Meeting Your Reader Where They Are: 5 Questions for Samantha M. Clark

“Understand the importance of revision and embrace it. Revision is your best friend when it comes to telling the best story.Samantha M. Clark

Samantha M. Clark is the award-winning author of The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast and the forthcoming Arrow (summer 2021), both published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster. She has always loved stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. After all, if four ordinary brothers and sisters can find a magical world at the back of a wardrobe, why can’t she? While she looks for her real-life Narnia, she writes about other ordinary children and teens who’ve stumbled into a wardrobe of their own. In a past life, Samantha was a photojournalist and managing editor for newspapers and magazines. She lives with her husband and two kooky dogs in Austin, Texas. Samantha is the Regional Advisor for the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and explores wardrobes every chance she gets. Sign up for news and giveaways at www.SamanthaMClark.com.


On Saturday, April 8th, Samantha M. Clark is teaching a class for the WLT called “Writing the Middle Grade or Young Adult Novel. In this class, you’ll learn about how to better tailor your novel to a young adult audience through tone, content, and characterization.

Here’s what Samantha had to share with us:

Scribe: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write? How did you come to writing?

Samantha M. Clark: I’m the author of the middle-grade novels THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST and ARROW (both published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster) and AMERICAN HORSE TALES: HOLLYWOOD (Penguin Workshop/Penguin Random House), as well as the GEMSTONE DRAGONS chapter book series (Bloomsbury). I like to write about ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and most of my stories have some kind of fantastical or paranormal elements.

I came to writing really through stories first. When I was a kid, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet authors and never thought that it could be something I could do one day. But I loved stories and telling stories; it didn’t really matter in what format they were. As I grew up, I told stories in plays I wrote, through acting in plays, writing screenplays, and a career in journalism, but when I started focusing on novels, I knew I had found the media I loved the best.

Scribe: In your own work, how do you approach overcoming the challenges that come with writing, be it writer’s block or craft or business-related challenges?

SC: Finding balance in my day between marketing, teaching, writing, and my editing/mentoring clients is a constant challenge. But one thing I do to protect my writing is schedule specific time every day for my own books. At the start of the pandemic, I began a Zoom writing group with some friends and it has really helped me make sure I prioritize my writing during that hour. We still meet today, and I recommend forming a group like this, whether online or in-person. Having that accountability can help keep you focused on writing instead of, saying, the laundry or the thousands of other things your brain might be telling you to do instead.

 Scribe: Has there been a moment of epiphany in terms of your work, when you thought, “This is it! Now I know what I’m doing?” How long did that feeling last?

SC: With seven books now published, as well as foreign editions, I do feel more confident in my storytelling, but I never feel like I know what I’m doing. Each story is different and I’m constantly learning and improving. That does keep it exciting:)

Scribe: What piece of advice do you find yourself giving to writers again and again?

SC: Don’t judge your first draft against published books. It’s easy to do, but published books have had so many revisions to get to where they are. Understand the importance of revision and embrace it. Revision is your best friend when it comes to telling the best story.

Scribe: What is one thing that people will take away from this class?

SC: I often say that storytelling is storytelling no matter the age, and to a point, that’s very true. There are similarities between the structure of novels for adults and novels for middle-grade and young adult readers. But writing for children and teens has the added challenge of matching their authentic voice and meeting the readers where they are for story. I hope my students will leave with an even deeper passion for striving for the best when telling stories specifically for these age groups.

Thanks, Samantha!

Click here to learn more about Samantha M. Clark’s upcoming class.


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