Samuel Reese is 32, married and has 2 dogs and a cat who live with him in Tennessee. He loves reading, writing, music., horror movies and stories, sci-fi/fantasy, philosophy, world religions, and anything that is dark.
Reese writes fantasy and horror. His style has been likened to Stephen King with the snarkiness of David Sedaris and Lovecraft utilizing Neil Gaiman's imagination. Immolation is his first book.
Author Blog: http://samueladamreese.wordpress.com/
1) Immolation is the story of a girl who discovers she can wield pyrokenesis, where did the idea come from?
I honestly can’t remember where the idea for the pyrokinesis came from. It’s likely influenced by all the comic books I read as a kid and young adult combined with a fascination I’ve always held towards fire in general. Fire is a destructive force that also cleanses and purifies when wielded properly. I wanted to tell the story of a girl who was abused and mistreated by those who should have protected her, and the idea of Lydia came from there and sort of grew into this monster if you will. Stephen King says that when he writes, he feels like the driver of a car and that the characters are the navigators telling him where to go. I write like that, and once Lydia started telling her story through me, the pyrokinesis just sort of became part of who she was.
2) Lydia is no Charlie McGee, can you tell us a little bit about her powers and the darkness that causes them to awaken?
As stated above, Lydia is pyrokinetic which means she has the ability to control fire with her mind. She can shape it into creatures of flame, wield it as a weapon, envelop herself within a cocoon of it, and even cause herself to levitate by using her own thermals. Think the Human Torch and you have a decent idea, except that she has to have fire present, not just yell “FLAME ON!” and hope for the best. The powers come from a family curse that was placed on a distant relative during the American Civil War. Every woman on her father’s side of the family has had the ability to control fire, though not every one of them used it. The ability itself only manifests under extreme circumstances, and is a catalyst for revenge for those who feel they have been wronged. Unfortunately, most of them find that revenge ends up with results far different than originally envisioned.
3) The story is a powerful one about a victim facing their abuser and the darkness that inspired the abuse. What did you want to say to readers about those facing these sort of situations and the choice between embodying that darkness and choosing to forgive?
First off, I wanted to tell a decent story. But I won’t sit here and lie by saying I didn’t have some kind of an agenda. The story of Lydia is unfortunately the story of too many people-male and female-who are abused and neglected by those who are supposed to be their shelter and protector. Many of these people don’t feel as if they have a way out and wind up either becoming abusers themselves, taking their own lives, or simply not living their own lives. Lydia has the ability to destroy all those who have ever harmed her, and the power is seductive. But I want my readers to understand that many times the greatest revenge is being a better person than your tormentors and that forgiveness is not always about the ones that have wronged you, but rather about beginning the healing process internally. The only one who can begin to heal yourself is yourself, and oftentimes forgiveness is the first step towards healing.
I also hoped to show through Frank, Lydia’s father, that those who abuse are often battling their own demons as well. It’s easy to see abusive people as monsters who deserve a bullet to the head and a shallow grave, but human beings tend to be much more complex than that.
4) There's some really beautiful imagery in Immolation, even in some of the darker sequences. Are there any scenes you're fond of from the book? What makes it stand out to you.
My favorite scenes to write are the ones with Lydia and Michael and the ones where Lydia goes to her happy place with various figures from literature. I really like the simple scenes, the ones that make her seem like a normal girl just trying to make sense of the world. Visually though, I think my favorite scene is a tie between the very first time she uses her powers and the final confrontation with her father.
5) How do you feel about going from indie publishing to being an author at a traditional publishing house J Ellington Ashton Press?
I’m pretty excited honestly. It feels good to know that someone other than my mom, my wife, and my best friend think I have potential. Being a writer is a lonely and oftentimes disheartening thing, because writers write alone and tend to think everything they do sucks cheese through a straw. To know that people who have no real reason to tell me my work is good actually tell me that not only boosts my own self-esteem, but it inspires me to write more. It’s difficult to be self-motivated. Having people tell you, “Hey, we like this and we want to publish it” goes a long way towards making you feel like you might actually have something that resembles talent.
6) Could you tell us a little about other projects you might be working on or some ideas that you were thinking of starting?
I write like I read: Too many things at a time. Currently, I’m working on a young adult story about Dwarves and a human prince with a friend of mine. I’m also working on a haunted house novel (my absolute favorite horror genre), a crazed story about a guy who meets an imp and his mute muse and sets off to stop Loki and Lucifer from doing something pretty awful alongside his dead grandmother, Odin, Thor, and Tyr. Titania and Oberon get thrown in there as well, along with Frigga, Sif, a few of Frigga’s handmaidens, and some other people from various mythologies. I lovingly refer to it as Neil Gaiman with a meth problem. I’m also working on a collection of short stories that take place in Sherman’s March, Georgia, the fictional town that Lydia resides in. There’s also another YA book that I’m co-authoring with a lady about twin girls, a prophecy, and demons. It’s kind of like “Twilight” with demons, but hopefully better written and less romantic. Other than that, not too much, but you never know what I’ll wind up running into.
Immolation is coming soon from J Ellington Ashton Press. Here's an early look at the cover!