Interview with Sam Bennett

Who is your favorite author, and does his or her work inspire your writing?
My favorite author is, without a doubt, Lewis Carroll. 'Alice in Wonderland' was fundamental in me developing a love of reading from an early age. There's something about the carefree, nonsensical attitude to the story that inspires me. Alice's story isn't there to teach children a lesson, but it is simply for the reader's enjoyment. That's why I love writing -- creating a fantasy world for people to escape to and be entertained.
Who designed the cover to 'Compass of the Nymphs'?
Kate Wiebe drew the cover and all of the illustrations in the story. It was important to me to work with up and coming artists, like myself, with the goal of us all propelling forward. I found Kate's art online and instantly knew she was perfect for this project. Each drawing inside the book and the cover itself blew me away! She is so talented, and I really hope she will be able to do the artwork for the rest of the books in Taisiya's Trilogy.
How did you come up with the title, and is it a part of the book?
The title for 'Compass of the Nymphs' came naturally...and without giving too much away, it should be fairly obvious there's a compass involved in the journey. One of my favorite parts of the entire story is actually the backstory behind the compass the characters find. I don't normally like to write a love story, but it was fun to write one as an aside to the main adventure.
What inspired your story, and was there any research done while writing it?
All of the great fantasy stories I read growing up have had a profound impact on me, and I'm sure bits and pieces of each of them have snuck in to the pages of 'Compass of the Nymphs.' I like to write with detail, but not too much detail, so that the reader's imagination can build the fantasy; the world the story takes place in can be as vidid as you imagine it. In my head, though, a lot of inspiration was drawn from Ancient Greece and Egypt, and more specifically, Cleopatra.

I did do a bit of research both geographical and etymological to ensure the story stayed accurate to the vision in my head, and the characters names in the story has a deep connection to them as a person. The evil queen is named Adrasteia, and in Greek Mythology, Adrasteia was an evil nymph -- her name means 'inescapable.' That embodies her character quite well.

The only character that doesn't have a name with a clear definition is the main character, Taisiya. That's because she is setting out to define her name herself.
Is there a message to the story?
Yes! Everything I write has a meaning behind it, even if that meaning is just to enjoy the ride. The message of Taisiya's Trilogy is about not letting anyone define who you are. You are the shapeshifter of your own destiny, and if you set your mind to it, you can change any situation. That's why the name 'Taisiya' doesn't have a specifc meaning --- Taisiya is going to define her own destiny.

The shapeshifter aspect of these books is really enchanting to me because it's strictly metaphorical. There is a lot of fantasy creatures in the story, but not shapeshifters per se. Perhaps that's because I see us, as humans, as being able to be shapeshifters. Cleopatra, for example, is the perfect example of a timeless shapeshifter. There were no photographs taken of her, but yet her story still lives on, including her beauty and power. Each story, each movie, they all show her somewhat differently, though. She is not defined by any one particular view: they are all reality, and they are all, to some degree, a fantasy.
What do your fans mean to you? Has it been exciting meeting people at book signings?
I love every one of them. I wouldn't call them fans though -- they mean too much to me to have a label like that. I would call them royalty, and I will be their shapeshifting storyteller, doing whatever it takes to entertain them.

Meeting people at book signings has been very humbling, especially the young readers. One young girl got her book signed and ended up coming back about a half hour later to tell me she couldn't put it down. That felt so good!
What are you working on next?
The second part of Taisiya's Trilogy! It's going to be much longer than the first book; I've already written as much for the second story as I did for the first one. It was hard to come to a stopping point for 'Compass of the Nymphs', because there is so much I wanted to write, but I know with younger readers it can be a challenge to read books that are hundreds of pages at once. So the first book is rather short and sweet, setting up the real plot to follow. I have the entire story planned out, so now it's just a matter of pulling all the ideas out of my head.
What can readers expect in the first story, then?
Lots of action and adventure! Even though this story is setting things up for a much grander story, there is still lots of excitement to go around.
Do you have a favorite character in the story?
I love them all like children...having to pick just one would be hard! Outside of the three main characters, I would have to say my favorite characters are the couple of sea nymphs at the end. They provide some pretty fun comic relief at the close of a long journey, and bringing them to life allowed me to end the first book on a happy note.
Who do you think is most likely to enjoy 'Compass of the Nymphs' and why?
I hope that readers of all ages will find themselves entertained by the story, but I think young teen readers will probably enjoy it the most. There's a lot of wild fantasy and action to be read, and I think it is more lifelike in the minds of young readers. Because the main character is a girl, I'd say that girls would probably relate to the story more, but young boys that have read it have said it's good, too. I think when you have a strong and independent main character, it resonates with people, regardless of their gender.
How can new readers to the land of 'Compass of the Nymphs' keep in touch with you?
Despite the fact I tend to be away from technology, surrounded by a huge library of books, readers can keep up with me on Twitter (@thesambennett), Facebook (http://facebook.com/thesambennett), and my website (http://sam-bennett.com). I always make sure to post about what I'm writing and how I'm doing. Hopefully, once people have read 'Compass of the Nymphs', they'll be around with me on this crazy journey for the sequel!
Published 2013-09-24.
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