Ask the Author: Samantha Bailey
What would you like readers to know about you?
First and foremost, I’d like readers to know how grateful I am to them. A year ago, I was doing final revisions on Woman on the Edge with my editors, and today I’m a #1 bestseller in Canada. It’s completely shocking and surreal, and readers have changed my life. I’ve received such beautiful messages from people who loved Woman on the Edge and so much support.
I also want readers to know I’m not an overnight success. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was ten years old and submitted my first manuscript, a short story, to publishers. I was twenty-nine when I wrote my first full-length manuscript. I was forty-six when I finally saw my book on shelves in bookstores, after five books written. I worked very hard for a very long time, and I’m proof that dreams come true if you don’t give up.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
A total stranger on the subway platform whispers, “Take my baby.”
She places her child in your arms. She says your name.
Then she jumps…
In a split second, Morgan Kincaid’s life changes forever. She’s on her way home from work when a mother begs her to take her baby, then places the infant in her arms. Before Morgan can stop her, the distraught mother jumps in front of an oncoming train.
Morgan has never seen this woman before, and she can’t understand what would cause a person to give away her child and take her own life. She also can’t understand how this woman knew her name.
The police take Morgan in for questioning. She soon learns that the woman who jumped was Nicole Markham, prominent CEO of the athletic brand Breathe. She also learns that no witness can corroborate her version of events, which means she’s just become a murder suspect.
To prove her innocence, Morgan frantically retraces the last days of Nicole’s life. Was Nicole a new mother struggling with paranoia or was she in danger? When strange things start happening to Morgan, she suddenly realizes she might be in danger, too.
Woman on the Edge is a pulse-pounding, propulsive thriller about the lengths to which a woman will go to protect her baby—even if that means sacrificing her own life.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
I think all writers are fascinated by the people around them. We observe what seems 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. There are no barriers, and one false move—a light push, a trip, and she could fall onto the tracks. Even then I hugged the wall on the platform, and now I basically press myself against it until the train comes.
I felt the wind of the oncoming train as it careened through the tunnel, and I imagined this mother asking me to take her baby. I felt the exhilarating, heart-pounding excitement of a new story, and 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.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
That’s a great question! I think the first scene, which was also the hardest. I love a challenge, and that opening on the subway platform when Morgan Kincaid and Nicole Markham meet for the first and only time in the book took many drafts to get right. I wanted it to be as raw, visceral, and powerful as possible, and I hope I achieved that.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
It would take me an entire book to list all my inspirations. I love reading as much as I love writing and have since I was a little girl. I was the kid who banged into poles because my head was stuck in a book. And I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t until I was twenty-nine that I wrote my first full-length novel, right after I finished the last page of Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. I love everything about her writing: fleshed-out, real, sympathetic characters; addictive plots; relatable and thought-provoking storylines. I was so inspired to finally screw up the courage to sit and write a novel from beginning to end, and I did it. Jennifer is still one of my favorite writers of all time.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
There are a few things I’ve learned that have helped me so much. The first is to know that it likely won’t be fast, and it definitely won’t be easy, but it’s so worth it as long as you just keep going. The second is feedback is a gift. It’s hard, of course, to receive criticism on your work, but for me, at least, my best writing happens in the revisions. I’m a freelance manuscript editor, as well as a novelist, so if I want my clients to produce their best work possible, I should also want that for myself. I love tearing apart and re-building my manuscripts, with insight from my brilliant, brutally honest critique partners, agents, and editors. The third is to find your people. The book community is such a warm, welcoming group, and other authors, especially, are some of my best friends. We support each through the rejections and celebrate each other’s successes. We rely on, love, and admire each other, and together we can do anything.
Samantha M. Bailey is a Toronto-based novelist, journalist, and freelance editor. Her work has appeared in Now Magazine, The 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 Shoppers 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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