Friday, June 22, 2012


This giveaway is now CLOSED!  The lucky winner of Samantha Stroh Bailey's e-book, FINDING LUCAS, is Sophie Harris! Congrats, Sophie, and thanks to everyone who left a comment!

I am delighted to have Canadian author, Samantha Stroh Bailey, on Books by Banister today.  Sam and I connected through Twitter recently and became fast friends.  She's a fun, interesting, and multi-faceted lady (mom, entrepreneur, writer - I get tired just thinking about all she does every day!)  Read on to learn more about Sam and her personally-inspired debut novel, FINDING LUCAS.

Samantha has generously offered to give away one Kindle copy of her e-book FINDING LUCAS.  So, be sure to leave a comment, including your e-mail address, below to be entered for a chance to win.

Hi, Tracie! Thank you so much for interviewing me.

1) Can you give us a brief overview of FINDING LUCAS?

I’d love to!

Can you ever really go back to the past?

On her fifth anniversary with boyfriend Derek, Jamie Ross finds herself in a Montreal hotel room wondering how the carefree guy she met in a Chicago bar has turned into “the quintessential metrosexual.” Weighed down by Derek’s disdain for her second hand wardrobe, unusual family and low-paying job as an associate producer of a daytime talk show, Jamie reaches a breaking point. And when her new boss plans to reunite lost loves on the show, she remembers Lucas— the boy she’d loved and lost ten years earlier. What follows is a quest that is at times hilarious and at others disastrous as Jamie’s life transforms from run of the mill to absolutely crazy. But will finding Lucas give Jamie everything she’s looking for?

2) What's your favorite quality about your hero/heroine?

I love that Jamie is just an average woman with a not so average family. Dealing with a tough childhood and in a demeaning relationship, she’s too afraid to make the changes in her life that she needs to. Eventually, she finds the courage to accept her differences and be proud of them and to finally go after the things she wants.

3) What made you want to write this book?

That’s a great question. Late one night, I was lying in bed and wondering what happened to Jake, my “friend with benefits” from my high school and early university years. We’d lost touch and hadn’t spoken in ten years, but he had always been such a good friend to me. I’m madly in love with my husband so I wasn’t searching for my lost love like Jamie is, but Jake had profoundly touched my life, and I was so curious to know where he was and what he was doing. Was he married? Did he have kids? Was he happy? And it hit me that so many women must wonder about the people from their past, and with Facebook and Twitter and everything on the Internet, it’s quite fun to hunt these “exes” down.

The book took a totally different direction than I had expected, and I’m so happy with what Jamie finds. For me, I did find Jake, and he’s happily married with a crew of kids, and it’s been so nice keeping in touch.

4) What are you working on now?

I’m always writing and editing because I have a freelance writing/editing company called Perfect Pen Communications. I’m working on articles, editing manuscripts and thanks to your fabulous advice (Tracie's note: People actually listen to me?), I’m now revising a chick lit YA novel that I plan to publish in the late fall. 

5) What comes first for you -- character idea, plot idea?

Plot idea is always first. My ideas usually come to me late at night, just as I’m falling asleep. I think a lot before I go to bed though oddly, I keep forgetting to put a notebook on my nightstand. Instead, I race downstairs and jot down my ideas. Once I have an outline of the plot, I start creating my characters and they tell the story.
6) How do you think of titles?

Titles are so hard for me! FINDING LUCAS came to me very easily, though, because the title says it all. For other novels, I brainstorm a lot with my husband, friends and family.

7) What are your thoughts on love scenes in books?  Do you prefer to read/write sweet/romantic encounters between your hero and heroine or spicy ones?

I enjoy both sweet/romantic and spicy love scenes without too many clichés. The sweet love scenes cannot be too saccharine or silly, and the spicy ones have to be well-written with dialogue I can imagine myself saying. I’m not a big fan of “throbbing” and “heaving” unless it’s done very well. 

8) Who are the authors who inspire you?

There are so many authors who inspire me. But, I have to mention Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin, Marian Keyes, Sarah Mlynowski, Helen Fielding, Candace Bushnell, Elin Hilderbrand and Ernest Hemingway.

9) What genres do you like to read?  Do you stick to one or are you eclectic in your reading tastes?

I’m pretty eclectic. Of course, I love chick lit, but usually the ones that I can relate to. Now that I’m a mom, I’m drawn to mom lit, I love mystery and suspense, chick lit or not, and I also like literary fiction.  
10) What was the last book you read that really WOWed you?

SEA CHANGE by Karen White. I don’t usually go for any historical fiction or books with a lot of description because I like dialogue and fast-paced action. But, SEA CHANGE is powerful, moving, intriguing, and it has a totally unexpected plot. I also loved BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S.J. Watson because it is original, unique and so suspenseful.

11) Do you prefer a series or stand alone novels?

I usually read stand alone novels because just like movie sequels are rarely as good as the first, book sequels often disappoint me. But I loved the SINGLE series by Wendy Markham, SOMETHING BLUE by Emily Giffin, and I adore the SHOPAHOLIC series. And oddly, I loved the TWILIGHT series even though I would never have thought I’d like a book about vampires. I was totally sucked in!

12) If you could be plopped down in the middle of any book, which one would it be?

SEX AND THE CITY, for sure. I have always felt at home in New York and like it is where I’m supposed to be. I love Toronto, where I live, but New York has my heart. I would love to be at brunch and out for cocktails with the girls, and being able to wear some of those clothes would be awesome!

13) If you could invite any five people (living or dead) over for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Ernest Hemingway

I fell in love with his writing when I was teenager because of its simple yet hard-hitting prose. He is such a complicated person and a wonderful story-teller, and I’d love to ask him all about his life, marriages and challenges.

My grandparents

My grandparents, except for my paternal grandfather who died before I was born (actually I’m named after him), passed away when I was a snarky, rebellious teenager. I loved them, but I didn’t appreciate how much they meant to me until I had my own kids. Watching my parents with my two kids touches me so deeply, and the relationship between a grandparent and child is so special. They had emigrated to Canada from Lithuania and the Ukraine and weathered some arduous times. I’d love to see them again so I could tell them how much I adore them, and I’d love to learn more about their lives and struggles.

Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner is such an inspiration to me. Her novels are edgy, clever and often dark, and I just fall into her stories. I would love to sit down with her and ask her about her success, where she gets her plot ideas and what she thinks of all she’s accomplished. I would certainly ask some advice on being a best-selling author!

Mr. Crawford

My grade eight teacher, Mr. Crawford, is someone I will always remember. Never good at math, actually I was terrible, he sat with me patiently day after day trying to help this lost cause. But, he was also one of the first people who told me I could write. He loved my stories and always encouraged me to write more. He believed I had real talent, even giving me the English award at my graduation, and his belief in me really inspired my love of writing. I want to thank him.

Kurt Cobain

I have a serious love for alternative music, and I think Kurt Cobain is one of the most talented and tortured singer/songwriters. I, like everyone else who loved Niravana, was devastated when he died. I wish I could sit down with him and find out about his life and why he felt he could no longer deal with his success. “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” is still one of my favourite songs.

Fast and Flirty 

Favorite scent?  Fresh cut grass, but if it’s perfume, I currently love the light, fresh scent of Daisy by Marc Jacobs.
Favorite color?  Red
Favorite food?  A nice fat steak
Favorite word?  Discombobulated
Dream vacation spot?  Italy
Favorite time period in history?  Now 
Favorite girl's night out drink?  Bloody Caesar
Favorite date night activity?  Dinner and a great conversation with my husband that’s not about the kids
Coffee or tea or soda?  Coffee, coffee, coffee
Strong but lean or built and burly?  Definitely strong but lean
Scruffy or clean-shaven?  Scruffy! 
Dark-haired or blond?  Dark-haired
Celebrity hottie on your laminated list?  Matthew McConaughey
Novel hero crush?  Luke from the SHOPAHOLIC series

Thanks so much for being a part of Authorpalooza, Sam! Wishing you great success with FINDING LUCAS and I look forward to reading that YA novel when you finish it!

Leave a comment below telling me about someone from your past you've reconnected with (high school friend, college roommate, ex-boyfriend) and you'll be entered to win a Kindle copy of FINDING LUCAS.  Don't forget to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win!  Drawing will take place on Friday, June 29th, so get your comments in by midnight on Thursday, June 28th.

Purchase FINDING LUCAS at:

Visit Samantha Stroh Bailey at:


  1. Great interview! Good ??s, Tracie. Love the throbbing and heaving answer Samantha and agree!!

  2. I love, love, Luke from the Shopaholic series too! Great interview, loved it!

  3. Wow this sounds great! Honestly with Facebook I've reconnected with a ton of people! LOL Pick one....... I would go with a family friend Mark. We grew up in church together he's my sister's age and we also went to the same HS. He was sweet and quiet and devious but instead of finding my sister on FB he found me! LOL It made my heart happy as I would tell my 5 year old!

    Thanks for the giveaway! Finding Lucas is definitely going on my tbr list! <3

    1. Duh! tobihelton at gmail dot com


  4. Sounds like a great book!

    I've reconnected with several people from my past, both male and female, with a mixed bag of results. The best has been a girl I was 'best friends' with through my Sr. year in high school. The worst? The guy who thought I was his punching bag when we would he send me a message on Facebook all excited that we live in the same city and want to meet up?? I should have him arrested on general principle!

  5. I've reconnected with my ex~boyfriend. We have to chat in secret though as his present girlfriend thinks I'm a threat (having never met me, ever!) I'm not though as I'm married with 2 children...
    This book sounds brilliant.

    My email is:

    Thanks, Sophie.

  6. Very nice interview. I've reconnected with college friends.


  7. Through Facebook I have been able to reconnect with friends from high school and college. It's been wonderful to catch up with them and learn with path their lives have taken them. Some are to be expected and others are quite surprising!


  8. Thanks so much to everyone for commenting and entering to win a copy of FINDING LUCAS! I love these responses, and it's nice to know that other people hunt around in their pasts, too!

  9. Like most of us I have re-connected with some grade school and high school friends using Facebook. Oddly enough almost all have become teachers/professors. Must be a generational thing.

    wordywon at gmail dot com

  10. I've reconnected with several people I was friends with in high school through Facebook.

  11. Bridget O&#39;NeillJune 24, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    A few years ago, I was a nanny for the kids of an old high school friend who I hadn't seen in years! We're still friends!

  12. Love this interview! Your book sounds like a great read, Sam. Yet another fab chicklit on the list. :)
    I actually got to reconnect with a pre-school friend of mine just a few weeks ago. It was amazing! We were super close throughout grade school but once high school hit and we veered off to different schools, we sort of lost contact.

    A few years ago, via Facebook, we reconnected and now we finally got to see each other again! Friends for more than 20 years...hadn't seen each other or spoken on the phone in 10 years...seeing each other last month was purely magical and as if time stood still. Still BFFs despite the geographical distance and the time away from each other!

    -Savannah Page info[at]savannahpage[.]com

  13. This is funny because at the beginning of this year, an ex boyfriend found me on facebook to reconnect after a few years of us not talking. Fast forward several months later and he's one of the closest friends I have at the moment. In fact, my best friend these days is someone I also reconnected with after years of not speaking to him. Most people say it's a horrible idea to let past loves or the dreaded ex's back into their lives, but for me it's turned out to be the best thing I've done.

    miss_kris_11 (at) yahoo (dot) com