeps us in love—the two aren’t necessarily the same thing.
5. What do you do when you are not writing?
Despite mentioning earlier how shy I am, I also love doing musical theater. If I’m not in the middle of a deadline, I’m usually off performing with community theater groups. It’s funny to say I’m incredibly shy and also an actress in the same interview, but it’s true. I think it’s because acting is an escape. I’m not me out there. And if my character isn’t shy on stage, I’m not either. Having the audience in the dark helps, too. They are off in their own world, while I exist in whatever world is playing out on stage. When I’m not writing or in a show, I’m taking a break and hanging out with my husband and our bunny, Spike.
Learn more about Samantha at her website!