A Spooky Q&A, with Samantha Garner (The Quiet is Loud)

It’s Spooky Season and we’re featuring interviews from some of our authors whose books explore the horrors and vulnerabilities of a life lived. Samantha Garner’s debut The Quiet is Loud (Invisible Publishing, 2021) was a finalist for the 2022 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize.

The Quiet is Loud is a novel about the mystical and supernatural, a genre tale about people with unbelievable powers beyond their own understanding. But it’s also a deeply thoughtful book about identity and the quest for true acceptance — especially in a world that encourages us to hate, hide, and fear who we are.”—Stacey May Fowles, from the Book Therapy column (Open Book Ontario)

Invisible Publishing: Sam, what makes a piece of writing spooky/eerie/horrifying?

Samantha Garner: For me, the spookiest or most unsettling writing gets in my head and makes me think of how easily the events depicted could actually happen. There’s nothing scarier than reality.

IP: As you were structuring The Quiet is Loud, which authors/works offered you guidance or insight?

SG: I had some familiarity with tarot before writing the book, but since Freya, the main character, makes a living as a tarot reader, I wanted to brush up on my knowledge. The Creative Tarot by Jessa Crispin was one resource that helped me understand how Freya could interpret the cards and tailor their messages to her clients.

IP: What kind of catharsis did you experience during the writing of your book?

SG: Freya’s mixed-race background is nearly identical to my own, and in writing this book I explored and uncovered many thoughts about the feeling of being a perpetual outsider. It helped me to understand that there is no one way to be a mixed-race person, and that striving to fit perfectly into three different cultures didn’t have to be my goal.

IP: And now that it’s landed in the hands of readers, what catharsis have you experienced upon hearing reader feedback on your book?

SG: I had no small amount of anxiety over people reading a book that touched on my own personal feelings of cultural identity and belonging. However, an incredible amount of people told me that they saw themselves in it, even if their own cultural background didn’t mirror Freya’s. It was unbelievably gratifying.

IP: Is there a particular visceral scene in this work that stands alone for you as a favourite? Like, “I can’t believe I got to write this?!”

SG: I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s one chapter near the end that’s quite a departure from the rest. My editor Bryan Ibeas encouraged me to just let loose and do what I wanted, and I wrote the chapter in one sitting. When writing it I felt almost like a conduit for someone else’s words. It was incredibly fun. And the fact that it made it into the book largely unchanged told me I had tapped into something verging on magical. (Editor’s note: Guess you’ll have to get the book to find out for yourself!)

IP: As we head into Spooky Season, do you have any beloved rituals (annual traditions or repeat film viewings) that you’re looking forward to?

SG: My husband is a big fan of horror films and I’m somewhat of a chicken, but over the past few years we’ve been spending Spooky Season watching horror movies that are satisfying for both of us. Dawn of the Dead and John Carpenter’s The Thing are must-watch movies every year!

Cover image for Samantha Garner's novel The Quiet Is Loud. Image is a stylized tarot card based on The Tower card in a traditional deck, featuring a person holding a tarot card, Ogopogo, ravens, and stars, with an open book as the background.

When Freya Tanangco was ten, she dreamed of her mother’s death days before it happened. Freya’s life since has been spent in hiding: from the troubled literary legacy created by her author father, and from the scrutiny of a society that is hostile to vekers—people who, like her, have enhanced mental abilities.

Interwoven with themes of Filipino Canadian and mixed-race identity, fantastical elements from Norse and Filipino mythology, and tarot card symbolism, The Quiet Is Loud is an intergenerational tale about the consequences of secrets.

Samantha Garner‘s short fiction and poetry have appeared in Broken Pencil, Sundog Lit, Kiss Machine, The Fiddlehead, Storychord, WhiskeyPaper and The Quarantine Review. She was a finalist for the 2022 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for her debut novel, The Quiet is Loud (Invisible Publishing). She lives and writes in Mississauga, ON.

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