S. J. Gregory
This week we caught up with S. J. Gregory (a.k.a. Samantha) and discovered that, not only has she been a prolific writer since her teen years, but that she is also a mother-of-two, a Health Care Assistant, squeezes in her interest in meteorology and love of 'Friends', and still has a long list of books in the pipeline for her readers!
Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Samantha and I write under the pseudonym: S. J. Gregory.
I am a mother to two boys who are twelve and eight years old and they certainly keep me on my toes.
My profession is as a Health Care Assistant (also known as a Nurse Assistant) and I proudly work in one of the acute hospitals for the NHS. I have a passion for helping people and am honoured to have a job I love.
I have a great interest in meteorology and am fascinated by severe weather. I love visiting new places and look forward to new adventures around the world with my two children.
My main passion is books. I love reading them, collecting them and, above all, writing them.
What first inspired you to start writing?
My inspiration to start writing came at a young age. In my teenage years I used to enjoy writing poetry. By the time I was doing English GCSE, it became apparent to my teacher that I had a very vivid imagination and my story telling was more than convincing.
When I was twenty years old, and had just moved into a house with my first-born son who was only eighteen months old at the time, after putting him down to sleep one evening I decided to write a story that was inspired by a dream I'd had one night. When I first sat down to write it was only meant to be a short story, however the story kept coming and developing in ways I could not have anticipated. I was completely pulled into it and it was thrilling. By the time I had finished it was over 700 pages long and so I decided to break it into two novels. More new ideas came to me soon after and I haven’t stopped writing since.
What made you want to work with Rowanvale and be published?
When I had finished writing my first book (which later developed into a three-part series) I hadn’t given much thought to publishing. Like many others, I feared no one would be interested in reading a story I had to tell when there are already so many amazing authors out there.
I told my friend, who lived next door to me at the time, that I had written a book. It turned out that her son-in-law knew a publisher and would pass my name on. The publisher emailed and agreed to meet with me with a sample of my manuscript. He was very generous to read what I had given and at our second meeting he was gracious with his honest critique and advice. I left the meeting with lots to think about and a sudden realisation that maybe I did want to publish after all.
I created a pen name and set up a Facebook and Twitter account under that name, but I had no clue what to do next. A little while after, I received a message through Twitter by someone who told me that she and her company, Rowanvale Books, might be able to help me to get published. Cat made it sound so simple and exciting and after approving my sample manuscript, the fun really began.
During the whole publishing process, the entire team at Rowanvale made me feel well looked after and, as a new author, that really helped to build my trust and ease my anxiety about this new territory I had stepped blindly into.
When you’re not writing, what are you reading?
When I am not writing I am either working at the hospital, tending to my home (although I’d rather be gardening than doing housework), playing with my children, taking them to Karate class or helping with homework. With any free time I have left over I will sit and read or watch one of my favourite TV shows. I do have a mild obsession with the TV shows Bones and Friends, which I have been known to binge watch from time-to-time.
Which work are you most proud of?
The work I am most proud of is a novel I called, The Island. This has yet to be published, but is certainly in the pipeline to be as soon as I can. This novel is one of my stand-alone stories and even when I am re-reading it, I still find it hard to believe that I wrote it. I had so much fun writing this story and it only took three weeks to pour out of me.
What’s your best advice for handling writer's block?
Writer’s block really sucks, and it can come in different stages. The best way to work around it is to take a break from that piece of work.
Sometimes writer's block only lasts a short while and I can push through it by writing short sentences at a time following on from the previous scene in the book and eventually the inspiration returns and starts to flow again.
If the block is giving me more grief that I can’t even do one short sentence, I either try to make notes for other stories, or do some editing of other manuscripts.
Sometimes, if the block is driving me crazy and has stopped me from even considering new ideas, I just step away from the keyboard altogether and read a book.
What’s one thing you always have with you when you’re writing?
The one thing I always have with me when writing is my playlist on my phone. It ranges from intense soundtracks from different movies (which help inspire faster paced scenes, such as a fighting scene or perhaps a chase of some kind) to softer tones of classical music (to aid with the more romantic or even morose scenes). Finally, I have some bouncier melodies for a fun and humorous vibe. None of the songs on my playlist have lyrics so I am inspired by the rhythm of the songs alone.
What is the one book you would take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?
It’s so difficult to pick the one book that I would take with me if I were stuck on a desert island because there are so many I love. If I had to choose just one, then it would have to be any of the thrillers written by Nora Roberts. It doesn’t matter which one because it’s not very often I find myself disappointed with one of her stories.
What is the best part about being an independently published author?
The best part about being independently published author is the amount of control you retain with your own work. I really love how included I am with the entire process, from editorial changes to cover designs.
What’s next for you?
Next in line for me, first and foremost, is to get part two of my three-part (The Law, Love and Lies) mini-series published and then continue to write book three in my crime series called, Deadly Minds.