Soma Helmi is the author of Sammi Ever After, a novel available for free at Smashwords. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and photographer.
N.B.: Despite some uncomfortable situations, your novel is full of a clear optimism, with characters often delighting in their positive relationships and turns in their lives. Did you intentionally instill a positivity in the writing, perhaps to counteract the negativity and conflict that arises so often in novels and life?
S.H.: As you may know, the book is based on some of my life. When I sat down to write the story, it was with the intention of "purging" myself from a traumatic and negative experience, and I felt it was high time to let go. I wrote the whole thing almost in chronological order so I think the more I wrote the happier I became and perhaps that is reflected in the writing. It was like a weight was lifted when I finished the first draft and I think I went through and made sure that my characters could also experience the positivity I felt.
How did your experience and knowledge of other art forms, including filmmaking and photography, influence the structure and style of your fiction writing?
I have a tendency to write with visuals or a movie in mind. I can almost see how the story will look on screen, even how I would cut or edit the scenes together. I'm not sure if that translates on paper but that's how I write.
Sammi’s traveling to England for Max mirrors what Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes did for the American Jane, for her sake becoming a civilized man and crossing oceans and continents from his native African jungle—before being rejected by her when she chose to marry an American man. Do you think it ever behooves one to follow love, or should we ultimately always put our own needs before the temptations of love?
I'm a hopeless romantic at heart. Despite the setbacks and heartaches, I wouldn't change what I did for love. It eventually led to a series of events that had me move back to Bali and meet my husband. It may not always turn out but I've experienced and heard of others experiencing wonderful things as a result of making silly choices because of love. For example, my sister moved to England to be with her then boyfriend whom she had only know for three months after meeting on his backpacking trip through Sydney. Fifteen years on and they're married with two gorgeous children.
Sammi is fortunate that when she chooses to take care of her own life first and goes back to Australia, Liam, her love interest, follows her to start a business in Australia. Is love following something we can depend on? Or was it just more rare good luck that Liam came with her, serving to provide a good moral but being no more dependable than Max, who rejected her when she moved to England for him?
I wanted Sammi to make sure she took care of herself first and that it was important for her to not rely on someone else for her happiness. The fact that Liam followed was just a way for me to say that only once she's found her own sense of self would real love be able to come into her life.
Sammi’s gaining good experiences from her travels in pursuit of Max—such as meeting new friends and having fun—ultimately became their own reward. Do you think love is necessary to make life great, or was Sammi genuinely satisfied with her experiences without finding love in Greece?
I think she would have been satisfied at that point in time without finding love. Saying that though, love is necessary. It may not be romantic love, but love in it's pure form - compassion, affection, care - is definitely necessary.
Sammi’s friend Aysh tells her, “‘We all do stupid things when our hearts are involved.’” Do you think this has to be the case? What about our hearts and love leads to such complication and lack of intelligence, overturning even normally balanced and thoughtful people?
If I knew the answer to this I'm pretty sure I'd be much wiser that I am!
The novel has a theme of dating as Russian roulette, making us unable to tell if some nice appearing person is going to screw us over. Is there any way to be more certain about our choices in love, is it possible for two people to just naturally trust and love each other? Or is love destined to be a battle, a game?
Again, this is an age old question that I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer. All I can say is I have been fortunate to find someone I can really be myself with for the first time and it's certainly a different experience. I'm not saying there aren't moments of tension and small squabbles but when you find a person with whom you fit so well, you find that the games are unnecessary.