Life is full of surprises, but you have to open them hoping for the very best.

Samantha Ryan Chandler Interview Published on: 15, Nov 2017

What are your best memories of growing up in Louisiana? When was the first time you left home to travel and where did you go?

Some of my fondest memories where spending time with my Irish grandparents in their very small town just 27 miles from my home. I would spend several weeks with them throughout the summer (USA school break). We would sit on their front porch watching the cars going by while my grandfather sat in his swing telling me stories of growing up. I would sit as close to him as I could get hanging on every word. I have this same swing in my home many, many years after my childhood. I was recently married and the ceremony was at my home. After the wedding all the guest gathered around my “new husband” as he and I sat in my grandfathers swing listening to our guest toast us. Another memory that must not be missed. My grandfather never learned to drive a car, saying “there were enough fools on the highway without adding one more”. My memory is every morning we would go into town to get the mail, my grandfather and I on his bicycle with me sitting on the handle bars. As I write this, I can smell the past with a great smile on my face.

When did you first convert to Christianity? What was it about Christianity that stood out to you among the hundreds of other religions and lifestyles?

I was not raised going to church. My parents were NOT atheist but just didn’t go. In my 6th years of school, I met my best friend who was Christian. I did go to church with her on occasion. At the age of 21, I started searching for my faith. In reading the Bible, Christ fulfilled all of the prophesys from hundreds of years prior to His arrival on earth. There are historical records of the miracles he preformed with hundreds of witnesses. I found that other religions did not have this. I also know that being a Christian springs from love. Some of other faiths do not. I am convinced by my faith.

How long did it take you to think of the title for your book "A Love Story...How God Pursued Me and Found Me"? Were there any other title ideas you considered but eventually chucked out the window?

Good question. I had more happen to me that Hollywood would ever dream to write about. I had horrific times in my life and on occasion would share with people that were close to me. Many times, I would hear, “you should write a book”. I would laugh it off saying that I was convinced that I only had about 30 words in my head….a skinny girl from Nowhere, La. Who would want to read about what I have to say? One day after hearing the “you should write a book dialogue” I pondered. If I should write a book, what would I call it? The title came to me before I decided to write. I then sat down to write my story. I did not write to a reader. I wrote to myself seeking, where was God in my life as I journeyed through several pathways of great pain and abuse. I started with my life at age 3 when I didn’t know God but survived an event that should have taken my life. In my writings of events, I saw a thread, a breath of God in my life when I didn’t even know Him.

Were there any legal hurdles that you had to overcome in order to publish your book? Who was your biggest support throughout the course of all these events?

Yes and no. My book is 2nd. edition with a new publisher. My 1st. edition was with CrossBooks. After several years, my publisher sold the business to a much larger publishing company called Thomas Nelson. It would be an honor to be published by this large publishing house. They agreed to continue by book but I would have to make modifications such as change my name. Other changes that concerned them was about the chapter where I write about the events When Pollyanna Marries Darth Vader. They were concerned about this powerful man and liability. I went back and forth with them assuring that I had all documentation of what write about. I also discussed that there is no slander when truth is involved. They refused and I walked away from a large publishing company. I can’t compromise on my life and what I encountered. By far, my largest support was from Jo Ellen Bradley and her sweet mother. It would not have become a book if I had not had her support. She convinced me that just possibly I could be an author.

In the 22 years you were married to "Darth Vader", what are some really important life lessons you learnt? Would you ever take those years back if you could?

When I look back on the 22 year marriage, it is clear to me that my husband was an abusive man. The Pollyanna in me at that time could only see good. A lesson is never spend any time with people that are closed up, who never share events or emotions. I believe they do this to obfuscate and hide who they truly are. I can’t ever want to wish away my 22 year marriage as that would encompass my precious three daughters. I didn’t choose this path that I write about but finally; I am at the point that I see a bountiful amount of change to who I am. Pollyanna is dead and a Phoenix has risen.

What are some of the most common questions or remarks you receive when you meet someone who's read your book? Is there a question you wish people would ask more?

Well first, I am always embarrassed to chat with someone that has read my book. I expose so much vulnerability about myself. I write about raw events and emotions that I have. Interesting enough, I hear different takes from my book from readers. When I read my over 100 reviews on Amazon (USA), I wonder if they are all reading the same book! Some relate to my childhood abuse others will talk about my children’s ministry. I have one review where the reader doubts that I went through that I write about. I laugh at this and wish it were a fictional book! I have also heard that in encounters with readers that a surprise that I can laugh and be jovial.

For people with a past of abuse, there are always bad days even years later. What are some things you do to cope with the bad days? Do you have any advice for anyone going through anything similar at the moment?

Yes, my advice is; I give you hope. My childhood abuse by my mother is over. I never think about it unless someone enquires. Enough time has gone by that it no longer is part of my life. As for the abuse I write about with my husband of 22 years, this abuse is far greater than my childhood. He planned my demise for several years prior to execution of it. I was truly sleeping with the enemy and had no idea of what was about to happen to me. Writing about it helped a great deal. For about 8 years after the divorce, I was so very emotionally damaged. When I would give radio/TV interviews about my book, it would take me a long period of time to overcome the emotions that came out as I spoke about them. You learn with time how to put them away. Telling yourself “I am no longer abused" is the beginning of putting the emotions away. I am now married to the kindest, gentle man who I am madly in love with. He has nurtured me out of the past with his unconditional love. I no longer have nightmares and happiness lives on my face.

How old are your daughters now? Have any of them ever expressed any interest in being a writer?

My daughters are 38, 32, and 28. They have yet to read my book as they lived part of it. They are yet to know all of what happened to me and truly can’t go there. My dedication page is to them, “so they would know the truth about their mommy” They have vowed to read it someday and I pray that they will. It was such a horrible time for me that I physically was scary as I dropped 26 pounds weighing under 100 pounds. I am 5’6” so I indeed looked sunken and wrought.

What are some radio/talk shows or magazines you've been interviewed on? Which one is the most memorable and why?

I recently had an hour long live TV interview in Augusta, Ga. It was a Christian network. My husband took a photo of me on stage while I was being interviewed. The photo is exciting and I will attach it to you. I also had an hour radio interview with listeners having the ability to call into the station. I was interviewed a few days ago by 96.5 radio in Missouri. I don’t think it has aired yet. It was a taped interview. I must say that I prefer live interviews as it keeps you in 100% zone of thinking. Besides that, it is exciting hearing the countdown from 5 to on air!

Name one experience you had where you were struck by human kindness.

This would be when I was going through the divorce which took several years. I didn’t have enough money to fight Darth Vader. I sometimes didn’t have money for food and would simply start eating what was in the pantry. During this time Cary Thrift called me about tuning my piano. I told him couldn’t do this. He came over anyway and tuned it at no charge. The other was Sandy who owned a salon for nails. She saw me one day and insisted on taking care of my nails for free. These moments touched my heart deeply.

What is the best part about being a published author? Are there any downsides?

I still find it hard to attach the title author to my name. It seems surreal. The absolute best part is reading my reviews from around the world and seeing that my book touched an emotion in someone. I always write a comment to the review. One in particular comes to mind as a reader was curious about my sweet baby girls. They were not babies when I went through what I write about, but they always be my baby girls. I guess a downside would be the ugly painful review I received when my book was published about 2 months. I almost quit the pursuit of being an author. By the way, the review was about being there being too much about God. I have to wonder if she read the title are saw the cover!

Do you plan on writing more books in the future or is "A Love Story…How God Pursued Me and Found Me" the one and only?

I don’t know, but a possibility. I started a fictional love story with my husband. It started with David writing 1st. chapter and then sending it to me via email and I would write to his. We stopped writing but maybe someday we will pick up again. As with my life with him, it would be a beautiful love story.

Favourite Bible verse?

Be still and wait. Another, Be still and wait and know that I am God. I have taken these two scriptures to heart. God has a plan for my life.

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