Samantha St. Claire
Author of Kat's Law
Please join us in welcoming historical western romance author Samantha St. Claire to Books & Benches for a 5 Question Q&A.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends) "Am I really a writer? Am I Really an artist?" Chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death." —Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
My daughter gave this quote to me on a handmade card for my birthday two years ago. More than anyone, she knows how much I invest in my writing. She also understands that struggle to persevere before the revisions are complete and way before the reviews are in. If this quote is true, then I guess I'm a writer, because there is a lot of fear in putting my heart out there. When you publish, it is very much like giving birth, and I don't know how the world will treat my child.
What story are you working on next, and what inspired it?
Shepherdess of the High Valley This title came to me while finishing Kat's Law. That just brings so many lovely pastoral images to mind. I suspect the name came about as a result of my recent research into the Basques that settled the high deserts and mountains of Idaho. I'm not sure that this will be part of the Sawtooth Range Series or it will be launched from that series to create another. I do hope no one writes with that title before I have a chance to use it. Titles are critical to my mindset when I'm first putting down my thoughts. It's been that way since I was a child, sitting in the barn writing my little stories. Picking up my freshly sharpened, yellow pencil, I'd write that title on a stack of lined notebook paper, stare at it for awhile, and wonder where it would lead me like Alice standing poised over the rabbit hole.
Of course, I have to see what happens next with Jonathan and Kat. Do you think they should get married?
What is your favorite scene in Kat's Law?
I love the relationship Kat shares with her father. She has such respect for him and while she so wants to pursue her own dream of working in the San Francisco hospital, she knows how it will impact him. I find the scene at the table very touching, where she begins to see just how weary he is. When she steps around the table and wraps her arms around him she wants to share a little of that burden he's carrying "enfolding all of him - his worries and cares - in the comfort of her presence". I think for many of us there is a time in our relationships with our parents that we recognize a reversal of roles. It's a time when we become the caregiver, the one to encourage and support. Nathaniel has been her mentor and wise counselor for so long that this moment of awareness is painful. As a physician now she steps into that role quite naturally. But in the next moment, she realizes that her own dreams are in jeopardy.
What else have you written?
Under another name, I've published a middle-grade historical fiction novel, which recently won an award. I'm quite pleased by that, because of my affection for the protagonist, an orphan boy of mixed heritage. He was modeled after my son, a young man who needed to find his true calling, rejecting expectations forced upon him. I started writing it when my own brave son shipped out with the U.S. Marines to Afghanistan in 2012. So that became the theme of the novel.
The setting also helped to inspire that story. Fort Ross was a Russian settlement in the mid-nineteenth century on the California coast. The Russian American Company set up a colony to become the breadbasket for their Alaskan hunting colony. For thirty years they worked there in relative harmony with the Pomo Indians, evening living in an uneasy peace with the Spaniards. Although the colony did produce goods that the Alaskan colony could not grow for themselves, the Tsar shut them down and ordered everyone home in 1841. That is another story worthy of writing, and it could turn out to be a romantic novel for my grownup little orphan.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Once I know my characters well, I find that they begin to write their own dialog. I don't mean to sound metaphysical in that, but they do seem to take on a will of their own.
When you live with a character rattling around in your brain 24 hours a day for three months or more, you can hear the cadence of their speech and know their colloquialisms. You learn how they will react and what verbal responses they are likely to give. You know when they will not speak as well, when they'll suffer silently or petulantly turn to internal dialog.
I enjoy allowing my characters to speak to one another. Often they surprise me. I'll type the words, end with the quotation marks, sit back and think, "Wow! I didn't know you thought that?" That's when you look over your shoulder, a bit spooked, wonder if there really is a muse, and go turn on all the lights. It's a wonderful, scary kind of thrill to see where that stream of consciousness leads them.
At the end of the first draft, I find it sometimes necessary to go back into the story and cut back the dialog so that more time can be given over to narrative. This makes me wonder if I shouldn't be teaming up with a graphic novelist and simply consigning myself to writing only the dialogue.
Samantha St. Claire is the alter-ego and pen name of an award-winning writer of historical fiction. Kat's Law is her first venture into romantic historical fiction. With residences in both Washington and Idaho, she's spent long hours traveling the route of the old Oregon Trail, gathering inspiration for her novels along the way. The second book in The Sawtooth Range Series is due to be released later this year.
She was a doctor seeking justice for her town. He was a lawman who had turned in his badge after failing to protect the innocent.
Dreams of an educated woman
Kat Meriwether left Snowberry as a tomboy with a saucy reputation as a fighter of bullies. She returns as an educated woman polished by her father's aunt, with whom she's lived these past four years. Throughout those years she's kept her mind on her studies, avoiding romantic entanglements that might hinder her from achieving her goals. Those goals have advanced to include an appointment as a physician in a San Francisco hospital, but upon returning she learns just how much her father and Snowberry need her to stay.
Nightmares of an ex-Texas Ranger
Texas Ranger, Jonathan Winthrop, is a haunted man, running from his own tormented past. Idaho territory offers him a chance to start over as a rancher, but lawless men are changing the once peaceful town, and innocents will die without a defender. But can he find the confidence in his brokenness to take up his gun again and confront those who would violate the law?
Love can alter them all
In this sweet historical western romance, author Samantha St. Claire brings young medical school graduate, Dr. Kat Meriwether, back to Idaho Territory to find violence has shattered the peace of her beloved home, but she also finds a good man whose sense of justice is as strong as hers. Together they would find not only their irresistible calling, but an undeniable love.
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
Publisher: Samantha St. Claire
Formats: Paperback & eBook
Series: Sawtooth Range, Book One
Genre: Sweet Historical Western Romance