Q1: When did you start writing and whom influenced you the most now and currently?
Sam: I was born with a pen in my hand (my poor mother) – I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. My biggest influence is probably the wonderful short story writer, Tessa Hadley, who taught me years ago. Poetry-wise, I’ve been lucky enough to be taught by Bill Herbert, and I’ve also had seminars with Sean O’Brien, Linda France and Tara Bergin, who have all been influential in the development of my poetry.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Sam: I can’t remember one – I always just knew. I’m not even sure it was a want – more a need. The way we don’t actually want to breathe, we just need to and so we do.
Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?
Sam: Again, Tessa Hadley’s feedback was incredibly influential when it came to short story writing, but I could say the same for everyone I’ve ever been in a class or a workshop with. Everyone who has given me feedback has helped me. I also owe a debt to Red from Alien Buddha Press for agreeing to publish my debut short story collection.
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?
Sam: I grew up in an English town by the sea but funnily enough never write about it. I’ve travelled fairly widely but do often write about places I’ve never been to: a Bangladeshi brothel, a Thai jail and a Russian prison feature in my short story collection, whereas my latest published poem is about an Australian woman who is running 200 marathons mostly in Australia/Asia. I do also write about places I have been – such as the Lake District and Madrid that feature in the collection too.
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?
Sam: Good question! The poem I wrote when my son was three weeks’ old, ‘Night-light’, which won the First Writer International Poetry Competition in 2014, has the most emotional resonance. You can read it here: https://www.firstwriter.com/competitions/poetry_competition/winners/12thpoetry.shtml
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Sam: Reading is the main one – I also love walking, being with my friends and family, the theatre…
Q7: What is a favorite line/ stanza/lyric from your writing?
I still expect you to vanish at night,
my refugee, so new to this country.
The fact of you is thin and silvery,
but you’re more important to me than me.
Q8: What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always come back to you as an inspiration?
I love The National – their song ‘Pink Rabbits’ is an inspiration.
Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, etc that you would like to promote?
Yes please, my short story collection ‘If No One Speaks’ is out now on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B6F56GW7/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0
Bonus Question: Any funny memory or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey?
My first book, ‘The Elves and the Fairies’ was written during my infant school days – the headteacher, Mrs Woolgar, bound it for my parents!
Sam Szanto lives in Durham, UK. Her debut short story collection “If No One Speaks” was published by Alien Buddha Press in 2022.
Sam’s poems are published in international journals including Punk Noir, Blue River Review, Impostor Lit and Duck-Duck Mongoose and forthcoming in The North and Fiery Scribes. She won the Charroux Poetry Prize in 2020 and the First Writer Poetry Prize.
Sam can be found at: