Jen: Today we welcome Samantha Chase to Romancing the Book. Many of you many not know this, but Samantha actually reviewed for RtB a couple years ago and we’re excited to welcome her home. Samantha, will you share a short bio with us?
Samantha: New York Times and USA Today Bestseller/contemporary romance writer Samantha Chase released her debut novel, Jordan’s Return, in November 2011. Although she waited until she was in her 40’s to publish for the first time, writing has been a lifelong passion. Her motivation to take that step was her students: teaching creative writing to elementary age students all the way up through high school and encouraging those students to follow their writing dreams gave Samantha the confidence to take that step as well.
When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading contemporary romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Samantha: Funny story about Return to You, it was actually the first story I had written when I decided (as an adult) to start writing. Of course the original version was only 35 pages long so it was really a very detailed synopsis more than anything. I had put it away and moved on to other stories and when I was ready to add to the Montgomery family, this story really seemed to fit. Of course by the time I fleshed it out it barely resembles those first 35 pages, but that’s how it began.
Where it went is the story of James Montgomery – who is the rebel of the family. He’s probably the only member of the entire clan who never really felt comfortable with the path that was before him and wanted the freedom to do what he wanted. When he realized that wasn’t going to happen, he left home and moved in with relatives from his mother’s side of the family. A few years later he meets Selena. It was love at first sight and they were well into planning for their future when tragedy strikes and through a series of lies and misunderstandings, Selena leaves town. Now, ten years later, she’s finally come back. Their relationship is something neither of them ever got over and now it’s time for them to face their past and see if there is the possibility of a future.
Here’s a short excerpt from Return to You:
Suddenly they both realized that they were still standing very close together and that her hands were still gripping his shirt. Selena’s eyes met his, and she instantly released her grip on him and turned to walk into the living room.
“So then what’s the problem, James? Why are you here?
“I don’t know,” he whispered. Minutes ticked by as they stood and stared at one another. “I felt bad about this afternoon. I was called in on a case and there just wasn’t time to contact you before. I’ve been calling since about eight, but the phone was off, and then I tried reaching you at Jen’s and…I thought…I thought that something…” He began walking toward her slowly. “I guess it’s just my cop instincts, but I thought something had happened to you.” Now he was next to her, breathing in her sweet scent and taking in the beautiful picture she made standing there in her robe and t-shirt, still half asleep.
“I’m fine,” she whispered. “When I got back here I went right to sleep. I just didn’t want to be disturbed.”
“I’m sorry to have woken you.” Reaching up, his hand caressed the side of her face and Selena leaned into him. “I don’t know what I was thinking.” Now his hand was on her slender neck and curling around to the back. “I just needed to see you.”
And then he was kissing her. Soft, feathery kisses on her lips. He wanted to take it slow after the way he had behaved the other night and in the utility closet, but then Selena leaned into him even more and James knew that he was lost.
Pulling back slightly, Selena looked up at his face. “You look exhausted,” she whispered as he started placing kisses on her cheek and neck.
“I haven’t slept in years,” he admitted hoarsely.
With that, she took his hand and led him toward her bedroom. Once inside, she closed the door and removed her robe. She never said a word. Climbing into the bed, still clad in her t-shirt, she pulled back the covers on the opposite side indicating where she wanted him.
“Ah, Selena,” he said on a sigh, “I want nothing more than to just be near you.” He removed his shirt, then shoes and socks. “It’s been so long, sweetheart, since I’ve held you.” He removed his jeans, but left on his briefs and then climbed in beside her. “Selena…”
“Shh,” she said softly. “Sleep. We’ll talk in the morning.” He lay down and pulled her close. She snuggled into his warmth, and together they relaxed and fell into a deep sleep.
One look was all it took for all the fight to leave her. Mirrored on James’s face was the same uncertainty, the same level of wanting, needing, that she knew she was feeling. It was good to know that she wasn’t alone in all of this, that clearly he was feeling the exact same way. A slow smile crept across her face because the reality was that she was pleased to see him and relieved that he was finally there.
Stepping aside for him to enter, Selena wasn’t sure if she was supposed to kiss him hello or hug him or…anything. This was foreign territory for her. How was someone supposed to behave after a morning of mind-blowing sex with your ex-boyfriend when you really needed to sit down and have a serious discussion? She chewed her bottom lip nervously as she wracked her brain for the right thing to do, to say.
James took the decision from her hands when he closed the door, stepped in close and kissed her. It was gentle. It was tender. It was exactly what she needed. Her entire body softened against his and with nothing more than a simple nudge, Selena’s back was to the wall and her arms wound around his neck to hold him close. She wasn’t sure who sighed with contentment first, all she knew was that never in her entire life had she been so in sync with someone.
Only with James.
It was a good feeling.
Taking her in his arms, he gracefully spun her around until they were ensconced on the dance floor swaying to the ballad that was playing. They moved together as if they had been life-long partners, and he wracked his brain to try and remember if they had ever, in fact, danced together.
“I don’t think we ever formally did this,” Selena said as if reading his mind. “We’ve danced in the moonlight on the beach and we’ve played around, but we never actually made it out onto a dance floor.” They had skipped her senior prom because James, being older, had felt awkward about taking her, and of course, he had been concerned about the cost back then. He had been working toward his dream profession, and something like a prom had not been a necessity for him. At the time, Selena hadn’t minded, but every once in a while, she felt a twinge of regret that she had missed out on something that was a milestone for so many of her classmates.
“Well then, for two people who have never done this before, I’d say we’re doing pretty damn good,” he murmured close to her ear, relishing the feel of her against him.
“I will have to agree.”
“So what exactly does that mean?” he asked casually. “Are you saying that you’ve forgotten about me?”
“Well…no,” she said.
He took a step closer.
“Are you saying that you don’t think about me?”
“Not anymore,” she lied.
And he took another step closer.
“Do you think of me at all? Even a little bit?” His voice dropped, and it was no more than a low rumble.
“No,” she whispered.
He was toe to toe with her.
He could see the pulse jumping at the base of her throat, could feel the tremble of her body, and when those big green eyes looked up at him with something akin to longing, he was lost. “Liar,” he whispered right before claiming her lips with his.
She didn’t even pretend to put up a fight. Selena’s arms came up and wrapped around his neck just at James’ arms banded around her waist to pull her close. Tongues dueled, hands wandered as they feasted on one another after too long of a drought. He couldn’t breathe, and yet the thought of taking his mouth from hers was the bigger threat. Her nails scratched his scalp as his hand traveled down and cupped her bottom to pull her even closer to him.
Jen: What what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Samantha: I wrote my very first story in the third grade. I will never forget it because at the time, I was more into drawing so I was pretty psyched to get an assignment to write a short-story that I could do illustrations for. But it was called “The Homework Machine” and it was a fun little story (with amazing pictures) and it was then that I realized that I liked writing just as much. But it wasn’t until middle school that I got into reading romance and then started thinking about writing it. I hand-wrote my first romance when I was 15 – a crippling experience never to be recreated. Thank God for the invention of the typewriter and computer!
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Samantha: Believe it or not, my mom loves to write and my older son does too! Mom just self-published her first book back in November and my son has a proof-copy of his first book, but he hasn’t finished editing it – and I think he’s nervous about putting his work out there. I would love to see him do it!
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Samantha: I am a total Pantser. I try plotting – and I think I’ve actually managed to do it a time or two, but for the most part, I just go with whatever my characters are telling me as I’m writing. And believe it or not, sometimes they completely surprise me!
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Samantha: I kind of have one that was forced upon me. I’m lucky enough that writing is my full-time job now and I have my own home office that I can lock myself in. Unfortunately, it’s not a 9-5 thing and my most creative time seems to be at night and I have to be up every morning at 5:30 to get my husband out the door and drive my son to school. It really cuts down on my writing time – if I didn’t have to get up in the wee hours, I’d be up all night writing! But I do make myself make the most of the time that I do write – I set goals/word counts for myself to make sure that I stay on track. Some days the count is 1200 words, others it’s 5000. And sometimes I have to almost tie myself to the chair to make myself get it done!
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Samantha: Character names are a huge pet peeve to me. I read a lot and when I find a story where the characters have really weird/outlandish names, I cringe. Actually, in my head, I change them. They become a distraction and take away from the story. So when I’m trying to come up with character names, my first go-to is the top 100 baby name list. Normally I’ll find something on there and really, once you get down beyond the top 20, there are some unique and wonderful names that aren’t overly quirky. My next series is the Shaughnessy’s so I really wanted to give them good-Irish names. So I looked up the top 100 Irish names. I know it’s not exciting, but it works for me!
Jen: What’s been the highlight of you career to this point?
Samantha: The first time I got recognized – which was at Authors in the City in NYC last year. I was standing in the lobby of our hotel and I heard someone say “Oh my God, it’s Samantha Chase!” That was pretty cool. And when I made the cover of RT Magazine. That was AMAZING!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Samantha: How long can this interview be? Ha, ha! This is a VERY exciting time for me. With the release of Return to You on March 3rd we kicked off a wild time. Sourcebooks Casablanca re-released books one and two in the Montgomery series (Wait for Me/Trust in Me) on March 17th. Then on April 7th, Meant for You (Summer Montgomery’s story) will be released followed on April 21st by the re-release of the next Montgomery books in the series (Stay With Me/More of Me). On April 11th I’ll be in Boston at the North Shore Authors Signing and then in May I’ll be in Dallas for RT. And that’s just the first half of the year! There will be more releases starting up again in August.