Saturday, May 16, 2020

Inside the Mind: Sam Ledel

Welcome to Inside the Mind where we here at The Faerie Review interview authors and creators.
Our guest today is Sam Ledel, the author behind Daughter of No One.

Lily:  Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview Sam I loved Daughter of No One. Do Jastyn or Aurelia’s names have any significance?
Sam:  You’re welcome, and thank you for the opportunity! Well, I have an affinity for names that begin with “J.” My first novel was FULL of them (I had to eventually change the protagonist's best friend’s name because it was one J-name too many). When I came across the name Jastyn and her character came to life, I made an effort to make sure her love interest’s name sounded nothing like hers. This was in order to not repeat my rookie mistake! The name Aurelia doesn’t have a special meaning to me; only that it has a royal ring to it.
Lily:  I love both of them! What was your inspiration for the setting?
Sam:  Any fantasy book, movie, or TV show I’ve ever consumed. Also, since I was pulling from Irish/Gaelic mythology, I wanted the magic of the kingdom where the story takes place to be rooted in the four elements. From there, it made sense to me that this realm was going to be set in a very natural environment. The Wood, especially in Book 1 of this trilogy, is almost a character in itself. Jastyn depends greatly on the Wood. She’s at home there, and it's her safe place when things get difficult.
Lily:  I think you definitely made it all come to life, and I can definitely see the influences from mythology peeping through. Have you always been interested in magic and fae?

Sam:  For a long time, yes. Myths were my first exposure to other-worldly entities. I’m also part of the generation raised on Harry Potter. I love the idea of weaving magic into the world we know. Growing up, I must admit I didn’t read a lot of stories featuring fae. But one of my sisters did, and as a result she is deeply knowledgeable in that regard. I turned to her for the early inspirations for Daughter of No One.
Lily:  I've always been fascinated with the fae, and I'm glad your sister was such a great resource for you. Without spoilers, what’s your favorite scene?
Sam:  Oh, good question! Right now, I would say I really like a scene that ends tragically. It’s one of my favorites because it was a challenge to write. I’d never written anything like it. What are people thinking and feeling when something horribly unexpected happens? As a writer, it was a scary place to go to in my mind, but I wanted to do my best to convey the anguish and surprise of what happens when things go terribly wrong, and writing that scene was fun - as strange as that may sound. 
Lily:  Sounds like it was as heart racing to write as it was to read. Now we’d like to talk about you as a writer. Do you take breaks when writing to dance or shake up your brain?
Sam:  I definitely take breaks, but I’m not sure how often they happen. In a single writing session (which varies in length) I’m aware of mini-breaks that I take. These include stopping and staring into space/at the wall while I wait for my characters to continue. My girlfriend and I used to live in this tiny apartment -- like TINY -- and the kitchen table was also my work space. She says sometimes I’d stop writing, turn my chair around, open the fridge and stare into it, then close it and resume writing. 
Lily:  So more of a trance than anything it seems, which isn't a bad thing. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Sam: As a Harry Potter fan, I’m going to choose patronus. And I’m going to use the patronus Pottermore gave me, which is a small owl.
Lily:  Just from reading your work and this interview, I think that fits you. Is there something you know now that you wish you had known when you started writing?
Sam:  I’d wish I’d learned more of the technical side of writing. I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, which taught me a lot, but there’s still so much I didn’t learn! When I write, I feel most comfortable in the dialogue between characters, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty things like POV and syntax clarity...oof. But, I guess that’s why we have editors! I love my editor. They truly make everything more magical. And they teach me something new with each story I write.
Lily:  Editors can definitely be a saving grace! Let’s finish up with some fun questions and get inside your mind. Would you rather live in a cave or a tree house?
Sam:  I really had to think about this. I chose a cave. I don’t like heights and trees have bugs and birds. I’m a wimp when it comes to bugs. For some reason, I imagine I can deal with the creepiness of a cave and its inhabitants better. 
Lily:  I would've picked tree until you brought up the bugs. I'm horrible with unexpected creepy crawlies in my space. What movie never gets old no matter how many times you’ve seen it?
Sam:  Titanic. I’m a sucker for 90s Leonardo DiCaprio.
Lily:  I'm partial to Romeo and Juliet DiCaprio myself. What does your dream vacation look like?
Sam:  New Zealand! Visiting where both Lord of the Rings and Xena were filmed and exploring the breathtaking scenery.
Lily:  Having grown up watching Xena, I'd definitely love to visit New Zealand someday it looks beautiful. What’s the worst food you’ve ever tried? The best?
Sam:  I do not like oysters. Also, I had a soup in Peru once which contained nearly every part of a sheep imaginable. It was not for me. The best food I’ve ever tried? That’s tough. One of my favorites is Papa la Huancaína. It’s a Peruvian side dish featuring boiled potatoes covered in huancaína sauce, which is creamy and spicy and so delicious.
Lily:  I can't get past the texture of oysters personally. Papa la Huancaína sounds amazing though! What’s the most inspirational saying you’ve ever heard?
Sam:  The end of the speech Robin Williams’s character gives to his class in Dead Poet’s Society. “The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” I think about this line each time I’m daunted by whatever writing task lies ahead of me. What do I want to leave behind? What do I want to say? Thinking about the eternality of words always inspires me to continue writing.
Lily:  That's a really great quote, and I can see how it would help you push ahead even when the writing ahead of you feels like a mountain. Do you have a favorite genre to read?
Sam:  Fantasy and Contemporary Fiction are my favorites.
Lily:  I like to read all genres, but I have a soft spot for fantasy. How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Sam:  They can visit my website or follow me on social media :) They can also visit my publisher’s website.
Check out the book on Amazon and Goodreads

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