Last week I reviewed Stitch (Stitch Trilogy #1), by Samantha Durante and this week, I’m excited to post my interview with her! The following comes from Samantha’s Goodreads.com page:
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. Stitch is her first novel. Learn more about Samantha at www.samanthadurante.com.
Teri: Where did you get the idea for Stitch?
Samantha: Stitch is an amalgamation of lots of different elements that I loved from other stories – paranormal romance, ghosts, dystopian societies, strong female leads, mind-binding twists, etc. – that I wanted to see if I could fit into one book! I started with the idea of a ghost romance, but couldn’t figure out how to get the main characters into the same place at the same time… until one crazy idea occurred to me (which I can’t elaborate on without spoiling the twist!). I was super excited about it because as a reader I’d never seen it done before, so I knew I had my idea. 🙂
Teri: Did you always plan for Stitch to begin as paranormal and evolve into dystopian?
Samantha: Well, that wasn’t the idea from the very beginning – it initially started just as this romance between a college girl and the ghost haunting her sorority. But I’m a sucker for happy endings, and I wanted them to end up together, and I couldn’t figure out how to do it in a way that made sense and was really satisfying. I thought of time travel, or them living on some kind of spiritual plane together, or bringing him back from the dead somehow, but those all seemed a little too kooky to me – plus, these characters are both very attached to their families, so I didn’t see them wanting to leave their entire lives behind just to be together. Since Stitch was my first book, I wanted a story idea that I was really and truly excited about, something that I’d want to read but hadn’t been able to find before. So that’s when the idea of bringing in the dystopian aspect of it occurred to me, and that part is what really makes the book special I think.
Teri: What do you like best and least about your main character, Alessa?
Samantha: Great question! Best is that she’s strong and resourceful and determined – she sets her mind to something and she gets it done. Least is that she can be a bit moody – she’s not as easy to love as, say, Janie (her best friend), because a lot of times she’s not bubbly, she’s not super outgoing or friendly, and she’s a lot more reserved. It takes a lot for Alessa to let her guard down. But once she does, she’s loyal to a fault and will do anything for the people she loves – so I think that makes up for being a little more serious and less fun-loving!
Teri: What was the hardest part about writing, publishing, and marketing your book?
Samantha: The hardest part is definitely the marketing – and I’m still figuring that all out! Once I had the idea for the book, I came up with a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline which made the writing easy, and since I’d decided to self-publish, the publishing part was pretty simple, just figuring out e-book formatting (which I’ll admit was VERY frustrating and took hours to get right) and making sure I’d edited well. But the marketing – WOW. It’s SO time-consuming. I really never imagined how much time I would spend emailing with bloggers and meeting people through social media, writing tons of guest posts and interviews and character posts, and just generally trying to find new outlets to tell readers about the book. You can do it full-time and still not even make a dent – I put anywhere from 1-4 hours a day into marketing Stitch, and in the meantime I’m still trying to run my own business! BUT, the good part is that the marketing is also really fun – this is when I get to interact with readers and hear their reactions to the book, and I’ve been wholly welcomed by the wonderful book blogging community, so it’s really been an incredible experience to see so many people excited about Stitch!
Teri: Since you self-published Stitch, did you have a marketing plan ahead of time?
Samantha: Yes, I did come up with a marketing plan ahead of time, but that plan is constantly evolving and growing and changing. There are just so many variables to play with in terms of pricing and promotion schedules and giveaways and publicity and selling channels – and so far, I can’t seem to find any rhyme or reason as to why Stitch’s sales fluctuate the way they do! So for now I’ve given up on worrying about sales and am just concentrating on building a relationship with readers, since that’s more fun anyway. 🙂
Teri: Do you see a need for reviewers for self-published authors?
Samantha: Oh, ABSOLUTELY! One of the places I’ve spent the most time on marketing is trying to find bloggers who are open to submissions from independent authors – a surprising number of blogs will not even consider self-published books at all, and the ones that do are so flooded with requests that a lot of times they can’t accept even if they’d like to (there are only so many hours in the day, after all!). So it can be difficult to get your foot in the door. But at the same time, I think a lot of bloggers realize this and are still super supportive of indie authors, so many will offer to do some kind of non-review promotion or refer you to other bloggers even if they can’t review, which can really be just as helpful as a review! As with anything, persistence is key!
Teri: Tell us 5 things about yourself that are different.
Samantha: I’m really pretty normal (I have a husband and a cat, I like to read and watch TV, etc.), so this is hard! But here are the things that are most different/notable about me:
1. I actually studied engineering and business in college and then went into the software industry for work, so I’ve only been writing professionally for a couple years now, even though I always loved to write.
2. I was valedictorian of my high school.
3. The only way I can seem to exercise consistently is by playing team sports. My favorite is basketball, but I also play hard and tend to get a lot of fouls, so then I started playing full contact sports like rugby and roller derby where I don’t get into so much trouble with the refs!
4. I love the color blue, but to an abnormal degree. (Case in point: about 80% of the walls in my house are a different shade of blue.)
5. My favorite food group is dairy, and I’d happily eat milk and cheese with every meal (I often do!). In fact, I ate so much dairy as a kid that my doctor told me I’d one day develop an intolerance to lactose. Luckily, so far I have proven him wrong.
Thank you so much for the interview, Samantha! Stitch can be purchased in paperback and Kindle respectively at the following links: