What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Hi! My name is Samantha Durante. I was born (and grew up) in the suburbs of New York. I went to college in Philly for 4 years, the moved to Seattle for 3 years, and now I am finally back in New York City (Upper West Side to be exact), though in a few months I’m moving up to the suburbs where I started.
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
I didn’t consider myself a writer until people started paying me to write, which is silly, because I’ve always loved to write and have always written. But I started my company doing business writing (marketing materials, website copy, ghost-written blog posts, that sort of thing) a couple years ago and that’s when I started using the title Writer. I’m more excited, though, to finally be able to use the title Author! Stitch is my first book, so it’s a new one for me.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I decided to self-publish Stitch. The main reason was that I never really set out to “really” write a book – in fact, the project originally started as a way for me to pass the time while waiting for my wedding in September. We got engaged last June, and I’m super overly-organized, so by January I had 80% of the stuff for the wedding done and I was like, “What am I going to do with myself for the next 9 months?” So I started writing a few chapters each weekend to share with my friends and family for fun, and by the end of March I’d finished the first draft.
Over the summer I tossed around the idea of getting an agent and going the traditional route, but it just seemed to me like it was going to be a whole lot of begging followed by a whole lot of rejection, especially since my book breaks a lot traditional rules about genre. And even if I did find someone to publish my book, I had the impression that it would take years for it to actually get in the hands of readers, and I’m too impatient for that. So I decided to just go ahead and put it out there on my own!
How long have you been writing? And who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing since as long as I can remember. As a kid, it was what I did for fun, and I was open to ANY kind of writing. I wrote stories, I wrote family newsletters, I wrote brochures about how cute my dog was. I wrote comics and movie scripts and poems. I just loved the feeling of putting words to a page, of creating something out of nothing, and I loved a good story, anything that I found thrilling or creepy or fun. I especially was always was drawn to scary stories, so I wrote a lot of those when I was younger (“Mr. Pumpkinhead,” “Lambchop’s Revenge,” “The Cellar Dwellar,” amongst others).
Later in high school I did more academic writing and less creative stuff, though there were a couple nice creative pieces I wrote during that period in my life, and then in college I studied business and engineering, so writing took a back seat and I channeled that part of myself mainly into entertaining emails to friends. After college, I did very little writing (except for some very thorough software behavior specification documents as part of my work at Microsoft, lol) and I definitely felt like something was missing. It took me a few years to figure out what it was, and when I did, that’s when I started my company and got back into writing, and now I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. My mom always said I should be a writer, and she was totally right!
Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/who is your inspiration?
Oh, from ALL over. I watch a lot of TV and movies, read a lot, play a lot of video games, so when I was coming up with the idea for Stitch, I drew from everything. I just tried to think about what appealed to me from different stories and how I could bring all those things into one book in a way that made sense. I think a part of the reason it took me so long to finally sit down and write a book was because I kept wanting to come up with something totally new and different. But then finally I realized that very little of the books/movies/shows that I enjoy are really all that novel, they’re just the same great stories told in a slightly different way. So I decided to be a little easier on myself and allowed myself to draw inspiration from wherever. To make it new and different, I just combined things that usually don’t go together – like ghosts and dystopia – into one. It was a crazy experiment, but thus far it seems to have worked out okay!
(You really manage to combine the different genres together extremely well)
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
So far I have! What better way to improve your writing than to hear what readers have to say about it? Plus, I’m still figuring out the details of the next two books in the series, so I want to make sure I’m giving readers what they want! Of course, criticism is always hard to hear, but in the end, I know it will only make my writing stronger, so I try my best to take the bad with the good, learn from it, and move on. I know my book is not perfect, and frankly, I think I’m harder on it than any reviewer has been thus far, so I’ve actually been quite pleased with the reviews.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
For Stitch, I wrote the book first and then chose the title, but for the next in the series, Shudder, I found I needed to choose the title first since I wanted to put a sneak preview and cover art in the end of this book. So I guess I go back and forth! But in general, I would say I prefer to write the book first and let it choose its own title.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
I think they absolutely transfer well, and in fact, this is how I end up finding a lot of great books. I actually didn’t read the Hunger Games trilogy until I’d heard it was going to be made into a movie, and the movie looked awesome and I didn’t want to see it without having read the book, so then I read it, and I was like, “Why I haven’t read this yet??” I was kicking myself for waiting so long. But I guess the thing that was great about it was that by that point all three books had been released, so I was able to devour the entire trilogy in one weekend (big thanks to my friend Mel for allowing me to ignore her while I visited her place in Arizona! She’s the one who originally told me to read it, so she understood.
As for best/worst adaptation, I would have to go with Eragon. I didn’t know the movie was based on a book, and when I watched it with my cousins one night, I loved the movie so much that I was reading the DVD case to figure out where this thing came from, and that’s where I learned that it was book. So then I read the book and got totally hooked on the series, and I was SO MAD after reading the books because they were fantastic, and the stupid movie killed off a key major character that really doesn’t die until later in the series and thereby negated the possibility of making any sequel movies, because subsequent movies wouldn’t make any sense without this character to drive the plot. So I would find myself reading the book and thinking how AMAZING a scene was going to be when they adapted it to film, and then I’d realize that this will never happen because whoever made the first movie took extreme and unjustified liberties with the plot, and it was SO FRUSTRATING. It still just makes my blood boil, ugh. Someone should re-do that movie and then make the rest of them, because that series deserves to be an epic set of movies just as much as Twilight or Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter does.
Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
YES! I would get into the action a LOT more quickly. I will do better in the future, I promise!
Where can readers follow you?
Lots of places! There’s my website (www.samanthadurante.com) where I keep a blog and post other big updates about my book writing (you can sign up on the Contact page to get an email when I have a release date for Book 2). I’m also on Goodreads and Facebook (both as an author and on the Stitch fan page). And of course I’m on Amazon and Smashwords. I LOVE to hear from readers, so please keep in touch!
Thank you Samantha for taking the time to do this Interview, I loved your book, and am really looking forward to the next book. I hope you have a wonderful wedding & honeymoon.