Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Interview with Author S.C. Harvey

My family fled to the U.S. nearly three decades ago while our country of Cambodia was being ravaged. I grew up primarily in the nested valley of Southern California before I made the move to the East Coast. Today, I am married to a loving husband, have one sweetheart of a daughter, one rascally puppy, and a sympathetic turtle. I love learning for the sake of learning and although I’m majoring in Mathematics, I also love English, Science, History, Music, Foreign Studies and the Arts. My belief is we can be both left and right brained with the right attitude because the two complement each other harmoniously. And we all possess a measure of both the logical and the beautiful. Both are needed to write a good story.

Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Sam: I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I told myself, “Sam, you’re going to be a writer,” because it didn’t start that way. Growing up, I would spend hours and hours writing poetry. I always did well with essays and school papers but I poured my heart out into my poems, working on word choice, flow, imagery and such. But as the years went on, stories accumulated in my brain and each of them wanted a voice so I was compelled to pen them. It then hit me, “This was like breathing for the soul.” I haven’t looked back since.

Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?

Sam: I can’t say that I have formal training in writing other than what was taught in school and classes taken in college. As far as my educational background goes, I graduated from Dean College majoring in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Mathematics. I currently attend Bridgewater State University where I’m finishing up another degree in Mathematics. Interestingly enough, I find that there is a huge correlation between my love for writing and my love of math. There’s an artistry to math just as there is an artistry to writing and the pursuit for things making sense of a situation, problem solving, and logical progression of a circumstances exists for both seemingly opposing subjects.

Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?

Sam: When I first started writing, I wrote for me. I love the freedom to express myself and pen stories that move me. When I say writing is breathing for the soul for me, I whole heartedly believe it. I love developing characters, creating plotlines and seeing it through to the end for them, and so the endings are true to the characters.

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Sam: Once the series was written, I sought out agents, sending out query letters and sample pages with synopsis. Unfortunately, it’s a tough industry for new authors, but I really believed in my books and knew that they’re worthwhile. I decided to self publish after weighing the pros and cons to self publishing versus traditional publishing. In the end, I found a publishing company that met my needs and helped guide me along the way.

Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Sam: There were moments of discouragement on my journey to publishing Sand Castles & Seashores. It’s never easy to hear from agents, albeit politely put, that they will pass on your book for now. It was also hard because I second guessed myself as to whether or not to publish because I felt like I was treading on the dreams of people close to me who have long ago wanted to publish themselves, working on it long before me. What’s helped to counteract the negative feelings was first, surrounding myself with some good friends who pushed me to move ahead, seeing that diamond in the rough, and second, belief in myself and in the stories I write.

Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?

Sam: I can’t say I have a set schedule. It generally goes I write when I have a minute to. I try to put family first, seeing to their needs while they’re awake anyway. Once everyone is asleep, that’s when I pull out the laptop. There have been moments, however, where I’ve stopped shopping at the mall, walking a trail, or doing dishes just to pull out my notebook, or a receipt, or whatever else I could write on just to jot down ideas and scenes I want to bring to life.

Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Sam: Some of my best ideas come from my dreams. That’s when my imagination flourishes and thrives, and I let it. There are elements in that dreamscape that catch my attention, that spark further intrigue from me. These jewels push me to dive into another world and explore it. For me, I know the idea is good enough when it moves me to feel something. It’s a twofold test, the characters have to be memorable with a depth that goes beyond the superficial and their stories have to be compelling. If either is lacking, then I need to go back and reinvent it.

Deirdra: I LOVE the premise of you book Sand Castles & Seashores. Can you tell us a little more about it?

Sam: The book follows a gifted young woman named Madison who goes on this journey, one which spirals out of her control with forces for her and against her. Despite her special abilities, she has no memory of her early years and is haunted by images she doesn’t yet understand. Along her journey, she is crushed and betrayed by someone dear to her, scarring her physically and emotionally. Her childhood friend, Nicholas, must rise to the challenge of rebuilding the love of his life in order to bring her home, far away from those who would see her harmed. He can heal her if she’d let him.

Sand Castles & Seashores is the first book of the Sand Castles Series. Each book covers a chapter in Madison’s life. With so many holes in her story, Madison must find the strength to endure until she can claim the life once lost to her.

Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you sent it to be published?

Sam: I’m not exactly certain how many readers have read the series before I decided to publish. Once this series was written, I showed them to a few of my friends and from there, they became circulated with people I know, friends, family, and coworkers. The positive feedback reaffirmed my decision to proceed with publishing.

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

Sam: I hope the reader will enjoy the journey though it isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, neither is life, but at the end of it all, there’s hope. Also, I challenge the reader by redefining the kick-butt protagonist. She is not the traditional thick skinned, nothing can touch her, action star who leaves a trail of devastation in her wake, but beyond her powerful gifts is a fragile, approachable soul. It is that dichotomy that I find intriguing and I hope the reader picks up on it also.

Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Sam: Yes, and No. In the case of Sand Castles & Seashores, it was a dream that inspired the story. The emotional backlash of betrayal and utter loss in the dream compelled me to write about the events that led to the journey set before her. In all my books, I work out the story while I’m dreaming, figuring out the logistics, the flow, the characters, they all come to life for me there. It’s like having a Holodeck without having to step into a starship. When I wake, I create the outline, sometimes bullet points, but for some scenes, I just write and see where it goes, what’s true to the characters.

Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Sam: There are some scenes that are more enjoyable to write than others, not necessarily happy scenes but more pivotal to the story. And there are some scenes you have to sit yourself down and almost lecture yourself saying, “This needs to be in the book, now quit procrastinating!” As far as writer’s blocks go, I really don’t get them. There have been times though when I do go back and rework a scene with a better one that will express the flow of the plot more fluently.

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?

Sam: I would prefer absolute quiet around me which is why I do most of my writing when everyone’s gone to bed. But that doesn’t mean music doesn’t play a part. I do select a few songs, almost like a soundtrack, that I play during the day to help me get in the mind frame for a scene.

Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Sam: Songs, a good selection will do. Certain songs help me create scenes specific to a given purpose for the character. As in the case for Sand Castles & Seashores, I played Plumb’s In My Arms over and over again because it epitomizes the mood of the book and is filled with imagery that convey in one song what it took me hundreds of pages to write.

Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Sam: Although the series has already been written, I decided to go back and insert a few scenes in the next book in The Sand Castles Series, Dawn of Aquarius.
So I am somewhat creating and editing at the same time. Besides that, I am also working on The Casala Series. I jump between tinkering with the second book, The Calling, and polishing up the first book, The Echo. The interstellar adventure Casala is charged with challenges what we know about Earth’s true history, and Brandon must choose whether to help her in her journey, finally owning his destiny, or be another roadblock in her quest to answer the mystery of their people.
Sam: Although the series has already been written, I decided to go back and insert a few scenes in the next book in The Sand Castles Series, Dawn of Aquarius.

Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Sam: You may order the book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, Trafford Publishing, Powells.com, Kobobooks.com, and even Borders.com

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Sam: Thank you for interviewing me, Deirdra. I appreciate the opportunity to be here and the chance to share a little about myself. This has been a roller coaster of a ride for me, but in the end, it goes back to writing for the love of writing. Thanks everyone!

Twenty-five-year-old Madison Chase knows that her job as a tracker is to find dangerous men and turn them over to the proper authorities. She knows she’s pretty good at her job—not least because of the special powers and gifts she possesses. But there’s a lot she doesn’t know. She doesn’t remember her early years, and she doesn’t know who her parents are. These absences haunt her.
Madison’s special abilities attract the attention of one particular agency. After several tests of her skills, their interest in her takes a dark and sinister turn, opening the way for a journey of self-discovery and leading her to find the truth of her origin and the destiny she has yet to fulfill.
Sand Castles and Seashoresfollows Madison as she meets both Will Matthews, a special operative, and Nicholas, an important person from her past. The trios’ lives become intertwined, weaving each person into the others’ destinies and creating an intense bond among them. In the end, what do you need—and who do you love—when you come undone? How do you rise above the rubble of a broken spirit?


  1. What a beautiful blog! I just became your follower.

    Thanks for passing over your award to Pets and Their Authors!

    Please visit my book blog, www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com.

    Have a great day!


  2. Great interview, and thanks for the award! I am also a writer trying to get a middle-grade novel published. It's really challenging and often discouraging, so congrats to both of you for making it happen for you!


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