The Lady Alchemist by Samantha Vitale
1- What is your favorite coffee?
When I make my own coffee at home, it is always Starbucks Pike Place
coffee, made with a French press. (I used to work at Starbucks, and now that's the only kind of coffee I like. Whoops.) When I buy coffee from a coffee shop, I almost always get a redeye. A redeye is brewed coffee with a shot of espresso - it's very strong, very smooth, very dark. Perfect with a dash of cream.
2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?
Do your best every day. Be kind to yourself and to your first draft.
3- What is the best piece of writing advice you've received?
So I've been asked this question a lot, and my answer changes almost every time. I tend to answer the question with the piece of writing advice that's best for me at the time.
And today, the best piece of writing advice I've received is from one of Chuck Wendig
's most recent blog posts about writing during the pandemic. His advice: the goal is simply to move forward.
Writing right now is ... slower. I have to fight for the words one by one. It is frustrating, and it's hard not to get discouraged. But Chuck is absolutely right. The goal is not to move forward as quickly as I used to; the goal is simply to move forward. That's comforting. (His blog is excellent, by the way.)
4- Rumpelstiltskin! Does that word appear in your fantastic retelling?
It actually doesn't! I changed a LOT of things about the original story, and one of the things that went out the door was the name.
5- Would you share a picture with us of your book on your bookshelves?
Due to the pandemic, my author copies have been delayed. I haven't held my book yet! I have, however, flexed my photoshop skills, so I'll share some photoshopped pictures with you.
6- Greed, lies, and making promises you can't keep are all frowned upon by the original fairytale. How could those lessons improve our real world today?
In times like this, it's very clear that selflessness, truthfulness, and follow-through are very important qualities we want from our leadership. And on a person-to-person level, it's more important than ever to be selfless. To take what we need, and leave the rest for someone else. The lesson today is the same as it's always been, I think. Think of others first. Be honorable. Be kind. Help where you can.
7- What's your favorite book to movie adaptation?
The Princess Bride. Always.
8- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?
Bookstagram is where I'm the most active on social media, so I have lots of favorites! Some of my absolute faves are
9- What most motivates you to read a new book?
I get the most excited about books with premises that jump out at me. (Recent books I'm excited about that have amazing premises: The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin, Fireborne by Rosaria Munda, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates...) I also get really excited when fantasy books are placed outside the sort of "stock" fantasy setting. (Like Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes series
, S. A. Chakraborty's Daevabad series
, or the Winternight series
by Katherine Arden.) I just love knowing that, whatever the story does, it's going to do it differently or take me somewhere new.
10- It's our tenth anniversary! How far has your writing come in the past ten years and where do you see your writing career ten years from now?
Ten years ago, I was not writing. I was in the middle of a really difficult period in my life, and I was basically in survival mode. I've been writing for about seven years now, and I've come so far - partly from constant writing practice, and partly because I've become an obsessive reader.
Ten years from now, I hope I write more confidently and judge my first drafts less. I hope to have several more published books under my belt (fingers crossed)! Maybe I am dreaming small, but my goal isn't to become a full-time writer or a bestseller. My goal is to write steadily, and to produce stories that could only have been written by me. Stories that are my own particular brand of weird.
11- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!
Maggie Stiefvater @mstiefvater
The Scorpio Races
I love Maggie's writing, because she is amazing at creating characters that are just... real. Puck Connolly and Sean Kendrick are two of my favorite characters. They're fiery and strong and pure and sweet. They know what they want, and they're stubborn enough to go after it no matter what. I love them more than I love most things. Plus, man-eating horses.
12- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?
Books have always been my escape. This may not be what every author would want, but I want my readers to feel safe while they read my book, because that's what I've needed so many times when I turned to a book. I want them to be confident that I want the best for my characters and for the story as a whole. I want them to know that, at least in this book, everything happens for a reason.
13- What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?
The Lady Alchemist is largely about finding and accepting yourself. The main character, who comes from a background of physical and emotional abuse, struggles with accepting herself and rejecting the criticisms that have been hurled at her for her entire life. Recovering from abuse, especially when you've internalized so much of it, is not instantaneous. It is a long journey, and often it feels like a solitary one. I hope that if anyone who reads this book is in a similar situation, they will feel less alone. I hope the book will help them know they aren't the only one who struggles with internalized abuse long after they're out of the abusive situation. They aren't a failure. They will get better. They're doing their best, and that is enough.
14- What is the best writing tool, program, or reference book you've ever bought?
I've bought several books about writing, and the one I found the most encouraging was Stephen King's On Writing. This book offers excellent advice, but the thing that stuck with me was the encouragement it offers. It's a book that says, "Go for it!" As a person who tends to overthink things, that encouragement is necessary sometimes.
15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks
My protagonist has severe dyslexia (termed "word blindness" in the book to avoid anachronism). The love interest is a person of color, as are several other named characters.
16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?
I don't think anyone else can compare to the sheer entertainment value that Paperfury
(C. G. Drews) provides in her book reviews. She's so energetic and relatable, and I loved her most recent book, The Boy Who Steals Houses.
17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
I don't remember much conscious thought going into this decision. For me, traditional publishing was always the dream, so that's what I did.
18- Which author, past or present, do you feel most resembles your work?
Oof. This question is impossible to answer, because I don't feel worthy of comparing myself to any of my heroes. I will say that I aspire to write books like Naomi Novik
's and Brandon Sanderson
19- Would you please ask our audience a question to answer in the comments?
Are you an alchemist or a magician?
20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
My Super Official Bio:
Samantha Vitale has an insatiable hunger for two things: big challenges and amazing stories. When not working at her highly technical day job, she can be found devouring books or writing new ones of her own. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their two small humans.
The book blurb:
In a land torn between magic and alchemy, Sepha is an exceptional alchemist, able to bend the rules in ways no one else can. But when a slip of the tongue lands her in prison with a mountain of straw, even she has to admit that she can't transmute straw into gold.
With the threat of a death sentence hanging over her, she's forced to make a deal with a conniving magician. Sepha escapes with her life - but at a cost: she has one year to alchemically create a body for the magician, or else her firstborn child will be his.
As Sepha's deadline approaches, she uncovers a deadly secret. How can she save her country when the body she owes the magician will be used to destroy it?
And I'm on IG
, and Tumblr
The Lady Alchemist by Samantha Vitale