The Invention of Sophie Carter is a delightful bit of historical fiction filled with humor, romance, and more than a few shenanigans as identical twins Sophie and Mariah Carter spend one summer pretending to be “Sophie” together in order to stay at their aunt’s house for one season that is sure to change everything for both of them and the two young men whose hearts they capture. I’m so happy to have Samantha here today answering a few questions about her excellent sophomore novel.
Miss Print: Can you tell me a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?
Samantha Hastings: I grew up reading and watching Anne of Green Gables and Little Women and I knew that I wanted to be an author just like Anne or Jo. The path was a lot longer and harder than I anticipated. I gave up several times, but ultimately decided that if it was my dream, I had to keep going. Most published authors are aspiring authors who didn’t give up after multiple (sometimes hundreds of) rejections and kept writing and working on improving their craft.
Miss Print: What was the inspiration for The Invention of Sophie Carter?
Samantha Hastings: I was reading The Fire Wish by Amber Lough, a djinn fantasy book, and I absolutely fell in love with the structure of her book. It was told by two girls, alternating POVs, and had double the romance. The Invention of Sophie Carter doesn’t have any other similarities to that story (although, I highly recommend that you read it) except it also has double the romance and twin swap trouble.
The setting and historical details of my book are a love letter to my undergraduate History degree. At that time, I was obsessed with Pre-Raphaelite paintings and Victorian literature. One of my senior level courses focused on John Ruskin (who makes a cameo in the book) and the history of the Victorian era. Including, the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Miss Print: This book is set in England in 1851 during the Great Exhibition. What research went into bringing this era and locale to life? Did you find out anything interesting while researching?
Samantha Hastings: I am lucky enough to live by a University and I was able to use their library to read several books about the Great Exhibition, including one with actual pictures from it! One of the most interesting things that I learned about the Exhibition was that it had the first public toilets. They cost one penny to use.
I was also fascinated by their public food concessions. The organizers didn’t trust the common man with alcohol, so they sold: 432 quarts of milk and 1,092,337 bottles of Schweppes soda water, lemonade, and ginger beer.
The largest diamond in the world was also on display, the Koh-i-noor diamond, but it hadn’t been cut well, so it didn’t sparkle and was a bit of a disappointment to most viewers.
Miss Print: This book focuses on identical twins Sophie and Mariah Carter who are both quick to tell people that, although they look alike, they are not at all the same. Are you more like Sophie or Mariah? Was one sister harder or easier to write?
Samantha Hastings: When I was younger, I was more like Sophie. Brash, brave, and outspoken. Now that I’m approaching forty (#gasp), I find that I have more similarities with Mariah who is devoted to reading, music, and relationships.
Both sisters were easy to write because they were so different. Also, I have two sisters and therefore, plenty of sisterly experience.
Miss Print: Do you have a favorite scene or a scene you are excited for readers to discover?
Samantha Hastings: The one with the hiccups! That’s really all I can say, but you can’t miss it. I hope it makes you giggle.
[Miss Print: I loved this scene too!]
Miss Print: Can you tell me anything about your next project?
Samantha Hastings: Yes! A Royal Christmas Quandary will be available on October 6, 2020. It’s set at Windsor Castle in 1860. Drina must help her best friend, Princess Alice, pick the perfect prince to marry. The only snag? Her other best friend, Lord George Worthington, has lost one of the suitors. It’s lighthearted, full of holiday fun, and sweet romance.
Miss Print: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?
Samantha Hastings: Read as much as you can in the genre you write in. Then you’ll know the market and have current books to compare your manuscript to when you query.
Thanks for the interview! Curtsy, Samantha.
Thanks again to Samantha for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can also read my review of The Invention of Sophie Carter here on the blog.