Interview with J. Saman, author of Start With Me
18 Dec 2017
What can you tell us about your new release, Start With Me?
Start With Me is the third book in the Start Again series. Each book in the series is written as a standalone, but there are characters from the previous stories who make appearances. This book tells the story of Claire and Kyle, who meet at the wedding of Kyle’s brother, Ryan. Ryan just so happens to be Claire’s boss and one of her closest friends. There is an instant connection between the two. It’s palpable. But life doesn’t always convenient. Kyle lives in New York and Claire lives in Seattle. Problem, right? Except it’s not. They end up forging a long-distance phone friendship that turns out to be a lot more than either expected.
Both Claire and Kyle are a little lost in the world. They carry great secrets and burdens that can sometimes feel all-consuming. But when they find themselves coming to a crossroads in their lives, that’s where their story really starts to take off. Both individually and together. Kyle is a very by the book sort of guy. Sometimes he’s a bit too serious for his own good, but he falls quick and he falls hard for Claire. Claire on the other hand is a firecracker. She’s smart and feisty and full of life. She lives in the moment whereas Kyle likes to be the man with the plan.
Start With Me is a fun story and even though it deals with some pretty heavy subject matter on occasion, Claire and Kyle’s chemistry is what brings this story to life. It’s what has you rooting for them, because these two are incredible. It will make you laugh. It might make you cry. It will definitely make you smile and when it’s over, you’ll realize it’s only the beginning.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
That is not an easy question to answer. In fact, this is one that I’ve really had to think on. So here goes. I’m sure I’ll change my mind tomorrow, but for today, these are my top five in no particular order.
- The Little Prince
- Harry Potter Series
- Pride and Prejudice
- Law of Moses
Who are your literary heroes working today? Why do you admire them?
Yikes! Another toughie. Honestly, there are too many to call out. I’m a huge fan of the likes of Colleen Hoover, Jamie McGuire, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, L.J. Shen, JA Huss, etc. And I do mean etcetera. As in I could spend all day listing authors that I admire and adore.
But I think what I really like about the authors I mentioned, as well as the many others on my list that I didn’t, is that they’re not afraid to take chances in their work. They’re brave and bold and write stories with depth and character. That’s what I try to do. I try to write stories that go beyond the superficial. That stretch the fabric of romance and life and love. Love is not always pretty. It doesn’t always come wrapped up in a nice easy package. I love that. I love that you can have two characters, dealing with some real world heavy things, and yet, they find a way through. Hopefully together.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
Is it lame if I say everything? Probably, right? I love being able to tell a story that might otherwise not be told. I like the craft behind it. The way I can manipulate words and scenes so that they come to life. I enjoy being able to make people grow attached to the world and characters I create. And they do. I’ve had emails from people telling me how they cried and laughed out loud and became so frustrated by a particular character that they wanted to scream at them. I’ve had people tell me that they can’t put a book down until they know how it ends for these characters. That’s the best. That’s what writing is all about. Inspiring emotion in the reader. I feel like if I can do that, then I’ve done my job.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me involves being with my three girls. I work as a nurse practitioner, but I usually do that on occasional weekends so primarily, I am home with my girls. I love it. It really is the best. Yes, a lot of it is laundry and cleaning and cooking and doing boring day to day stuff. But I wouldn’t trade it. If I can, I try to get in as much writing as possible. Sometimes that means a few thousand words. Sometimes a lot more. Sometimes less. I do try to write every day though.
If you had to pick one place to vacation for the rest of your life, where would you choose?
I have no idea how to answer that. I love to travel. Like obsessively. If we can manage it, my family and I try to go on two vacations a year and always to a different place. I love Europe. Everything about it and every country. I love traveling around the U.S. and if I can get to an island and play in the sun and the waves, awesome. I think if I had to pick one place to vacation for the rest of my life, I’d probably pick Key West. I love the chill atmosphere down there, the water, the food and of course, the sunsets.
What scene in Start With Me was your favorite to write?
My favorite scene to write in Start With Me was the piano scene. It’s the night where things finally feel like they might come together for Claire and Kyle. The two are sitting at a piano (I’m not giving away too many details) and they’re talking about things that they have probably never told anyone else about themselves. It’s this painfully honest moment and yet so sweet and romantic and tender. It’s the sort of scene you feel and maybe that’s why I love it so much. It might also lead somewhere sexy.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
It’s something I’ve held onto my entire life and I did not write it. It’s a line from The Beastie Boys. “Be true to yourself and you will never fall.” If one can manage that, then I feel like the rest falls into place.
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