Making time for magic

Local author finds success writing fiction for young adults

Getting fiction published isn’t easy, but Samantha Beiko has managed to pull it off.

The Winnipeg writer excelled in English class, and when she was 16, she finished what would be the first manuscript for The Lake and the Library, her debut into the literary world.

“At first I was all excited and thought I was going to be on Oprah,” Beiko, now 25, says. “But it took a lot of clearing, a lot of waiting, some giving up and a lot of editorial before it would actually come out. And I realized that it’s really hard to make a career out of writing unless you have a big profile and a big publisher behind you.”

The Lake and the Library was published in May 2013 by Toronto publisher ECW Press, which ended up pulling her manuscript out of its so-called “slush pile.”

“That pile gets enormous and maybe only 1% of submissions get published, so I was really lucky,” she says. “My biggest piece of advice is that it’s hard work, but nothing worth doing comes easy. A lot of authors get discouraged after multiple rejections, but you just need to keep improving on your craft and see what happens.”

The Lake and the Library follows the story of a 16-year-old girl named Ash who meets a mysterious young man named Li inside an old library near the outskirts of her small prairie town.

Beiko grew up reading lots of young adult fiction and says that the genre has lots of crossover potential. Popular series like Harry Potter and the Hungry Games have proved that older adults enjoy the stories, too.

“Authors can have a lot of fun in that genre, and there’s not really a lot of boundaries for them to follow,” she says.

Beiko is working on a magical realism book series that’s set right here in Winnipeg. She says it fits into the new adult genre, an emerging label that has more mature themes and is geared toward the 18-25 age bracket.

She describes her new work as a mix between Neil Gaiman’s 2001 fantasy novel American Gods and anime flick Princess Mononoke.

The first book in the series, now finished and being reviewed by an agent, is called The Scion of the Fox.

She’s working on writing the second novel when she can. Beiko keeps a busy schedule, including helping others out with editing and staying active in Winnipeg’s literary community.  

“The thing about writing is that you can never find time, you always have to make it,” she says. “Friends of mine have write-ins where we get together at each other’s houses and just sit together writing in the same room. Those are really helpful and I totally encourage them to keep writing and stick with it.”

Published in Volume 69, Number 18 of The Uniter (January 28, 2015)

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