I’m so happy to introduce you to Samantha Wilde who’s celebrating the publication of her second novel, I’LL TAKE WHAT SHE HAS (wait til you read THAT story). I know you will find Samantha not only insightful and smart—but funny. We’ve included her book trailer for I’LL TAKE WHAT SHE HAS at the end of the interview so you can see for yourself!
Please welcome Sam to Women’s Fiction Writers!
Author Samantha Wilde Wants Women’s Fiction To “Sit Squarely With Other Genres”
Amy: I love the title of your latest novel: I’LL TAKE WHAT SHE HAS. I’ll be honest, I think it’s something everyone has thought at least once, if not a gazillion times. Can you tell us a little bit about the story? Was there an “ah ha” moment when you knew you’d write this particular book?
Sam: This book is unusual for me in that the title came before the story and the story, in its original form, bears little resemblance to the book that hit the shelves yesterday. I love the title and it came out of a brainstorming conversation with my mother, novelist Nancy Thayer, when she suggested I write about newlyweds and envy. I decided I wanted to write about friendship and envy, formed the idea for the three main characters Annie, Nora and Cynthia and then—the book ran away from me. It went through at least five major revisions, but I always felt guided by that title and the universal feeling of envy it captures. We are all looking for greener grass—at least some of the time—and for most of us, most of the time, it really is right under our feet.
Amy: What was your journey to publication like for the first and second novels? Did your writing process, or the publishing process differ between novels one and two?
Sam: I worked with one editor for my first novel and did no major revisions. With this book, I had the remarkable experience of losing editor after editor. Right now, I have my fifth editor! This many editors is unusual and while my book benefited from all that brain power, it has also felt a bit like an orphan to me, or a foster child. I call it “the little book that could” because there was a time, over the course of the past nearly five years of working on it (with a contract in hand), that I did not think it would ever publish. The kind of triumph I feel at I’ll Take What She Has has to do with seeing the fruits of my own resolve and determination. It was not easy, but it was surely worth it.
Amy: What has the most unusual reaction been to your book? (You don’t have to name names, of course!) And what reaction to I’LL TAKE WHAT SHE HAS is what you might have expected?
Sam: The book has only had a day out in the world; I think most of the reactions are still to come. But I have had a few reviews. I assumed people would think it was a funny book and fun to read (that’s what I wanted and worked on), what interests me, however, are the deeper threads of the novel and the ways in which certain reviewers really got it. It’s always an incredible feeling to have a reader get your work. One blogger at Book’d Out wrote: “Though the blurb implies the friendship between Annie and Nora is the focus for this novel, I feel the emphasis in I’ll Take What She Has is on the dynamics of motherhood. I’ll Take What She Has thoughtfully examines a wide range of related themes including adoption, infertility, marriage, family dysfunction and belonging.” I read that and thought, wow! She’s absolutely right. What a wonderful thing to feel that your deeper story has been seen!
Amy: We talk a lot on this blog about what women’s fiction is, and what it’s not. Now it’s your turn. What is your definition of women’s fiction? Do you take issue with that label for your books, or do you embrace it?
Sam: I love the name women’s fiction—as long as it applies to the content and not to the readers. And as long as it’s allowed to sit squarely with other fiction genres. When I think about women’s fiction, I think about fiction that directly tells the truths of women’s lives. I’m proud to be included in that category. A label can help guide. If you say, “I write war fiction,” it gives people a sense of a book. But obviously a book about war is not just about war, it’s about love and loss and strength and hope. And a woman’s novel is not simply about a woman. It’s about life and meaning and identity and fortitude—among so much else. Women writing about women’s lives, women’s fiction writers(!), have such ancestors in writing, from Jane Austen to Kate Chopin to Margaret Atwood to Louisa May Alcott. What a remarkable creative lineage.
Amy: What is your best advice for aspiring authors of women’s fiction—or for someone like me (one of the perks of being the interviewer) who is writing a second novel?
Sam: My best advice today? Write for yourself. The world may or may not love your words, your stories. If writing, in and of itself, before sales or book deals or contracts or success or agents, doesn’t satisfy you, find something else. Write for your own sake because you can’t not write. At the end of the day, if your writing has brought one person fulfillment (and that one person is you), let that be enough. Then everything else ends up icing on the cake!
Samantha Wilde, the mother of three young children born in just over four years, openly admits to eating far, far too much chocolate—usually to keep her awake during nap time so she can write some books. Before she took on mothering as a full-time endeavor, she taught more than a dozen yoga classes a week (now she teaches one). She’s a graduate of Concord Academy, Smith College, Yale Divinity School and The New Seminary, as well as the Kripalu School of Yoga. She’s been an ordained minister for more than a decade. Her first novel, This Little Mommy Stayed Home, helped a lot of new mothers get through the night. The daughter of novelist Nancy Thayer, she lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, a professor of chemical engineering.