Monday, June 10, 2013

Samantha Durante Author Interview


Photo Content from Samantha Durante

Samantha Durante lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband, 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. The Stitch Trilogy is her debut series. 

      



What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Readers are always surprised to learn that I actually didn’t study writing after high school or work as a writer after college. I majored in engineering and business, and then I worked in the software industry after school! But writing was always my first love, and eventually I found my way back professionally. :-)

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
The value of having friends with different backgrounds. I come from a pretty typical (white, middle class) suburban area, so people here tend to be pretty homogeneous in their beliefs and experiences. At Penn, I met people from all the around the world and all different socio-economic, racial, and political backgrounds, and I learned SO much from what they had to say about life. I never expected to be able to connect so deeply with people who were so different from me, and those are now some of my strongest friendships. I’m really indebted to all the people who gave me the opportunity to question my beliefs and consider another perspective.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
All time (which is also outside my genre) is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I love anything that transports you to another world, whether it’s a fantasy world or a different time and place, Austen does that superbly. I also love her strong female characters, subtle humor, and engaging romance. I’ve read that book more times than I can count, and always go back to it when I’m looking for something comfortable and cozy.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Patience! Except in very rare cases, you don’t become a successful author overnight or after one book – it takes time to build a platform and fan base. It’s SO true. Patience is not exactly my forte – I’m still working on it!

For those who are unfamiliar with your novel; Stitch, how would you introduce it?
I always introduce it as a young adult sci-fi novel that’s somewhere in between Twilight and The Hunger Games, but in a college setting – a little bit of paranormal and a little bit of dystopian, with a sprinkling of romance on top. It’s got a very unique twist and sets the stage for the rest of the trilogy.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Alessa?
That it can be really hard to convey my internal reasoning to others! I base a lot of Alessa’s thoughts and feelings off how I imagine I would react in her situation, and especially in writing the second book and talking about it with my beta readers (who are all close friends/family who know me well), I’ve learned that sometimes when I and Alessa have a reaction which seems to make perfect sense to me, my beta readers are like, “I don’t get why she’s freaking out about this.” So I have to take a step back and really think through *why* my instinct is to react a certain way, so that I can explain Alessa’s thought process better. It’s really made me think twice about my reactions to things in general – like I always assume my family/friends understand why I do the things I do, but seeing their reactions to Alessa’s behavior has made me question what they think about my own behavior!

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
When I thought of the idea for the story, it was totally unlike anything I’d ever read, and I kept thinking, “I really wish someone would write this book so I can read it.” That seemed like a pretty good indicator that I should tell this story!

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d love Alessa to meet Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games so she could learn some awesome bow skills and be even more super kick-ass.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m just finishing up Book 2 in the Stitch Trilogy, Shudder, and I’m SO excited for the release! It’s really action-packed and quick-moving, and there’s a ton going on now that we’ve got all the background out of the way in Stitch. I think fans of the first book are going to really enjoy it, and I’m dying to hear what they have to say about it!

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Just go with your gut and write how comes naturally to you, even if it’s not fancy or even grammatically correct. The other day I met with a book club and the teacher leading it mentioned that she liked that I wasn’t afraid to end a sentence with a preposition, and my reaction was, “Hmm, it didn’t even occur to me that I should *not* do that, since even though I know it’s technically bad grammar, it’s just how I talk and how I think.” So I say just write in your own voice and go with what feels natural to you – if you try to change your writing to fit some ideal or match some other style, it won’t feel authentic.

Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
My house! I’ve traveled all over the world, but there’s only one place I’m ever dying to go back to, and that’s home. :-) I can’t imagine being happier anywhere else.

What book are you reading now?
I’m in the middle of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and dying to get back to it once I finish up my revisions on Shudder. And I just finished Clutch (the first book in the I Am Just Junco series) by J. A. Huss, which was a really absorbing sci-fi take on the whole angel romance thing – can’t wait to continue that series, either. Oh, and I’m also re-reading Game of Thrones along with Season 3 of the show to help me absorb it better, since I blew through them the first time and forgot half the details!

Who was your first boyfriend?
A boy from high school who’d I’d been friends with since we were like three. His parents actually had a toy box that’d we carved our names into in baby handwriting – it was really cute!

Tell me about your first kiss
Stolen secretly in a deserted hallway in middle school – very unexpected, but exciting.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Hahaha, this is a great one! “When did you and your husband start dating?” The real answer is a little more illicit than the wholesome tale we told most people – only a handful of friends know the true story. I’ll leave it at that. ;-)

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
My internship at Microsoft – it’s where I met my husband!

What did the last text message on your phone say?
“You are so close to the mic we literally hear you breathing.” From one of my clients, very kindly trying (in vain) to alert me to an embarrassing mouth-breathing situation on a two-hour conference call (my nose was stuffed!). I didn’t see the message until after the call ended – mortifying, lol.

When was the last time you cried?
Watching the season finale of Once Upon a Time last night, when they all thought they were going to die and the family huddled together in a big hug. It was very sad for about 6 seconds, until they realized they had a solution to stop the magic bomb from going off. I’m pregnant – I cry at everything!

I LOVE hearing from readers, so please don’t hesitate to reach out! And thanks so much for hosting me, Jean!


Her heart races, her muscles coil, and every impulse in Alessa's body screams at her to run... but yet she's powerless to move.

Still struggling to find her footing after the sudden death of her parents, the last thing college freshman Alessa has the strength to deal with is the inexplicable visceral pull drawing her to a handsome ghostly presence. In between grappling with exams and sorority soirees - and disturbing recurring dreams of being captive in a futuristic prison hell - Alessa is determined to unravel the mystery of the apparition who leaves her breathless. But the terrifying secret she uncovers will find her groping desperately through her nightmares for answers.

Because what Alessa hasn't figured out yet is that she's not really a student, the object of her obsession is no ghost, and her sneaking suspicions that something sinister is lurking behind the walls of her university's idyllic campus are only just scratching the surface...

The opening installment in a twist-laden trilogy, Stitch spans the genres of paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi to explore the challenges of a society in transition, where morality, vision, and pragmatism collide leaving the average citizen to suffer the results.


In Samantha Durante’s Stitch, we are introduced to Alessa Khole who has been living a life that isn’t really what is seems. After the death of her parents, she struggles to move forward but manages to attend Eastern State University. She pictured her freshman year to be a bit different but nothing could have prepared her when she began to see a ghost. Author Samantha Durante does not waste time in building up to the focal point of the book and fearlessly leads readers into a mystery of a ghost that only Alessa can see.

I appreciate how Samantha steers away from your typical paranormal romance. The development of the characters as the story progresses shifts the story from a mysterious ghost sighting into something much more ominous in the halls of the University. The writing style easily vehicles readers into the story and become fully captivated by its amazing world-building.

The blending of paranormal and dystopian was done well. Samantha made me believe that the ghost world and a repressive futuristic government can co-exist. She takes dystopian writing to a whole level and it makes readers appreciate this genre more.

Although Alessa was not the typical heroine that most of us are exposed to, readers will love the fact that she was able to find courage when it seemed all was lost. She reminds us that when your world is turned upside-down to a depression-state, there is always light through the long dark tunnel that life has placed you into.

It takes a wonderful story lead by wonderful writing to present something mesmerizing and be able to maintain readers’ interest throughout. I enjoyed how each turn of the page heightened my interest level and made it very difficult to step away from the story. The plot twists will come at you when you least expect it. The mystery does not drag out for too long and by halfway, it really picks up to a point where readers will begin caring for characters. Stitch is a highly engaging book with a very appealing story. After the last page is turned, readers will be relieved that Alessa’s story is not over as a sequel is expected to be released in Summer 2013.


You can purchase Stitch at the following Retailer:
  

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SAMANTHA DURANTE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of Stitch by Samantha Durante.
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5 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for hosting me, Jean! I also wanted yo mention that Stitch is free on Amazon from now until June 11th (tomorrow) - if you're interested, grab your copy now! Thanks!!

    -Samantha Durante, Author of Stitch

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  2. Samantha's interviews are always fun to read! "Stitch" is one of my favorite dystopian novels, so I can't wait to read "Shudder".

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  3. Great interview!
    and thanks for the giveaway!

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