Q&A: with Samantha Smith, author of The ABC’s of Sad Panda


For those of us that don’t know who you are, can you introduce yourself?

Sure! My name is Sam Smith. While I do sing, I unfortunately am not THAT Sam Smith. I've worn mis-matched socks since the age of 5, love to bake, and enjoy making friends in elevators. I started writing 6 years ago when I decided I wanted a pair of designer shoes, telling myself that when my book made enough money, I'd buy the shoes. The book was self explanatory - "How to be a Voiceover Artist When You Have No Time or Money". It did well. I got the shoes.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had always wanted to write a parody book, but my lack of any artistic tendencies was a blocker. Then quarantine hit, so I decided, might as well be time to learn how to draw! I didn't want to sign up for too much though, so focused on learning to draw a sad panda bear. It took a few tries, and my art friends to explain proportions and colors..., but I eventually got it down and decided to turn him into a book based on all the things my friends and I had been dealing with during Quarantine.

What were some of the challenges you encountered when putting it all together?

Drawing anything that wasn't a Sad Panda. Check out "N is for Netflix and Chill". The tiger I drew on the TV will go down in history as one of my proudest and most baffling accomplishments.

Have you always wanted to write a book like this?

I have always wanted to write an "ABC's" book targeted at adults...but needed the quarantine inspiration to hit to truly inspire the scenarios in this book. Social distancing? Existential dread?! I definitely couldn't have come up with that stuff without having lived it.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting out?

If you put an adorable panda on the cover of a book, people will assume it is for children. I had a HUGE marketing problem when the book first launched. I advertised it on my instagram and immediately got a bunch of texts from my friends telling me they were buying it for their children, nieces, and nephews. That would have been wonderful...if the book didn't mention things like "V is for Vodka" and "E is for Existential Dread". I'm thinking I might re-work the cover to feature Sad Panda drinking a bottle of Grey Goose.

If you could let people know anything else about you, and the book, what would it be?

This book was meant to be fun. It's supposed to be a reflection on all the stuff we're going through in 2020 and I hope it can bring a smile to a few faces. Or even just one.

Any other projects coming up that you would like to share with us?

Two actually! The first is another ABC's book titled the "ABCs of Adulting" - featuring all the things kids need to start doing when they finally grow up...like laundry...and sucking up to their bosses. My brother is illustrating it for me - he's a much better artist then I am, so the pictures are going to be adorable! The other is another Sad Panda book - featuring Sad Panda and Red Balloon on an adventure to try to understand what cloud computing is.

End of Interview

Samantha Smith is an author from Boston, Massachusetts. During quarantine, she taught herself to draw one thing, and one thing only. A Sad Panda. Samantha hopes this to be the first of many books centered around an adorable Panda who is sad for various reasons. As for Samantha, her claims to fame are talking her way into various unearned careers. Thus far she has been a Grammy balloted voice-over artist, an investment analyst, a senior program manager for cloud computing, and now, a soon-to-be panda bear illustrator. Follow Sad Panda on Instagram

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