Meet Samantha Clark

Meet Samantha Clark

Samantha Clark is the author of The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast which was released June 26, 2018. It is now being released in paperback, so to celebrate I have asked Samantha Clark to be here on the blog to share a little about her book and writing life.

Hello, Samantha! It is so good to hear from you. My sixth graders read The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast last year as a prep for our virtual visit with you on World Read Aloud Day. What a unique book that had us on the edge of our seats and questioning so much. Thank you for meeting with me to share more about this book and the exciting release in paperback. Let’s start off by talking about you and the book!

I loved talking to your class!

They loved meeting you.

The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast was released on June 26, 2018. Describe that day, and the days leading up to it, for us. What was it like having your book come into the world?

Wow! That’s what the day, in fact, the whole few months around the release was like — one big, gigantic WOW! I had a number of events right around the release date, so I was very busy and it felt a bit like I was in a whirlwind. My publisher, Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, had invited me to go to the huge ALA conference the weekend before THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST came out to meet with librarians at a very special dinner. I flew to New Orleans and was on a panel with all these authors who I had been in awe of for years, including Patti Kim, Andrew Smith, Neal Shusterman, and Barbara Dee, and I talked to wonderful librarians who were doing amazing things for their communities. It was also the first time I saw piles of my hardcovers and got to sign them. It was very emotional.

I also got to go to the Newbery Awards banquet and hear Erin Kelly Entrada’s wonderful speech for HELLO, UNIVERSE and the Printz Awards and hear Jason Reynolds, Angie Thomas, Laini Taylor, Deborah Heiligman and Nina LaCour talk about their work. It was a truly inspiring weekend.

I flew home on the Monday, and THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST came out the next day. My local independent bookstore, BookPeople, asked me to come in and sign and personalized copies that had been pre-ordered. That was amazing to see the excitement people had for my book. I was treated to lunch after that by my good friend and mentor author Bethany Hegedus, who helped me celebrate.

Then that weekend I spoke for the first time as a published author at the Writers League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference, which I’m speaking at again this year. I had more speaking events almost every weekend for the next six weeks, and it wasn’t until a month after the book came out that I was able to have the launch party at BookPeople. But that was incredible too. Around 100 people attended, and my family and dear friends from home had flown in.

I was so busy, I didn’t have much time to sit and soak it all in. I had a fantastic time, but there was a part of me that wondered if it was all real. 🙂 To this day, I still have quiet moments when I see the book on my bookshelf and think, “I did it. I’m a published author,” and it makes me smile.

What an experience!

This book is uniquely written in that the reader and the character know very little about what is going on. How were you able to write so detailed, yet also leave so much unknown?

LOTS of revision! Funnily enough, I didn’t really know what the story was about while I was writing the first draft. I had this small idea of a boy waking up on a beach with no memory of who he was or how he had gotten there. I had a possible ending, but nothing concrete and nothing in between. Plus, I definitely did not know the heart of the story. It wasn’t until I wrote the final scene of the book, which is almost exactly the same today, that I realized this book was about fears, and that then drove my revision. I had also always known the book would have a mystery element, since the boy spends the story trying to discover what has happened to him, but to write a mystery well, you have to know all the details. Once I had a few drafts behind me and knew more about the story, I was able to pepper in the details throughout, making sure to build to the final reveal.

Did you hide any secrets about yourself in the book?

Ha, this is a fun question. 🙂 And yes! Like the Boy, I have a bully in my head that tells me bad things about myself, like I’m not good enough or I’ll fail. So this story is very personal to me. I needed a good outcome for this story as much as the Boy, and I have learned a lot from his courage.

This is why it was important to me to create fun exercises that kids and anyone who has a bully in their head like me, or anyone who has been through dark times, can do to help them through. I love that the Make Your Own Courage Art Therapy Project, created with clinical therapist Bonnie Thomas, is available to help.

On June 25, your book is released in paperback. It took me a long time to notice that some books were not initially released in paperback, which is my preferred way to read because it is cheaper and more comfortable. Can you tell us why this is important and why some books come out in hardcover first?

I love paperbacks too, so I was very excited when I found out THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST was going to be released in paperback as well as hardcover. But there’s also something so special about a hardcover version of a book; the jacket and spine, its feel in your hands. I grew up owning paperbacks of my favorite books because they were less expensive, but I loved getting hardcovers out of libraries. They felt very special to me. Sadly not every book is released as a hardcover. They’re more costly to produce than paperbacks, which is why they’re more expensive in stores, so their release depends on the business decisions made by the publisher. Because of that cost, they’re released in hardcover first for a limited time, kind of like an introductory special edition of the book. The paperback is released usually a year later, as is the case with THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST, and this new version opens it up to a whole new set of readers who like to read the paperback.

I am very honored that THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST is available as a hardcover, and is now coming out in paperback. And I love the way Simon & Schuster has designed the paperback. It has the same beautiful cover, which was designed by art director Laurent Linn and illustrated by artist Justin Hernandez, with gloss on the book’s title on the cover and spine. The teaser that’s on the inside of the hardcover’s jacket is on the back of the paperback. And when you open the paperback, the first page is crammed full of some of the praise the book has received. Plus the chapters retain their heading illustrations. It’s beautiful!

Do you have an online store you would recommend readers to order from?

Absolutely! My local independent bookstore, BookPeople, is amazing, and they offer personalized copies of THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST so I always recommend them for my book or any book. But another great way to get books from indie bookstores online is through IndieBound.org, and for audiobook fans, Libro.fm allows you to buy audiobooks through indie bookstores. Note, unfortunately, THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST isn’t available as an audiobook yet, but I love audiobooks and there are so many wonderful ones.

Thank you, Samantha. It was wonderful to hear from you again and I am excited that your book is doing so well. Are you working on anything new right now? What can you tell us?

I am! In fact, I’m always working on a few new story projects and getting new ideas bubbling in the back of my head. Right now, I’m working on another middle-grade novel that, like THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST, incorporates nature and our environment a lot — and it’s a quite magical environment. The story has a boy, a hidden rainforest, and lots of secrets…

Oooh! Sounds magical and mysterious!

Can you leave us with some parting wisdom?

Keep reading… This might sound simple, but reading has an enormous power. Studies have shown how reading builds empathy, confidence, education and so much more; reading can help us become the people we want to be. Humans have been using stories to learn and grow since we lived in caves and told stories around campfires and wrote them on walls. We’d hear stories, get inspired, learn, and go out and do amazing things. So harness the power of stories — Read widely, about experiences like your own, about different cultures and issues, in fiction and non-fiction. Read different non-fiction about the same topic, so you can better trust what’s correct. Read articles and books and comics and graphic novels. Listen to audiobooks. And read stories about magical worlds, because they will mirror our own. Read.

I am a middle school English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher.

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