Welcome back! Tonight is Night #11 of the 12 Nights of Christmas Event. *sobbing* yes, yes, we are wrapping things up in a bit :p Neyra and I got the chance to interview author Samantha Durante *queue clapping here* Since y'all missed it, we decided to DVR it for you :p And without further ado, the interview... *presses play*
*BACKSTAGE IN NEYRA'S DRESSING ROOM*
Ana: *glares at Neyra* are you ready yet? Hair and makeup should not take this long! We go on in FIVE MINUTES!
Neyra: *singing* We'll ruuun where lights won't chase us, hide where love can save us, I will never let you gooo *Narrows eyes at Ana* I'm ready! Breathe honey, everything will be fine, *stands up* come on we should start walking back to the set :]
Ana: *rolls eyes and mumbles under breath* Oh, now she wants to start walking back to the set *starts walking back to set*
Neyra: *laughs* Smh, you're gonna give yourself a headache... *conversation trails off as they walk back to set*
Stage Crew: YOU'RE GOING LIVE IN 5 - 4 - *silently mouths and counts down with fingers - 3 - 2 - 1 - then points at Ana to start*
Ana: Welcome back to 12 Nights of Christmas: Author Spotlight! My name is Ana and this *gestures to Neyra* here is my co-host Neyra. Joining us tonight we have Stitch author Samantha Durante *smiles and looks over as Samantha walks onto the set*
*APPLAUSE LIGHT GOES ON*
Neyra: *Smiles & hugs Samantha* Welcome Samantha, and thank you for joining us this lovely evening!
Ana: Welcome, Samantha. *stands and gives Samantha a hug*
Neyra: *turns to camera* As Ana mentioned, Samantha is the author of Stitch, a brand new young adult sci-fi/fantasy series where nothing and no one is as they seem. *looks towards Samantha* Before we get to your baby, would you mind telling our viewers about yourself?
Samantha: Sure! First off, I’m SO excited to be here! I’ve really been enjoying all the 12 Nights of Christmas interviews and I’m beyond honored to be included in this amazing group of authors and bloggers. :-) The whole author thing is actually quite new to me – Stitch is my first book and was only released in August – but so far it’s been just incredible to share my work with readers and hear their reactions! Outside of that, I’m a freelance business writer and I live in New York (state, not city). I was actually living in NYC until a couple weeks ago, but then I bought my first house (!!) so now I’m up in the ‘burbs, haha. When I’m not writing, I spend most of my time hanging out with my cat, Gio, and my husband, Sudeep, reading, eating/cooking, and catching up with my DVR.
Neyra: How or when did you decide, I’d like to write a book one day?
Samantha: You know, I always wanted to write a book, but the idea of just putting that many words on paper intimidated me, so I didn’t know if I’d ever do it. And then over last fall I was working with one of my business writing clients helping him to write a non-fiction book, and I realized that if I could help him write his book, I could do my own! So when I found myself with a bunch of unexpected free time last winter (after finishing 90% of my wedding planning 9 months in advance… oops), I figured what better way to spend it than by finally accomplishing this thing I always wanted to do? And so I started writing Stitch.
Ana: We know you’re recently married :) Congratulations!
*applause lights go on and the audience claps enthusiastically*
Samantha: Aww, thank you guys! It’s been going great!
Neyra: Congratulations :) How is it having to juggle a married life and an author life? Any moments of pull-your-hair-out-in-frustration yet?
Samantha: You know, the MARRIED part of it hasn’t been an issue at all – Deep is super supportive of my writing (he even edits the first draft of all my chapters!) – but this whole HOUSE thing has really been a much bigger time-suck than I was expecting! I’ve been dying to get started on Shudder (the next book in the Stitch Trilogy), but it’s been a battle just to find time in the day to get my work and all the upkeep on the house done. We started doing renovations about 2 months before we moved in and JUST finally finished them this week, and it seems like every time I look up another thing is broken and needing my attention. But I guess that’s just the way things go with a house (and especially an old one like ours! It’s a super cute little cottage built in 1936). Overall, we’re really happy to finally have a place of our own – and we really did make it our own with all the work we put into it – but I’m looking forward to finally settling back into my life and getting started on Shudder over the holidays.
Ana: Let’s get back to your book, Stitch, how did the idea for it come about?
Samantha: When I decided to write a book, I knew right away that it would be a YA series in the vein of Twilight or The Hunger Games, because that’s what I love to read. I started with the idea of a paranormal romance and decided to go the ghost route since I’d always been fascinated by ghosts. But as I was plotting out the story, the one problem I kept running into was how to get the main characters – the girl and the ghost – in the same place at the same time.
I thought about going the time travel route, but time travel just always drives me nuts from a logical standpoint, and I didn’t want to deal with trying to make it make sense, because scientifically it just doesn’t. So I was trying to figure out how I could get them together without resorting to time travel or some kind of hokey magic, and that’s when the idea occurred to me… Obviously I’m not going to spoil it here for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, but I’ll suffice it to say that it basically turned the whole idea for the story upside-down and was unlike anything I’d ever read, so I was REALLY excited about and knew I had the one!
Neyra: It was such an interesting new concept for Stitch, as far as I’ve ever read. Your characters were well developed, did you have a genuine idea of how you wanted to portray your characters from the beginning or did that change the more you wrote the book?
Samantha: I did a lot of thinking about the characters before I wrote, because I wanted them to be realistic. It drives me nuts when characters are too one-dimensional or just too extreme – like yes, everyone has inner motivations, but it’s more complex than just this ONE driving force that shapes everything you do and think and feel. I thought about what had happened to my characters in the past, what their flaws and insecurities are, what situations they do best in and which bring out the worst in them, that sort of thing. And that really helped me flesh them out not just as characters but as people - and that way, once they were in the story, the way they reacted to things was believable.
Ana: If Stitch were to be picked up and made into a movie, what actors/actresses would you like to star in it?
Samantha: OMG that would be such a dream come true! I’ve spent A LOT of time thinking about this, trying to find actors that bring the characters to life not just in their looks but in their voices and movements as well, and also actors who are up-and-coming and not yet really associated with any one character. Who I came up with was:
Emmy Rossum as Alessa
Alex Pettyfer as Isaac
(though it seems like EVERYONE is casting Alex as the male lead in their books lately – I guess I’m on the bandwagon there!)
Willa Holland as Janie
and Robbie Amell as Joe
Ana: Lol. yeah, I'm not a big fan of Alex, but he does seem to be on a lot of lists as a main character for books.
Neyra: Oh I love that! What about director. Who would you like to see direct your book film, and would you like to partake in the process of the filmmaking?
Samantha: Oh, did I say that Stitch becoming a movie would be a dream come true? Actually, I meant DIRECTING Stitch the movie would be a dream come true! Filmmaking is my next love after writing. I made SO many movies as a kid with my brothers and cousins, and though I haven’t really given this much of a shot as an adult (and have no training…), I think I could do a pretty decent job – I’ve certainly seen enough movies to understand what works and what doesn’t! I actually envisioned a lot of the scenes from Stitch as if they were being filmed as I wrote them, so I’m pretty sure if someone were willing to foot the bill, it’d come out pretty awesome. Any takers out there? *big smile, wink wink*
Ana: Okay, since we’re on the whole actors/directors thing, what kind of music would be featured in this awesome movie?
Samantha: Oooh good question. For the climax scenes especially I’d have some intense rock music. Almost anything by Muse seems to me like a perfect soundtrack for a sci-fi movie. In particular, the end half of their song “Knights Of Cydonia” I think would be amazing for the escape scene – just imagine it: “No one’s gonna take me allliiivvvveeeee!” Incredible.
*Muse - Knights of Cydonia*
Neyra: Who was your favorite character to write? Your least favorite?
Samantha: Alessa of course has a special place in my heart, but Janie was super fun to write – she’s just such a ray of sunshine. Believe it or not, my least favorite might actually have been Isaac. Sorry, Isaac! I love you! But getting in the mind of a boy is hard – I just don’t understand how they think. It took a lot longer for me to develop his character in my own head than the others – even the bad guys in the Shudder teaser were easier for me. It was just difficult because I had such high expectations for Isaac – he’s the love interest, so he’s got to be swoon-worthy, right? But at the same time he’s got to be real, so I couldn’t just make him this perfect guy – he needed to have insecurities and flaws like everyone else. So it took some time to really understand where he’s coming from and when he should be amazing and when he should, more realistically, fall short.
Ana: What was your biggest fear (if you had any) about releasing your baby into this big, bad world?
Samantha: I’m not gonna lie – publishing a book is SCARY! I mean, pretty much anything you do or say on the internet is open season for ridicule of the harshest kind, so my biggest fear was just that people would hate it (and hate it vocally). Luckily, so far that has not proven to be the case with the overwhelming majority of readers! But Stitch is still a niche book – there’s a lot going on in there. You’ve got to love the paranormal thing AND the dystopian thing AND the romance thing AND the young adult/new adult thing in order to really appreciate it. So I wasn’t sure how many readers out there really loved all those things like do, and would like to see them in the same book. But I’ve been happy to find that there are quite a few. :-)
The other thing is that a lot of me – of who I am – really went into this book, and it’s nerve-wracking to share that with people. Like when I worked at Microsoft, my colleagues always seemed surprised to learn that I played video games or watched Battlestar Galactica. It’s like, come on guys, I’m a software engineer at Microsoft, are you really surprised? But there are things like this that people in general don’t know about me – and by writing this book, I’m basically saying, “Hello, world! YES I love science fiction, YES I love ghosts, YES I love cheesy teen romance, YES I read Stephen Hawking, YES I have geeky what-if fantasies about a post-apocalyptic dystopian future… So, do you still like me?” It’s like being naked in front of everyone you know, only worse – I think I’d be more comfortable being naked!
Neyra: Stitch leaves us with no question that there will be a continuation. What can readers expect from the upcoming sequel, Shudder?
Samantha: Shudder is all about understanding how we got here. In Stitch, the characters – and the readers along with them – had the wool pulled over their eyes for most of the story, so it was difficult to bring in too much backstory, and readers were left with a lot of questions about the real world Alessa and Isaac live in and how it came about. In Shudder I’m answering many of those questions and setting the characters up for the big finale in Book 3 of the trilogy. And since Shudder picks up right where Stitch left off, we’ll be diving straight into the action and romance to give readers even more than in the first book. :-)
Ana: Thanks for stopping by the set and joining us, Samantha! Again, congratulations on your marriage and we’ll definitely be looking forward to the release of Shudder.
Neyra: Thank you so much for stopping by Samantha! As always we love having you with us. We hope you have a great holiday season with your hubby and your loved ones!
Samantha: Thank YOU guys so much! It was a pleasure, as always. I wish the best to you and your loved ones this holiday season! And I’ll be sure to keep you up to date once I have news on the Shudder release!
*Cameras stops recording and Ana and Neyra get up to hug Samantha*
Neyra: That was so much fun, but I hate cameras, they never agree with me *huffs in frustration* .
Ana: Oh, hush. We look great. The camera loooves us ;) But, now that the camera’s have stopped rolling, I say we stop by the bar for a much needed stress reliever. I hear Jack himself calling my name...”Aaaaanaaaaa” yepp that’s him xD
Neyra: He’s calling your name, and whispering in my ear... “Commee to me” ;) LOL Off to the bar, how bout it Sam? ;)
Samantha: I’m in! *suddenly feeling very thirsty…*
*All three ladies begin walking off set towards the dressing rooms chattering on and on*
How to enter:
Samantha Durante lives in New York City with her fiancé, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio. Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant. Stitch is her first novel. Learn more about Samantha at www.samanthadurante.com.