Debut Author Series: Sammi Caramela
Welcome to Scribbler’s new blog series, where we interview debut indie- and traditionally-published authors regarding their novel and writing processes.
We’re very excited to feature Sammi Caramela, a contemporary YA author whose debut, SOME PLACE LIKE HOME, deals with growing up while having OCD. If you haven’t heard about Sammi’s YA contemporary from Metal Lunchbox Publishing, we’ve included the description below:
April is different, and not just in the quirky-girl-in-converse kinda way. She doesn’t stress about college applications or prom dates like the other seniors in her class. Instead, she cycles obsessions and fear ranging from vomiting to being a bad person. For the most part, April can hide behind her glasses and distract herself with the murder mysteries she’s always reading. But every so often, her obsessive-compulsive disorder becomes so debilitating that she can’t help but give into her compulsions. So when a classmate goes missing, April feels it’s her responsibility to find him — and won’t rest until she does.Amazon
Sammi, how did the story of SOME PLACE LIKE HOME come to you?
I have always wanted to write about my own experiences, by channeling them through fictional characters and entertaining plots. Mental health is important to me, and as someone who has suffered with OCD from a young age, I knew I had to find a way to weave that into my first book and highlight the reality of the disorder. They say you should write about what you know, to write the book you want to read, and that’s exactly what I did with Some Place Like Home.
My dad, who is one of my biggest supporters, actually helped me brainstorm the plot of the story. We were talking about possible book ideas, because I didn’t know where to start, and he said I should find a way to turn my main character’s struggles into her strengths. April, my main character, might struggle with her OCD, but she also is an extremely passionate and empathetic person because of it, and her fixations actually help her (and her loved ones) in unique ways. She picks up on details others miss and cares more than most.
What was a moment during the writing or publishing process for SOME PLACE LIKE HOME you’ll never forget?
I will never forget the nights I spent at my desk or in my bed or on the train after a full day of work, writing and writing and writing because I just couldn’t stop. When I was at my lowest, I turned to my book to find a purpose and fuel my voice. In particular, I remember one night when my emotions were so powerful that I quite literally had teardrops on my laptop as I typed. Writing this book was one of the most healing experiences I’ve ever had.
When did you decide publishing with an independent press was right for you?
I knew it right away. Before I even started seriously writing the book (back in college), an author from Metal Lunchbox Publishing visited my college and spoke to my class about her experiences, and I instantly felt connected to her and her story. I eventually reached out to her and expressed interest in her publisher, and was able to get a few short stories published in an anthology before submitting my novel. I liked having more autonomy over my writing, as well as having the one-on-one support and feedback from passionate individuals. Metal Lunchbox helped me feel more connected to my book, and I didn’t get lost in self-doubt or worry about whether it was “marketable.” I just wanted to share my story with those who would appreciate it — those who really needed to read it.
Can you share three tools you feel are essential to your writing process?
Music that matches the scene, coffee to keep me focused and energized, and Google to research things I never thought I would have to know.
Is there any writing or publishing advice you wish you knew five years ago?
I wish I knew how much my story would change throughout the writing and editing process. I practically rewrote the book several times because I kept coming up with new ideas or identifying holes in the plot. Writing a novel can feel like working on a massive puzzle, but it’s worth it when the story finally comes together.
Has there been an author or piece of work that inspired you to write this book — or become an author yourself?
I’ve been inspired by countless authors and pieces of writing throughout my life as a bookworm, but to be honest, I’ve always wanted to be an author. I would “write” picture books before I could form words. The real inspiration comes from the stories within me that beg to be heard.
Lightning Round: This or That?
Would you rather read fiction or nonfiction? Depends on my mood! They’re both so important.
Coffee, tea, or water? Too much coffee. In fact, I even drink a cup of decaf before bed for the comfort of it.
Has a book ever made you cry? We Were Liars by E. Lockhart wrecked me.
Writing to music or silence? Music — always!
“Pantser” or “plotter?” A little bit of both! I like to follow a loose outline, but also like to let the characters lead the scene.
Would you rather handwrite or type your books? TYPE. I can’t even imagine handwriting. My brain works way too fast for that.
A bit about Sammi
In addition to writing books and working in digital marketing for Lightning Media Partners, Sammi also runs her own mental health and wellness blog called Sammi Says. You can find SOME PLACE LIKE HOME for purchase here.
Written by Katarina Betterton
Katarina Betterton is an aspiring adult fiction author. She works for an editorial content agency and specializes in SEO outlining writing and editing. She's also a part of Scribbler's editorial team. When not reading or writing her hobbies include cooking learning new languages and crafting. Follow her writing journey at @iamgirlofwords on Instagram.