Welcome to Writers4Higher
The purpose of the Writers4Higher blog: to feature authors in a new light, a fresh look at the way writers use their talents and life energies to uplift humankind. Writers4Higher doesn’t promote religious or political views. Authors are asked to answer three simple questions: simple, yet complex.
This issue, Writers4Higher features
Sam R. Staley
Hi Sam. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!
1. Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
Anytime someone opens one of my young-adult novels, they will read about characters and stories that inspire me as a writer and parent of teenage children. It’s taken a while, and a lot of trial and error, but my “voice” as an author has emerged most forcefully through character-driven stories that don’t shy away from the gritty and all too real dilemmas facing our children and adults on a daily basis. To some extent, they are allegories for modern problems. Even Isabella, the ex-slave captaining a pirate ship in the 18th century Caribbean in The Pirate of Panther Bay, can’t escape the challenges of leadership, or the ethical quandaries presented by her “profession” as a pirate, or the nihilist time in which she lived. Luke, the lead character in A Warrior’s Soul deals with the fundamental question of whether we have the courage to act in the right way, at the right time, even with tools we’ve already learned. In Renegade (due out in October), Maria, the misunderstood and reluctant school bully, runs full throttle into the scary contemporary problems of endemic violence in some of our schools and communities. As in the real world, these characters take responsibility for their actions (although not always willingly) and are held accountable for their decisions, good and bad.
I’ve worked for three decades around the edges of power and politics, and my stories, while targeted for the young-adult market, personalize our problems, embrace the complexity of the real world, and grapple with the risks and responsibilities assumed by individual initiative. And violence always loses. And forgiveness defines character.
2. Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
I’ll restrict my answer to my fiction because I’ve already published five nonfiction books on public policy problems, ranging from the ravages of the illicit drug trade in our cities to traffic congestion. My young adult novels are now my creative passion and outlet.
My stories, both published and non-published, have consistently centered on individual responsibility, social accountability, and violence. I believe these are crucial issues facing our children today, and they need tools for coping with the challenges these problems face. Fast paced, action dramas are an intellectually challenging but potentially great vehicle for addressing them.
I’m realistic enough to know that I won’t be able to financially support myself on my fiction writing alone, but I hope my novels continue to inspire discussion and provoke more realistic thinking on these topics. Both A Warrior’s Soul and Renegade were conceived as a five book series exploring the seemingly gray line between self-defense and aggression, and I hope these stories pave the way to complete the remaining three books. The Pirate of Panther Bay was also conceived as a series, and I think the lead character’s struggle with her own identity as an ex-slave coming to grips with her responsibilities as an adult and leader can carry forward through another book or two. I also have several other manuscripts in various stages of completion, including a quasi-science fiction tale that recasts the myth of Santa Claus for a modern, skeptical audience.
3. How do you use your talents/time to help others?
I’ve been involved with community service since the 1970s through volunteer work with dozens of nonprofits, schools, and community organizations, including the National Ski Patrol, coaching speech and debate, serving on civic boards and commissions, and starting nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy think tanks. I am currently on the Board of Directors of the Bicycle House Tallahassee (www.bicyclehouse.org).
I am now teaching undergraduate and professional masters students at Florida State University in part because I believe my professional background and experience can be used to prepare the next generation for the practical realities of governance and policy implementation. Thus, through my writing and a reorientation of my professional interests, I have dedicated the “end stage” of my career to providing support to young people and giving them the practical tools they need to be successful. I also enjoy supporting my fellow authors, both through my blog on the “business” of writing and publishing (http://blog.srstaley.com), through my work with the Tallahassee Writers Association (www.twaonline.org), and joyfully hawking their creative output at Tallahassee’s Downtown Marketplace.
Would you like to find Sam?
Check out the links to this talented author:
Facebook: A Warrior’s Soul (book)
“Renegade” will be out at the end of October!
Thanks for joining us, Sam!
Be sure to visit the Writers4Higher Market! We have gear for the writer in you.
Fiction with a Southern Twist