In a deep conversation with Samantha, we discussed how all people are fascinating. Whether they’re LGBTQ, Autistic, ADHD, or even supposedly “normal”, we are all talented and we are all human beings.
As Samantha says, “I always say, do what you want, but don’t hurt anybody is my motto. Live and let live basically. And I believe it’s important in life to have joy, to live in the moment.”
Samantha Lee Howe is a best-selling author of horror, crime and thriller books in the US and the UK. With over 20 successful books in her name, she recently rose to fame with her book ‘The Stranger In Our Bed’ which has been a chart-topping series, turned into a movie that bagged multiple awards and nominations.
‘The Stranger In Our Bed’ is a semi-finalist at the Chicago Filmmaker Awards, taking place on the 15th of October, which is coincidentally also her birthday. During our chat she shared the news of being nominated for the Prague Film Festival as well.
She’s a rising star and brilliant writer with a remarkable thirst for storytelling. But having been a survivor of child abuse and domestic abuse in her first marriage, she has a deep empathy for the world.
She’s always been passionate about giving back to the people and is an avid charity supporter. Samantha is a patron of advocacy charity PohWER and Survivor Ambassador for domestic abuse charity IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services) which is based in Yorkshire.
Her latest charity event is with Anna Kennedy who started the initiative of Autism’s Hero Awards last year where Samantha was a presenter. And now she is also a presenter for this year’s Autism’s Got Talent show.
Samantha mentioned her favourite act from last year’s show and said, “There was Angus Baskerville. He was a magician. He came up to our table and he did this close up magic. I’ve never seen anything like it, it was absolutely incredible!”
Samantha used to teach drama and is a classical singer herself. When she worked as a teacher and was part of the musical and theatre community in the past, she would actively organise charity events.
Not a lot of people know that she’s a singer as well, after having told Anna Kennedy about it and her background, she decided she had to make Samantha a judge for the show.
She’s witnessed autism and ADHD in her own family, particularly her husband David Howe’s nephews. She said, “One of his nephews is a piano savant. He’s never been taught. He hears a song, he sits down and he plays it. It’s amazing to watch.
They’re a very musical family, they are. And I do wonder, is this an inherited memory sometimes, you know, it’s absolutely genius. Very, very talented.”
We bantered a little about how we are all on a spectrum of something, be it LGBT or autism or ADHD. As a writer I know I feel things too deeply but I have been given the blessing to articulate it. But sometimes, I can’t seem to get over my anxiety, it feels fixated. I have a relentless perfectionist mentality and my mind doesn’t allow me to rest.
Samantha also believed the same and added, “I have obsessions too, that I have to be absolutely terrified of being late. And things like social situations, I’m okay if my PR and friend Steven Smith is going, I’d be delighted if David’s going to be there, he’s my rock. So things like that.”
There’s various spectrums of autism and ADHD, most people just have the ability to mask it really well. Or not identify with it at all because of the stigma around it.
It’s useful to identify with a spectrum and understand how our mind functions, to find a rhythm of knowing oneself in all situations. And it’s important to recognise that those on the spectrum have a grasp over it but those on the far end of it, lack the ability to control it. Which separates the struggle entirely and it’s vital to educate ourselves to be more compassionate.
Samantha added, “Imagine having that on an even harder level where you don’t understand exactly why you feel like that. Whereas, we can understand that we struggle with something for a reason, recognise it and have coping strategies.
But imagine being at the really severe end of the spectrum, and still having such beautiful talent. It’s just incredible.”
Autism’s Got Talent is a charity event supported by a lot of LGBT+ people as well. Which goes to show that being part of any spectrum means inclusivity of all kinds of people.
It doesn’t matter what side of the spectrum anyone’s on, it has the capacity to hold a whole universe of beings within it.
Speaking of spectrums, I was very fascinated to ask her about her famous Vampire Gene book series. It’s every little gay girl/boy’s fantasy to be in a vampire story, at least most of us.
Samantha said that she thoroughly enjoyed writing the series and she continues to work on it with her new book in the series.
That’s exciting news for us as readers because they don’t make dystopian vampire books anymore. There was an active decade of horror, crime and vampire fantasy between 2005-2015, but after a while, the popularity for it began to diminish.
However, Samantha believes that it’s slowly hitting the shelves again, and she wants to waste no time and capture the market at its revival with her new book, out in the first week of November.
She has always been a huge supporter of the LGBT community, which sparked my curiosity as a lesbian journalist. I was curious to know if she ever dipped her toe in the lady pond.
Samantha giggled and responded, “I was kissed by a girl once and I went with it for a minute. And I went, oh my god, what’s happening? Oh I don’t know what to do, you haven’t got a c*ck.”
We laughed at this common straight girl problem which is quite valid. I always encourage my straight friends to at least give it a try if they ever have an inkling.
Samantha then added, “But you see, I love everybody. I also accept that I think you could fall in love with anybody. I just happen to love my husband. So it’s interesting, I love to talk to everyone, I’ve got transgender friends and we have very long conversations.
I want to understand from a human point of view and probably a writer’s point of view, how it feels. I often think to myself, I was a real tomboy as well. Probably hard to believe now but I had wondered sometimes growing up, if we were like we are now, would I have thought I was a boy?”
A part of understanding one’s journey has a lot to do with allowing ourselves to explore all sides of us.
Samantha and I agreed that as writers, we are automatically open to all aspects of gender, sex, love, politics, and life. It helps any writer become the advocate and the devil’s advocate to suit the storyline and the narrator’s voice.
No book consists of one-toned characters or plots, and Samantha enlightens me as an experienced writer to allow the mind to reach unimaginable lengths. Even when it comes down to self-identity and sexuality.
Samantha concluded as she explains how she has included LGBTQIA+ characters in her books all along.
She said, “I have a pansexual character who can fall in love with a female victim as much as she can a male victim. I’ve got various characters in House of Killers as well because that’s very reflective of our world, isn’t it?
And I think it’s a writer’s job to write about everything, everyone and everybody. And you’ll have characters that are bigoted that don’t reflect your views. And you will have some who are lovely.
It’s horrible sometimes to have characters like that because you need them to be like that. But that’s how you deliver all sides of a story.”
We ended the interview with a sweet note of possibly meeting each other for the Autism’s Got Talent show on Saturday, the 14th of October in London.
Samantha is not just a best-selling author, a survivor of child abuse and domestic abuse, but also a delightful human being who sees the world with love. It’s almost as if I can hear her say, in her kind voice, love will always be love.
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