Pamela Samuels Young: ‘Twists and turns can sometimes be a struggle’
Pamela Samuels Young has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. She set giant-sized goals and used her talent, tenacity and positive outlook to accomplish them. Pamela consequently achieved success in both the corporate arena and literary world simultaneously.
An author, attorney and motivational speaker, Pamela spent fifteen years as Managing Counsel for Toyota, specializing in labor and employment law. While still practicing law, Pamela began moonlighting as a mystery writer because of the absence of women and people of color depicted in the legal thrillers she read. She is now an award-winning author of multiple legal thrillers, including Anybody’s Daughter, which won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction, and her new release, Abuse of Discretion, a shocking look at the juvenile justice system in the context of a troubling teen sexting case.
Prior to her legal career, spent several years as a television news writer and associate producer. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and earned a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University and a law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. She is a frequent speaker on the topics of teen sexting, child sex trafficking, self-empowerment and fiction writing.
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Thank you for stopping by Pamela! Can we begin by having you tell us how you got started writing mysteries and legal thrillers?
Pamela: When I finished law school, reading legal thrillers was how I relaxed. But I never saw African-American or women attorneys depicted in the fiction I read, so I decided to try writing a legal thriller myself. I was working full-time at a large corporate law firm in L.A. and didn’t have any spare time. Still, I started getting up at four in the morning to write before going to the office. I wrote on the weekends, in the airport and in my hotel room when I traveled. I even devoted my vacation time to writing. Without question, I discovered my passion.
Do you find writing your books comes natural to you or is it a struggle sometimes?
Pamela: The initial idea comes to me pretty easily. I have tons of them. While I have a general idea of where I want the story to go, developing the plot and working in all the twists and turns can sometimes be a struggle.
Sexting is a predominant theme in your latest book, Abuse of Discretion. What were the circumstances that led you to base your book on this?
Pamela: I was talking to a law school classmate who was lamenting the fact that he had yet another teenage client facing life-altering consequences as a result of sexting. He’s a criminal defense attorney and he explained to me that children as young as 13 and 14 were being prosecuted for distributing child pornography after taking naked selfies and sending them to a classmates. I was floored when he told me that these children faced the possibility of having to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives if convicted. I immediately knew this was a topic I wanted to address in a legal thriller and Abuse of Discretion was the result.
Can you tell us a little about Graylin Alexander?
Pamela: Graylin is 14 years old and the book’s primary character. When he finds himself facing pornography charges as a result of a sexting allegation, he becomes a real fighter who sticks to his guns even when his attorneys and father try to convince him otherwise. He truly (and naively) believes that life is fair and that he will get off simply because he’s innocent.
Can you tell us a little about the other main characters in your book?
Pamela: Jenny Ungerman, the attorney hired to defend Graylin, is smart, confident and committed. She isn’t thrilled, however, when ex-prosecutor Angela Evans joins Graylin’s defense team. Angela is a family friend of Graylin’s and sometimes her personal feelings clash with her legal obligations. The two women instantly butt heads. Can they put aside their differences long enough to ensure Graylin gets justice? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point when the reader just can’t put the book down. What’s one of the pivotal points in your book?
Pamela: When Graylin makes a decision about his case that makes his father go ballistic. Don’t want to give anything away, LOL!
What would you like to say to your readers and fans?
Pamela: First, thanks for all your support! I’ve just finished my first erotic romance novella, Unlawful Desires, under the pen name, Sassy Sinclair. I decided to use a pen name because I didn’t want someone to pick up the book with my name on it and be stunned at the sex scenes. I had a ball writing it.
Finally, never give up on your dreams. I faced a ton of rejection from the publishing industry, but today, I’m the author of ten books. So no matter what it is you want to do, hang in there. And remember, “Dreams don’t work unless you do!”