Samantha Wilde is the author of I’ll Take What She Has and This Little Mommy Stayed Home. The at-home mother of three small children, she moonlights as a minister and a yoga teacher. She is the graduate of Smith College and Yale Divinity School and the daughter of novelist Nancy Thayer.
In I’ll Take What She Has, Nora and Annie have been best friends since kindergarten. Nora, a shy English teacher at a quaint New England boarding school, longs to have a baby. Annie, an outspoken stay-at-home mother of two, longs for one day of peace and quiet (not to mention more money and some free time). Despite their very different lives, nothing can come between them—until Cynthia Cypress arrives on campus.
Cynthia has it all: brains, beauty, impeccable style, and a gorgeous husband (who happens to be Nora’s ex). When Cynthia eagerly befriends Nora, Annie’s oldest friendship is tested. Now, each woman must wrestle the green-eyed demon of envy and, in the process, confront imperfect, mixed-up family histories they don’t want to repeat. Amid the hilarious and harried straits of friendship, marriage, and parenthood, the women may discover that the greenest grass is right beneath their feet.
Sam takes the Deb Interview with us today. Thanks for joining us, Sam! Tell us, which animal would you like to be, and why?
You only need to come to my house to find out the answer to this one! I have quite a collection of frogs (none alive). I find a frog, contrary to popular opinion, not a slimy bit of a thing, but elegant and inspirational. I love how a tadpole becomes a frog. The idea of metamorphosis appeals to me (and was a prominent part of one of the early drafts of I’ll Take What She Has. It’s still in there, but more subtle). I’m fascinated by the possibility of something changing so completely and yet simultaneously remaining internally the same. There’s a moment when a tadpole hasn’t quite become a frog when it has legs and a tail. It’s my sense that life is so much like a frog process! We are always becoming and if we allow for it, we really can transform into a new creature.
Do you have a regular ‘first reader’? If so, who is it and why that person?
My mother, novelist Nancy Thayer, has been a first reader for me for almost as long as I can remember. I don’t know how she does it, actually. I think it must be hard to deliver effective criticism to your own adult child, yet she does it. She was the first one to look at the first pages of This Little Mommy Stayed Home. “This is the one,” she said. Of course, she was right! I have sent her material that she doesn’t like or enjoy. She’ll go over the manuscript with me page by page, taking a break from editing one of her own novels. We don’t have the same voice. I’m more of a comic novelist. But I know I’ve done something right when my mother laughs. I’m pretty lucky to have her because she knows me, she knows writing and she knows the publishing industry.
Which talent do you wish you had?
Oh, I wish I could dance. Really dance. Up on the stage, applause at the end kind of dance. Dance has weaved its way through my life in so many different forms. As an older child and a tween I studied ballet quite seriously up until I discovered (after they measured my bones!) that not even my formidable starvation would change the shape of my body to turn me into a proper ballerina. Later, as a teenager and in my early twenties, I found dance clubs. I would go for hours. I can still remember standing on a six foot tall black speaker at a club in Urbana, Illinois wearing my Doc Martens and tee-shirt over a long sleeve shirt (so the fashion, then) wild with dance. Sometimes I think I became a yoga teacher because practicing yoga gives me the same sense of abandon and joy. If fulfills that desire to move, to move lyrically, to be embodied, and find freedom in the body. I dance with my children all the time, all kinds of ways, all kinds of music. They laugh at me. We laugh at each other. It’s pure joy.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Write your heart out. Put everything you go through into your work. Don’t write for an audience—not yet. Write what’s coming out of you that you can’t keep inside. Sometimes, when I need to write, I can almost feel myself, like a volcano about to burst. Then, once I’ve written, some of the work gets read by others, some doesn’t. In the end, the process counts. It has to count. It has to be its own reward for each of us. It’s simple, of course, to say write because you love to write. But simple things are the best kind, aren’t they? Don’t worry what becomes of your work, not while you write. Think of that tadpole. The transformation happens first to the writer. If we get lucky and our book finds readers, it may happen for them also, but it doesn’t need to. Writing is a kind of alchemy, and the writer is the first, and often the only, recipient of the magic.
Magic indeed. We’re so glad Samantha Wilde joined us at the ball today and shared these insights. To learn more about her, visit her website, watch her book trailer, and go like her on facebook. Her status updates are fantastic!