This interview was originally posted at Cocktails & Books as part of the Stitch Blog Tour in 2012.
1. Tell us about yourself.
Thanks so much for hosting me, Shannon! My name is Samantha Durante and I’m the author of Stitch, the first book in a trilogy of young adult science fiction novels. Stitch is the first book I’ve ever written and I self-published it in August, so I’m just getting used to calling myself an author! Writing fiction is a hobby for me, so I’m also a business writer under my company, Medley Media Associates. I live in New York City with my husband, Sudeep (we just got married in September!), and our cat, Gio, though we’ll be moving soon to our first home, a place we just bought in the suburbs.
2. How did you get your start as a writer?
I didn’t actually begin pursuing writing as a career until I was 25 and working for Microsoft out in Seattle and wanted to move back to the East Coast. I’d always loved writing, so I decided to see if I could make a living doing it professionally. I started my company and networked to find some clients who needed help with various business writing tasks (blog posts, website copy, marketing materials, PowerPoints, etc.). I was able to get established after a few months and that work enabled me to start writing Stitch on the side for fun!
3. What is your typical writing schedule like?
I only have my experience with Stitch to go off, and in that case I wrote a few chapters a weekend for about 3 months to get the first draft done. I generally am most productive in the morning, so I would try to get started early before my husband was awake, then I’d spend the afternoon revising what I wrote. Once I finished the first draft, I took a few weeks off to forget the book and come back at it with fresh eyes to revise the whole thing, which took a few more weeks, so start to finish I’d say it was about 6 or 7 months to finish the final draft. But since I’m self-published, there was still a LOT more I needed to worry about – the cover design, print and e-book formatting, getting the book stocked at online retailers, recruiting lots of proofreading help, and of course, the marketing plan and blog tour! So overall it took about 9 months from the time I first thought of the idea for Stitch to the time readers could buy it a finished copy. :-)
4. Tell us about Stitch.
Stitch is a fun, genre-bending book where nothing is quite as it seems. It starts out as a paranormal romance where the main character, Alessa, is a seeing a ghost in her sorority house that she just can’t get out of her head. As you spend time with her while she’s trying to learn more about the ghost and having these strange recurring nightmares, you start to realize that something isn’t quite right… And soon after a huge twist is revealed and you learn that everything that you – and Alessa – thought you saw was a lie. Alessa discovers that she’s in a lot more danger than she ever could have imagined, and the book morphs into more of a dystopian tale. So there’s a lot of depth and many twists and turns to keep you guessing!
5. Where did the idea for the storyline come from?
I’m an avid reader, so I set out to write something that I would have loved to read, and to do that I just thought about what elements I loved from other stories (romance, paranormal, dystopian, strong females, mind-blowing twists, etc.) and figured out how I could work it all into one story! It was definitely a challenge, but I was very excited because the idea was unlike almost anything I’d read before.
6. What do you think readers will like/love about Alessa?
I think readers will appreciate that Alessa is not a damsel in distress. She’s strong, she’s confident, and yes, she’s having a difficult time and is a little lost in her life, but once she realizes what’s going on, she doesn’t sit around and wait to be rescued. She takes action and she does what she needs to do keep her loved ones safe. But she’s by no means perfect, either – she has crises of conscience, she wonders if what she’s doing is the right thing, if she’s even capable of doing it – and I think she’s a very realistic, relatable character. Also, a lot of readers have been loving the fact that her love interest is actually a little younger than her, and that their relationship is rooted in friendship more than some crazy love-at-first-sight – it’s very deep, very balanced, and they depend on each other equally for support.
7. What was your favorite scene from the book?
Definitely the climax when Alessa saves herself from an ambush! I can’t say too much because of spoilers, but she’s just so resourceful and quick on her feet, I love it.
8. What are some of your must read authors?
I’m a huge fan of any epic sci-fi/fantasy series – J. K. Rowling with Harry Potter, Stephanie Meyer with Twilight, Susanne Collins with The Hunger Games, Christopher Paolini with Eragon, George R. R. Martin with Game of Thrones – just too many to name!
9. What are three things about you that might surprise your readers?
1. I did not take a single writing class in college beyond the required freshman year course. I got degrees in both business and engineering simultaneously, so my schedule was all filled up with math and science and business courses! And after school I worked as a software engineer, so there was a big period of my life where writing unfortunately took a back seat.
2. After fouling out of almost every basketball game I played in high school, I started playing full contact sports like rugby and roller derby where I can’t get in trouble for being too physical!
3. As much as I love to eat locally and always buy sustainably and humanely raised food whenever possible, sometimes nothing does it for me like McDonald’s french fries!
10. What’s next for you?
Book two in the Stitch trilogy, Shudder! I’m planning on getting started this winter after I finish renovations on my new house. Can’t wait!
We’ve got some GREAT stuff coming tomorrow at For the Love of Film and Novels and A Life Bound by Books, including a couple reviews and giveaways, an interview, AND a special “Haunted Halloween” short story about Alessa’s very first ghost encounter! Don’t miss it!