Pamela Samuels Young

Pamela Samuels Young is an attorney and author of multiple legal thrillers. Her novel, Anybody’s Daughter, won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction. A former television news writer, Pamela is a native of Compton, California, and a graduate of USC, Northwestern University and UC Berkeley’s School of Law. She currently resides in the Los Angeles area and is a longtime member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. You can visit Pamela’s website at

Tell us about The Law of Karma?
My last few books have taken on social issues and I wanted to take a temporary break from that and return to crafting a gripping murder mystery. In The Law of Karma, Miles Slade looks like a successful lawyer, but it’s all a façade. He’s in desperate need of cash and he’s willing to do just about anything to get it. He enters an alluring but illegal world where women call the shots. Then he meets the beautiful Nicole Paxton, a woman with her own secrets. She ignites a passion in Miles so intense, he’s ready to give up his secret life. But before he’s able to do so, both he and Nicole become entangled in a new web of deception—one that involves murder.

Tell us about your writing process?
Once I have a general plot in mind, I start outlining. My outlines contain just a couple of sentences per chapter. I will outline the entire book from beginning to end. That can take a couple of months. Once that’s done, I start writing the first draft from beginning to end without much editing. Then I’ll go back and start revising. The real writing is in the rewriting, which can take anywhere from six to eight months before I have a solid draft. From there, I get feedback from a few trusted test readers. After reviewing their comments, I make any needed changes and put the book away for a couple of weeks (unless I’m up against a deadline). Then I do one more read through and make any necessary changes before putting the book to bed.

What prompted you to start writing fiction?
I was always an avid reader as a kid, which translated into a love of the written word. I worked on the school newspaper in high school and college, earned degrees in journalism and broadcasting, then spent several years as a TV news writer. First at WXYZ-TV in Detroit and later at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. But I never saw myself as a fiction writer. When I finished law school, I started reading legal thrillers as a stress-reliever. It always bugged me that none of the lawyers in the books were women or people of color. One day I decided that I would write a legal thriller and include characters who looked like me. From the moment I sat down at four o’clock in the morning to write those first few words, I knew I had discovered my passion.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
These days, I read more mysteries than anything else. Some of my favorite authors include Walter Mosley, Greg Iles, and Joshilyn Jackson, but I read many, many other writers. I love Terry McMillan because her books speak to me. I love a good plot and engaging characters. I also read a lot of biographies. Walter Isaacson is one of my favorite non-fiction authors.

What do you enjoy doing with your free time?
I love binge-watching a good thriller and I enjoy true crime as well. I’m a big fan of the channel Investigation Discovery and I couldn’t live without Brit Box. British mysteries are the best. I’m constantly examining the plot twists. I think doing that helps make me a better storyteller.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Join writing organizations in your genre and soak up as much knowledge as you can. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America. They all have tremendous resources for new writers. But remember that the same process doesn’t work for everyone. Adapt what you learn so that it works for you. For example, everybody says you must write every day. That didn’t work for me. In the beginning, I felt like a failure because I couldn’t write every day. I was still practicing law then and there are just so many hours in a day. My schedule simply wouldn’t allow it. What did work for me was scheduling long blocks of writing time (e.g., three to eight hours), be it in the morning, evenings, or all day on a weekend. Even now that I’m a full time writer, I still don’t write every day. But I suspect I get in as much if not more writing time on a weekly basis than many writers who write every day.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block?
I’d prefer to call it writer’s malaise rather than writer’s block. My last book before The Law of Karma was Failure to Protect, which was published in 2019. So that’s four years between books. I still wrote during that period, but I just didn’t feel the same passion. Actually, I felt like I was losing my confidence. I would constantly go back and forth between projects, never actually finishing anything. My boyfriend and my friend Cheryl Mason were very instrumental in helping me get through that period. My boyfriend would encourage me to sit down in front of the computer for just thirty minutes. Whenever I did that, I always wrote for much longer stretches. Cheryl read an early draft of The Law of Karma and suggested I change the point of view from first person to third person. For some reason, that clicked and I was instantly back in the groove.

Are you traditionally published, an indie author or a hybrid author?
I’m currently a hybrid author. My first two books were traditionally published, but I was forced to self-publish my third book, Murder on the Down Low, after nine publishing houses rejected it. I’ve self-published nine other books and will have another traditionally published book, Sounds Like a Plan, co-written with Dwayne Alexander Smith, released in July 2024.

Having to resort to self-publishing made me work harder to achieve my writing dreams. It was a tremendous boost to my writing career to win the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction for Anybody’s Daughter, the first self-published book to win that award. My competition included four traditionally published, veteran writers whose work I admire—Walter Mosley, Terry McMillan, Victoria Christopher Murray and Sister Souljah. During my acceptance speech, I proudly quoted Tyler Perry: “We don’t have to wait for somebody to green light our projects. We can create our own intersections.”

How do you handle negative reviews?
I try to look at negative reviews with an open mind. If more than a few readers are saying the same thing, they probably have a point. But I never let a single negative review send me into a tailspin. Fortunately, I always have several test readers (including at least one book club) read my manuscripts. That helps me work out any kinks before a book is published. I’m actually very proud of the overall ratings for all of my books on Amazon.

Can you share some ways that readers can support you?
I would love it if every person who read one of my books left a review on Amazon because positive reviews sell books. I also love connecting with book clubs in person (if they’re in the Los Angeles area) or virtually on Zoom or FaceTime. So please email me an invitation!

What’s next for you?
My next book, Sounds Like a Plan, co-written with author Dwayne Alexander Smith, is about a male and female P.I. who become bitter rivals when they’re hired to solve the same missing person’s case. It soon becomes clear that they’re being set up to take the fall for multiple murders. The book is written in alternating voices, with Dwayne writing the male character and me writing the female character.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *