Series: Stitch #1
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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.
Today we have an interview with author Samantha Durante, author of Stitch and Shudder. Enter below for your chance to win a copy of one the books!
For readers who haven’t read it yet, can you tell a little about what Stitch and Shudder are all about?
Thanks so much for hosting me today, Michael! The Stitch Trilogy starts out seeming like a college ghost romance, where the main character, Alessa, is just trying to get her life together after losing her parents in a tragic accident while wrapping her head around her growing obsession with the handsome ghost she keeps seeing in her sorority house. But something about Alessa’s typical college life is just a little bit… off. And about halfway through the story, there’s a big sci-fi twist that reveals that nothing that Alessa has been experiencing was *quite* what it seemed. The remainder of that book and the next in the series, Shudder, is about Alessa and her friends coming to terms with what has happened to them and finding a way to fight back against forces much greater than themselves. The series is basically a mix of dystopian, paranormal romance, contemporary, mystery, thriller, even a bit of horror… it’s a little hard to label!
Where did the idea for the series come from?
This was before the whole New Adult genre really took off, so I started with the idea of a college setting (which was unique at the time) plus a ghost romance, but I couldn’t seem to find a solution I was happy with to get the girl and the ghost together for a happy ending (I’m a sucker for a happy ending!). I toyed with the idea of time travel, or some kind of paranormal witch-crafty problem-solving, but nothing was really getting me excited. Until one day I had a random idea for a TOTALLY out-of-the-box solution which was unlike anything I’d ever read. It brought in so much opportunity for depth in the plot and in the character development that I was just sitting there thinking, “Wow, I really wish someone would write this book so I could read it!” And knowing that no one else probably ever would, I decided to write it myself. 🙂
Did the story or characters take any unexpected directions from your original plans?
I’m a big planner (especially when it comes to something like the Stitch Trilogy, which has a fairly complex backstory and very twisty storyline), so there hasn’t been too much divergence from my original plans, when it came to the main characters at least. But as the series has developed, I’ve found some of the side characters playing much bigger roles than I ever anticipated. Nikhil and Lizzie in particular just started as one-dimensional throwaway characters when I first set out to write Stitch, but over time – either through necessities of the plot or reader demand – these characters have taken on a life of their own and really impacted the story in major ways that I didn’t foresee at first. So that was definitely a surprise, but a good one!
Which character do you like the best?
That question is totally not fair, Michael! To be diplomatic, I love them all for different reasons. Alessa I connect to the most because she’s very much like me, Janie I love for her sunny disposition and humor and undying loyalty, and Isaac I love because, well, he’s Isaac – he’s just so kind and compassionate and wonderful to Alessa and everyone around him (I’m not really into tatted up bad boys, obviously). And I REALLY dislike the bad guys, who you don’t see much of in the first book but get to know very well in the second. They’re despicable!
Can you talk about a little about your cover design?
Oh definitely, I’m SO thrilled with how the covers came out! It was a difficult balance to strike with Stitch, since the book initially appears to be something very different than what it actually is, so I wanted to hint at the science fiction elements but at the same time make it clear that this was a book that would appeal to a broad audience of readers who like anything from paranormal to romance to dystopian. I decided to go with a color scheme that felt kind of futuristic but also “ghostly” at the same time, and used elements in the tear area to hint that there’s more to this book that’s hidden below the surface. For Shudder, I stuck with the same theme, and for the final book, Stuck, the cover is going to be in the same vein but much more shockingly sci-fi-ish, now that readers know what’s up! (There’s a sneak preview in the back of Shudder for anyone who’s interested in checking it out.)
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Becoming an author was always like this “maybe someday, probably never” fantasy of mine, since I love to read and love to write, but was always overwhelmed by the idea of penning an entire book. But then one day a couple years ago I just decided to try. I had ghost written a memoir for one of my business writing clients and realized I could use the same process (outlining the book and breaking it down by chapter to make the project more manageable) to write fiction, so I just gave it a shot, and well… all of a sudden I was an author! It’s still kind of surreal to call myself that – definitely a dream come true.
Can you talk about how you write? Do you use an outline? How many hours a day do you write?
I’m a really organized person, so my writing is very planned and very focused. I always start with an outline – it’s broad at first, but slowly I fill in all the details until I know exactly what’s going to happen in each chapter, and I have tons of accompanying notes about world/character history, story timelines, character development, questions to answer, etc. I don’t write a word until all that planning work is done. That way when I sit down to write, I don’t need to think at all – I just write. In this manner, I’ve been able to avoid writer’s block (since I always know what I need to accomplish and – more importantly – how I’m going to get there), and I set a goal of a few chapters a weekend and just get it done. Up until now I’ve been doing all my fiction writing on the side, since I work full time as a freelance business writer during the week, and I wrote both Stitch and Shudder in the winter/spring months, focusing on book promotion/marketing in the summer/fall months. So far that cycle has worked well for me, but I’m also about to have a baby, so things might change… I guess we’ll see how it goes!
What are your favorite authors and books?
Oh wow, too many to name! I love epic sci-fi/fantasy series – Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, Game of Thrones, Chronicles of Narnia, Eragon, Divergent, Delirium, etc. But I also enjoy historical fiction, have read Pride and Prejudice more times than I can count, and am happy to pick up a good YA/NA contemporary novel every now and then. And every day I find great new reads to add to my TBR… it’s getting unwieldy!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Just find an idea you love and write. That’s the only way to do it. For so many years I was crippled by the thought that I needed to find a “perfect” book idea before it was worth doing, and that’s definitely not the way to go about it. It’s almost impossible to come up with something that’s never been done before, so instead, just find something you’re excited about and get some words on paper. Chances are other people will want to read it too, and actually writing and sharing your work with readers is the only way you’ll learn and get better. Just go for it.
You’re working on the third book Stuck. Can you tell us how far along it is?
Yes, Stuck is my next big project, post-baby, ha ha. Right now I’m still in the planning stages – gathering feedback from Shudder, starting my outline, and figuring out how I’m going to bring this series to a satisfying close. I’ll likely begin writing after the winter holidays, since I generally find that’s a pretty slow time for me and I’m able to work productively. I always try to keep readers up-to-date on my progress through my blog/Facebook, so definitely follow along if you’re waiting impatiently for Book 3! I’m planning to release it sometime in 2014. 🙂