Author, attorney and natural hair enthusiast Pamela Samuels Young recently spoke with Magic City Momma about her passion—writing books—and her publishing journey.
Tell me about your latest book, Lawful Deception.
In Lawful Deception, the beautiful Bliss Fenton won’t be winning any awards for Mother of the Year. Truth is, motherhood isn’t nearly as important to Bliss as the cottage industry she’s created: extorting wealthy men for the hefty child support she can collect.
But Bliss’ greed goes too far when she takes on Fletcher McClain. The handsome music industry mogul refuses to accept her conniving conduct lying down. He retains high-profile attorney Vernetta Henderson to sue Bliss for fraud.
Enter Bliss’ unscrupulous attorney, Girlie Cortez, who has a personal score to settle with Vernetta. As the two lawyers go head-to-head, their legal battle quickly escalates from merely contentious to downright deadly.
Why did you decide to write this story?
About a year ago, my boyfriend sent me an article about a paternity case involving two doctors. When I read the facts of the lawsuit, I was both stunned and amused. I’m always looking for interesting legal cases to write about, and this case fit the bill. I knew it would make a great backdrop for a legal thriller and immediately started outlining the book.
Why did you decide to write legal thrillers?
I’m an avid reader of legal thrillers, and it always bothered me that women and people of color were never depicted as attorneys in the books I read. I would close them feeling satisfied with the story, but disappointed about the lack of diversity of the characters. One day, I decided that I would write a legal thriller and include the kind of characters I wanted to see and in the process, I discovered my passion!
Tell me about your publishing journey.
My writing journey didn’t go as planned. I figured I would write my first novel, Oprah would call, and the rest would be history. That didn’t happen. After getting a two-book deal with a traditional publisher and releasing my first legal thriller, Every Reasonable Doubt, in 2006, and my second, In Firm Pursuit, in 2007, my agent couldn’t sell my third book, Murder on the Down Low. It was rejected by nine publishers. My then-husband encouraged me—or I should say pushed me—to self-publish, which I didn’t want to do at the time. Today, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve learned so much about the publishing industry, and I love the control I have over my writing career as an independent author. I obtained rights to my first two books and now have seven novels and two non-fiction titles in print. Winning the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work—Fiction for Anybody’s Daughter confirmed that I made the right choice when I decided to go it alone. The fact that I was the only self-published author nominated alongside four veteran writers whose work I admire—Walter Mosley, Terry McMillan, Victoria Christopher Murray and Sister Souljah—has been a tremendous boost to my career.
What advice do you have for people interested in publishing a book?
Master your craft! Take the time to study writing the same way you would study any other profession. Also, read like a writer. When you read a book you enjoy, examine the author’s writing style and the book’s story structure. Ask yourself why the book was a great read. This practice will definitely make you a better writer.
Also, don’t let rejection deter you from pursuing your dream. Most successful authors experienced years of rejection. John Grisham, for instance, received 45 rejection letters and self-published A Time to Kill because people told him no one wanted to read about lawyers. How wrong they were! So if you think you have a marketable book, don’t give up on your dream.
What is the biggest lesson you want readers to learn from your stories?
It’s always my goal to entertain and educate. For example, In Firm Pursuit deals with sexual harassment. In Murder on the Down Low, I wanted to educate people about HIV and AIDS. In Buying Time, I introduce readers to the viatical industry, which allows terminally ill patients to sell their insurance policies for cash before they die, something I knew nothing about until a few years ago. I’m always looking for something new and interesting to introduce to readers.
What advice do you have for women who juggle raising a family with having a full-time job while pursuing their dreams?
Be stingy with your free time. I often give up socializing, television and even family time in order to sneak off and write. Also, plan your writing time. If you look at my schedule right now, you’ll see that I’ve blocked off several weekend days for writing over the next couple of months. Whether you have three hours or ten hours, write!
What’s next for Pamela Samuels Young?
I’m currently writing the next book in the Dre Thomas series, which will be released in the fall. It’s called Abuse of Discretion and will pick up where Anybody’s Daughter left off. Readers will get a shocking look at the juvenile justice system when a teen is embroiled in a sexting case that could change his life forever.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
Yes, I’d like to share one of my favorite quote. I don’t know who said this, but I love it: Good things don’t come to those who wait. Good things come to those who work their rear ends off and never give up!