In my day job I am a science journalist. Journalism taught me to observe people and situations, research facts and question motives. And I can hit a deadline like no other.
I used to cover the coroner’s court. For my first reporting gig at the East London Advertiser, I was given the job that nobody wants—coroner’s court. I found it fascinating, especially when I was able to observe how family and friends cope with a suspicious death.
My notebook is full of conversation snippets. I will write down funny and weird things people say. Here’s two from a bus ride. “I will only marry a man who drinks milky tea.” and “My screen presence is amazing, I was in a mustard advert.” I may have to put these in a future book.
I shook hands with Prince Charles when I was ten. It happened during an open-air concert we attended while on family holiday in Wales. Prince Charles’ handlers picked me—the cute, blonde girl with the tartan dress—for a photo-op. Unfortunately I only knew one English phrase: “How are you?” So, I repeated that ad absurdum until I was gently but firmly ushered back to my family.
I started out writing fantasy. I don’t even know why. I think because everyone in my writing community wrote fantasy novels, and I thought they might be easier as you can make it all up. My first novel was set in a snow world and featured a shaman, a mercenary and an angel made of glass… it remains unpublished, for good reason.
The Long, Long Afternoon was partly inspired by a visit to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. It’s unbelievable to me how that museum isn’t better known. The objects, posters and household items displayed there hold up a terrible mirror to our racist society. Go to their website right now.
My piano was used by John Lennon. When I started lessons, my family got a piano on loan from a local hotel. The Beatles stayed there in 1966, and it was the same piano they used for practice. Sadly, Lennon’s genius did not magically transfer to me—I hated piano practice and never made much progress.
I used to be a nanny. In fact, that’s how I financed my degree. While I never faced anything like the struggles experienced by my main character Ruby, I did find it a strange experience. It’s hard work and badly paid. You grow very close to these families, yet you’re never really seen as a person.
My grandmother taught me all the crafts. She was a master seamstress. On each visit, she would teach me something new. I can knit, crochet, sew, weave, paint silks, do bead work and even make lace.
I learned to poi juggle during lockdown. I just needed something beautiful and serene to take my mind away from the weirdness of it all. Poi juggling is best done outside, so it was a good reason to leave the house and spend many happy hours in the park.
My name is Sam Tschida (pronounced cheetah) and I am a romcom author. My debut novel, Siri, Who Am I? (Quirk Books) is about a woman who wakes up alone in a torn party dress in an LA hospital with no memory. She pieces her life together through her Instagram account. Since that’s my thing this year, I decided to introduce myself in the same way. So here goes, five obscure facts about me, as found on my Insta account... to read more click HERE