Author’s Spotlight: Samuel M. Hallam Interview

Samuel M. Hallam, author of Haunted Souls

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

My name is Samuel M. Hallam and I am originally from Lincolnshire in the U.K.

2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

My recent work is called Haunted Souls and is my debut novel. It’s the second piece I’ve had published (I had a short called All Hail The Coral Queen! which was picked up in May 2022). It’s a ghost story of sorts and plays into the classic tropes of ghosts and haunted houses, covering centuries of history and horror, all centred around a manor house, flitting between 1995 and 2018, and the years prior.

3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

The main character in Haunted Souls is January Miller. We first meet her as a young girl and as an adult. They are a strong female lead I think and suffered quite a bit. I can’t really remember how they came about. I think I wanted a strong lead character who had an unusual first name to make them stand out. January is a lovely name and is not one you see every day and part of me just clicked with it. In terms of strengths, they are quite a resilient character, determined and curious. Weaknesses – we don’t see a bit of her life, and sometimes I feel I could have explored the missing years.

4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

Without giving too much away, there were a few hard scenes but one I found really difficult emotionally was a funeral scene. It hit me really hard as I was writing it and I had to watch something funny and light-hearted as I wrote the scene. Sometimes when you write emotionally charged scenes, you need to find something to balance it out.

5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

Self-publishing was my goal the entire time. As much as I might have liked to have approached a traditional publisher over this one, I sort of wanted to stand on my own two feet as it was my debut. I had a bit of help with sorting the Kindle element, but this time it was on my own. I might go the traditional route with future stories.

6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

The most difficult part for me personally is editing and formatting. I am pretty useless when it came to the Kindle Direct Publishing element so got some help (massive thank you to Aiden Merchant). It’s not the most user-friendly thing in the world and I needed that help. As for advice to others? Have fun and don’t be afraid to explore new worlds. Whether it is short stories, novelettes, novellas, novels or a series then have fun! That and if you have an idea, don’t be afraid to let it run. It could take you in an unexpected, but exciting direction.

7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Mild spoilers here for Haunted Souls. In Chapter 9, which is set in 1913, we meet Aloysius Benavidez and Grace Harding. There are hints that these two have been together (in a partnership) for a good few years. At the moment, I have plans for a trilogy involving Aloysius and Grace exploring “hauntings” in the U.K. with Aloysius trying to expose them as fake, and Grace being more open to the idea that there really is ghosts. I have the first story’s outline written and I will get round to exploring this world soon. Just wait and see.

As for other connections, I’m not sure. There’s a number of doors that are potentially opened by Haunted Souls. We’ll see.

8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

In terms of favourite authors, I have a range really. Barker, Herbert, King, Christie, Gaiman… There’s so many household names who I admire and look up to and see how they’ve done it, to try and help build up my own writing skills. But then again, I run the Indie Horror Book Club and I have fund so many great authors via the Book Club and there’s so many great self-published authors out there that I would strongly suggest reading. I’m not going to list them all as we’d be here for a long long time, but there’s so many wonderful self-published/indie authors out there.

In terms of what inspired me to write, I’m not entirely sure. I think from a young age I have always wanted to write and I have sort of rediscovered that love of writing during 2020 onwards.

9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

I am not sure. I just sort of do weekly posts on Instagram in the lead up to the release of Haunted Souls and try and share people’s posts about it.

10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

I’m not big on cosmological horrors. Sometimes it’s a bit too wordy for me, but there is good authors in that subgenre.

11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

I have been keeping an eye on reviews for Haunted Souls, mostly positive. I’ve been trying to see if there’s recurring faults and anything I could like take forward in terms of my writing.

12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

I have been called “offbeat” before but I like that. I have a tendency to write major plot outlines. For Haunted Souls I wrote a 2500+ plot outline to help keep me on track. For most novellas and novels I do write major outlines so I can follow the path so to speak and get it all written. I find it helps, and as I go along with the story, I gradually delete the plan.

13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

There’s a Stephen King quote which I quite like which he tells any potential author to read a lot. Honestly, that one is a good piece of advice. Reading a lot teaches you tips and tricks about how others have done it and how you can do it.

As for my advice, like I said earlier. Have fun and don’t be afraid to explore new worlds.

14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

Like I said earlier, I have the Aloysius and Grace series/trilogy (I need a better title) that I am working on. Aside from that I have four big projects on the horizon. Weathering the Storm is a sort of weather/folk horror/cult/fantasy horror that is my main focus for the moment. It’s a novella and I have a plan for it. Have You Seen This Martian? will be my next novel I think and is a sci-fi/horror story set on Mars in the not so distant future. Tales From the Green Chair is a collection of shorts I have written. Some new, some old, all by me. Then lastly, I have a top-secret project which I can’t say much about but it’s something new, something fun. There’s more to come but that’s major next steps.

15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

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