LHHS grad plans release of first novel
By ANTHONY FLORES
Inspiration comes at random moments in life. Opportunity comes in the same fashion. To stand at the crossroads where they meet is rare. Fueled by inspiration, Liberty Hill High School graduate Samantha Carter is at that intersection and taking full advantage of it.
“My short story was one of the first short stories I ever wrote that was my own style of writing. I was still trying to figure out how I wanted to write, what I wanted to do. It was the first thing I ever wrote that felt completely like my own,” said Carter. “When I was approached to write a novel by New Degree Press and a program called the Creator Institute, I knew I wanted to make this a book. I wanted to lengthen my story.”
To Carter’s surprise, the small ember that grew into a full fire was sparked when she least expected it.
“My novel is called Searching for the Sun. I originally wrote it as a short story about two years ago,” she said. “In my class, we were reading John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and while I actually don’t like that book or his writing, I did love this emphasis on these two friends Lenny and George. I really connected with their friendship and how much they genuinely loved each other. I latched on to that, and in a few days, I had this 20-page short story.”
Inspired by the idea of friendship, Carter’s story revolved around the journey of two friends.
“The premise of the story is in the title. It’s about these two friends named Happy and Book who go on this journey to find where the sun lives,” said Carter. “They’re bonded by this isolation that they feel, so they come together and want to go on an adventure. They see this yellow thing in the sky and decide to find out where it is.”
Carter began writing at a young age and views her writing as a safe haven. For the young author, this is also a chance at introspection. It’s a way to ask and explore existential questions.
“The question I wanted to answer when I started expanding it into a novel was general mortality and what happens when we die. Where do we go?” said Carter. “I feel like there’s always an answer for something except for that. Through these two characters, I wanted to explore that question. It was my own self-assurance.”
Transforming Carter’s short story into a novel started with revisiting her original work.
“It was super fun. When I was approached to write the novel, I hadn’t touched the short story for a year at that point,” she said. “The first thing I did was read through the entire thing and made an outline of the story so I could go through it and figure out where I could expand and what I needed to add. A big thing I needed was the main antagonist. In the short story, there isn’t a set evil they’re up against. In the novel, I needed something more tangible that readers could experience.”
Understanding the need for an antagonist is one thing, but creating that character proved to be a real test.
“I had this character called the man; he was a godlike figure. When I was rereading and doing my outline, I saw that, and I realized he could be my bad guy,” said Carter. “I had to figure out how to create an antagonist. I needed to create another character, so I went from creating an outline to figuring out these new characters, who they are, and how they fit in.”
With her characters developed, the next move was to build up and create the world they inhabit.
“After all that, I had to do research. I spent a month and a half researching general things for the relationships in my characters,” said Carter. “One of the relationships I akin it to Stockholm Syndrome, so I had to do a bunch of research on that. I had to research the type of environment my characters live in and the terrain they travel through. There’s a huge research phase.”
Carter is learning more and more about writing styles through the process, finding her own unique style in the end.
“Instead of writing in order, I wrote completely nonlinearly,” said Carter. “I wrote the last chapter, then the second chapter, then the middle, and then the beginning. This style allowed me to not get exhausted with it, and it kept it fun and exciting for me. It almost feels like I have an obligation to write this novel well not only for my readers but for the characters I created.”
Writing a novel requires an extensive editing process. Carter is working with multiple editors and taking their advice to reach her goal.
“While I was writing, I had a developmental editor. He went through and edited my chapters kind of broadly. After that, I had another editor, and she really hammered it down and told me chapter by chapter what was up,” she said. “Following that, I had another editor. It’s editors galore. It’s a big thing I’m learning, the number of editors that are involved in the process.”
As the release of her novel in April approaches, Carter is preparing for several major upcoming events in her life. Along with her anticipated release, the 2020 LHHS alum is attending the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
“I was accepted into their writing program, and I’ll continue my writing in a college setting. In February, I’ll move up to New York with some family that lives there,” said Carter. “I’ll live with them and start saving some money. I’m excited to get there and start meeting people that share my creative interests. I’m ready to expand and learn from other people.”