Welcome to the first installment of the Debut Author series!
Let’s take a moment to introduce Samantha Heuwagen, MA LAMFT ACS.
Samantha is a bi-lingual sex therapist, a professor, and a host on Spilling Tea with Samantha and Dr. B. This girl does some serious work and yet, she finds time to write the Starless Series, which begins with Dawn Among the Stars (available May 2018).
What drove you to write your first book?
I was so tired of seeing female characters get the short end of the stick when there was an action scene or something interesting happening. I wanted to be in the thick of things with them, but it never happened. Or it didn’t happen the way I wanted it to play out. I love a good love story, but to have it sidetrack a main character got a little old for me. I wanted a multifaceted character I could relate to and it never happened. I wanted to see female characters who are more than a love interest or a sex symbol and I wanted to prove to readers that we deserve complex characters no matter their gender or sexual orientation or ethnicity. It’s 2018–– we need to represent the population as a whole.
What is your book series about?
The Starless Series is about the human experience set in a time where aliens are real. It follows the different choices made by the three main characters, Kayin, Melissa, and Henry. They deal with loss, mental illness, and face the fight to survive. Aliens are real and living on Earth will never be the same.
What writing most energizes you? What most exhausts you?
I love writing fiction because it’s all about setting up a story and making crazy things happen to beloved characters. I also enjoy writing blog posts because it’s quick and gets to the good stuff my readers have come to enjoy. It’s like a mini dialogue between whoever is reading the piece and myself. There’s something really special about that.
I think writing for academia is extremely challenging. I want to get the work right and that requires a lot of research, which is fun in itself, but it feels like a pickier audience has more to say than something I post on my blog. The pressure can make or break someone’s life and that’s a burden!
What part of you do you feel leaked into your books?
I think all the characters have a little bit of me in them. From the extremely sassy Kayin to the thoughtful Naluba, I’m in there somewhere.
I also believe my extremely hopeful heart is apparent throughout the entire series. What is science fiction except a genre that wants people to do better and be mindful of what they’re doing to the planet? I hope The Starless Series gets people to think differently about race, power, sexism–– all of it and inspires other writers to be inclusive in their work.
What made you want to write speculative or fantastic fiction?
I don’t think I planned on writing what I did. The story came to me in a dream and it grew over the years as I grew.
Does your family support your writing and the subject matter?
My family is a mixed bag. I get made fun of a lot by a few, because who wants to read about aliens after all? Turns out a lot of people actually and I’ll keep producing alien fiction as long as the audience is into it. There are a few really great family members that have supported me from day one. Either by reading the crap at the very beginning or helping me promote today. I’m grateful for it all!
I’m also on the same journey Melissa is on: I learned that family is more than just blood. My friends are the ones who have been all stars this entire time. They pushed me to publish and loved every dramatic minute of it. I really owe them the most love because that’s all I’ve gotten from them! They’re the ones I want to impress with this work. If they’re happy, I’m happy.
How has your day job affected your story and how you tell it?
By day I’m a bilingual sex therapist. I really wanted to showcase mental health and change the narrative around individuals who push through everyday, fighting the good fight. People aren’t weak because they are depressed, have anxiety, or suffer PTSD. My clients and the people around me are some of the strongest people I have ever met and Dawn Among the Stars is my monument to them.
Best money ever spent as a writer?
Updating my website. It sounds silly, but I worked with a very dear friend who helped bring SamanthaHeuwagen.com to life. A real transformation that I hope readers and fans can enjoy, too.
And if I may gush, my first editor, Hannah turned me into a writer. She opened doors for me and helped introduce me to such a loving community of writers. Without her guidance and patience, Dawn Among the Stars would still be sitting on my computer waiting to be read. That’s why I am proud that this book is dedicated to her and her hard work. She truly is a miracle worker!
If you could tell your teen self one thing, what would it be?
I’d tell her, “Girl, hold on to your butt, it’s going to be one hell of a ride!”
Your favorite, under appreciated novel?
Recently I stumbled upon, Eternal Vows by Chrissy Peebles. The story is so different to what I normally read, but it kept me coming back for more! I think I’m on book five now of her Ruby Ring series. It took one book to turn me into a forever fan! If you’re looking for a quick read, with a fun story, this one is for you.
I want to thank Samantha for taking the time to be here with us today and sharing her experiences in the writing world. I’ve had the privilege of reading her book before it’s release, and I have to tell you, it’s amazing. If you’re a fan of the current Fae trend, you will love Samantha’s aliens of Dawn Among the Stars.