I’m so excited to welcome Sam Hawke to the Debutante Ball this week! Sam is a delightful human being who writes epic fantasy in Canberra, Australia, where she lives with her two dogs, two small ninjas, and her husband.
Her debut novel CITY OF LIES, the first in the Poison Wars series from Tor, came out just this past July to critical acclaim and lots of excited hand wavings. It’s been called “twisty and unpredictable” by Terry Brooks, “colorful and exciting” by Publisher’s Weekly, “a well-crafted debut with believable political intrigues, solid worldbuilding, and original characters” by Kirkus, and “a cozy murder mystery that just happens to take place in the middle of a siege” by me.
Can you share a secret about Jovan or Kalina— something that’s not in City of Lies?
Oh, that’s a curly first question! Does it expose me as a bad writer that I often don’t learn things about the characters until it comes up in the story?
The road to publication is twisty even at the best of times—what were some of your twists?
I actually think of my publication journey as being the absolute opposite of twisty – it’s a long, boring, plodding path, and a lot of times I panicked and went to an inn on the side of the road and spent, oh, 6 or 7 years or so just drinking in there and swearing I’d pay my tab and get back on the road once I nailed the perfect game of darts.I did all the boring normal things, really.
I wrote a book (well, I wrote some of a book, decided it was terrible, waited 6-7 years, realised I wouldn’t magically get any closer to my goal by only working on other people’s stuff – shocking, right? – decided I was terrible for not having done anything and picked it up again, realised it was OK, finished it) then edited it, spent a year procrastinating and over-researching the querying process, rewriting queries etc before I finally started sending it out. Survived the slushpile and got agent, did rewrites, got publisher, more rewrites and waiting, and finally the book came out.
The closest things to twists I had were more like, ways I made myself crazy for no reason. Other than the fact that all of those things took time and that there is always a big luck factor involved at every step of the process, I feel like I had no real outlier points, no crazy things that happened. I call it my best boring story.
Which talent do you wish you had? Or wish you didn’t have?
Assuming real world talents, not, like, telekinesis or something, I’d love to be able to sing. I can physically sing, obviously, but I’d like to sing in a way that is pleasant to others, heh. I love singing, but I can only assume that it would improve my family’s lives given my habit of singing loudly in the car, singing dumb songs about them, and narrating our everyday activities in song.
Or, it would be really good if I could drink and walk at the same time, because my lack of this skill causes said family much amusement.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
Once I got paid to crawl around on the floor of a new office fitout picking up all of the tiny annoying staples and bits and pieces that got stuck in the carpet after a move. (I’m always jealous of other people’s exciting author bios with their array of interesting jobs – I mostly worked in very safe and boring places).
What’s something that’s making you happy right now?
Oh, you know, little things. Better weather and light for walking with my kids and dogs. Working audiobooks into my routine so I can actually get some fiction in. Good wine and better chocolate, and new episodes of the Good Place (even with the terrible ‘Australian’ accents).
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) October 20, 2018
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