In Conversation with Samhi C.

Samhi C.

About Samhi C.

Samhi C. is a Telugu-American writer based in New Jersey.
She’s a fourth-year Pennsylvania State University undergrad student pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with a minor in Criminology. While writing is her primary form of creation, she also paints and composes music. She’s also a part-time tutor for math and writing.
“When You Saved Me” is her first published novel. She also has three poetry collections and two memoir-letter collections published prior to her novel. She has contributed to several newspapers and magazines and currently serves as the Features Editor for the “Behrend Beacon” for which she has founded a column called “Created by Behrend Students” in an effort to promote creative works of fellow students at the Behrend campus of Penn State. She is currently working on a new novel-in-stories collection for her thesis as well as the sequel to “When You Saved Me”.

LiFT: Tell us about your book, the journey of writing it and its content.

Samhi C.: I started writing “When You Saved Me” in ninth grade. At the time, it wasn’t a serious project — just something I was writing for fun. I had written about three chapters. When I was accepted into a program called “Arts High” in my high school township, I took the chapters there and got them workshopped. They sucked. And I completely rewrote them and I’m glad I did. By the time I graduated high school, I had finished more than three-fourths of the novel.
And then Covid happened. I took a little break from writing and spent more time reading during quarantine.
But once college started and I got out of the house, I felt like writing again. The classes I was taking my first semester helped motivate me again. I had finished up to Chapter 40 by the time my first semester of college ended.
But the book didn’t feel finished. And at first, I was struggling with writing the ending because I was so sure I wanted my lead characters to fall in love and be a couple by the end of the first novel. But a friend of mine had said some wise words (which you can read in the dedication of the novel) that changed my mind.
As soon as I realized Damon and Rosaline did not need to be a couple by the end of the first novel, I found it easier to write the ending. An honest one. A heartfelt one.
I spent my second semester of college editing the novel (as best as I could on my own) and then published the eBook version on July 2, 2021. Then on February 15, 2023, I published the Paperback version after another round of editing. Currently, I’m having a friend of mine edit the manuscript and working on an updated cover for a 2nd edition.

LiFT: Why you chose this title?

Samhi C.: By the end of the first chapter and definitely by the end of the fourth, you’ll think the logic behind the title is really obvious. Without giving away any spoilers, Damon literally saves Rosaline in the novel. More than once, in fact.
But there’s more to it.
Yes, he physically saves her. But what about emotionally?
You need to also question: Is the title from her perspective or his?
The truth is, they both save each other quite a bit throughout the novel.

LiFT: When did you realize that you want to be a writer and what’s your inspiration behind it?

Samhi C.: I decided I wanted to become a professional writer when my best friend in eighth grade told me I write all the time and that I’m good at it.

LiFT: Where do you see yourself ten years down the line in the world of literature?

Samhi C.: Full-time writer, full-time professor of writing, and owner of a BookCafe with a tutoring center.

LiFT: How much do you think marketing or quality of a book is necessary to promote a particular book and increase its readers?

Samhi C.: Marketing and quality are two different things.
You definitely need to market a book in that you need to let potential readers know it’s out there so they actually read it. Whether that’s via billboards and TV commercials or word of mouth and Instagram, whatever the means, if you want people to read it, you have to let them know it exists.
In terms of quality… unfortunately, we live in a world where quality doesn’t really matter any as much. Which is sad. With the uproar of websites like Wattpad, it has become more and more acceptable to publish mediocre unrevised first drafts. I’m not saying sites like Wattpad are a problem. They’re quite helpful. I’ve published my own work on Wattpad as well. But I publish work that I’ve carefully edited and revised to the best of my ability. Which is what I think everyone should be doing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But it has to be thoughtful.
But there’s a difference between short-term and long-term success. If a book is truly great then people will still remember it in ten years, twenty, even a thousand.

LiFT: What is the message you want to spread among folks with your writings?

Samhi C.: There’s so many. I’m not the type of writer that only writes about one thing.
Every single one of my stories includes several different themes.
Themes about love, life, the human psyche, different kinds of relationships and how they work, ethical questions, etc.
For “When You Saved Me”, while there are many themes about these and other topics such as addiction, depression, the LGBTQ+, grief, etc., key to remember is that this book is about— in the words of many of those who have reviewed my work —about the healing power of friendship. It’s also about the power of a broken family.
Beyond this, I wish for all my readers to pay close attention to my work and decide for themselves which themes they can decipher. I believe every reader will learn something nuanced.

LiFT: What do you do apart from writing?

Samhi C.: Read, ring, dance, compose music, play the piano, paint, draw, make clothes and other fabric art, swim, run (on the treadmill or when I’m getting late to class), yoga.

LiFT: What are the activities you resort to when you face a writer’s block?

Samhi C.: The best way to get over writer’s block is to either take a break from writing or to nonstop write until your hand hurts. One or the other usually works for me.

LiFT: What if your story will be adopted as a movie? Whom would you want to work as a director or actors in it?

Samhi C.: Any director that has adapted a Nicholas Sparks novel.
That would be cool.

LiFT: Are you working on your next book? If yes, please tell us something about it.

Samhi C.: I’m currently working on two big projects predicted to release in Summer 2024:
1. A novel-in-stories collection revolving around two characters Rupa Rajput and Harban Kaur. It is an age-gap relationship story where the age-gap is a significant part of their relationship, significant enough to hinder their relationship.
2. The sequel to “When You Saved Me”, the second novel in the “Whitestone Veil” series. It’s a direct continuation of Damon, Rosaline, and the rest of Whitestone’s story.

LiFT: What are your suggestions to the budding writers/poets so that they could improve their writing skills?

Samhi C.: Every new writer has different issues they need to work through and I’d give them all different advice.
But the most important thing I’ll say is: don’t overthink it. If you want to write, write. And if you want to get your work into the world, do it. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. If someone else won’t publish it for you, find out why, improve your work, and then try again. Or if you don’t have the necessary resources, time, or patience to find someone else to publish it for you, then do it yourself like I did. Because you can.
The only thing stopping you from achieving your dreams is you.
Also, please, please, please make sure you get your work reviewed by at least one other person before publishing it even if you’re publishing it informally on something like Wattpad or Instagram. Sometimes when we reread our own writing, we only read what we think we wrote and not what we actually wrote which can lead to us publishing a lot of typos. And please don’t use stock photos for your book covers. Even if simplistic, create or get someone else to create an original cover.

Click here to order Samhi C.’s Book – When You Saved Me

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