Campus Ninja

Award Winning Books

  • Tortuga Bay, 1st place in young adult fiction and coming of age/new adult in the 2016 President's Awards for Florida Authors and Publishers Association; 1st place in historical fiction , 2nd place in mainstream/literary fiction, 2nd place in young adult fiction in the 2016 Royal Palm Literary Awards; category finalist in the 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Awards.
  • St. Nic, Inc., 2nd Place, Royal Palm Literary Awards (2015), Published Mainstream/Literary Fiction,  
  • Renegade, 2nd Place, 7 Hills Literary Competition (2012), Children's Chapter Book
  • Drug Policy and the Decline of American Cities, 1st Place, Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Prize (1993)

Sam's self-defense workshops are coordinated through his Campus Ninja Self Defense program . Sam's articles on sexual assault and self defense have been nationally syndicated and appeared in the New York Times, the Dallas Morning News, the Boston Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Tallahassee Democrat, and more than three dozen newspapers across the nation.

  • Under the Crossbones, podcast hosted by comedian Phil Johnson. We discuss pirates and writing historical fiction.
  • Between the Covers, video cast hosted by author Tracy Lawson, discussing St. Nic, Inc.
  • Empowered Living Radio, hosted by Tori Eldridge on Blog Talk Radio, discussing school violence and bullying.​
  • Interview and profile at Writers4Higher (October 6, 2012)
  • Profile on TWA blog (reprinted in Tallahassee Democrat, August 4, 2013)
  • My personal journey from secular humanist to Christian Humanism

Sam's stories take readers from the sweltering jungles of eighteenth century Caribbean islands to the brutal concrete playgrounds of inner-city gangs in books recognized for their realism, action and layered characters. For inspiration, he draws on his extensive experience as an urban policy analyst and researcher, studies in practical martial arts based self defense, and international travel that includes visits to dozens of cities and countries throughout North America, Central America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. In fact, he has visited China and Hong Kong 30 times.  

Readers and reviewers have said that Sam's award-winning novel, Renegade, should be "required reading for kids in middle school and their parents," "the action is relentless," and a "real page turner." One middle school reading teacher in Minnesota wrote her students believe "every teacher, principal and staff at a middle school should be required to read it." Then, they said, they might know why kids act the way they do.

Sam’s novels feature strong characters who take responsibility for their actions as they face dilemmas common to today’s teens. His characters do not shy away from the sometimes tragic consequences of some of those decisions, and he uses the story to explore values and fears embedded in the everyday life of contemporary teens.

His articles have appeared in a wide range of professional and popular publications, including the New York Times,Washington Post, and Reason magazine. His recreational hobbies include running, bicycling, sprint triathlons, alpine skiing, and snowboarding. He trains in To-Shin Do, a self-defense approach to the ancient Japanese martial art of ninjutsu, at the Dayton Quest Center for Martial Arts. He also serves on the board of directors for The Bicycle House, Tallahassee.

His full-time gig is with Florida State University where he is Director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy where he teaches courses on housing economics, local regulation, economic development, and urban planning. Prior to joining FSU, Sam worked full time for the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation. (You can also read his full CV here.)

Sam is an active member of the Tallahassee Writers Association as well as the Florida Writers Association. He received a B.A. from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, an M.S. from Wright State University, and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.  He also dropped by George Mason University for a few years where he was a Bradley Fellow in the Center for the Study of Public Choice.

Feel free to contact Sam directly if you want more information about him at

Sam “SR” Staley ( is the author of Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It (SYP Publishing), an unflinching look at college sexuality, the factors that put students at risk, and the policy changes that are necessary to solve the problem.  A multiple award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction books with a Black Belt in the self-defense based martial art of To-Shin Do, his writing explores the uncomfortable realities, everyday heroism and ethical dilemmas faced by contemporary children and adults in a society that values personal freedom and choice. He explores these themes in empowerment novels such as A Warrior's Soul and Renegade, which explore courage and violence in modern schools, as well as adventure stories such as The Pirate of Panther Bay and Tortuga Bay..