Samantha Downing burst onto the thriller scene with her 2019 breakout hit My Lovely Wife—where one look at the cover was enough to leave readers looking over their shoulders! Now, she’s back with a brand-new novel—and some eye-opening answers to our 11 most burning questions.
1. What book changed your life?
Probably Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Not only did I love how creepy it was, it was the first book I read with an unnamed narrator. I became so fascinated with that idea, it was so clever and—for the story—so useful. It stayed with me enough to write My Lovely Wife with an unnamed narrator.
2. Was your first published book the first manuscript you ever wrote?
No, I’ve written many other books, and in all genres. I’ve been writing as a hobby for years and have explored just about everything from horror to literary. Thrillers are my first love, however. Everyone in my family reads them and I grew up doing the same.
3. Stephen King says, “The hardest part is just before you start.” What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Starting is easier than sticking with it to me. Many times I get bored at around the 20,000-word mark. I can’t even count the number of manuscripts I’ve abandoned at that point.
4. Do you know the story’s ending before you start?
Never. I don’t plot my novels, and I don’t know the ending until about two-thirds of the way through. I like to discover the story the same way a reader would.
5. When you’re having a difficult writing day, what do you tell yourself to get through it?
I continue to write, no matter what. I’ve discarded and deleted far more writing than I’ve kept, and that’s okay. Everyone has a bad day. Sports teams still have to play, musicians still have to perform, and people still have to go to work even if they are having a difficult day. I feel the same way about writing. Practice is important, and sometimes that’s all it is.
6. Do you read your reviews?
I read them for My Lovely Wife because it was my first book and I was dying to see what people were saying about it. Now I don’t … or at least not as much!
7. Besides being persistent and correcting your spelling errors, what’s your best advice for a new author?
Write. Don’t think about it or make a plan to do it and then never do it. If you want to be a writer, you have to write and you have to write a lot. I’ve met far more people who talk about writing than actually do it. Those people don’t ever seem to get around to doing it, so they never get published.
8. What’s your definition of writer misery?
Writer misery is not being able to write. Although I try to write every single day, sometimes I can’t due to time constraints. For me, that’s writer misery.
9. What’s your definition of writer happiness? Speaking of which–what’s your newest book?
When I’m writing a story that I really enjoy and interests me. Nothing is worse than being bored, and being bored my own story is terrible. When I’m really into a story even I want to know what happens next! And I can’t wait to get up and write every day just to find out. Nothing better than that, in my opinion.
My newest book, He Started It, just released on July 21. It’s about three siblings—and two spouses—who have to go on a road trip in order to get their grandfather’s inheritance. Along the way they have to deal with a lot of family secrets, grudges, and scores to settle—as siblings always do!
It was a lot of fun to write this book, especially when it came to researching all the places they stopped across the country. We have some really interesting, off-the-beaten path attractions, and it was fun to learn about all of them.
10. What’s your favorite book on writing?
On Writing by Stephen King
11. What book are you reading right now?
I have an advance copy of Kaira Rouda’s next book and so far I love it! It’s coming out in 2021.
How is your process like Downing’s—or completely different? Join the discussion on Facebook!
Samantha Downing is the author of the Edgar Award-nominated USA Today and Sunday Times bestseller My Lovely Wife. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel. Her next book He Started It, is hot off the press July 21, 2020. She lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away on her next novel.