Six Questions with Samantha Gassman
Samantha Gassman is a children's book author, Air Force veteran, military spouse, and mom to two kids and two cats. She is the author of Dear Rainbow Baby, illustrated by Timothy Lange (Clear Fork Publishing, August 2022) and Peanut and Butter Cup (Clear Fork Publishing, 2024). To learn more about Samantha, her books, and her work, visit her website. You can also follow Samantha on social media: Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to write for young readers?
When I had my own young reader! My son was my inspiration to start writing picture books. Even as an infant, he was captivated by stories and illustrations. I wanted to create books that he and other children could enjoy. Babies and young kids have the most delightful innocence and joy, and I thought there would be nothing better than creating shared, heartwarming moments between a reader and a child.
2. When you begin writing a book, do you always know where the story is going?
Sometimes, I start writing a book and the first draft flows naturally and comes out in near-submission ready form. Those are the easiest and most encouraging drafts! Other times, I only have a title in mind, a funny catch phrase, a theme, or a general concept and I spend months trying to figure out the story. Or, I might have a decent draft, but there’s something off about it and I have to keep revising it and resting it to get the manuscript right.
3. What are you working on? What’s next for you?
All this year, I’ve been writing one picture book draft a month. I have several that I’m VERY excited about and can’t wait to go on submission with (look at me ending a sentence with a preposition – bad writer, bad!).
More immediately, at least in publishing terms, I just signed a second book contract with Clear Fork Publishing for Peanut and Butter Cup. In this story, Butter Cup, a sassy racehorse, is getting ready for her debut race. But when she’s shaken by nerves, her trainer introduces a googley-eyed smelly beast of a solution: Peanut the goat. This story is based on the real-life friendships between racehorses and companion animals. I can’t wait to see how an illustrator will bring these silly characters to life!
4. Where did you get the idea for Dear Rainbow Baby? What was your inspiration?
This book is very precious to me, as the first draft was written in the days following my miscarriage in November 2019. Writing was a way of healing and recovering after the tragedy. By writing a letter to a rainbow baby we didn’t have yet, I was forced to look forward instead of back. To be filled with hope, instead of grief. My intent for this book is to encourage conversation about miscarriage, stillbirths, and infant loss, and to help those who experience them feel a little less alone. I learned of the offer of publication a week before my rainbow baby was born in August 2020. She shares her birthday with the book, which is also National Rainbow Baby Day.
5. What was the most challenging thing you faced while writing this book?
To relive my emotions every time I worked on revisions or read the manuscript. While I’m blessed to have my rainbow baby, my heart still aches for the little one we lost.
6. What was the process or timeline for Dear Rainbow Baby, from idea to publishing?
Those first scribbles I wrote in 2019 were never intended to become a book. I was just writing how I felt when this letter came to me. Later, I began to see what I’d written as a potential book. I thought about how helpful it might be for other parents to have a book like this.
I pitched it in a Twitter event in December 2019 and signed with Erica Christensen in March 2020. In August 2020, I signed the contract with Clear Fork and now, two years later, here we are at the publication date. My rainbow baby turned 2 the day this book released. I can’t wait to read it to her.