Saturday, April 01, 2023



I’m thrilled to chat with Sam Karl about her thought-provoking essay, “Running to the Past” named as a runner up in the Q1 2023 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest. Sam shares some great inside information as well as some writerly advice during today’s interview. 

Before we get to that though, please check out Sam’s bio (below) and read through “Running to the Past” before returning here for our inspiring interview! 

Samantha’s Bio: Travelling medical lab scientist currently living in Salem, MA with my girlfriend and Golden Retriever. Previously received an honorable mention with WOW! I enjoy writing in my free time, and reading when the words aren’t flowing. Just trying to find an audience who enjoys what I write so I can pursue writing more confidently, not just as a hobby. I can be reached at my email karl.sam4[at]gmail[dot]com. 

Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto 

WOW: Welcome, Sam, and congratulations on being named as a runner up in WOW's Q1 Essay Contest! I had so many feelings after reading Running to the Past; but I’m wondering what you had intended. What was the take-away you had hoped readers would gain from reading your piece? 

Sam: When I read something, I want it to be thought-provoking or feeling-provoking. I'm hoping after people read Running to the Past, it connects with some form of nostalgia in their lives. I've spent the past six months living far away from home and my family so writing this piece made me feel connected to them without being there. It helped me look back on a fond experience in my life and put perspective on something that shaped a large part of myself. Hopefully readers can relate to memories and situations that brought them to the place they are at now after reading my essay. 

WOW: It’s always interesting – because we definitely as readers take our own past experience and put a personal spin on everything we read. Running to the Past definitely brought me back. Thank you! 

Support is so important as a woman, but especially as someone who writes. Can you tell us more about who supports you on the daily? 

 Sam: My number one support in my life is my partner, Madison. I wouldn't have taken the large step I have in my writing journey without her silent encouragement. She has edited any work I've submitted and taken time to give thoughtful and critical feedback. Until lately, she has been the only person I've felt comfortable sharing my writing with as it's taken a while for me to feel confident in what I write. My parents have also been a great support system. My mom has all of my essays pinned in her office and loves to talk about them with me. My dad is a high school teacher and has shared my work with his English teacher friends. 

WOW: No pressure from those English teacher friends – right? That’s a tough crowd – so glad to hear you’ve got them in your corner as well as Madison! Do you have advice for your younger self when it comes to making decisions, believing in yourself, and/or writing? What would your current self say to the younger you? 

Sam: I love this question because the person I am now is vastly different from my younger self (child or even 5 years ago). If I had to tell my younger self anything, it would be to always take the path that is most curious. As in, walk down the road that is interesting, appealing, and potentially uncomfortable. My life started to shape into what I wanted it to be when I started doing things I truly wanted to do and taking risks while doing them. I'd also tell my younger self that it doesn't matter if you feel different from other people-follow that feeling. Life is unpredictable and I've never known what the future holds for me until it becomes the present. 

 WOW: It sure is unpredictable, isn’t it? Sometimes I wonder if even the best authors could come up with some of the plot twists we have in everyday life. That makes me wonder, speaking of the best authors, who is your favorite? Do you have one? 

 Sam: This is a tough one but I would say Stephen King. It's ironic that he is my favorite author because I never read one of his books until two/three years ago. However, reading his work opened up a whole new genre for myself that I didn't think I'd ever be interested in. I love the amount of detail that goes into each character even if they're a small one. His imagery and plot lines have always kept me hooked and invested in the characters. In Finders Keepers, for example, he focuses a story around a fictional book series that had me Googling if the fictional series did exist because I wanted to read it. I think that level of depth is extremely impressive. 

WOW: You hit the nail on the head – and like any great author does, Stephen King helps me as a reader when I need to step away from my own life for a little while. His characters help me move into their world and out of mine when my world gets too stressful. We all seem to have more stress now than ever – so other than stepping into a Stephen King novel, what advice do you have for others during stressful times? What's working or not working for you? 

Sam: Do what feels right for you. Noone can tell you how to live your life and it's the only one we have to live. Change your interests to what fits you at the time. Maybe one day going to the gym relieves stress but the next day binge watching TV does. There is no correct way to make yourself feel better. However, sitting and sinking into anxiety just leads to more of it. For myself, I relieve stress in a variety of ways. I enjoy walking my dog, running, reading, writing, lying in bed, cooking, and just talking with my girlfriend most days to help make a stressful day better. Thanks for interviewing me! 

 WOW: You’re ever so welcome my dear! I also must say that it has been such a pleasure interviewing you and I hope you’ll be back soon! Congratulations again, Sam, and wishing you much writing success in 2023! 

 Find out more about WOW's flash fiction and creative 
nonfiction contests here:


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