Interview with Samantha Heuwagen
Samantha Heuwagen is the author of the feminist science fiction series THE STARLESS SERIES. The first novel is DAWN AMONG THE STARS (May 21st 2018) and the second novels is FADING STARLIGHT (June 17th 2019). The series is published by the Trifecta Publishing House.
Question - Please describe what the book is about.
Samantha Heuwagen - The entire series focuses on mental health and how it would be impacted by the coming of aliens. In book two, FADING STARLIGHT, the major themes are relationships––healthy and otherwise––and how to help survivors of sexual assault.
Earth is but a shadow of itself as three Humans begin to pick up both the pieces of war-torn Earth and their shattered lives.
Kayin Aves finds herself on Selucia with no word on whether or not she’ll be able to return to her beloved planet. With such uncertainty, her fears cause her to push away any La’Mursian that might help her fight for Earth. However, her inner strength gives her hope that she can put an end to this war.
When Beenishia set up a base camp for survivors, she knew it’d be a target–but she didn’t calculate the full cost. Because of this, Henry and Melissa realize that war is more than just gunfire and explosions. Psychological tactics threaten to tear the survivors a part and end the fragile bond forming between what’s left of the La’Mursians and Humans.
Can they save Earth, or is this just the beginning of the end?
Q - What’s the story behind the title?
SH - Actually my friend, Jalon Harris, helped me. Let’s be honest, he hated all of my previous names and after a very long and intense brainstorming session, he said, “Fading Starlight.” We both kind of looked at each other and sat in silence for a moment before going, “Yes!”
Q - No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.
SH - Alien sex… Hold on, it’s about to get steamy in here.
Q - Tell us about your favorite character.
SH - My favorite character has to be the sassy and smart, Kayin Aves. She’s a feisty Latina that isn’t sure she should trust these aliens that pretty much showed up out of nowhere, but she isn’t given a choice when she’s taken off planet to fight for Earth. I love that she’s true to herself and even though she struggles through panic attacks and PTSD, she’s willing to do what it takes to reclaim her home.
Q - If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
SH - Unlike Kayin, I would want to get to know the La’Mursians. I think I’d want to see what their world was like and get to know them on a deeper level. I’m a therapist, so I always have questions up my sleeve and getting to know Space in such a unique way would be so interesting!
Q - Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imagination?
SH - It’s funny because after my loved ones read the first book, Dawn Among the Stars, a lot of them pointed out different parts of my personality in all the characters. However true that it, I’ve also written about friends and family, too. I definitely see my sister in Mabel and my friend in Melissa. I think we, as authors, draw from a variety of influences and it’s fun for me to see how they come alive.
Q - How long did you take to write this book?
SH - Several years, but I did take a few years off while I was in graduate school. I only started taking it seriously a couple of years ago. It’s crazy to think this is where I am now––I couldn’t be happier!
Q - What kind of research did you do for this book?
SH - I had to look up a few locations and destinations in the US as well as some logistics in space. I also picked beta readers that focused on therapy and sexual assault to make sure the book focused more on healing then the actual event. My goal was for the readers to learn, not to be traumatized.
Q - What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
SH - I removed the word “had” so many times I never want to see it again!
Q - Are you a plotter or a pantser?
SH - Pantser for sure! I can’t plot everything out or I’d get bored.
Q - What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
SH - I make myself laugh a lot, so when I’m writing and I bust out laughing it just feels good. It might never be funny to anyone else, but at the end of the day I’m not writing for everyone else. Sometimes writing takes a toll and is very serious, but if I can laugh through it, it makes the process that much more enjoyable.
Q - What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
SH - Finding time. I have to schedule my day in such a way that I can meet with all my clients (I’m a sex therapist), be present for them, and sit down to write or edit something. Luckily, there are 24hrs in a day or I’d be sunk!
Q - Can you share your writing routine?
SH - I write in my home office mostly, though I’ve been known to venture out to my local tea shop. I have even found myself writing in my therapy office, which is really nice, except when I get lost in a scene and forget to check the time––that’s happened a little too often if I’m honest! I light candles, turn on my salt lamp, blast some music usually by Sleeping at Last, and get to work––oh and can’t forget the tea!
Q - Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
SH - No. If I don’t feel like writing, I don’t. Why push myself until it hurts? That’s no fun. However, I have guilt of not writing now, which I’m trying to work through.
Q - If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
SH - Oh yes, girl, you’re going to be an author! How insane is that?
Q - How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
SH - I actually have one that will probably never see the light of day about comics and that messy world. But if you count my current WIP, the third installment of The Starless Series, STARDUST EMERGING, then two!
Q - Do you have any writing quirks?
SH - It used to be I needed tea. Now, I need silence. I’m not sure why things changed but here we are. Silence or it ain’t happening!
Q - Tell us about yourself.
SH - I’m a bilingual sex therapist in Atlanta, GA. I have a dog and a husband that love to cuddle, hike, and keep me laughing. I do yoga when I can and I love talking about mental health that makes people think. It’s not just for “sick” people, it’s so much more!
Q - How did you get into writing?
SH - While in graduate school I needed more self-care options. I started rewriting DAWN AMONG THE STARS because it felt good and slowly, I realized I had something special I wanted to share with the world.
Q - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
SH - I love doing yoga, hiking, and hanging with friends. My biggest passion is changing the narrative around sex, mental health, and relationships. The best decision I’ve ever made was to become a therapist. I love being a therapist. I love helping people and I love changing the world around me. I can’t describe what it feels like to know that I’m witnessing someone’s life change. And even though my clients like to believe I’m making them change, they are ones doing the work. I simply get to be around for their journey during the time they need to heal.
Q - Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?
SH - I’m a blogger. You can visit SamanthaHeuwagen.com and read my thoughts on mental health and how to live your best life!
Q - Share something about you most people probably don’t know.
SH - I hated words when I was younger. Being diagnosed with two learning disabilities I thought writing and reading were for other people. I’m so shocked this is where I am today, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Q - Which book influenced you the most?
SH - Though it’s problematic, GONE WITH THE WIND had an ending that still haunts me to this day! Come on Scarlett get it together, girl!
Q - What are you working on right now?
SH - The third installment of the series, STARDUST EMERGING.
Q - What’s your favorite writing advice?
SH - Practice, practice, and then practice some more.
Q - What book are you currently reading?
SH - THE YANKEE EARL by Shirl Henke.
Samantha Heuwagen’s Biography
Samantha Heuwagen works as a Marriage and Family Therapist that specializes in Sex Therapy in Atlanta, GA. She is a graduate of Mercer University School of Medicine where she earned her second Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her first Master's degree is in Women's and Gender Studies from the University of South Florida where she first realized her passion for sex education and the power of the written word. When she isn't working with clients, she writes about faraway places and tries to change the world through fiction bridging mental health awareness and social justice together.
Links to Samantha Heuwagen
Preorder for Fading Starlight:
Dawn Among the Stars: https://books2read.com/u/4EyANA