For those of you who have been following my Instagram or been reading my blog for a while, will know that I was given a freebie digital copy of The Furious Four to read prior to general release in order to have a review ready to leave on publication day. And those who know me will know that I’m not really a zombie apocalypse kind of girl, but this one I couldn’t put down! I’ve been lucky enough to do a brief interview (via e-mail-thanks Covid!) with the talented Sam Rendle, who in her own words is a “Vegan, aromantic asexual activist and mental health advocate from Bristol, UK.” As well as a digital content creator.
Q1) What made you want to sit down and write? Was there a specific occurrence in your life that triggered your creative side or is it something that’s always been present?
I’ve always loved to read and I’ve always been very imaginative. I often find myself inspired by music videos, films, other books and even dreams I’ve had, and after the latter in particular I can find myself coming up with a character or a plot in a matter of minutes. I’m not sure there was one specific thing that made me want to write; I think I’ve always just had a strong drive to create.
Q2) Some people can only write if they’ve got a perfect desk set-up or it’s the middle of the night and the world is silent so there’s a lack of distractions; or need to wait until they find inspiration. What’s your writing process? Do you need have a set routine in order to write or can you jot down your thoughts and go back to them?
I tend to write when I’m inspired. I think that’s why writing The Furious Four took so long. Like I said, I’ve always had that drive to be creative, but it’s hard to find the balance between creative projects. My video making takes priority most of the time, and sometimes my other creative projects (writing, painting, scrapbooking and sewing) are difficult to choose between and inspiration for different things will hit me at different times. I tend to sit on the sofa with my laptop and notebook when inspiration hits me to write, though. I tend to type out my novels but notes are always handwritten. That way I can have both manuscript and notes in front of me at once.
Q3) What made you write about a zombie apocalypse? It’s a very widely done subject but this has such a different feel – was it a challenge to create the characters and cliff hanger that would set the book part from others of this genre?
The initial idea came from playing my now-favourite game through for the first time. A friend bought me The Last of Us Remastered for my birthday a few years ago and I completely fell in love with it. I loved the bond between Joel and Ellie who, though not related, have an almost father-daughter relationship. I think a similar dynamic is captured among my four main characters – or at least that’s what I aimed for! The characters themselves – mainly Gabriel and Preston – were inspired by characters in the Batman New 52 comics. I love dark, complex characters with plenty of flaws and angst. I think it helps, too, that I do love making my characters suffer. It sounds awful putting it that way, but I think the greater the suffering, the greater the reward when something positive happens.
Q4) Are people and places in your everyday life inspiration for your characters and plot?
Occasionally, yes. The Sanctuary is based on a nature reserve I went to a few times as a child. I can’t remember where it was or what it was called but I remember it had a walking route where you could spot for birds. Also, though it isn’t really described all that much, the pharmacy where Preston and Beth first met was, in my head, the pharmacy attached to my own doctors’ surgery. I tend to set my writing in places I’ve been or am familiar with, but very rarely are the characters themselves based on people I know.
Q5) I didn’t know whether or not I was meant to like Preston he comes across as moody and unreliable and not much about him was really exposed until later in the book; was it your intention to keep his mental health struggles silent so as to make people aware of how such issues are stigmatised?
Absolutely. To Preston, mental illness is a sign of weakness – he’s pretty much an embodiment of the stigma. I do intend to delve deeper into his mind in future instalments and explore his struggles further, because I think it’s important to establish that even the strongest of us have our weaknesses, and that’s okay.
Q6) I love the character of Beth and how she struggled with many Gabriel at first. I think you managed to describe the struggles of motherhood perfectly. Did you speak to younger mums to aid you in writing Beth? She becomes such an amazing strong character and I was so sad to say goodbye to her- what made to decide to end her journey where you did?
Working in a local shop I tend to come across a lot of young mothers. Most of our customers are regulars so in the nine years I’ve worked there I’ve seen these mothers and their kids grow up, and I’ve often found myself wondering how I’d cope in their situation. I honestly think I’d struggle as a mum at twenty-seven, let alone ten or eleven years younger!
I got quite emotional myself when I wrote her farewell, but it made the most sense for it to happen in order for the story to progress in future instalments. The narrative, as you know, isn’t completely linear, so we might see past Beth cropping up now and then in future (or, um, past).
Q7) This is a self-published title; talk me through this process-did you need to find a proofreader and artist for the cover? How long did it take to go from your computer to e-copy? Will there ever be a physical copy? Because I really want a copy for my shelf!
I actually did send TFF to a couple of literary agents, but unfortunately it was rejected. However I was desperate to get the book out there in one way or another, and I’d heard of self publishing on Kindle before, so I did a little research into the process and decided I’d take that route. I have a good friend with a degree and some enviable writing skills of his own, and he did a little proofreading for me – I think you’ll find his name in the acknowledgements at the end of the ebook – and then I went about looking for a cover artist. At first I contacted a lovely lady who designed a book cover for me in the past, but her work was a little (ahem, a lot) over budget at the time, so I turned to Fiverr. I was a bit sceptical at first – it felt too good to be true – but I found a wonderful artist who did a fantastic job of making a cover for me. She kept me up to date on the whole process and it was such a good experience, so I’ll definitely be commissioning her again.
Q8) The Furious Four is clearly not going to be a stand-alone book; when can we expect the next instalment? I’m so eager for Gabriel to meet his paternal family and I’m not sure if it’ll be a good thing or a bad thing (knowing that his grandfather and father pretty much caused the apocalypse!)
As I said, inspiration irritatingly comes and goes for me. But you’ll be pleased to know I am (*looks*) sixty-eight pages into the first draft of the next book! It’ll feature new characters as well as much-loved existing characters, and we’ll get a broader look into post-apocalypse 2025. I’ll let you in on a little secret though: I’m also working on another book, so keep your eyes peeled for that, too!
It was amazing to work with Sam on this interview and to read her book, I’m so enthralled to see what happens next and follow her works as an author.
If you want to follow her social media, check out the links below.
The Furious Four is available on digital download now here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Furious-Four-After-End-Book-ebook/dp/B087NW1P91/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=Samantha+Rendle&qid=1597674260&sr=8-2 red