We meet Samantha Lee Howe, acclaimed author and IDAS ambassador from Yorkshire, as a new film adaptation of one of her books comes out
Why were you keen to be an ambassador of IDAS?
Earlier this year I made the decision to open up about my past, revealing that I had been abused as a child and then went into a marriage with a man who was a narcissist who subjected me to over 20 years of negativity, which included financial and emotional abuse on every aspect of my life. In 2008 I pulled myself free from this toxic relationship and only then did I really come to terms with what I’d been going through. When I heard about the great work that IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services) was doing in Yorkshire I realised that I could make something positive from the awful things that had happened to me by using my voice to support the charity and help them in their quest to support victims of domestic violence.
What does the charity do?
The charity originally started life as a women’s refuge, but has since grown into the largest specialist charity in the North supporting people affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence. IDAS supports victims of all genders and circumstances and it was one of the main attractions for me that they recognise that domestic abuse can happen to anyone.
How do you look back on your writing career to date?
The journey to become a traditionally published writer was a long one. On the recommendation of the teacher of the class, I applied to do an English and Creative Writing degree, something I’d never dreamed I’d be able to do because I left school at 16 with few qualifications. I was taken on the course at Bolton University however, because as a mature student I brought life skills to the course, and because I’d had the stories and poetry published that gave me a qualification as a ‘professional’. I had the best time studying and throughout those three years I learnt to understand my craft, and built my confidence. So much so, that I ended up becoming a high school teacher, and I continued my education by taking a part time MA in Creative Writing – this was a crucial and life-changing decision that set me on the path to becoming the writer I am today, as my first novel, Killing Kiss, was written as my master’s degree dissertation and the published novel won the Silver Award for best horror novel with ForeWord Magazine in 2008. After that I earned my first three book deal and I’ve been writing ever since.
For you, what have been the highlights?
There are so many ups and downs in the writing world, but every time I see one of my novels in print it always feels like a massive achievement. During 2020, when we were first hit by COVID-19 and were locked down, The Stranger in Our Bed, my debut thriller, was released into the world and I feared that it would fall into obscurity, but I was completely blown away when the book became a bestseller and made it onto the USA Today bestseller’s list. I just hadn’t expected that to happen at all.
How did it feel to see The Stranger in our Bed on screens earlier this year?
Selling your novel to be made into a film is every writer’s dream. It was a gallop to a finishing line that I never thought I’d reach. But seeing the film for the first time was so emotional. At times I forgot that I had written the story and the screenplay as I was swept away in the beauty of the cinematography and the brilliant performances from Emily Berrington, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Samantha Bond, Nina Wadia and the rest of this amazing cast. At the end, I shed a tear, in much the same way I did when I wrote the last line of the novel, having embarked on the emotional rollercoaster that this story, and every other one I write, is for me.
IDAS is Yorkshire based, as you are Samantha – where do you live and what do you love about it?
I live just outside of Doncaster in a rural area near Askern and the thing I love so much about being here is how friendly people are. There is still very much a community feel in Yorkshire, where neighbours look out for neighbours. I hope that never changes.
Where would your three favourite places in the county be?
I love visiting Bawtry and I get most of my beauty needs met at Facefacts Aesthetics there. I really recommend it! I have two favourite pubs and so I have to mention them both. One is The Old George in Sykehouse, which is also a glamping site. They have superb food and a really friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Another local favourite is the Baxter’s Arms in Fenwick. I like both of these places because they are family-run businesses and everyone knows everyone, so it always feels like you’re visiting friends when you go to eat there.
What does 2023 hold in store for you?
I’m looking forward to 2023 for many reasons. Firstly we are happily now back to doing the convention circuits and we have an event called ‘Mythmakers Live’ in London in January; the annual, and large, ‘Gallifrey One’ Convention in Los Angeles in February; and the superb ‘Sci-Fi Weekender’ in Great Yarmouth in March and that’s just the beginning of the year! But travel, peppered with my writing projects in between and of course sometimes writing while travelling, is very much on the agenda for next year.