Samantha Mabry is the author of All the Wind in the World (Algonguin Young Readers, 2017). It was longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. From the promotional copy:
Sarah Jac Crow and James Holt have fallen in love working in the endless fields that span a near-future, bone-dry Southwest, a land that’s a little bit magical, deeply dangerous, and bursting with secrets.
To protect themselves, they’ve learned to work hard and—above all—keep their love hidden from the people who might use it against them. Then, just when Sarah Jac and James have settled in and begun saving money for the home they dream of near the coast, a horrible accident sends them on the run.
With no choice but to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch, the delicate balance of their lives begins to give way—and they may have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love.
All The Wind In The World is so lush with atmosphere. Do you have a personal connection to the southwest settings in the novel?
I do! My husband and I both teach college, so we have summers off. For the last five years, we’ve spent a good chunk of those summers out in Marfa, Texas, which is about an eight-hour drive west from where we live in Dallas. I love it out there, but it’s hard to describe exactly why.
You touch on complex social issues, like marginalized communities and the balance of power in societies and relationships. What drew you to those topics?
While A Fierce and Subtle Poison (Algonquin, 2016) was my book about culture, I wanted All the Wind in the World to be my book about class.
And yeah, I wanted to explore power imbalances –from the way the ranch owner and higher-ups manipulate their workers to the way a young couple’s relationships starts to teeter and tilt. These power imbalances cause ranch life to unravel.
Natural phenomena meld with mutinies; people start to look for answers in the supernatural. There’s a lot to mine in a system and a setting that’s unfair.
I didn’t want to make this world too much of a dystopia, though. Even though it’s set in the future, I wanted to make it as reflective of working conditions in the past and present as I could.
I can’t really say what drew me to these topics. I studied Marxist theory all throughout college and graduate school, and thus have always been keen on viewing texts and stories in terms of what’s happening with power dynamics and economics and how those aspects affect everything else.
As a member of a community under-represented in youth literature, what did your diverse perspective bring to your story?
I just always try to look at people (and characters) as being full of complexities.
I’ll probably always explore the shades of Latinidad and try to show that there are myriad authentic ways to be Latinx.
What advice do you have for beginning writers?
I didn’t become a writer until I was in my late twenties because I was intimidated and had no idea how to even start. It took me a long time to realize what kind of writer I wanted to be and how I fit in.
I try to encourage beginning writers to figure out where they fit in a tradition. Like, are they wanting to write thrillers like Author X or horror novels like Author Y? Or are they wanting to do some hybrid genre, inspired by both Author X and Author Y?
|Samantha by Laura Burlton Photography|