Sam Gibson

Sam Gibson, author of the book "Hostage," started writing horror stories in elementary school. 

Samantha Gibson, a 17-year-old New Richmond High School junior, published her first novel, “Hostage,” in February. 

Gibson, who goes by Sam, began writing horror stories in elementary school.

“My teacher told me I was too young to be writing about that stuff because I would write horror stories. So I stopped writing for a little bit. I started writing again in middle school and that’s when a teacher noticed that I liked writing, so she invited me to go to Bethel University to attend a young writers conference,” Gibson said.

At the conference, she met a couple authors and met other aspiring writers.

“That’s when I was introduced to Sigma’s Bookshelf,” she said. “They explained the business of writing and what they do, how they do it and how they got started.”

Writing appealed to Gibson so she stuck with it. She began working on “Hostage” her freshman year writing primarily during school hours. She credits her English teacher and now creative writing teacher Deena Zauft with stepping up and mentoring her.  

“Ms Zauft, she’s my creative writing teacher right now. She’s been a great help especially with my book “Hostage.” I’ve had her all three years in high school, and I’m probably going to have her next year, too. She’s been a really good help not only with my book but also with my mental health. She’s been there for me,” Gibson said.

Gibson finished “Hostage” her sophomore year and published it this year, her junior year, thanks to Sigma's Bookshelf, a publishing company dedicated to publishing young authors between the ages of 12-19. 

“When I decided I wanted to publish my book, I remembered Sigma from Bethel University.

I had kept all the information from Bethel just in case,” Gibson said. “I emailed them that I was interested in sending them one of my books, sent in my manuscript and we went back and forth from there.”

Here is the synopsis of “Hostage” from Sigma's press release:

High school is hard enough without the constant barrage of people pretending to be your friend because your father is rich, but that is the reality 17-year-old Serina Ange faces every day. After an exhausting day at school, she is on her way home when out of nowhere a masked man appears and kidnaps her. Serina's first thought when she wakes up in a strange place is that she was taken for her father's money, but was that really the kidnapper's motivation? As the days and weeks go by, Serina becomes conflicted with the relationship she has formed with her captor. Meantime, some kids at school are getting closer and closer to figuring out what happened to her and mounting a rescue. But what if she doesn't want to be saved?

Gibson recently talked with the Star-Observer and her book and her love of writing.

Why do you like writing?

I’ve always had a creative mind since I was younger, and I guess writing is a way to get these creative ideas out and share them with other people. I’m working on a non fiction book right now called “Dear Diary 2020-2022” about people’s thoughts and ominous passages. Most of them are mine but writing helps me get a lot of my feelings out that I’ve bottled up, kind of like journaling.

Are you an organized writer?

“I’m not really organized, no. I don’t really have a plan for anything. When I write, I usually write whatever first comes to my mind. So, one chapter at a time until I got closer to the end of the book, and I knew that I had to come up with some kind of conclusion. I did a little bit more planning then just so I would have an ending. Usually when I write an idea down in my notebook, I transfer it to my phone and online, because that’s where I write my books on Google docs.”

Did you write more than one ending for “Hostage?”

Yes, yes I did. I made the ending decision with a little help from my peer Alex. We don’t talk much now, but he was a really big help.

What triggers your ideas?

Music videos. TikTok. I’ll be scrolling through Tiktok and sometimes these acting videos or POV videos come up and I’ll say, ‘Oh, that could be a good idea.’ I have my own Tiktok, so I sometimes comment on other people’s POVs when I think they might be a great idea. I’ll ask for permission if I really want to write that idea into a book. This book I’m writing called, “Obsessed with You,” was actually from one of those TicToks. 

Are any of the characters in “Hostage” based on real people?

“Some of them, yes. Maybe one of them might recognize himself in the classroom chapter. He was talking about how he almost lit himself on fire from sticking a fork in an outlet or something like that. So if he reads it, it might be like, “Oh that's me, I did that.”  

Is that you on the cover?

I thought it would be cool to make my own cover plus, Zauft is a photographer. She edited it and she also did my headshot on the back of the book.

Do you work on more than one book at a time?

I was working on a couple of other books at the same time that I was working on “Hostage.” I was working on “Dear Diary” a little bit at that time. “Their Afterlife” and “A Kiss that Kills” were also a couple of the books I was working on.

How did you come up with the title “Hostage?”

Sometimes I’ll write the first chapter, and I’ll think of a title after thinking of a small outline of what the rest of the book might be about. The title may or may not change based on what I write in future chapters.

I don’t think Hostage had a name for a while until I figured out that Stockholm syndrome was a thing and then I was like “Oh, “Hostage,” that’s kind of a good title.

Did you run into “writer’s block” and how did you solve it?

One of the chapters is actually based on one of our classes that happened here in New Richmond. I just really didn’t know what to write. how to continue this story. So for my study hall I went up to this science class with Ms. Swanson, and I asked if I could  base my chapter off of her class and she said, ‘Yes. that would be fine.” 

So the entire chapter is about this character Mariah’s class. I wrote about every detail that happened in that class, the students in the back messing with their pants, every word that the teacher said. I wrote it down, word by word. I’m a pretty fast typer so I could keep up with the lecture.

So the class that I wrote about, I kind of formed it to fit into the book and put my fictional character in that classroom. What’s funny is that I actually have the science notes in the book that were on the smart board in that class.

Is there a moral to the story or hidden message in “Hostage?”

I don’t want to say what it is because that would be a spoiler, but it’s got some supernatural stuff in there and in book two it will explain more. Yes, there is a book two. It’s going to be a three-book series. When I came to the conclusion in Hostage, I knew that I had more to say especially with all the supernatural stuff going on, I wanted to expand more on that. In book two I’m going to change the perspective.

I know the readers are probably going to have a lot of questions, which was also intended. I want them to have a lot of questions, be left hanging on a cliff, so that they are excited to read book two to answer their questions.

Tom Lindfors is a western Wisconsin freelance journalist and former Star-Observer reporter. Contact him at

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