"Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia." ~E.L. Doctorow

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Inside the Author’s Studio

Inside the Author’s Studio

Samantha Sotto

1.) So your debut novel – BEFORE EVER AFTER - is due out on August 2nd. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

BEFORE EVER AFTER is a modern fairy tale about true love, happy endings, new beginnings, and everything in between. It follows the story of Shelley, a young widow who discovers that her dead husband may in fact be very much alive—which would be wonderful if the bearer of this news wasn’t her thirty-two-year-old husband’s thirty-two-year-old grandson. Shelley’s search for answers takes her from revolutionary Paris to medieval Prussia to ancient Venice, and finally to a place where she discovers whether love is truly everlasting.

Three years after her husband Max’s death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max–same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose–he could be Max’s long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.

As outrageous as Paolo’s claims seem–how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn’t he looked her up? – Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down–if it is really Max– and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max’s stories of bloody Parisian barricades,medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her “happily ever after.” And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

2.) Where did your inspiration for this novel come from?

There are two ways you can deal with traffic: you can sit in your car and slowly go insane, or you can plot out a novel.

It might have been the Dr. Who marathon I had just emerged from or the “hangover” I was nursing after reading the Time Traveller’s Wife (I couldn’t stop crying about Henry!) or a combination of both that made Max, my main character, hitch a ride with me that afternoon. I didn’t know much about him then, except that he had a talent for staying alive, had a soft spot for chickens, ran an offbeat European tour, and was not a vampire. I began to wonder more about his “lifetimes” and the people he had met along the way. That’s when I discovered that he had a wife, or rather, a widow – who had no idea who he really was. I knew then that I had to hop aboard Max’s Volkswagen van and take a detour into his and Shelley’ s story.

You might say that the research for this book was done years before I even had the idea to write it. I lived, studied, and traveled through Europe and have always been drawn to its crooked cobblestone alleys and tucked away corners. These forgotten nooks whispered stories that the history books left out. The “gaps” I found between by my travel scrapbooks and formal research became the places and times Max filled in with his secrets.

3.) That sounds amazingly fun to both read and write. So I guess since your settings are based on real life places you've visited, the question is are your characters based on real people in your life? And if so, which ones?

I wish ;-)

4.) Hahaha. Okay fine be that way. So who’s your favorite Character then?

Ugh. Do I have to choose? I love all of them! Well, okay, since you twisted my arm (ow).

Max. He believes that you can get through anything if you have a chicken. What’s not to like? (Don’t tell the others. They may never speak to me again.)

5.) Sooooo when were you bitten by the writing bug exactly?

During the Great Infestation of 2009.

6.) Can you tell us about your publishing process? How long was it first word to printing press?

Hmm. Let me see…it took me one year to write the book, a couple of months to find an agent, about a month to get a book deal and a year and a half to get the book to press…*converts glacial time*…so that comes out to a bazillion years, give or take a trillion.

7.) Feels that was some times doesn't it? :D Well we are all excited to read your book, but we have to wait! However, I see you've had many authors review your book already. So what was the ARC process like?

I’m still saving up for therapy…

8.) You mention that BEFORE EVER AFTER is inspired by your experiences traveling through Europe, I can't imagine picking a favorite place in Europe, but give us your top 5 must sees on a European dream vacation?

This is a TOUGH question. You’re trying to torture me, aren’t you?


Okaaaaay…here it goes:

1.) Museé Rodin, Paris, France - If you’re looking for a nice quiet spot to escape, have a coffee at the nice little café in the museum’s lovely garden.
2.) Keukenhof, Lisse, The Netherlands – It’s the world’s largest flower garden. Need I say more?
3.) The Roman Baths, Bath, England – Unless you’re a fan of lead poisoning, I wouldn’t recommend taking a dip in the ancient spring. The building that houses the spring however, has been voted the most romantic building in Britain.
4.) Venice, Italy – I don’t have a specific favorite spot – which is exactly why I love Venice. There’s no better place to wander aimlessly.
5.) Herculaneum Excavation Site, Ercolano, Italy – Luckily, you don’t need a Tardis to travel back in time to see this “frozen” Roman town.

And for those of you who are familiar with Inside the Actor's studio, here's the part where I break out my James Lipton mask and start with my own version of the Proust Questionnaire. For those of you who aren't familiar with the show - this is a rapid fire interview.

Harry Potter Finale - opening night or wait?

Opening night!!! The sleeping bag is packed and ready.

Sci-Fi or Fantasy?

Let’s put it this way: If I ever found myself in the same room as Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling and David Eddings…my head would explode from glee.


Waiting for the next Doctor Who episode and the next season of Game of Thrones is all the anticipation I can handle in my life right now.

Home cooking or Take out?

Nothing beats my husband’s cooking…unless it’s movie night and I have a craving for garlic and cheese pizza.

Happy or sad endings?

Give me a memorable and satisfying happy ending and I will love you forever.

Thank you very much, Sam, for giving us a little bit of your time. I hope the count down to the release date goes smoothly for you. And for the rest of us - Be on the look out for BEFORE EVER AFTER due in stores on August 2nd!


Kelly Hashway said...

Wow, great interview! I'm looking forward to Sam's book. I'm still jealous that she's traveled so much, but at least I can read about all those beautiful places in Before Ever After.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview. I can't wait to read this book; I've been hearing about it everywhere!

Annie Boreson said...

Sounds like a wonderful premise. Look forward to reading it. Thanks for the excellent interview!

Elizabeth Young said...

Thanks for interviewing Samantha, I'm mad I didn't think of it first! Great job here.

Carol Apple said...

Enjoyed the interview - lots of personality from both the interview-ee and the interview-er. "Before Ever After" sounds like a wonderful book and I will look forward to reading it. I also loved "The Time Traveler's Wife." I liked the movie too – though of course it wasn't as good as the book.

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

It was great chatting with you, my friend!!! I had a BLAST! Thank you for this wonderful opportunity! :D

*waves to everyone in the comment boxes above me* :D

(And duuuude - Mark your calendar for TORCHWOOD. Wooohooo!)

Kenya D. Williamson said...

I'm so glad you plotted out a novel instead of going insane, Sam. :) Great interview! And less than a month to go!

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Haha! Yeah, me too, Kenya! :D (And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!)

Scrollwork said...

Loved the spin-off from Inside the Actor's Studio. Perhaps you can this regularly?

DEZMOND said...

loved the answers, Sammy creative and charming as always :)

C.M. Villani said...

Kelly - I'm right there with you. Sam seems to have gone EVERYWHERE!!! But I am really looking forward to seeing those places through her eyes.

C.M. Villani said...

Jennifer O. - I know, right?! There has been a lot of chatter about Sam's book. I really can't wait for it to hit the selves. :)

C.M. Villani said...

Annie - I'm glad you enjoyed it. Its always fun to get to interview a fabulous author like Sam. I'm just really happy she agreed to do it!

C.M. Villani said...

Elizabeth - thanks. :)

C.M. Villani said...

Carol - hahaha. Thanks for the compliment. Its always easy to have personality when your talking to someone like Sam. :D

C.M. Villani said...

Sam - And it was really nice chatting with you too girlfriend. Any time you want to do it again let me know. I'll break out the cupcakes! :D

(Calendar has been marked. hee hee hee)

C.M. Villani said...

Scrollwork - I'd love to do it on a regular basis. It was so much fun the first time around.

Actually I was hoping I could find some more authors that would be willing to be interviewed. If you know of anyone please let me know!

MuMuGB said...

I am so looking forward to Sam's book! Thanks for the interview, it made me even more impatient...I will be in Bali when it's out. Hope I will be able to find it!

stacey said...

Bali, Muriel... and you didn't invite me????



Mieke Zamora-Mackay said...

This was a great interview. Thanks.

Brynne said...

Thanks you two!! SoOo eager to read it, Sam...and to cheer you on every chance I get!

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