INSPIRATION WEEK Interview & Review – “Alessa was fierce and brave”

Salacious ReadsWe’re capping off INSPIRATION WEEK today with an inspiration-themed author interview and awesome 4-star review at Salacious Reads!  Check it out:

From the interview:

New Adult is becoming a very popular Genre. Did you always want to write for young adults? And what is it about this age group that inspired this trilogy?

I’m SO thrilled to see the success of the New Adult genre! When I was first coming up with the idea for Stitch, the genre was in its infancy, and still the prevailing industry attitude was that no one wanted to read about people in their 20s. As someone in my 20s, I found that quite insulting! It’s a very formative time in a person’s life, with so many changes going on and huge life experiences (college, first job, first serious relationships with the possibility of marriage, etc.) – who wouldn’t want to read about that? I’d always loved young adult books since they’re also about coming of age, but with slightly older characters, you have the opportunity to bring in more depth and maturity in the characters, and also more real-life grittiness. I think it’s an awesome genre and am really happy it’s finally getting its due! <continue reading>

From the review:

I gotta say that I love this world that Samantha created. It’s scary, futuristic and unknown…exactly what a sci-fi story should be. … Stitch, the first book was a bit slow moving for me; but I thought that Samantha picked the story up in Shudder. Here, there was more of a faster pace and I was able to connect with her character more. Alessa never annoyed me and she gained my respect in this 2nd story. She was more fierce and brave. … Shudder is a unique Sci-fi story…set in a future that is unsure and tested by its characters. I loved it…I really did. And that is saying much because I will tell you that I am not a fan of “younger” characters. But this author gave me characters that are new adults, BUT they have very adult thoughts and feelings. <continue reading>

Thanks so much to Sharonda for hosting!!  Have a great weekend everyone.  :-)

INSPIRATION WEEK – “Inspiration for The Dumpster Scene” + Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Hopelessly Devoted BibliophileContinuing INSPIRATION WEEK, today we’ve got a guest post at Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile about “Inspiration for ‘The Dumpster Scene'” followed by a bunch of goodies at Coco’s Bookish Adventures including an excerpt from the aforementioned ‘Dumpster Scene’ plus a review and giveaway!  Here’s a sneak peek:

From the guest post:

Even though the Stitch Trilogy is not exactly about zombies, as you may already know, I count the Resident Evil videogame series (which I’ve been playing since the tender age of 11) as one of the major influences on my writing. And in Shudder (Stitch Trilogy, Book 2), there’s one aspect where I must give credit where credit is due: thank you, Resident Evil, for inspiring the idea for the creatures, and in particular, ‘The Dumpster Scene.’

Resident Evil has a long history of pitting its main characters against seemingly impossible odds – mutant creatures with superhuman strength and deadly agility, hordes of zombified undead, deep dark corporate conspiracies led by individuals with no constraints on their resources or power. The game – especially in the early iterations when health supplies and ammo were limited, and old-school gameplay/graphics limitations left the player with only a modicum of control – is terrifying because your character is *nearly* helpless. In contrast to most shoot-‘em-up games (and even the more recent releases in the RE series) – where if you’re just good enough at aiming your weapon you can generally blast your way out of anything – in the classic Resident Evil games, your best bet a lot of times is to run. <continue reading>

From the excerpt:

The crunch of broken glass outside the dumpster broke Isaac’s train of thought. Alessa looked up at him with alarm and he just held her tighter in his arms, his ears straining to track the movement of the sound.

The noise moved back and forth, back and forth, as if someone were pacing only steps away from the dumpster. Isaac held his breath, his pulse pounding in his ears, his skin crawling with every snap reverberating through the empty dumpster.<continue reading>

Thanks so much to Jessica and Chloe for hosting today!!

INSPIRATION WEEK – “Inspiration for Shudder’s Setting” + Excerpt, Reviews & Giveaways

Book BriefsINSPIRATION WEEK is kicking into high gear once again with two awesome stops at Book Briefs and FUONLYKNEW!  First, stop by Book Briefs for the guest post “Inspiration for Shudder’s Setting” plus an amazing review and e-book giveaway – here’s a sneak peek:

From the guest post:

Ever sprint out of the movie theater for a mid-show bathroom break, only to find yourself alone amongst the rows and rows of stalls in your multiplex’s ladies room?

Or how about coming out of work late and realizing yours is the only car left in the big, empty parking structure, each of your steps echoing as you scurry across the lot fumbling for your keys?

Can you imagine finding yourself – as one of my friends did while the power was out during Hurricane Sandy – scuttling down 40 blocks of a deserted, pitch-dark avenue in NYC, with only a flailing cell phone for light, the backpack on your shoulders your lone defense against whomever might want to do you harm?

If you didn’t inwardly shudder in response to at least one of those scenarios, you’re made of stronger stuff than I am.  To me, there’s nothing creepier than a place that’s *supposed* to be filled with people, but isn’t. <continue reading>

From the review:

But Stitch is more than just a cool concept. It is honestly one of the best dystopians that I have read in a long time. And book two, Shudder did not disappoint. It is such a kick ass sequel. So much is going on! There is action from page one. … My favorite part about Shudder is that you finally get some more answers about everything that is going on. …
Samantha did an awesome job weaving in some of the backstory from the first book into this book. It really helped jog my memory about what happened in the story. I really enjoy Samantha Durante’s writing style. It is very engaging. Alessa and Issac and the whole gang of characters all play big roles in this story. … Shudder is a story that really builds. It just kept getting better and better right until the end! I think I liked Shudder even more than I liked Stitch! This is a must read. <continue reading>

Next, head over to FUONLYKNEW for an excerpt (related to the guest post) plus a fabulous 5-star review and yet another giveaway!

From the excerpt:

Alessa looked back to Isaac, who was crouched and picking among the broken glass.  She watched him slip something into his pocket, but before she could ask what he’d found, a loud bang echoed from down the hall ahead of them.

Isaac looked up at her at once and they both froze, waiting.  The tension of the silence clotted in the air as Alessa held her breath in suspense.<continue reading>

From the review:

I finished reading Shudder in one sitting, never taking a break.  I could feel it in the authors writing, I was nearing the end of the book. No, not yet! … Samantha started to wrap up the ending while subtly layering in leads to the finale, Stuck. the last book in this trilogy. I liked that. Sure, I didn’t get all of the answers I wanted, but I did get a lot of insight into what the ‘stitch’was and why and how it was used. … I felt twinges of The Matrix and Aeon Flux while reading this. Shudder reads like a dystopian, post-apocalyptic science fiction story. The author did an amazing job of blending these genre into an exciting, addictive series. <continue reading>

Thanks so much to Michelle and Laura for hosting today!  Most INSPIRATION WEEK coming tomorrow!!

INSPIRATION WEEK – “The Bones Incident” + Reviews & Giveaways

Bookish TreasuresWelcome back to INSPIRATION WEEK on the Shudder Blog Tour!  I’ve got two great stops to share with you today.  First, continuing the theme for the week, we’ve got a new guest post up at Bookish Treasures about the inspiration for ‘The Bones Incident’ from chapters 3&4 in Shudder, along with an excellent 4.5-star review and e-book giveaway!  Check it out:

From the guest post:

There’s an incident early on in Shudder where Alessa and Isaac are happily strolling through the forest until they stumble upon a clearing that’s littered with something a little bit disturbing: bones.  Some instinct in Alessa kicks in and they take off, only to be hunted down by a pack of terrifying creatures that they can’t quite put a name to.  This is one of my favorite scenes in the book, and I think that is does a good job drawing a visceral reaction of fear from readers partly because it’s based on a true story – this actually happened to me. <continue reading>

From the review:

Alessa is so beautifully real in this book. She is working for the rebellion yet part of her wants to stop fighting and just live a calm safe life with those she loves. Throughout the book she struggles with the moral dilemma of whether to just keep her friends and family safe or to risk everything for the greater good. I loved this aspect of the book as Alessa’s earlier thoughts make her final choices so much more moving. …

Overall this is another fantastic book by Samantha Durante. I was expecting an incredible read and Shudder did not disappoint. The ending comes with a few shocking reveals that (yet again) leaves me desperate to read the next (and final) book of this trilogy. I highly recommend Shudder and if you are yet to read Stitch then what are you waiting for? Read it now! <continue reading>

Also, from yesterday’s stop at Books for Company, we have another e-book copy up for grabs, plus an awesome review!

The storyline has a lot to it, I can’t imagine the amount of thought Samantha must have put into it with all the twists. Samantha has successfully built on the world she created in Stitch and has made it stronger and became more realistic. The more I learnt about Paragon and the world outside the more gripping Shudder became and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. …

When I finished Stitch I was excited to read Shudder because I felt like it had great potential. There were so many directions which Samantha could have taken Shudder and I felt like she really made the most of this and took Shudder beyond my expectations and in great directions. She definitely made the most of its potential. <continue reading>

Thanks so much to Laura and Jodie for hosting!!  More inspiration-related posts coming later this week.  :-)

BAD GUY WEEK –> INSPIRATION WEEK: “Inspiration for the Engineers” + Review & Giveaway

Up In The BibliosphereBig thanks to Kelsy of Up In The Bibliosphere for hosting the Shudder Blog Tour as we transition from BAD GUY WEEK to INSPIRATION WEEK with a guest post on what inspired the Engineers!  Check it out:

The antagonists for the Stitch Trilogy – Paragon’s elusive leaders, the Engineers – were born out of one question: what if smart people with little empathy or ability to connect with other people were in charge?

Believe it or not, this question actually arose out of a repeated argument I had with an ex-boyfriend from college. <continue reading>

Intrigued?  Swing by Up In The Bibliosphere for the rest, and also don’t miss the e-book giveaway and Kelsy’s 5-star review!

Oh my gosh, guys. after reading Stitch I thought things couldn’t get any more intense. I am so happy to be wrong! Shudder takes us even further into Durante’s terrifying dystopian world as Alessa faces her greatest challenge yet; surviving in a wasteland while being prey to a pack of superhumans.

My favorite thing about Shudder is how seamlessly it picks up from the events of Stitch. There is no lost momentum in this sequel, and many kudos to Samantha for not succumbing to the “second book slump”. With the stakes raised higher than ever, Shudder left me begging for more.<continue reading>

Tune in almost every day this week for more posts about real-life inspirations for various aspects of Shudder, along with a bunch more reviews and giveaways!

The Birth of a Twist: How I Came Up with Stitch

Note: This guest post was originally posted on 11/19/12 at another blog, but that blog has since closed down.  I decided to move the text here since I thought this might be valuable as a resource to other writers.

As you may have guessed from the book’s synopsis, Stitch isn’t your everyday paranormal romance story.  Though it starts out with an infatuation between a college girl, Alessa, and the handsome ghost that frequents her sorority house, the plot actually goes much deeper than that.  In fact, nothing in Stitch is quite what it seems.  And when you hit the twist, you’ll learn – along with the “ghost,” Isaac, and Alessa themselves – that these characters are trapped in a dangerous conspiracy that will have them fighting for their lives.  The revelation is SO huge that it actually thrusts the book into a whole other genre, which is something that many readers have commented they’ve never even seen before.

As a result, a lot of readers have had questions about how the idea for the twist came about.  Was it planned all along or did it come to me after I started writing the story?  Where did I get the idea?  Why did I decide to go this path?

To shed some light on how the idea for the twist in Stitch was born, I think it would be best to take you through my experience from beginning to end.  I decided somewhere around Thanksgiving of last year that I might want to try my hand at writing a book.  There were various reasons for this – 1) I’d always wanted to, 2) I recently changed careers from software engineering to freelance writing and was feeling more confident in my abilities after a year of practice, 3) I waiting for my wedding the following September and had already finished 90% of the planning and thought I might go crazy if I didn’t find some way to pass the time…  You get the idea.

So then the question was: what would I write about?  To figure this out, I combed my list of favorite books/movies/shows and pulled out elements that I loved: paranormal romance a la Twilight, dystopian settings like The Hunger Games, strong female leads (thank you, Jane Austen!), epic sci-fi/fantasy adventure series (Harry Potter, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Eragon, Lord of the Rings), the knock-your-socks-off twist you didn’t see coming (Game of Thrones, Lost, The Sixth Sense, etc.).  And then I thought: how can I fit these things into my book?

I began with the idea of a paranormal romance.  I thought that a ghost romance might be a fresh take after all the vampire/werewolf popularity of late, and I’d always been fascinated by ghosts, so that seemed a good place to start.  But there is one huge problem with a love story between a ghost and a living person: how do you finally unite them in the same place at the same time?  Yes, I could have just made it work despite the confines of time and space, or I could have brought in some kind of time travel element, but those weren’t ideas that really appealed to me too strongly.  For my first book, I wanted to write about something that excited me on a visceral level, something that as a reader, I would DIE for more of.

And that’s when it occurred to me.

No, I’m not going to tell you right here what the twist is about – you’ll have to read it for yourself! – but I will tell you that when the idea finally came to me, I couldn’t WAIT to write it.  It brought in ALL of the elements that I love in one story, in a way that was just crazy enough to be believable.  And even better, it gave me SO much more about this world to reveal in the second and third books of the trilogy.

So a little imagination, a little luck, and a refusal to settle until I’d found an idea I loved – that’s how Stitch was born!