Name: Samuel Friedman
Francis : Where were you born/where did you grow up, did you have an easy childhood?
I was born in Manhattan, but grew up in three different states:
Michigan and Pennsylvania.I graduated high school in Pennsylvania.
I guess it depends on your definition of 'easy' childhood. My parents were
extremely poor, and I moved around a lot within New York City. When we
moved to Michigan I got beat up for the first time at 5, and got into
several fights I won't detail here. Plus there was Boy
Scouts....otherwise, I'd say I had a reasonable childhood. I had video
games, I never went hungry and I did date in high school!
Francis :Give some background information about yourself, are you generally an
optimistic person or pessimistic?
Probably more pessimistic...I'm not necessarily bitter or not hoping for
happiness, but I find the feeling of disappointment is greater and more
frequent than the feeling of happiness, which is less frequent. One
thing I am good at though is being honest about expectations. For
instance, I have one book project I expect is good enough to hit the
bestsellers lists...and others, like short stories, I don't expect
accolades for. The urge to keep expectations low is very strong, because then it's hard
to feel bothered if things go well. That said, I do believe actions shape
destiny, and my feeling don't stop me from trying my best to put out the
best effort I can. Just keep on plugging away, and hoping for a break.
Francis: Tell us your latest news, what are your current projects?
Middle grade fantasy (8-13, but anyone can read it) based on Old
Irish/Welsh Celtic Mythology and Young Adult/New Adult Romantic Satires
(one is for 13-18, the other is aimed 16-25). I am also starting up my own
e-commerce business, where I hope to sell books from other authors
(including, but not limited to, my own) and offer them a chance to sell
books to customers without having me collect a royalty for each sale.
It's a new way of selling, and I'd be happy to answer any specific
questions about my model. As an author and artist myself, I see many of
the big tech players offer subscription services, or collect royalties
from each sale, or offer "freemium" services. While these are great for
consumers, most of them are not great for authors or artists, and most of
the big players focus on the superstars and seldom on debut authors (or
musicians, for that matter), which makes being discovered even harder. One
aspect of my business is to promote authors who sell their books on my
site and provide my clients with an opportunity to have their work
featured, without necessarily needing massive sales or paying additional
money, The business is expected to go live in October, so check out my
blog for more information.
Francis: When and why did you begin writing? How does your present
day work compare to what you wrote then?
My first "book" was written when I was 6. It was about 20 pieces of
construction paper, mostly drawings with 'chapters' ranging from 3-10
words. "I like school" or "I love grandpa" was about the extent of my
writing then. I began seriously writing at 16, but it was terrible. I wrote two books
while in college, but I ended up starting over because I didn't like
what I had. Both books are the basis of the middle grade novel, which
starts at the beginning, whereas the two books in questions were about
halfway in. My writing is much better than it used to be. I've never
taken writing classes outside broadcast news writing, no writing
workshops, though I do own "self-editing tips for authors", and I do
recommend every serious writer own a book on self-editing.
Francis : What genre do you consider books to be? Have you ever thought
of writing in another genre, for example if you wrote a Children’s book,
how would it turn out?
I sincerely believe the children’s fantasy series will end up being the best
thing I will ever write, though I'm still very young and I can't predict
the future. Fantasy and Romance (yes, guys can be romantic too!) are
really what I like to write, and would spend most of my time writing,
but I have no problem writing in another genre if I have a solid idea I
want to share. I don't believe in this idea that an author has to write
in only one genre for "branding" purposes, which is touted by the
publishing industry and everyone connected to them. I consider writing
great books to be my brand, so the idea is, no matter what I do, it will
be of solid quality and interesting enough to at least make the reader
feel like s/he didn't waste her/his money and time. If someone prefers
romance, and won't read anything else I write, then that's fine. I do
have a couple of political thrillers and some nonfiction ideas in mind
for down the road.
Francis: Have you ever been flattered by a comparison to a well-known
author or by a reviewer?
I gave an alpha read to some kids with the middle grade fantasy book,
and the parents tell me the kids go through the book at a rapid pace.
One of the parents identified me as the author of a book their kid
referred to as "epic!". he told me the last time his daughter had been
that excited for a book, it was for Harry Potter. I've had a few other
people say something similar, not just because they both involve a
magical boarding school, but in terms of the writing and relatability of
characters (no, there are no wizards or dragons or Sorcerer's Stones in
mine). Good thing, maybe?
Francis: What inspired you to write your first book?
The actual first book has a backstory I don't want to spoil, because
said book is halfway through the series, so I'm waiting until I get
there to open up on that. For the middle grade (the actual first book),
I finished a 140,000 word YA book. Then I soon learned what word counts
were, and that I needed an agent to get published by a medium- or large-
publisher, and I have roughly the same odds of landing an agent as I do
of getting 4 numbers plus the Powerball, or at least it seems that way.
So I started over from scratch, going to the beginning, writing a much
shorter novel, and having it professionally edited. What to do with it
when the full editing is done is the big question I'm trying to work on.
Francis : Do you have a trademark writing style, what makes your work
My books are different from other authors because it feels like they
were written with the ADHD or ADD reader in mind. I have fast-paced
plots, focus minimally on back stories, and will give fairly solid
descriptions of important characters, but only characters I consider
important. I've seen a lot of other authors who spend the beginning of
their novels with the main character's full story, and I like to work
that into the book itself. So if you see a fast-paced novel with lots of
humor, it might be mine.
Francis : Do you write short stories? If so how do they differ to your
Yes, a few. They differ in that they are standalone, which could be made
into longer stories, but which weren't intended as prequels or anything.
All were for contents or to win money. One was intended for kids 6-9,
same cast as the middle grade novel (no magic though) and was rejected.
One was rejected, an 11,500 word short story on military dystopia, one
was 8,000 words, also from the same universe as the middle grade (but
this one's for adults), and a 5,000 word story totally unrelated to any
of those, aimed at kids grades 3-6. Whichever ones are rejected, I will
either give them all away as freebies or bundle a couple for adults up
and sell them for 99 cents, so buy 1 get 1 free deal.
Francis: How did you come up with the titles of your books?
I try to think of something catchy, like a movie or tv show title. I
sometimes do, but rarely, consult other people, but the problem is, ask
five people get seven opinions. The title is supposed to essentially
tell you what the book will be about without giving away the whole story.
Francis: Are there any messages in your novels, if so what?
The middle grade book has no preachy messages, but does address
bullying, diversity, women's sports (such as, how come people don't care
as much?), courage and standing up for one's beliefs, and friendship.
Francis: How much of your books are based on reality, how much are
based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The idea is, the situations and characters could be real. Characters are
meant to be distinct and memorable. A lot of them are based on people I
know/knew, and on life events.
Francis : What books have most influenced your life the most? Are some
of these books, different to your own genre of writing?
1984, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, and Atlas Shrugged all impacted me
because I like deep political commentaries, even if they are somewhat
preachy. I also like autobiographies of people who start from the
beginning and work really hard- All by Myselves by Jeffrey Dunham comes
Francis: Are you sometimes shocked by some of your own writing/ideas?
Some situations or language are politically incorrect, and would
definitively offend someone somewhere. Otherwise, no.
Francis: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes and no. I see business as a career, and part of that business is
writing. For me to make a career from writing, I'd need to see enough
revenue generated to be counted as a full-time job (say at least $45,000>
a year before taxes) and I have zero idea of how I will do. To be fair,
I feel the same way about my business.
Francis : Is there a character in one of your books that really stands out
for you? Could he or she be compared to any well-known literature
Well, the name of my business is actually named for one of my
characters, because her clan's name is shorter and easier to remember
than mine (Bradan vs. Friedman). I picked that one also precisely
BECAUSE her character stands out, and is a model for my business: take
risks, be courageous, stand up for what I really believe and don't
follow trends or do whatever everyone else does just because everyone
else is. That is how Ana Bradan's character is. Every time I see that
name on a business card or on the soon-to-be-built website, I am
reminded of why I write and why I started the business in the first
place. I hope I will be able to live up to the ideals of my character.
Francis: Were your parents avid readers, have your family played a part
in your writing career? How do they feel about your work?
They read more than the average adult, though I wouldn't call them
"avid". My dad reads a lo tof sci-fi, like Harry Turtledove and Orson
They were happy I write, though at first I think they were more
concerned with me advancing in my career and not spending so much time
writing. They changed when they saw how passionate I was, and they have
been very supportive, my brother and sister too. I haven't discussed it
much with my other family yet.
Francis: What makes you proud of your books/life as a writer?
I sincerely believe they are the best I can come up with. I spent
thousands upon thousands of hours rewriting, editing, or starting over.
When the books are finally published, I will feel proud of my effort.
Francis: How do you come up with the initial concept of a book?
I try to think of what message I want to send. I take notes and write plots out, then I write the subplots, and then I work out what points I want to make per chapter, being flexible as needed. If
I later decide to change something, I work backwards to make the change,
so I don't lose my flow.
Francis: Who is your favorite author and what is it about them that you
Tough one. I guess I'll have to go with any of the self-published names
like J.A. Konrath or Amanda Hocking, both of whose backgrounds I've
read. Both got lots of rejections, but decided to self-publish instead
of shelving manuscripts and found success.
I will always admire any author who perseveres in the face of rejection or
initial apathy to her/his book. It isn't easy, especially if you're not a
celebrity, to get traditionally published or to gain an audience quickly
for your work. It's very easy to get
discouraged, especially if your first book isn't an immediate bestseller.
For all who persevere, I salute you.
Francis: Who designed the covers for your books, were you happy with
still working on it!
Francis: What was the hardest part of being a writer?
The hours spent writing, and revising. I found a lot of times I had to
revise a lot of writing, because plot points didn't make sense, or I'd
forget little details that needed to be included. The solitary portion of writing is also lonely. I guess it's one advantage of being single- no girlfriend to get annoyed if I spend 4 hours
a day after work, or on weekends, writing.
Francis: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Two pieces: First, please, all you fellow newbies, don't overload the
beginning with backstory! I see this too often, such as, "It reminded
her of the days when Mother used to water her garden, taking care to
attend to each flower as though it was one of her babies". Unless that
garden is important to the story, drop it, or save it for later. It's
boring, and if you had only chapter 1 to get the reader interested, is
THAT what you want to demonstrate? This is not "showing", this is
"telling", no matter how many English professors might think otherwise.
Second, make characters distinct. They have their own voice, feelings,
personality. I know it isn't always easy, but readers should be able to
read a sentence you wrote, without saying who the character is, and
properly guess who the character is, based on your writing. Too many
authors make one-size-fits-all characters, and it makes it harder to
Francis: Other than writing do you have any other interests, do they
connect up with your writing?
Sports, action movies/shows, hiking, cycling (I would do it if I had a
bike, I love cycling), politics, adventure. Not that much. The hobbies
might inspire my writing, but I think of them as separate from my work.
Francis: Are there any films that have influenced your writing? What
kind of films do you like?
Not really. Action Adventure is my favorite, but also sci-fi or some
type of political thriller.
Francis: If your books were adapted into being films, which director
dead or alive would you want to direct them? Which actors would you like in
the films? What would be the overriding mood of the film?
Actually, I don't care if a famous person does them or not, acting or
directing. Probably Peter Jackson or Guillermo Del Toro for fantasy; they are both
so good. I also have no problem with a younger director looking for a
strong debut. I'm okay with unknowns and building them up.
Francis: Do you socialize with other writers or creative people? Do you
know any obscure or up and coming authors/or perhaps other creative
people who deserve recognition?
I'm currently reading a book by Ann Livi, the Goodreads indie author
moderator, and I really like it a lot. And I'm not just saying that
because she's the moderator. Her book deserves a chance to be read. I
read a middle grade novel called "Molly of Mars and the Alien Syndicate" by Wyatt
Davenport, and I actually thought it was good enough to be published traditionally.
I socialize on Goodreads, Wattpad, Kboards occasionally, and my blog. I
infrequently attend a writer's group, but while I like the people a lot,
they have no background in my style or genre to offer much more than
Francis: which theme (for example death, misery, and torture) is most
prevalent in your stories?
Love and courage, but misery is found there too. I mostly write with
young people in mind, so insecurity is a big issue.
Francis: Which method of death would you choose out of the following
A being ripped apart by lions*
B facing a firing squad made up by shadowy figures, who you suspect you
have had major altercations with, during the course of your life. *
C you find yourself in a hospital, in a country far from home, with
doctors and nurses you can’t communicate with, attached to devices that
indicate you are in a critical condition. You don’t know how you got to
the hospital/country. Death is inevitable however.
A: B. Much quicker. But how about in battle against Smaug the Dragon,
armed with Narsil?
Francis: Do you have a blog/website? Or other important links?
Yes, my blog is samthefriedmanblog.com. I'm in the process of building a
new business website, but that isn't live yet. Check the blogsite for
more information. And thank you for the interview; you had a lot of