An Intimate Interview with Sam Smith
First, your name – Sam or Samantha, which do you prefer?
Sam: Most people call me Sam, and I’m comfortable with that.
You were born in 1983 – tell us about that.
Sam: I was born on April Fool’s Day, which I think helped to shape my personality! I can do foolish, and dangerous, things at times; I tend to act on impulse.
Is that a trait you inherited from your mother?
Sam: No, my mother was basically a cautious person, over-cautious at times.
Your mother was an alcoholic – that must have had an impact on your childhood.
Sam: It had a major impact. As a teenager, I had to drop out of school to look after my mother. That was very difficult, seeing her so helpless at times. And the alcohol fuelled her frustration and aggression, which wasn’t nice to be around.
Your mother beat you.
Sam: When she was drunk, yes. When she was sober she was very tender and loving towards me.
How do you regard your mother now?
Sam: There were times when I felt hatred towards her, but she was my mother after all, so most of the time I loved her. Maybe I’m looking back through rose-tinted glasses, but despite all the beatings, I enjoyed a happy childhood.
Even though your father was never around?
Sam: My father walked out on me when I was born. I met him for the first time when I was in my thirties.
Your father walking out – that must have been hard on your mother.
Sam: I think it’s one of the reasons why she turned to drink. Her husband died as a soldier serving his country, she had a fling with my father and they produced me. I don’t think my mother was in a position to cope with a baby at that time, but she went through with the pregnancy, produced me then looked after me the best she could.
With your mother being so ill, it sounds as if you looked after yourself.
Sam: I guess I did. I grew up very fast and became independent at a very young age. My salvation was the local library. I would go there and lose myself in books. I’ve always had a thirst for knowledge, I guess I’m curious by nature, and books were my best friends as a child. After dropping out of school I educated myself through books.
Then the alcohol claimed your mother and you married Dan.
Sam: That was a disaster; four years of hell.
Like your mother, Dan was violent and an alcoholic.
Sam: Like my mother, he was a troubled person. He wasn’t evil, but he did have serious issues.
Why did you stay in the marriage for so long?
Sam: I guess I was trying to convince myself that I loved him, that by sticking around I could make things better. And, after my upbringing, I felt lonely and vulnerable, so I hung on, hoping that he would change and that things would be all right.
But after four years you divorced him.
Sam: Yeah, but not because of the beatings; I suspected that he was having an affair.
And you went to a private detective.
Sam: Dan was very possessive, very intense; I needed evidence to gain a divorce.
Evidence, which you largely gathered yourself.
Sam: The private detective was too busy, but he offered a guiding hand and I took it from there.
Then he offered you employment.
Sam: He was impressed with my work, yeah, so he offered me a job as his assistant.
And from there you created your own business.
Sam: It seemed the logical step. It’s been hard going for five years, but the business has established itself and I’ve won a lot of respect.
That must please you.
Sam: It does. My life has taught me that one of the greatest gifts anyone can offer a fellow human being is the gift of respect. At first, my fellow private detectives were dubious about me, but I’ve won most of them over and I am grateful for their respect.