Ruskington author’s debut thriller defies coronavirus to be online hit

When Ruskington horror writer, Samantha Lee Howe, signed a book deal for her debut thriller, The Stranger in Our Bed, with HarperCollins last year, she saw it as a chance to take her writing career to a whole new level.

Samantha Lee Howe. EMN-200604-182037001
Samantha Lee Howe. EMN-200604-182037001

The book was acclaimed when it was released as an e-book in February, rising rapidly in the online charts and becoming a number one bestseller in several Amazon categories.

Everything was gearing up for the paperback release on April 16, with Samantha set to tour booksellers, a London launch and a series of speaking events.

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But then, on her return from a large Los Angeles event, the coronavirus hit and her hopes of a successful first week on the shelves were dashed, with all events cancelled or postponed indefinitely.

Samantha said: “I knew that cancelling events would have a devastating impact on the book’s success. But putting people at risk by continuing with everything just wasn’t an option, and of course, then the Government took it all out of our hands and brought in self-isolation and closed all the venues.”

She realised she had to do more online to get the word out. Buying, reading and sharing other books and recommending them to her readers was a way of helping everyone in isolation as well as keeping herself busy.

Just over a week ago, Samantha noticed an upsurge of sales in the UK and USA. In the space of a few hours, the book shot to number 21 overall in Kindle books sold and hit number 1 in several Amazon categories inlcuding Noir Crime as well as overtaking her heroes Stephen King and Dean Koontz in the ‘most popular horror author’ category.

Then, on Friday March 27, she heard her book had become a USA Today bestseller, appearing in their charts at number 68.

A delighted Samantha said: “In these awful uncertain days any bit of good news is uplifting. I cried when I heard I’d made the bestseller list for one of the major American daily newspapers and I celebrated with a bottle of wine.”

Samantha has set up a virtual book launch Facebook event to celebrate on April 16, at 6pm, where she plans to ‘go live’ with a Q and A session and champagne.

“I’m inviting people to join us with their favourite tipple. Some people are dressing up for the occasion,” she said.