Name Sam Poling
Where are you from Washington State
A little about your self `i.e. your education Family life etc. :
I’m currently a medical assistant at a large clinic, taking classes for nursing. I also serve on a safety committee that involves disaster preparedness and infection control.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My debut novel, The Part That Doesn’t Burn, is set to release on March 23rd.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in middle school, filling piles of notebooks with original works of fiction. The burning need to create my own characters and stories kept me writing and improving throughout high school and college. I could seldom read a fiction book without desperately wanting to put it aside and write my own.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t consider myself a writer. The ability to sit and create came easy to me at every age, as did the love for it. It runs in the family.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first “true” attempt at writing a book for publication was inspired by table top roleplaying games, the kinds you play with friends in college. Those sorts of games required me to build original worlds and characters, and involve my friends in stories of adventure and mystery. Ideas that were big hits stuck with me, and they cobbled together to become my first serious writing endeavor. However, the end result was far different from what had occurred in the roleplaying games. The inspiration was only inspiration.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I do. Many of my beta readers have pointed out that despite the traumatic and dark undertones that construct my manuscripts, a subtle, wry voice lurked beneath the surface. This was at its clearest in my third-person omniscient POV manuscripts. My debut novel is third-person limited, however the wry tone can still be heard and felt in the point of view of the characters. Humor is ever present. My writing just comes out that way. Always has.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
One night I tossed all my manuscripts in a fire pit, and resolved to revise whichever one survived.
Okay, I’m kidding.
The Part That Doesn’t Burn is a reference to the neglect and abuse my main protagonist suffered as a child. This abuse was illustrated in the prologue when her only stuffed toy was burned by her callus mother. Only one part escaped the flames, a paw, which she coveted and hid from her mother. Later in the novel the burning of the toy becomes symbolic of what can happen within a person’s heart, and the title takes on a deeper meaning.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
It’s never too late to find redemption. No matter how much of your humanity you’ve lost to the fires of pain and despair, there’s always a part that doesn’t burn.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
It is a dark fantasy novel, in a secondary-world setting (a world not in our universe). Therefore, little of it is realistic in the traditional sense. However, it strictly plays by its own rules, and survives by its consistency. The truly realistic portions of the novel are in the hearts and minds of its characters (even the minor ones). There are some truths to be found there.
The novel plays on witch-burning fanatics as well. Even in our universe “witches” were hunted and murdered by mad mobs and zealots. I wanted to create a novel where the witch fights back.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not at all, it is entirely fictional, fortunately. There’s a lot of darkness in the story.
But there are people out there who’ve had to face dark hours not unlike my characters do, so I suppose the experiences may be true for someone. Except for the fantasy experiences, of course. I doubt many people have had to run through a cursed swamp from a fleet of soul-hungry specters.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
My mentor was a fellow fantasy novelist Dr. Lisa C. Murphy, author of The Wyrmstone.
She was a constant positive force in my writing life, with an absurd amount of wisdom to share. She always believed in me and always jumped at the opportunity to help or beta read. I also work as her assistant periodically at the clinic where we toil away at our day jobs.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Gentlemen of the Road. I heard it perfected the art of writing adventure and combat scenes. That’s something I’d like to perfect as well in case my novels take a more swashbuckling turn.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Teri Harman, author of the Moonlight trilogy. I bought her novels completely at random (or possibly due to their great cover art). Although they weren’t 100% my preferred sorts of stories, I liked them and found her writing fresh.
Also Lorna Peel, a fellow Tirgearr author. She’s a fantastic writer and a great person.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I am completing my website with all the bells and whistles. I am also working on a sequel to my debut novel, and pondering blogs ideas. Regarding my debut novel set to release in a month: I’m working on a novel trailer to go along with the official release. It’ll be unlike any novel trailer before it.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My coworkers at my clinic. Intelligent, wise, positive-minded people.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes and no. I write because I love to create stories. I revise because I want to improve myself and my craft. I query my manuscripts because I owe it to my characters. I publish because I desire to share my work with others. I promote because I want to evolve myself and my novel to the greatest heights we’re capable of. And through all that I grow as a person. What else can someone ask for in life than to grow as a person? Does this define a “career?” No idea. But I do consider myself a professional, not a hobbyist. And I don’t intend to stop writing. Ever.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. It is the best that I could make it, as I am now.
I do intend to keep growing as a writer, so perhaps in the future I’ll be capable of greater things. (It would be sad to think there’s nowhere to go from here.) But right now, after all my effort, this was my best literally down to the singular word. And I think it’s superb.
I would not have submitted my manuscript to my publisher if I had felt otherwise. I would have kept working on it until I knew it was my best.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Customization. Throughout my life I’ve burned to customize everything. If you want to play me in chess, then I want my own unique chess pieces. If I want to play a video game, I’ll buy the one with character options. If I want to do a PowerPoint presentation for a class, then it’ll be nothing like anyone else’s. Whatever it is people are born with in their brains that make them want to “fit in,” I was born without it.
Nothing allows for more customization than writing.
It’s you and a blank page. You can fill it with any thought.
It goes the way you want it to, at least until your character’s seize the wheel from you.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
At my publisher’s site the entire prologue is available to read. I also believe you can read the beginning of my novel on Amazon before choosing to buy.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Balancing my life and finding time to sleep. I should be sleeping right now, actually.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I really can’t pick a favorite author; it’s far too difficult. But if I had to throw a name out it’d have to be Michael Crichton. You can feel yourself getting smarter as you read his stuff.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet! But we are planning a book trailer for my debut novel. And we’ve been traveling to possible filming sites, including Whidbey Island.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Cora at Cora Graphics.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The corrections my editor requested. They came with a deadline during perhaps the busiest work and college weeks of my life. It wasn’t anyone’s fault of course, just a ton of things in my life happened all at once. It was an unbelievable stress load. I occasionally skipped nights of sleep where I didn’t go near my bedroom. The longest I stayed away came to sixty-seven hours straight (seems impossible, but it happened). I’m sure I could have gotten more help or time from my editor and others, but I desperately didn’t want to let them down.
Of course, I had a friend drive me when I was at my worst. I’m strongly against drowsy driving. Never endanger others.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Mostly improvements on writing technique. My beta readers and editor taught me a lot.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write for the right reasons, keep improving, be honest with yourself, and never give up.
I’m dead serious. Do. Not. Give. Up. I’ve heard a thousand authors say it before me, and now I’m repeating it. Ignore us at your own peril.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love honest reviews. Readers have a lot of power in their options, more than they realize, and writer’s thrive off it. Do not hesitate to throw some of your thoughts about my novel into an honest Amazon review. I will see it, and I will be grateful.
You can also contact me via my website, Samuelpoling.com. I’d even love to hear what sorts of things you’d like to see in a sequel, or what you thought I was crazy for including in my published works. Thoughts. Give me your thoughts!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Very first book, ever? Nope. It would be awkward if it remembered me.
I remember learning to read from Dinosaur books as a small child. I recall one was titled something like Dinosaurs of the Land, Sea, and Air.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love surreal, non-sequitur, and subtle humor.
I can’t remember the last time I cried, but it was likely from a moving heavy metal song.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Tesla. He’s awesome.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
A plan without fire is scarcely a plan at all.
Good Deeds Reciprocated
Those were my main character’s theoretical headstones in my novel, so they pop into mind. But in all seriousness, I’d rather be cremated. And then I don’t care what happens after that.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Gaming, all kinds.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
NBC’s Grimm. Old Star Trek episodes.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Crab and heavy metal or solo piano.
Regarding favorite color: I have no idea. It changes often.
Right now it’s red and black, because those colors are heavily themed with my novel and website.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I am currently in the medical field and love it.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My website: http://samuelpoling.com/