The Wing Thief: An Interview with Samantha Atkins

How did the concept for The Wing Thief come to fruition?

I’ve always loved anything fantasy-related and the idea of escaping into magical lands, whether through reading books or watching TV. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had this strong urge to write and create my own world for others to escape into. Then one day, I came up with this idea of a flightless fairy living within a magical forest. The idea was so exciting to me! I began to think about what a magical forest might have living inside it, and I started creating my own magical creatures and imagining rules they might have to live by within the forest. It was all so much fun to write and, once I had the basic characters and rules in place, the story just took off from there. 

There are some fantastic characters in The Wing Thief; Grecko is a particular favorite of mine. Was there any character you particularly related to and enjoyed writing?

I agree—Grecko is my favorite character as well and I loved writing him! I think the character I most related to when writing, however, was Vista. I really wanted her to be a character that wasn’t the strongest, the bravest, or the most powerful and yet was vital to the story. I felt it was a strong message that you didn’t have to be anything other than yourself to be important. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, that message means a lot to me, and I hope other readers can take it on board—that they can accept and love themselves just the way they are.

Letherea is such a beautiful, magical world. What challenges did you face when worldbuilding and where did you draw inspiration from?

I think I drew inspiration from the number of different fantasy books and TV shows I love to read/watch, such as Harry Potter, Narnia, Once Upon a Time—the list can go on for days! Being such a huge fan of fantasy, I tried to imagine a world that I would love to read about and hope that others might fall in love with it too. Some of the challenges that came from creating the world were things like making sure it had rules in place so that a reader could make sense of it. I decided to give each magical creature a job, for example, gnomes are “carers of the forest.” I found that once I gave the world rules and gave the creatures within it a purpose, it was much easier to make the world flow.

What is the overall message you hope readers will take away from this book?

 As I said above, I hope that readers can take away the message that it’s okay to be different and you don’t have to be anyone other than who you are. I believe the world would be a much happier place if everybody did this, as people put too much pressure on themselves these days to fit in.

What appealed to you about writing for young adults?

I think that it’s best to write what you know and my favorite genre to read has always been Young Adult. I’m now thirty-one and never stopped loving it! I think that Young Adult novels can be so powerful, uplifting, and enjoyed by such a wide variety of people. What’s not to love?

What was the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?

I think that my partner, Layla, gave me great advice and that was to just write what I love and never forget the reason I write in the first place—which is because I enjoy it so much. I’ve always tried to remember this when I feel any pressure—that no matter what happens, I absolutely love to write and create.

The Wing Thief was published by SmashBear Publishing, a young, independent publishing house. What do you think are the benefits of working with an indie publisher?

Personally, I really enjoyed working with an indie publisher. I found that, due to them being a smaller company, it felt very personal and as though I was really a part of the team. I had a group of editors and Loredana Carini, the founder of SmashBear, available to help me throughout the entire process. I was included in every aspect of the editing and publishing journey and grew very close to everyone I worked with. I really enjoyed the experience and can’t wait to work with them again!

What upcoming titles are you looking forward to this year?

I’m not sure about upcoming titles, but I’m currently doing the 52 Book Challenge 2021—which gives you fifty-two different prompts to expand your reading and explore different genres. So far, I’ve discovered so many amazing books that I wouldn’t normally have read, such as Where the Crawdads Sing and Billy Lemonade. I’ve also just started listening to The Lunar Chronicles and—being a Disney lover—am enjoying working my way through those!

After having successfully accomplished so much, what are your goals? What direction do you see your writing taking now, in terms of both craft and publication?

I’m currently working on the sequel to The Wing Thief, which I hope to have released in 2022. I also have an urban fantasy short story that is due for release through SmashBear sometime this year. It’s quite a different theme to The Wing Thief, and I really enjoyed the challenge of writing something new and exploring other genres. At the moment, I’m quite absorbed in the Letherea series, but I’m hoping to branch out and explore other genres and other styles of writing in the future. I already have an idea for an LGBTQ+ novel that I can’t wait to get writing once I’m finished with this one, so who knows!

Samantha Atkins, Interviewed by Aisling O'Mahony

Samantha Atkins currently lives in Rhondda Cynon Taff, South Wales, UK with her partner, Layla, and their two children. The family have two dogs, Stella and Lexi, who have helped keep their step counts up during lockdown. Samantha loves to read in her spare time and is this year taking part in the 52 Book Club: 2021 Reading Challenge. Her favorite genre is fantasy, with some of her favorite books being Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hunger Games, although she does enjoy the occasional period drama. Being a kid at heart, Samantha has a huge love of Disney movies and is able to sing most Disney songs word for word (one of her most wasted talents). She's also a big fan of the TV show Once Upon a Time. Samantha is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and hopes to encourage others to embrace their diversity and be confident in themselves. Follow Samantha on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

Aisling O'Mahony is a recent graduate living in London. She studied her BA in English and History at University College Cork, followed by an MA in English Literature. She loves all things theater and has directed, acted and set-designed for various productions (though not all at once!). When she's not reading or writing, she loves taking pictures for her Bookstagram account and indulging her recent hobby, candle-making. Her written work has appeared in the Honest UlstermanPoetry in the Time of Coronavirus Anthology and the Cornerstone Anthology.