Interview & Giveaway: Queen of Hell by Danae L. Samms

Hello, dear readers! Happy Friday to you! Today on the blog I have a wonderful itnerview with Autho Dana L. Samms, who is currently touring the blogosphere for Queen of Hell. My review will be up soon, but I highly recommend you picking up the book, it's fabulous! I gave it 5 stars and can't wait for the next book!

I hope you enjoy getting to know Danae. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of the book!

Hello Danae and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Queen of Hell!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I was born and raised in West Virginia. Thankfully, I was raised by a strong mother, and a father who treated our family very well. I was handed a book just as often as toys, and played outside more than in. For most of my life everything was horse centered. I still go riding whenever I can, and that’s usually on my horse Maggie. College handed me a lot of debt, but also a degree in journalism with a minor in theater. Pre-pandemic, about a thousand years ago, I was doing a lot of improv. Just like everything else in the world it has been on hold. Most of my time goes into writing. Hopefully when things open up I’ll stay diligent.

Queen of Hell is the third book that I have published. It is the first book in a series titled Persephone. This story takes place in Colonial America just before the revolution, and follows a young woman rising to power despite the laws and culture of the time.

What inspired you to write Queen of Hell?

Most of my life I have simply loved Colonial America. When our history classes covered that period in school I always did well, I read the American Girl series Felicity again and again, and my family visited Colonial Williamsburg more than once. So the desire to write in the that time period has always been a desire of mine.

I think Persephone, the main character, appeared in my imagination all by herself. At first she didn’t even have a name. Right after college I was a nanny, so I was working in someone else’s home. One day, I saw this wallpaper and I remember thinking, “That looks like a pattern a lady from the 18th century would turn into a dress.” And then I imagined a very smart, self-sufficient woman. The sort who ran a business all on her own, and didn’t take bull from anyone.

For about a year or so she only existed as a daydream. It wasn’t until after I finished my first book September Christmas that I really began to write her down. A few months after that she finally got her name. Listening to Hamilton until I had it memorized and rewatching the HBO series John Adams certainly fostered Persephone’s growth.

I think it was reading the book My Dear Hamilton, and learning that Elizabeth Hamilton did more for this nation than Alexander Hamilton ever did, was what really kicked me into gear for writing Queen of Hell.

What research did you undertake when writing Queen of Hell?

One of my favorite pastimes is watching a good history documentary. I watched more than one on Thomas Jefferson, and another on Patrick Henry. I also did a good deal of reading. Just a few of the books that helped were America’s First Daughter, The Turncoat, Mistress Firebrand, Ribbons of Scarlet, An Island Called Eden, and Rejected Princesses.

My favorite form of research came from visiting Blennerhassett Island on the Ohio River and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Of course at both of these places I was the guest asking the tour guide about fifty different questions… at each stop. Thankfully, when I was at Blennerhassett Island I made friends with a wonderful woman who is a reenactor. She was an awesome help with historical questions and proofreading. We’re still Facebook friends!

What would you like readers to take away from reading Queen of Hell?

First, I would hope that they enjoy history all the more and have a desire to visit more historical locations and read more historical fiction and biographies. Additionally, I hope that they realize that history wasn’t always as cut and dry as we think, that there are multiple ways to see each story, and that strong female characters have always existed.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Oh that’s hard… I really love the first time Persephone meets the character William Newberry. Their dialogue was so much fun to chisel out, and almost flowed on its own. Both of them are characters that I could see so clearly in my mind, that it was simply a joy to finally bring them into the same room.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

In the first chapter, one of the last chapters I wrote actually, we see these Virginia planters showing their true colors over a dinner while plotting to bring down a competitor. Studying how tobacco grows might have been the least exciting topic to research. For the longest time, the scene was just so boring, but I couldn’t cut it because the information in it was so necessary.

What really turned that scene around was when I was talking it out with a friend. Sometimes I have to call one of my friends up and say, “I need you to listen to me tell you a bunch of spoilers for about 45 minutes, and then I need you to tell me what’s wrong with the whole thing.” Thankfully, I have a few friends that not only listen to my rant, but offer truthful feedback.

After listening to me rant for a good half an hour, he told me, “This whole story is a chess game. Everyone wants power, and they are planning out every little move to get their victory. So this moment is pawns and bishops sliding across the board in a five way match.” That advice flipped a switch, and got the whole scene on track.

I hope the analogy comes across in the scene. I don’t actually know how to play chess.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was four I wrote a play that included all of my cousins. It had absolutely no Christmas theme, but it was performed at my grandparents’ on Christmas Eve. Hearing my aunts and uncles forced into applause ignited my passion for the written word. Of course I didn’t learn to read for about another year, but I still knew I was destined to write.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I try, big emphasis on the try, to get up at seven each morning. Usually the first half hour is spent making coffee and listening to my bible app. After either journaling or answering my penpal, I can step into writing for the day.

My actual method is a bit like making a quilt. I read through the outline and some notes and pick up a moment that I think I can run with right then. The moments are stitched into scenes, scenes get sewn together into chapters, and eventually the chapters are sewn up into one book.

On a good day, I’ll get 2,000+ words out. On a bad day, I don’t get any words written.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

One of my biggest struggles is imposter syndrome. I honestly don’t even feel like I have the right to say that I have imposter syndrome. My friends brag on me a good deal and offer truckloads of support and encouragement, but most of the time I don’t think I deserve it.

If I run into an old friend or someone asks me what I do, I don’t feel right saying, “I’m an author.” I’ve published three books. I’ve finished the first draft of my fourth. But I don’t feel that I deserve to refer to myself as an author. I’m just a girl that has done a lot of typing.

I try to remember the advice from Parks and Recreation, “No one knows what they’re doing. Deep down, everyone is just faking it until they figure it out.”

Who are your writing inspirations?

I’m going to be incredibly basic and say Jane Austen. Not only do I love her storytelling and absolute sass, but I am amazed at all she accomplished considering her circumstances. If she can write some of the greatest novels of all time with a quill and parchment on a tiny end table while struggling with her mother and sister, I can type a few thousand words in an air conditioned room that’s full of snacks.

I’m also a big fan of C.S. Lewis. I think he is fantastic for his ability to write the greatest children’s book series of all time as well as dozens of books adults can enjoy.

What was the first historical novel you read?

When I was young my mom took me to the library all the time. I think I was about six when she showed me the American Girl books and encouraged me to get into them. She of course also loves history and has read more biographies than I can list. But my very first historical book was Meet Addy.

That’s not long enough to be a novel, is it? I know I buzzed through the American Girl books, and because of that read a few of the Dear America Diaries.

I don’t think it was completely my first, but a historical fiction novel I read early in life, that’s still hands down my favorite, is The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy.

What is the last historical novel you read?

I really enjoyed The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. I grew up in Appalachia, so I loved getting into a story set in Kentucky.

What are three things people may not know about you?

1) I can shotgun a cupcake.
2) Whenever I am in a restaurant or similar public place I have to sit with my back towards a wall and facing the door, otherwise I will be extra awkward and uncomfortable.
3) I have two brothers, both older, and I can drink them both under the table.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

The wardrobe and reliance on horses. I’ve been horseback riding since before I could walk, so any chance I have to include a horse in a story I will take. Also, let’s be honest, plotting murder and being romanced is just a lot cooler when the women are wearing flowy dresses and the men are in waistcoats.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

Most often it is the 18th century. Occasionally I’ll dip into WW1 and 2. But my second favorite period is the Tudor dynasty. Personally, I own three books just on the Lady Jane Grey.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Like anybody else I love napping and watching TV. Something I try to keep up with is exercising creativity in ways other than writing. I read once that any artist, no matter what they do, should always be learning new artistic skills or trying other artforms. Now and then I’ll learn a new song on the ukulele. I love coloring and painting, but I’m terrible at both.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Well, Persephone has three more books to go before she’s done. Just a couple weeks ago I finished my first draft of her next book. For now it’s fermenting, so in the meantime I’m doing some research on another story. I have a few documentaries queued up to watch.

Oh yay, I am so excited for more Persephone! Thank you for stopping by Passages to the Past today!

Queen of Hell by Danae L. Samms

Publication Date: November 9, 2020
Paperback & eBook; 446 pages

Series: Persephone, Book One
Genre: Historical Fiction

1765. Persephone Nicholas has lived her twenty years with a father she cannot stand. Secluded on their plantation, Persephone feels she has a life destined for spinsterhood. "Life is Heaven for men and Hell for women" is her mantra. But on a visit to her cousin's wedding, she meets young Mr. Elijah Parker. Opportunities show that things can be much sweeter, and Persephone begins to question her thoughts on life. As the world continues to throw her hardships and struggle, Persephone chooses to fight and master the life she's been handed to become Queen of the Hell she living in.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Danae L. Samms has always been a creator. Loving books, television, and being outside fueled her imagination. Her writing began when she was four with her first play, and continued to grow to a degree in journalism. Finding newspapers terrible and websites tolerable, she paid the bills as a freelance writer. Eventually, her creativity produced a novel and a thousand ideas waiting to become novels. Regularly, she keeps up with a blog of Unqualified Advice on Writing and Everything Else. The only thing she’s been doing longer than writing is horseback riding. While horse shoes were never her forte, Danae has spent plenty of time riding and training. Most of that is with her horse Maggie.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 24
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Tuesday, May 25
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Excerpt at Carole's Ramblings

Wednesday, May 26
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Thursday, May 27
Review at Two Bookish Babes
Excerpt at Reading is My Remedy

Friday, May 28
Review at Booking With Janelle

Saturday, May 29
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Monday, May 31
Review at Novels Alive
Review at Rajiv's Reviews

Tuesday, June 1
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, June 3
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Review at Probably at the Library

Friday, June 4
Interview at Passages to the Past


Enter to win a paperback copy of Queen of Hell by Danae L. Samms!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on June 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Queen of Hell

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