Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.
Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her secret superpower is finding lost things. When she’s not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys time with her family, watching old movies, baking, reading, and going places. Her favorite gift is tickets (to just about anything).
Wolf: Middle school is a tough age to teach. Thank you for your patience. If you could be any animal in the universe, what would it be and why?
Samantha: I’d like to be a large dog, especially if I could be a pet dog in a household of happy and active children. I envy my dog his ease with boredom and his comfort in his own skin. When we run together, I admire his athleticism and joy in the movement of his own body. So many of the things that have been hang-ups for me all my life simply don’t exist as issues for dogs, who trust to a loving universe to bring them what they need and want.
Wolf: I’m partial to canines as well. What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
Samantha: I didn’t grow up in a food-adventurous household, so I was an adult before I tried anything other Midwestern Americans might consider interesting. As a young woman, I picked up a taste for sushi (especially salmon roe) and Indian food. But the food that was the strangest to me was during my Alaska years. I lived in Nome for a little shy of a decade, a small city where the population is roughly 75% Native, mostly Yup’ik. So, I ate seal in various dishes (it’s chewy), more moose and reindeer meat than I expected, and some traditional dishes like akutaq (Eskimo ice cream), tea (stinkheads), and mantak (muktuk). I still miss the hard-smoked salmon candy and salmonberries.
Wolf: I haven’t heard of some of those. I’d love to try them. If you had to pick a weapon, what would it be and why?
Samantha: I’d need more training, but the only weapon I’ve ever used that felt good in my hands was a longsword. I took some German longsword classes with my husband for a bit, something we’d both love to get back to sometime. Even with my limited knowledge and expertise, I felt the power and confidence of wielding a big, heavy sword.
Wolf: Sweet. What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
Samantha: I let them find each other. When the Menopausal Superheroes series began, the main characters all felt alone in their struggles to manage the new abilities they were manifesting alongside their jobs, relationships, and responsibilities. Over the course of the series, they’ve become good friends and an essential support to each other. I’m being extra nice to Jessica “Flygirl” Roark right now. She’s getting a second chance at love in the fourth book.
Wolf: Hope it works out for her. What is the meanest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
Samantha: I gave them superpowers. That might not seem mean at a first glance, but these weren’t teenagers thrilled to get new skills, these were grown women.
Sure, Linda/Leonel “Fuerte” Alvarez got super strength, but it came with an unplanned sex change (it was a surprise to their husband, too!).
Jessica “Flygirl” Roark eventually mastered her power of flight, but at first it was more like she and gravity had stopped communicating with each other. Just like she and her husband during her battle with ovarian cancer.
Patricia “Lizard Woman” O’Neill didn’t have it any easier. She wasn’t married, except to her career, but it’s hard to run a company when you keep sprouting scales and claws in front of your employees.
If I ever met any of my characters in real life, I don’t think they’d be thanking me for the complications I added to their lives.
Wolf: That’s for sure. You’ve just been turned into a plant. Describe yourself.
Samantha: Oh, I hope I’m a tree! I’d like to be something tall and leafy and shady and long-lived. As a human, I find a kind of peace among trees that I don’t feel anywhere else and it would be lovely to feel that from the inside.
I’ll be a paper birch, with lovely white bark that contrasts strikingly with my yellow leaves in the fall. Children will play under my branches and collect my vaguely heart-shaped leaves to pass to one another as Valentine’s or use as pretend food in their imaginary journeys. When the wind blows through my branches, I’ll lean with it making a whistling sound when I get the angle right that invites thoughts of ghost stories and haunted fields.
Wolf: Birch trees are beautiful. Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?
Samantha: Definitely a dog person. I like cats, but I don’t connect with them emotionally like I do dogs, and since my husband has a cat allergy, we don’t keep any in our home. I did have a wonderful cat in my previous life (with my first husband), a yellow Maine Coon mix called Kitty Claude who took a little girl’s love—no matter how rough—like nobody’s business.
We currently love a rescue dog, an Australian shepherd mix named O’Neill, and he’s a lot of trouble, and a lot of joy. Speaking of which, any tips from your readers for dealing with a middle-aged dog who has suddenly developed people-food-scavenging habits? It’s a new behavior from him that has us all a little baffled.
Wolf: Not sure what to make of that. You might want to check with your vet or local dog training school. The world is about to end. What is the first thing you do?
Samantha: Grab my nearest and dearest and huddle together, assuring each other of our love through the very end.
Wolf: Which of your characters is your favorite?
Samantha: That’s like trying to choose a favorite child. It really does vary. Of my Menopausal Superheroes, I am fond of Patricia, with her curmudgeonly demeanor that protects a soft as a marshmallow heart. But usually, it’s whoever I’m writing right now, which would be Malcolm in my work-in-progress. He’s had a hard row to hoe, that young man, but he has the stuff of heroism in him.
Wolf: What story are you working on now?
Samantha: I’m in the middle of the first draft of a new novel, working title: Thursday’s Children. I started it when I was invited to be a part of a book bundle some friends were assembling. We were all asked to write novellas that were young adult, romance, and either post-apocalyptic or dystopian. Since I’d never written ANY of those things, and I’d been interested in writing something my students could read, I thought I’d give it a whirl. I didn’t finish in time to be part of the bundle, and the book wants to be a full-length novel anyway, but I’m hooked. Kye’luh, Jason, and Malcolm have me wrapped around their fingers and they’ll have my full attention for a few more months until I finish telling their story.
Wolf: I look forward to reading that when you finish. Thanks for stopping by. Connect with Samantha at these links.