MEET THE AUTHOR MONDAY: Today I’m talking to Grace Sammon, Entrepreneur, Educator, Speaker, and Author
Grace Sammon is an entrepreneur, educator, speaker, and author. She has started and managed two for-profit and two not-for-profit companies, and she has travelled to 35 states and 8 foreign countries. Recognized in “Who’s Who in Education” and “Who’s Who in Literature,” Grace is utilizing skills built up over decades as she re-invents herself with her award-winning fourth book and debut novel – The Eves – as well as with a return to one of her early loves, radio. The Eves is an intergenerational story about lives lived well and lives in transition. It is a novel that challenges each of us to ask who we want to be in the world, regardless of our age. Grace brings that quest for a good story, and a drive to keep contributing, to her new radio show, “The Storytellers.” Each episode captures the stories of authors and others who leave their mark on the world through the art of story.
Grace is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers’ Association (WFWA), is Director of Membership for one of the fastest growing Face Book groups “Bookish Road Trip,” and a contributing moderator of “The Write Review.” She is currently working on several anthologies and sketching out her next novel.
Grace grew up on Long Island, NY and spent most of her life in the Washington, DC area. She currently lives on Florida’s west coast with her husband and a small herd of imaginary llamas. You can reach Grace via email at email@example.com and follow her on Facebook and Instagram at GraceSammonWrites.
- The Eves is your fourth published book but your first novel. What was it like to shift from writing nonfiction in your earlier work to fiction? What preparation did you have to do?The shift was easier than you might think. Even in my research-based, data-driven educational works there is an element of story. I believe that we connect best to each other when we understand the art of story and the role that story has in connecting us to the prime message of our work. That’s true whether it’s the importance of improving our high schools in the United States or conveying the message that our literary stories matter. When our stories are told, everything changes.
The educational work becomes more meaningful if I nestle it in the lives of students, families, and educators. The fictional work becomes more meaningful if I can connect readers to strong character and place-driven locals.
The biggest preparation was that the publishing process is entirely different, and, in a novel, you can make it turn out the way you wish, not necessarily where the data lead you.
2. As people learned about your book, what unexpected things happened along the way?
In truth, the entire process has been a surprise. I’m surprised at how much work it is launch and sustain interest in a book. And, I’m surprised at how much joy and interest there is in The Eves. Like many of the characters in my book I thought I was “done.” Finish up the educational career, write a novel, be done, retire. What has been wholly unexpected are the multiple, real, tangible, and important connections I have made with authors and readers. This is an upside of the pandemic – that place where the virtual and real worlds collided. The most surprising and most fun experience is the advent of my radio show, “The Storytellers.” I gave an interview about The Eves to Dr, Gayle Carson on her radio station “Spunky Old Broads.” She loved the interview and offered me my own show. I was stunned that I was stuck in “I’m done” when my characters were clearly screaming at me “you are not!” The process of having a radio show and podcast was entirely unexpected. The gift of interviewing authors, reporters, and even a Nobel Peace Prize winner gives me a new perspective on the art and importance of story. When I look at this body of work, I wish my younger self knew that, as a friend of mine says, “we are not done until they fold our hands in the box.” There is always a next step or a next opportunity. We have to sometimes look for it, sometimes it has to come and find us, but it’s there.
3. Why do you write?I just marvel at the process. I marvel that a nascent thought can somehow percolate around, flow through my fingers, and land with a splat on a page or screen. I write selfishly because I love that magic. I write to move a reader to a place or vantage point that they may not have otherwise ventured. 4.
4. Where do your characters come from? At their core, they are snippets of people I know, conglomerations of people I know. However, Carl Jung, the famed psychotherapist, would say they are also all, slightly, myself. The youngest character in my book is 15, the oldest 94. The characters are white, Black, Latinx, there’s a lesbian couple, there are Native Americans, and while I cannot claim an ethnically diverse background, I think there is part of me in each character, whether I am talking to my 15 year old self that I wish was as wise as Erica, or a 94 year old self that I hope to be.
5. How much time do you spend writing each day?Recently, not as much as I would like. I am currently very good at knocking off short writing projects. However, between “The Storytellers” and my other work supporting authors, I am not writing in the sense of novel writing. I recently created a collaborative of 19 authors called “Author Talk Network.” We are debut authors and USA Today an NY Times bestsellers, some of us have other careers, others have multiple books and are journalists. It’s a fascinating group that has garnered some international attention, that too is exciting.
6. If you didn’t write, what would you do with that time? Do you feel compelled to write or choose to?
That’s an interesting question. My son tells me I am a horrible role model for retirement, as you are. There are days when I want to spend more time with my husband or friends, or play more tennis or pickle ball. Then I think I’ll just walk away. However, the truth is, I don’t know how I’d fill my days, and fill my days with authentic meaning for me.
7. What’s the hardest part of writing or publishing?
The writing is the time management and the head space. And, maybe, trusting that the story your heart wants you to tell is tellable. The publishing piece is entirely different. It’s ridiculously hard whether you are traditionally published or independently published or the whole host of options in-between. I did not have a book launch plan, that’s important. I’d have one now, and I help others develop what I did not understand.
8. Who is your favorite character from your book(s)?
People are always surprised when I say that it is not my protagonist Jessica Barnet. Jessica is both the protagonist and the antagonist. She’s her own worst enemy. I love her, but she’s not my favorite. I was asked recently to interview Jessica for a blog. It was incredibly hard, and incredibly fun to see her again and have a good talk and see what she thought of the book.My favorite character is Tobias. Wise, gentle, 90ish, African American, medical doctor. Just so good and easy to be with while at the same time he challenges you to be more.
9. What writing mistakes do you find yourself making most often?
I have a problem with tense. Too often I’ve thought through a scene and when it comes out on the page it comes out in the past tense. This is a real challenge for me. I address it by having my husband read my pages out loud to me and I can hear, most of the time, the error of my ways. Then, of course there are editors with red pens as well.
10. What is your most bizarre talent?
I’d love to say it was something like I can bend spoons with my mind, or that my secret super power is counting backwards by nines. In fact, I’m just not that interesting in that regard. My super powers lay in two areas, maybe three. I’m still incredibly driven to do work, good work. That demands me to be a super good time manager and multi-tasker. My other superpower is listening to people, connecting, caring, being present to people when they talk. And, let’s face it, as an author, being a good listening is the fodder for good stories!
I’d love to hear from your readers. They can follow me on Facebook at Grace Sammon and on Instagram at Grace Sammon Writes and they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If they’d like to learn more about me or The Eves, or listen to episodes of “The Storytellers” it’s all available at www.gracesammon.net