Sometimes, certain books come into your life at just the right moments, like when I read Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund during a trip to Europe. The timing was impeccable when I received an Advanced Review Copy of GOING THROUGH THE CHANGE by Samantha Bryant. I found out I was going through premature ovarian failure (early menopause) at the same time I was reading this hilarious take on “the change.” It made me laugh, which is exactly what I needed. The premise of the book is that a handful of women who are going through menopause experience extraordinary bodily changes (beyond the usual array of uncomfortable symptoms). The impact of these changes on their lives and their family’s lives makes for an engaging story.
To celebrate Samantha’s entertaining book being available for FREE on Book Bub, I’ve asked Samantha to share about her experiences writing this book and what she hopes readers take away from it.
Missy: Describe how you got the idea to tell this story?
Samantha: It started with a conversation with my husband. We were talking about superheroes one night while we walked our dog (as geeky folk like us are wont to do). The conversation had turned to the fact that so many superhero stories are about teenagers, as if hormones caused superpowers. I said that if that was true, menopausal women would be the most powerful people on the planet. He laughed and told me to write that down–and I did.
Missy: Do you identify with any of the characters in Going through the Change? If so, which one(s) and in what ways?
Samantha: At different moments, I identify with them all. Like Jessica, I’ve been married to someone I no longer loved and stayed there longer than I should have. Like Patricia, I’ve been impatient with the young and beautiful people of the world and can find it difficult to trust others. Like Cindy, I have a distrust of the medical profession thanks to several unpleasant past experiences. Like Helen, I’ve felt like life was passing me by. Like Linda/Leonel, my loyalty is fierce. The more I write, the more I find that all my characters have shades of myself in them, even if I don’t recognize them while I’m writing.
Missy: Tell us about your process for writing this book.
Samantha: I had the idea for this book while I was trying to finish another one (an as-yet unpublished women’s fiction novel called His Other Mother). I held Going Through the Change out to myself as a reward, the carrot I’d get if I kept going when the going was tough. When I finished the hard work of rewriting that first novel, I’d be allowed to write this one and it would be fun!
It was fun, too. It took me about a year to finish the first draft. My first novel took me four years to write, so I’m getting faster! I am a middle school teacher by day, so the novel was written in the minutes and hours I could carve out of all my other responsibilities as a teacher and mother. I wrote mostly sequentially, though, at a certain point, I found it helpful to write the ending, then go back and write towards that ending.
It took another six months to rewrite it, get my beta readers’ comments, and rewrite it again. I used Scrivener, a writing program that I love for the way it helps me visualize long works and keep them organized, though I still wrote timelines and charts out on long sheets of white art paper just like I always have since I was a child.
Missy: What do you hope women take away from this book?
Samantha: One of the things I love about speculative fiction is that, in exploring unrealistic situations like human flight or wielding fire, you can get at the heart’s truth of the things that really matter. More than I realized when I was writing it, this book is about the nature of friendship between women, and the roles we all play in the world. Women, too often, judge each other harshly for the different choices we make, as if there’s only one way to be a woman. I hope women come away from reading my book thinking about friendship and acceptance of themselves and others. I dedicated the book this way: “For any woman who has ever felt betrayed by her own body,” which is probably all of us at one time or another.
Missy: What do you hope men take away from this book?…And do you think men will enjoy reading this? Why or why not?
Samantha: While the book is undeniably woman-focused, it is not by any means an anti-man book. David is a loving husband to Linda/Leonel and even Nathan has his moments. Since women and men are both just people after all, I hope that male readers would also be drawn into the complexities of the relationships between the characters and the way that unusual circumstances, like suddenly being transformed into a lizard creature, can complicate your life. I’ve gotten positive feedback from the men who have read it so far. I’d like to think that male readers can enjoy a book with female protagonists, too.
Missy: Is this book part of a series?
Samantha: Yes! There will be at least two more books. The second book (working title: Change of Life) is with my beta readers now and I hope to be able to send it to Curiosity Quills (the publisher) by the end of April. The third book is not yet underway, but I’ve got a file of ideas for it. I don’t want to give too much away, but changes continue to come for all my superwomen and some new characters are introduced, including The Director and Agent Sally Ann Rogers. And wait until you meet my villain!
Missy: What impact do you hope your book has on how people think of superheroes?
Samantha: I’ve always loved superhero stories, starting with Mighty Mouse and Underdog when I was a toddler on the living room rug. As I’ve grown up and gotten older, though, I’ve found some of them harder to connect with. I’m 43 now. I just don’t connect with angsty teenagers like I once did. So, I wanted to write a superhero story for fans like me: women, over thirty, with jobs and families. I would love to see more superhero stories featuring women at the center and more with adult characters with several aspects of life to balance. If Linda/Leonel, Patricia, Jessica, and Helen can help make that happen, I’ll be one proud writer.
Missy: How did Curiosity Quills acquire your book?
Samantha: I cold-queried. Matthew Graybosch, another writer who has published with CQ, is an online friend. After reading some of his posts about working with CQ, I decided to check them out. I was really interested in the idea of a small, independent press and liked the transparency of terms on CQ’s website. It was a really fast process! From submission to contract signing was only about two weeks! As we’ve moved through book cover planning and edits, I’ve continued to be favorably impressed with everyone in the CQ family. They’re good folks.
Header image was created from the artwork of Charles C. Dowd.