Interview with Sami Valentine

Sami Valentine
This week, I'm delighted to share an interview with author Sami Valentine with you. Sami is the author of The Red Witch Chronicles.

Tell me more about your book?
A Witch Called Red is the first book in the Red Witch Chronicles. This is a supernatural thriller about a witch trained as a supernatural bounty hunter; where she came from is a mystery. Each book in the series has its own plot and conflict to solve. The overarching mystery is Red discovering exactly who she is and why she was left for dead with amnesia outside Eugene, Oregon. In the first book, Red and her mentor come to Los Angeles to solve the mysterious murder of a model left drained on the beach. Red gets in over her head as the murder investigations takes a hard turn into a conspiracy with the local vampires. It will eventually be a 9-book series and book 5 is coming out at the end of 2020.

What prompted you to write it?
I am really interested in identity and memory and how it affects someone's personality and choices. A big theme in the Red Witch Chronicles is the struggle with being yourself and it's interesting to explore those themes with a character who has no memories.

What are you working on at the moment? Are there already plans for the next book after this one?
I am working on the fifth book of my Red Witch Chronicles series. I am a detailed plotter and world-builder so I have the big plot points of the 4 books in the series outlined. This is an interesting book to write because it’s both answering and giving red herrings to the big question of the series—the amnesiac MC’s origins. The book is about coming home and facing your past so I get to explore some interesting dynamics with the characters which after so many books are nicely developed.

When did you first start writing? And what made you start?
I have no idea when I started writing or what made me. I always loved books and my grandparents were big readers who pushed all their old favorites on me. I knew that I wanted to be a writer early. My first publicly posted story was probably a terrible Harry Potter fanfiction when I was like 12-13 then I filled journals and did creative writing classes in school. I even was a creative writing major, briefly in college because I had the cliched encounter with a professor who was a snob against genre fiction. I was publishing my own zine, writing for local blogs and papers, and submitting short stories in college. Even got a novella traditionally published by a small press. Then I had writer’s block for years. It's been 2-3 years since I have gotten back into writing to carry on my childhood dream of being a writer.

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote? (I realise this may not be the same as the first book you have had published!)
An urban fantasy book called Dig Two Graves set in Tucson, Arizona. This novel was the seed to the world-building 16-year-old with little life experience, but there are a few scene ideas that I will end up incorporating into a new story. I still enjoy that main character and the opening scene which came from a dream of a young Hispanic woman working one of those anonymous motels along the highway, knocking on a door saying housekeeping while a vampire has a kidnapped victim inside, and well, let’s just say she cleaned up even if she left a bloody mess.

Which is your favourite secondary character in your book, and why is it your favourite?
Vic Constantine. He popped into my head as my main character’s hunting partner and mentor with what I thought was an expiration date at the end of book 1. He is a complicated dude—bounty hunter, hacker, and adopted Korean redneck. Definitely worth his own standalone book. His voice is one of the easiest for me to ‘hear’ as a writer.

Where is your ideal writing space?
My ideal: an outdoor covered patio in a temperate climate while a gentle rain taps outside as my coffee steams close to hand. I am in a silky robe with pockets and an ergonomic chair. There is a black cat curled up in a nearby chair. Or specifically this small renovated castle ruin in France:

My current writing space is a small desk in the corner of my bedroom in what is most certainly not a French castle.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given? (not necessarily writing-related!)
Don’t half ass things a bunch of things, full-ass a few. Multi-tasking doesn’t actually exist. Life is more satisfying and less stressful when you just focus on what really matters to you than ‘keeping up with the Jones’ or ‘having it all.’

And now for some more random questions...

What’s your radio tuned to most often?
I am a Spotify person because I love playlists. Right now I am writing so much urban fantasy that I have a 15+ hour long playlist filled with the rock, pop, electric, and rap that reminds me of the genre.

You’re stranded on an island. You can choose one of the following three things. Which do you choose and why?
1. Limitless supply of paper and pens.
2. A computer which will never run out of battery and which can access the internet, but you can’t post anything/get help via it, only read what others have put up.
3. An endless supply of loo roll.
2. A computer which will never run out of battery and which can access the internet, but you can’t post anything/get help via it, only read what others have put up.

I assume that this has a word processor so I could still write. The trouble would be keeping sand out of it, I suppose. Then I would have all the information on how to survive, which plants to eat, how to make a shelter, weather reports, etc. That is more useful than loo paper because I can just use a leaf or something.

You can only wear one of the following colours for the rest of your life. Which colour do you choose? Yellow. Orange. Green. White. Pink.
Green. I have red hair, lightening or darkening depending on the seasons much like an Arctic Tern, and I think that would be the most complimentary. If I choose white, I would be constantly dripping things on myself because that is my luck.

Cats or dogs?
Dogs are delightful and I love them but cats are better for writers… as long as you have a decoy keyboard for them to hang out on.

City or country?
I hate choosing between the two! Its why I like cities like Medellin, Colombia and Tucson, Arizona where you can quickly go between either.

Real book or e-book?
It used to be real books all the way, but I ran out of bookshelf space and I finally embraced e-readers. In a normal year, I spend over 8 months traveling or living abroad so I had to adapt my reading habits to become more minimal.

Fountain pen or biro?
I am in the US so we don’t call them this but biro sounds fun.

Thanks very much for letting me bombard you with questions!

You can keep up with Sami at all of these places...

And don't forget to check out her book!