Today, we have the pleasure of again interviewing author Samuel W. Gailey. Samuel’s newest novel, COME AWAY WITH HER, was released earlier this year. This is Samuel’s third published novel (with hopefully many more to come). A mystery-suspense novel, COME AWAY WITH HER is set in a small rural town in Pennsylvania. The novel is now available on AMAZON.
We recently had the chance to sit down with Samuel, and he was kind enough to answer some of our questions.
Thriller Magazine: Some time ago, we interviewed you for “The Guilt We Carry.” How does “Come Away From Her” differ from that book?
Both The Guilt We Carry and Come Away From Her have young female protagonists who suffered childhood tragedies. The similarity ends there. Come Away From Her is a mystery-suspense novel about a deaf woman (Tess) running from a dysfunctional family who forms an unlikely bond with a pastor (Cap) who struggles with his faith and more. The story begins with Cap, after a blackout, discovering a dead body outside his church on a brutally cold winter day. Life as the town knows it is forever changed.
I withhold the identity of the victim and the killer for much of the book and peel back onion layers, exposing the secrets of each townsperson that leaves them wholly human.
The central theme in the book is the power of community. It demonstrates how a tragedy that could potentially divide a community, in the end, actually pulls friends and neighbors closer. And that oftentimes, there is something to sacrificing for the greater good of the community.
Thriller Magazine: Come Away From Her is set in a rural town. How much does the setting play into the story?
Black Walnut is a Pennsylvania hamlet that I grew up next to, and the town and the surrounding communities are very much characters in the novel. The harsh terrain, brutal winters, and sense of isolation combined with its deceiving bucolic appearance intrigued me. The residents are hardscrabble folks that work the land, hunt to fill their freezers full of meat, and find themselves distrustful of outsiders.
Many people find themselves trapped in a town like this. And even though they attempt to uproot and leave the only place they call home, they find that they cannot. As a result, farms are handed down from one generation to the next.
This is also the same community where my debut novel, Deep Winter, took place.
Thriller Magazine: What inspired this work? And what do you hope readers walk away with?
Like my main character Cap, I have grappled with demons. These demons come in many shapes and forms: trauma, fear, anger, desire, addiction, and so on. I believe most of us wrestle with something that, if goes unchecked, will take us down.
The murder in the novel forces my characters to confront the web of lies, shame, and mistakes from their past. I hope readers will come away feeling inspired to face their demons and eliminate shame by addressing the truth and turning to their neighbors and loved ones.
Thriller Magazine: In your opinion, what makes a good mystery story?
I love when authors keep us readers guessing by peeling back onion layers at just the right pace. The Push, by Ashley Audrain, was a recent mystery novel that is perfectly executed. A tense, page-turner about a young woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing like what she hoped for and, in fact, is everything she feared.
A good mystery must keep the reader guessing. Suspicious of each character’s motives and intentions. And just when the reader thinks they have solved the mystery, they find that their legs have been pulled out from under them.
Personally, I am more riveted by characters who are flawed. They make one poor decision after another until they are in a place that seems impossible to escape. Yet somehow, they manage to pull themselves up, and against all odds, able to find redemption.
Thriller Magazine: Lastly, you’ve written a string of well-received novels. What advice would you give authors starting their careers?
Crafting a powerful story takes a long time. Years and years and years. You have to absolutely love your story and your characters (even the despicable ones) because you will be in a long-term relationship with them. And, for most of us, no one is paying you in advance to write your novel. You’ve got to have commitment, discipline, and perseverance. Don’t be stubborn. Get feedback. Consider notes from people you trust. And you will not get it right in the first draft. It might take a dozen rewrites. Maybe more. Editing should not be underestimated. Embrace it. Editing is as crucial to the process as the first draft.
And keep writing. Always.