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Author Interview: Sabrina Simon

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lily Andrews is talking with Sabrina Simon, author of Violet.

FQ: Why poetry? What led you to writing poetry, instead of, say, mysteries?

SIMON: My journey with writing began with fanfiction, at the age of 13 on Tumblr. I was an ambitious writer but wasn’t any good, yet I knew I had a knack for descriptions and solid word choice. It wasn’t until I started writing poetry that my writing improved. I now could wield the power of emotional depth. What led me to become a poet were those feelings of love. I’m not the best at expressing myself verbally, but whenever I write, my thoughts are clear and concise.

At 14, I never liked anyone to the magnitude that I liked that person, and I couldn’t understand it, so poetry was my outlet. I’m thankful it led me down that path because poetry has given me clarity, aided me in getting to know myself as art does as you get better at your craft, and exposed me to who and what I am, which is an emotional person. I may not write mysteries, but the intimacy that lies with being a poet gives me easy access to the world of writing in the romance/drama genre. Poetry found me or I stumbled upon it, whichever it is, it was written.

FQ: In your author biography, you mention that faith is integral to your life. Is faith “written into” your poetry?

SIMON: Wow, that’s a great question. I hope my answer does this question justice. Um, I would say so, but not on the scale it would be incorporated in a fictional story where I can explore themes, use them for character development, and as a driving force to guide the story. I mention God a few times in my poems, some by name, others with subtlety; one of them, “ON PURPOSE.” was inspired by the Bible scripture Psalm 93, my “Dear Love,” poems are letters to God, so how I utilize my faith in my poetry is straightforward.

I believe God is love, so the first relationship I find myself in, should it happen, where I’m in love, that relationship has to be God ordained. All the things love is; patient, kind, selfless, calming, pure, trusting, and hopeful will be at the center and will show itself throughout. So as I’m thinking about this, I believe the emotion and authenticity I hope is felt in my writing are derived from my faith because all the actions expressed, even the act of writing these love poems are done in love, 1 Corinthians 16:14. It’s not done consciously, but with how I view love, and how I think love should be, it’s a given that my faith is embodied in my poems. I hope that was a good answer! I had to think about that.

FQ: You also mention that you’re a “lovelorn loner.” Do you see yourself, one day, not being a loner? Does your faith lead you down a certain path in relationships?

SIMON: Honestly, I’ve felt that way since I was a teenager, and to this day, it hasn’t changed. What has changed is I’m not so closed off towards the idea of being in a relationship, getting married, and having children like I once was in my teens, but I think I’ll always be a loner. I’ve never been intimate with anyone nor have I been with anyone, so sometimes that reminds me of that Franz Kafka quote, “There are times when I am convinced I am unfit for any human relationship.” I think I belong to my solitude, in the quietest of quiet, hopelessly romantic.

I’ve had faith that I would be led into relationships with the ones I’ve had romantic feelings for, but it wasn’t meant to be. However, the first experience, in particular, taught me lessons and opened me up completely to where if one day I should be a wife and a mother, I would be the best I could be, and take it very seriously. And I think even though I didn’t get what I thought I wanted at the time, God used unrequited love and disappointment to my benefit. All in all, my faith is geared towards others as far as love and relationships go, but I think I’ll always be alone, but I’m comfortable and happy with that.

FQ: As someone who finds faith a central part of life, how important is it to find a companion who shares those same views?

Author Sabrina Simon

SIMON: That’s a great question, and a little ironic considering the sermon I received recently pertains to this, and I’ve had brief conversations about this as well, but on a surface level. I find it very important. I’m going to use the sermon as a basis for my answer. The title is, “The Faith That Overcomes,” and on the second implication, the pastor talks about when there are obstacles, we need people who will support us and want the same thing. In scripture, he used the story of when Jesus healed the paralyzed man, and how he received his healing because the men were persistent in getting him to Jesus despite the crowd that surrounded Him, and hindered them, which implies they wanted his healing more than the paralyzed man wanted it for himself.

In my experience, I’ve always loved someone and cared for someone more than they did me. There’s never a balance, a meeting of the hearts, but I always thought that’s how it’s supposed to be; there’s always someone that will love the other more. Referring back to the God-ordained love I spoke of, I think if I had a companion with the same faith as mine, there would be a balance. I would love that person as I would love myself, but first, as God loves me. Everything springs from Him, so I’ll know how to love that person. I believe there’s an inherent intimacy, and closeness when you have someone with the same faith as you do because between the two, that faith is nurtured, watered, encouraged, and will grow, but also challenged.

So it won’t always be 50/50, some days I’ll be at 20%, and they’ll have to put in 80, in the same token, they’ll only have 30, and I have to put in the other 70. Having a person with the same faith, headed in the same direction is essential because when one of us is at our lowest or wit's end, tempted to give up, the oneness that lies in the same beliefs can easily be watered, catered, and tended to, and we both grow from that in the process. That’s my opinion on the importance of that, and I hope I explained that as eloquently as I attempted to.

FQ: Wow – you’re majoring in film – how exciting! Tell us a little about that journey.

SIMON: What led me to Film. This is going to be a long story, but I hope it's an entertaining one.

I initially majored in Diagnostic Medical Sonography and chose that career during my senior year of high school. My history teacher provided us with the website Bureau of Labor Statistics, and I went through every career, and that was the one that appealed to me most. I wanted to be an Obstetrics Sonographer because I love babies and witnessing ultrasounds, and sonograms are a special moment. At this time, it’s 2018, so “ON PURPOSE.” was the last poem I wrote, and I was on three years quitting writing stories at that point.

I went to college shortly after graduating and attended every semester leading up to my first classes that involved my program in August of 2019. Towards the end of 2018, I had this story idea, but I didn’t want to write anymore, so I knew two authors I could pitch the idea to since I loved their work. I’ll never forget this; I heard this voice say, “No, you’re going to write it.” There was no pushback from me, I began writing, wrote 8 chapters within that weekend, and went on to publish that story on Wattpad. The next story I would write would be the game changer. I pictured it as a film as I wrote it, and the feedback I received supported my vision, so I decided to turn it into a screenplay, but as a one-time thing. As I’m gearing up for my Healthcare classes, I’m learning about screenwriting.

Before the semester started, I had to purchase the code for the class. An old friend took me to the campus, and I remember taking it all in. Students in their scrubs, study groups, and the vast campus, and I had this feeling that I can translate as I wasn’t supposed to be there. I’m shy, so entering a new environment, I likened to nervousness. I believe that feeling was a sign because the next couple of weeks, the excitement I had for the program diminished, and the uncertainty of whether I would get in after my professor told us the reality of entry caused doubt. I never had a plan B because I was confident I would get into the program, but now I wasn’t so sure. So I searched whether there were any screenwriting programs, and I found Film Production Technology. I spoke with an advisor at the medical campus to help me make a decision, she didn’t tell me what to do, but ultimately, I went with film. September 19th, 2019. I’ll always remember that day.

Since I switched majors late, I was home for three months, it was the first break I had since August 2018. I kept working on the screenplay as much as I could with what I knew. I started in the spring of 2020, and haven’t regretted it. Film coincides with all the things I love in life; poetry, music, colors, and art, so it’s a perfect marriage. COVID made the experience peculiar, but I made the best of it. I’ve set it aside to focus on Violet, but I think my want for having animated and film shorts for my poems will bridge the gap, and accomplish what I thought about all along, which is if Violet lands in the right hands, hopefully, my skill for writing is recognized, and that’s my pathway into Film.

To sum it up, I think about it like this; Sonography was a choice, but Film was not. Sonography would’ve been the love of my life, I would’ve loved it, I’m sure, but if you have the chance to be with your soulmate, take it.

FQ: I love your cover – it’s definitely different and catches the eye! Would you tell us a bit about how it evolved?

SIMON: Thank you! I’m proud of that cover, so I’m glad you love it. My heart is healed, but since I’m so sensitive, it’s fragile, so those old wounds can easily open up again, so it’s wrapped in bandages. “Smooth Criminal,” is the clear reflection of the cover, and I didn’t know it then when I wrote it, but an indication of what the cover could be.

When beginning the process with my publisher Gatekeeper Press, my author manager asked if I had any ideas, and if not, they would create mock-ups based on the book. I believe I dug up the concept I drew up for Violet, and since I knew I couldn’t do what I wanted originally on the pages, it could reflect itself on the cover. I sent a detailed explanation to my author manager of the vision I had, and in less than a week, received three mock-ups, and the second one was exactly how I pictured it. It was beautiful but became more refined over time.

The first version was less sinister, for the lack of a better word, the heart was much lighter, and a bright red. I wanted it to reflect the pain I experienced, especially with the bandaid and blood present, so I wanted the heart to be black and blue to emphasize that. The next version came, and the black and blue were too dark for me, so I opted to remove the blue, and keep the blackened areas. The shade of the heart darkened as well, and it came out beautiful. I did toy with whether the blood should've been red or red, blue, and purple, and ultimately decided on what's seen now. The process was swift, and fun to see something that was in my imagination come out in a real design. I still have the photos of each, and will happily share them.

FQ: Are there some poems that you found difficult to write due to the memories they bring back?

SIMON: When I’m writing a poem, I’m focused on expressing how I feel without thought or reserve. I never thought a poem was hard to write at the moment because that’s my therapy. I’m working through my emotions by writing them out. Reading them, though? Definitely. “PAIN.” and “PAIN II.” are hard to read sometimes, and I skip them more often than not. Those two days were tough, and dealing with the brunt of those emotions alone was even tougher.

FQ: What was your strategy for organizing the poems in this collection?

SIMON: I thought organizing them by years would be more impactful. I’ve been writing poems from 14 to the age of 21. In my mind, seeing my growth as a writer, whether my viewpoints on love change or remain the same as I get older makes it more worthwhile and cements the relatability factor I hope is present. I couldn’t have done it any other way.

FQ: Would you tell our readers how you arrived at the title Violet for this collection?

SIMON: As I stated in my preface, on April 14th, DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar was released, and he’s a conceptual artist, so once I understood the concept of his album, it inspired me to have a concept of my own. April 16th, the concept was born. I viewed my poems in colors. My interest in colors bloomed in 2017, and I researched color psychology. Love is a feeling, and the most common color associated with it is red; romance, love, and passion to name a few. Blue is my favorite color, and I believe some poems elicit a feeling of tranquility, sincerity, melancholy, and a calmer, stable version of love. Red and blue make purple and are interchangeable with violet. Not to mention it makes for a better name than purple.

As I alluded to a couple of questions ago, I wanted to do something within each title, which was to have a slash of those colors strike-through depending on the feeling or theme the poem is centered on. It’s a book of love poems, and it represents creativity and maintains an aura of calmness and upliftment. Overall blue represents me (calm stability) red represents the love I have and hold (fierce energy) and it’s fierce because I’m “too passionate,” so it creates violet/purple, the feelings, and care I give and hope to get in return.

FQ: What's the best piece of writing advice that you would give to an aspiring poet?

SIMON: Many people say to write what you know, but I think in the land of poetry, you have to write what you feel. Without thought, without reserve, without censorship. Poetry is of the heart and the soul, the words will pour out of you, and the rhythm and everything else will take care of itself. Just feel, keep it real, and stay true.

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