Samantha Vamos

Q & A

Samantha Vamos with mom, children's book, author With my awesome mom - the person who most influenced me to write

Q: When did you write your first story?
A: I wrote my first story - "The Little Red Hen" – when I was three years old. My mom suggested that I tell her a story and as I told her, she typed it. It was a rather short story.

I wrote my first, lengthy chapter story when I was about 18 years old. I have revised it multiple times (and, in the process, cut more than sixty pages, which proves how important it is for me to reread my work). I still love the story, but it needs more polishing.

Q: How long did it take to publish your first book?
A: A long time! I basically wrote two versions of the same manuscript. I wrote the first version in 1998. Five years later, I was inspired to change the manuscript. Three years after that, Viking acquired Before You Were Here, Mi Amor. It was three more years - in 2009 - before my book was finally published.

Q: Do you illustrate your books?
A: I love to draw and doodle, but my artistic skills are definitely limited! I feel more comfortable selecting and arranging words to express my thoughts. It's also extremely exciting to be paired with a professional artist such as a children's book illustrator and see what he/she creates after reading the words I've written.

Q: What do you like to write about?
A: Anything that sparks my interest. I really enjoy the process of writing itself. I especially like animal characters.

Q: How can I become a good writer?
A: My simple answer is practice. In my opinion, becoming a good writer requires two things that you can practice. One, read frequently and throughout your life. Two, write as much as you can. Writing is a skill and like many other skills, you can improve by practicing. That doesn't mean you have to write stories; you can begin by writing letters and notes, or journals, poems, plays, or articles. You'll develop and refine your grammar, punctuation, and style by writing. It can also really help to have someone you trust to read and review your writing.