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Interview with Samantha Gail author of Epoch: Book One of The Hourglass Saga

Today, I’m delighted to introduce Samantha Gail, a versatile and independently published author who seamlessly weaves elements of thriller, romance, and fantasy. Samantha isn’t just a gifted storyteller; she’s also a dedicated book store manager, a mother, and an avid Marvel movie fan who loves to sing (and not just in the shower!). Residing in Ohio with her three children and three furbabies, Samantha is a force to be reckoned with in the indie publishing world.

In this spotlight, we’re diving deep into her upcoming release, “Epoch: Book One of The Hourglass Saga.” This novel is a tantalizing blend of romance and fantasy, telling the story of Mirielle Townsend, an archivist at the Museum of Natural History, and her journey into the magical realm of Aeternitas. Here, she encounters Gryphon, a character who promises to be much more than your typical ‘beastly’ figure. Samantha’s take on the classic ‘Beauty and the Beast’ narrative, infused with elements of forbidden love, enemies-to-lovers, and a gripping love triangle, is sure to captivate your hearts.

The protagonist, Mirielle, is an archivist by profession. How did you research this role and why did you think it would be a good fit for her character?

Epoch is the version of Beauty and the Beast I always wanted to read as a child. Growing up, I always had this vision in my head of Belle’s character being incredibly smart and hardworking, someone breaking out of societal and gender norms because she was so intelligent and dedicated to her work. The idea of Mirielle being an archivist at a museum fell into place naturally with that sort of character profile in mind because archivists are the unseen backbones of the museum system. They require a great deal of education, typically in multi-disciplinary fields, and an occupation like that would also allow Mirielle to have an area of speciality…which may come into play in the next book!

Aeternitas, the magical realm in “Epoch,” sounds fascinating! Can you walk us through your world-building process? How did you come up with the rules, the magic, and the unique time-space concept?

Aeternitas came to me very organically as I plotted out the book. The entire Hourglass Saga series technically falls into the genre of magical realism because the world as we know it still exists, but since I wanted to remain true to the story of Beauty and the Beast, there had to be an element of magic to it. Without giving away too many spoilers, the nature of the plot required a world like Aeternitas where the possibility existed of an ordinary human like you or me to pop in and out of a magical place. There is a big reveal at the end that I conceptualized early on when creating Aeternitas because it was important to me to give Epoch its own voice in a sea of other Beauty and the Beast retellings. It’s such a popular fairytale, and with a juggernaut like A Court of Thorns and Roses being the primary book for comparison, I had to do something to make sure my story was unique. My only “difficulty” (because it wasn’t difficult at all) was creating the name. “Aeternitas” is actually Latin for “eternity.” That will definitely make sense after you read the book!

Gryphon seems to be more than just a “beast of a man.” What do you think makes him a compelling character that readers will fall for?

Gryphon is the equivalent of The Beast in the traditional fairytale, which meant right off the bat, I had to develop a character with a traumatic backstory and tragic family dynamics. However, I wanted to add another level of vulnerability to him where he is also consumed by guilt for what he has done to his subjects trapped in the curse with him. Gryphon recognizes and repeatedly voices that he is to blame for the curse, and the weight of that knowledge fuels a lot of his decisions. He is not human and does not understand human mannerisms or needs either, which creates the opportunity for a lot of interesting scenes with Mirielle. That part was a lot of fun to write!

What was the most challenging part of writing “Epoch,” and how did you overcome it?

The two biggest challenges in writing Epoch were the other Beauty and the Beast comparisons and historical accuracy. As I mentioned before, ACOTAR is the most well-known retelling of this particular fairytale, and I was immensely aware that with my book also falling into the romantic fantasy subgenre, it was very probable that readers would draw comparisons. While there are similarities (which there will always be with any retellings because the plot can only change so much), Epoch is distinctly different in several ways. One of those ways is because of the history involved, which was another added challenge. I have described Epoch as the book Baby produced if you combined the movie National Treasure with Beauty and the Beast, and I stand by that statement. Months of research went into this book, and it definitely shows while reading. While I would not categorize it as historical fiction, I think readers who enjoy that genre will find Epoch to be a satisfying crossover into romance and fantasy! At present, I can’t really say I’ve overcome the challenge because I am anxiously awaiting reviews, but I am so in love with how the story turned out and that’s really all that matters.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what readers can expect in terms of the love triangle dynamics? How does it add complexity to the story?

So this started as a bit of an inside joke with my family because several years ago on a trip to Disney World, I met the cast member playing Gaston and was giggling like an eleven-year-old girl with a crush. That actor played the character SO well that he almost made Gaston seem charming; I swooned. When it came time to write Epoch, I wanted the opportunity to recreate that with my version of Gaston. Barrett Collins is just as much of the bully, alpha-hole readers would expect from the fairytale, but you soon see he has a much softer side hidden underneath his cocky demeanor. Mirielle discovers a connection with him on a deeper level than would seem possible on the surface, which will lead to some complications as the series continues. I honestly can’t say who I love more, Gryphon or Barrett, and at this point, I have outlines for the possibility of Mirielle ending up with either one of them – even I don’t know who she’ll choose!

Beyond “Epoch,” what other projects are you currently working on? Any more books in The Hourglass Saga we should be excited about?

I have two secret projects in the works, one of which should be announced later in November, and then I am roughly halfway through writing my contemporary Cinderella retelling entitled Full Circle. That is (tentatively) due to release on April 5, 2024. If The Hourglass Saga follows the plot I have outlined, the second book will be released in November 2024, and the third book will release in November 2025, with a novella sprinkled somewhere in between. That series will have the most sensational conclusion ever! I have a few other fairytale retellings in the works as well. For my thriller fans, my second thriller, Number One Fan, will be coming in August 2024!

Can you share what motivated you to take the independent route in publishing?

I discovered the world of indie publishing through Scarlett St. Clair. Her Hades x Persephone series is my all time favorite, and once I started following her on social media, I sort of deep-dived into the world of indie publication unintentionally. It had never occurred to me to go that route. The more I learned about it and the possibility of retaining control over my work, the more the appeal grew. While I would love the opportunity to work with a hybrid publisher like Bloom or Page & Vine that allows the author to retain control while also marketing to wider distribution channels, that is the only way I would consider a traditional publisher because I love having the freedom indie publishing offers.

How do you balance being an author, managing a bookstore, and personal life, especially with three kids and three furbabies in the mix? Any time management tips for aspiring authors?

To be honest, I don’t have much of a personal life anymore, but that’s my choice because building my brand as an author is such a huge priority for me. My role as a bookstore manager only enables me that much more to build my foundation in the indie author community. I have been fortunate enough to start hosting a series of indie author signing events, all of which are free because it’s so important to have that kind of representation in a bookstore. My kids, both human and animal alike, serve as my biggest motivators, and my human kiddos are my biggest cheerleaders. They even go to school and convince their teachers to come to buy my books, which is the sweetest thing to see as a parent. My best advice with time management is to make each minute count. Start the day with intention, having a plan in mind of what needs to get done and when, but then deviate when necessary. I try to utilize time to multi-task as much as possible. For example, when I’m waiting in the car rider line to pick my kids up from school is typically when I make all of the graphics I use for social media or when I respond to email. Writing, I’ve found, is a bit more difficult to do when they are at home and awake, so I try to schedule time around their needs. Oftentimes that means I am getting up at 5:30 to write for an hour before they wake up, but I love my stories so much that I can’t say it bothers me. I also take my computer with me to work so I can write on my breaks. It’s not hard to find the time when it’s something that you are passionate about.

It was a true pleasure to have Samantha Gail in my Author Spotlight. Her journey as an indie author is as fascinating as her captivating narratives. To dive deeper into the world Samantha has created, visit her Official Website and follow her onΒ  Instagram for more updates and behind-the-scenes glimpses.

If you’re an indie romance author and would like to be featured in my Author Spotlight series, I’d love to hear from you! Head over to my Author Spotlight and fill in the form. Let’s celebrate your story and share your unique voice with our passionate community of romance readers.