Author Chit Chat: Samantha M. Bailey (Woman On The Edge)

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Thank you Samantha M. Bailey for taking the time out of your busy schedule to partake in my author feature. I am a huge fan of her thriller, Woman on the Edge and I highly recommend you check it out!

Congrats on your thrilling debut! What inspired you to write Woman on the Edge?

Thank you so much, Eleni! I was inspired by public transit. I think all writers are fascinated by the people around them. We observe what seem to be even the most mundane of situations and conversations, and for me, my best ideas come when I’m not looking so hard for them. Six years ago, I was waiting on a Toronto subway platform for the train when I saw a woman holding a newborn. She looked worn out and frazzled, as most new mothers do. As I did many years ago with my own two kids. I was curious what she was thinking about and how she was doing in this new life that we’re thrust into the minute our baby is put in our arms for the first time. I was afraid for her because she was so close to the edge. 

I imagined this mother asking me to take her baby, and I felt the exhilarating, heart-pounding excitement of a new story. Then my thoughts got darker. As the train pulled into the station, I scribbled the idea on an empty gum pack I found in my purse. By the time I’d boarded with all the other commuters, and happily, also the mother, who was nestling her baby against her, the premise for Woman on the Edge was born.

When you first saw the cover for Woman on the Edge, what were your initial thoughts?

I was so happy! I have zero visual design talent, so I couldn’t envision the cover I wanted. When Sherise Hobbs, my editor at Headline, my UK publisher, sent me and my agent the cover for approval, we both knew immediately it was the one. It was designed by Caroline Young, and I think she’s remarkably talented. We all loved the cover so much that my North American publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, wanted it, too. I hope readers love it as much as I do.

If you could re-name your book title, what would you choose?

That is one of the most interesting questions I’ve ever been asked. It was my editor, Nita Pronovost, and the Simon & Schuster Canada team, who came up with that title. It was originally titled “Jump,” and we all felt it wasn’t quite right. As we were brainstorming, I suggested all sorts of awful, cheesy titles that inspired a lot of laughs but weren’t what we needed. When Nita asked what I thought of “Woman on the Edge,” I loved the double meaning; how it captured the premise; and I was sold. So, I can’t imagine re-naming it, but sometimes in my head, I still think about it as “Jump” because I lived with that title during years of revisions.

If you could hang out with one of your fictional characters in Woman on the Edge, who would it be and why?

Morgan. I love and admire her. She’s a selfless, empathetic social worker who protects everyone else above herself and doesn’t let anything stand in the way of saving the baby she’s been entrusted to take care of. She risks her freedom and life for a child she’s just met, and to me, she’s a warrior.

Do you have any quirks or rituals during the writing phase of a novel?

So many. I find comfort in routine. When I start a new book, I always buy a pretty, new notebook for my outlines, character sketches, etc. I buy a cheap, new pen because there’s nothing more exciting to me than seeing fresh ink on a clean page. I choose a different mug for each new story and drink coffee from only that mug for that story. I use cream and not milk when I’m working on a first draft. Oh my God, I sound so weird, but waking up in the morning and diving into my work-in-progress feels so good, and I love all my rituals associated with that. It’s pure joy.

Last but not least, do you have anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

The biggest, most heartfelt thank you. It took me seventeen years, five books written, and two agents before the day I could finally walk into a bookstore and see my book on a shelf. Before I could tell my kids to keep going and never give up on their dreams because they can come true. In January, Woman on the Edge hit #1 on the Canadian bestseller lists for the first time, and I’ve never been more shocked and grateful in my life. That happened because of my readers, and all the people who support me: the bookstagrammers like you, bloggers, librarians, book sellers, and everyone who buys my book. You all changed my life.

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Photo Credit: Dahlia Katz Photography – Hair/Makeup: Megan Fraser

About the Author:

Samantha M. Bailey is a Toronto-based novelist, journalist, and freelance editor. Her work has appeared in Now MagazineThe Village Post, and Oxford University Press, among other publications. She was a writer-in-residence for Kobo Writing Life at Book Expo America 2013 and is the co-founder of BookBuzz, a promotional and interactive author-reader event held in New York City and Toronto.

Her debut psychological thriller, WOMAN ON THE EDGE, is a #1 Toronto Star and Globe and Mail bestseller, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and was a PW Best Books Pick of the Week. It was the December Fiction Book of the Month at Indigo Books and the Shopper’s Drug Mart January Book Lover’s Pick. It made the Pop Sugar list of “25 New Books to Add to Your Reading List This Spring” and She Reads’s “Fifteen Necessary Thrillers to Read in 2020.” WOMAN ON THE EDGE is published in North America with Simon and Schuster Canada, and the UK with Headline. It will also be translated in seven countries world-wide, including with Garzanti in Italy, Roca Editorial in Spain, Heyne in Germany, General Press in Hungary, Euromedia in the Czech Republic, Ikar in Slovakia, and Znak in Poland.

Samantha loves reading as much as she loves writing so if she’s not tapping away at her computer, she’s probably curled up on her couch with a book.

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