If I Were a Boy, I’d Have Been Sam – Emma Barnes

This is GirlsHeartBooks, but we are allowed to talk about boy characters, right?

Most of the lead characters in my books have been girls – I guess because I’m a girl myself. But the funny thing is that the character that is most like me is probably Sam, the hero of my book Sam and the Griswalds.


I’m not scientific (like Jessica in Jessica Haggerthwaite Witch Dispatcher). I’m not a talented singer and guitarist, like Kate in my Wild Thing books, (although I did have a naughty younger sister). I’m certainly not as brave as Lucie in my book Wolfie who creeps downstairs in the middle of the night to confront the Big Bad Wolf in her kitchen.

Sam, on the other hand, is rather shy. Timid even. A bit tubby. He dreams of greatness (he wants to be on the school football team). But he doesn’t really have the confidence to go for it.

Looking back, I think that summed me up as an eleven-year-old pretty well. (Not that I wanted to be on the football team, but I lacked the confidence to put myself forward in other ways.)

Sam’s life is transformed by friendship. The crazy Griswald family move in next door to Sam – Spider, Jake and their animal-loving younger sister Elfrida – and they are about as different from him as it is possible to be. They get Sam into all kinds of trouble, but they also get him to come out of his shell and join a football team, acquire a pet, and stand up to the bullying kids on his road who are making his life miserable.

Maybe it’s actually easier to write a character closer to yourself if you are different in some way – in gender, age, race? Maybe it’s a disguise that lets you reveal aspects of yourself without feeling so exposed.  Sam feels more vulnerable than most of my female characters, although he triumphs in the end.

What do you think?

And in case you want to read the book – it’s now available here.


  • Emma Barnes writes funny, contemporary fiction for children – for more information see her web-page.
  • Her latest book, Wild Thing Goes Camping, is the third in her series about the naughtiest little sister ever.



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