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Interview with Dr Sam Newsome author of 'Joe Peas' and 'Jackie'.

Interview: Sam Newsome, Author of ‘Joe Peas’

photo-6_19_14-1Sam Newsome was raised on a farm in rural North Carolina. He credits his farm life for his work ethic and his love of nature. In 1971 he graduated with a BA degree in American history from UNC­Chapel Hill. While at the university his aptitude tests indicated he should either be a farmer or a forest ranger. He received his medical degree from Bowman gray School of Medicine (now Wake Forest University School of Medicine) in 1975. His training continued and he completed his residency and Family Medicine certification in 1978 and his certification in Geriatrics in 1992.

In 1978 he and his wife, Betty, returned to his home in King to establish his practice in Family Medicine. He has continued that practice while staffing the local hospital, health department and beginning the county jail health program. He also has continued services as the county medical examiner. He has two sons. Carlton lives in Raleigh and shares his father’s love of writing. Justin lives in Winston­Salem and is an engineer at B/E aerospace.

His first book, Jackie, examined the life of an abused and bullied child, who as a young adult was found to have a supernatural ability. That story won the Garcia Memorial Prize from Readers’ Views for the best self-published novel of 2015. His new work, Joe Peas, studies the struggle of conformity versus individualism by examining the contrasting lives of family doctor James King and itinerant Italian house painter, Joe Peas.

Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Joe Peas. When did you start writing and what got you into fiction?
 

After years of reading nothing but medical texts, I began enjoying novels about 1978. I spend my time listening to interesting stories from my patients I was inspired to write. The stories have always been fictional. I used their stories for inspiration while respecting their privacy. Finally, my first novel, Jackie, released in 2013, was a more complex story.

You must answer this question: What is your book about?

Joe Peas examines the struggle of conformity that has become pervasive in our society versus individualism. This is done by chronicling the lives and interactions of Joe Peas, an itinerant Italian house painter and Dr. James King, a family doctor in King’s Mill, North Carolina.

What was your inspiration for it?

Our lives are being more and more controlled by regulations mandating conformity. Nowhere is as evident as in medicine. The characters of my book are inspired by the lives of patients I have treated over the past forty years.

What type of challenges did you face while writing this book?

Many of the situations I describe in Joe Peas are based on real life situations. My challenge was to create a character close to those patients without imposing on their privacy. Initially there were four separate stories that were melded together as the characters interacted.

What do you hope readers will get from your book?

Entertainment and education are the main goals of Joe Peas. The pervasive message of conformity versus individualism pops up in every chapter and is usually in the background. A variety of health issues are addressed in a much more straightforward manner.

Did your book require a lot of research?

Research was required in characterizing Joe Peas. The medical aspects and the challenges of modern medicine in a small community are my meat and potatoes, so my forty years of medical practice helped.
joe-peas-jpeg
What do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?

Writing comes in snatches of time for me. Twelve to fourteen hour office days limit writing to late nights and weekends. I can limit my writing time but I can’t limit my thinking. Frequently I’ll be in the middle of my day and a topic will occur to me to adjust a character or event in my narrative.

How do you keep your narrative exciting?

Some of the topics, especially the medical ones, can get tedious. I utilize shorter chapters in those times and break darker chapters into smaller parts with an interlude that contains lighter fare and perhaps a joke before retuning to the more serious topic.

Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this?

Writing doesn’t seem to be the problem. Rewriting is another matter. It’s terribly essential, and no matter how careful, there’s always that one (and usually more) comma or typo that alludes me.

Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?

I’d like to think that I’m disciplined in my medical life, but not so much in my writing. Writing for me is a relief from the regimented office, so it’s not usually a problem.

What was your publishing process like?

So, I’ve finished my book. Let’s pack it up and send it to the publisher. Not so. With Joe Peas I hired a company to help with my query letter to “make it pop,” and to pick out the most likely agents and publishers. Over one hundred queries later there are no bites.

Could it be that my writing, well, stinks? That thought did cross my mind, but then I realized that none of the queried agents had requested to see the manuscript and only a few had received a synopsis. Were I younger, I may hang in there and hope for an agent, but I’m older and my subject is topical, so I self-published. I was familiar with Lulu Publishing who had done Jackie. Since I was familiar with their process I used their service. I found them fairly easy to work with.

How do you celebrate the completion of a book?

I went to bed early!

How do you define success?

I recently encountered a new colleague. I gave him a copy of my first novel, Jackie. The prologue of that book deals with Jackie’s first day of school and his single mother’s emotions on that day. When I saw him later, he informed me that he had a child with the autism spectrum. As he read that first chapter all the emotions of his son’s first school day flooded back. He actually wept. I consider that a success.

What do you love most about the writer’s life?

I like the reaction of my readers. It’s usually positive. At least people in North Carolina are usually polite enough not to comment too negatively.

Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?

Yep. Dr Sam Newsome.

Where is your book available?

Lulu Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble online.

What is your advice for aspiring authors?

Read, learn explore and always ask, What if?

George Orwell once wrote: “ Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Comments?  


Sometimes I have a thought or an idea that occurs in a dream or even a daydream. The troublesome thought just wont leave till I get it in print. Is that a demon or an obsession?

What has writing taught you?

Many lessons come from writing, especially fiction. Everything is connected. Everyone has a story, and under the right circumstances, will share it.

Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

The publishing industry is in chaos. Agents and publishers are more inaccessible than ever, but self-publishing is alive and well. More published material is available than ever, but how does a reader sort through this. Blogs such as this should help the reader to sort through the confusion.

Cover art and author photo published with permission from the author.

About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.

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