Books and Other Happy Endings, An Interview with Author Samantha Sotto

Written by: Carla De Guzman/Thursday, Mar 10, 2016 10:28 AM

I suffered from the worst case of the ‘bad book blues’ early last year, and I have to say, picking up Samantha Sotto’s Before Ever After was the perfect cure. Everything about the book appealed to me—magic, mystery, a jaunt through Europe, a reunion in the shores of Boracay, a romance…and baked eggs with cheese. Before Ever After was inspired by her own solo journeys, experiences and the stories she already knew. 

Like most authors, Samantha started writing for her own amusement. In fact she tells us that she only did it to ‘kill time without paying for WiFi.’ The next thing she knew, she had a book in her hands. Of course roads to dreams were never easy, and she experienced a lot of disappointments and rejections in between. But when she found an agent, the book was sold to Random House, and the rest, as they say, is history! 

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A fellow Doctor Who fan, Samantha took some time out of her busy schedule (she’s working on another book, and raising her kids!) to answer some of my questions, beating writers’ block, and to talk about the books that every woman should read. 

Your book, Before Ever After takes a lot of inspiration from places all over the world. Do you have a particular favourite? 

I love all the countries that I featured in the book, but the setting that’s closest to my heart is the backpacking restaurant in Boracay that I used as a basis for one of the key scenes towards the end of the novel. I’ve actually only seen the tiny restaurant (it’s more like a hut on a cliff, really), from a boat. I’ve never been inside it and I suppose that’s what makes it special. I’m free to imagine what it looks like inside, the people who run it, and all the stories it has to tell.

Reading Before Ever After, you can tell that it was inspired by many things. What triggered the story?

All my stories begin with the same question – What if? I like to look at something and wonder about its secrets. 

I’m sure most, if not all authors have to deal with this, but what do you do when you find yourself having the worst case of writer’s block?

I don't believe in writer's block. I think of writing as a job that I need to show up to whether I'm feeling "inspired" or not. You just need to sit down at your desk and write. You may probably not write a masterpiece that day, but it's something to build on.

We’re celebrating Women’s History Month this March. Is there any woman in particular, a role model that you consider inspiring?

My mom is my role model. I’ve never met anyone smarter, more creative, or funnier. She was my first editor. She’s always the first person who reads anything I write.
 

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Photo courtesy of Samantha

What do you think it means to be a woman who inspires others? 

Being a true inspiration to others means being willing to share your WHOLE story – not just the “Happily Ever After” part. Every journey has its ups and downs. The most inspiring people are not the ones who just show a “curated” Facebook-worthy version of their lives. They are the people who are brave and honest enough to show how hard and often they’ve stumbled – and how they’ve picked themselves up. 

I’m sure there are many people out there wishing they could have the same success as you. Any advice for them?  

If you want to write, write. Start today.  Don’t be paralyzed by the idea of perfection. There is no such thing as perfect writing – only good re-writing. That’s what the Delete button is for. Write down the story that’s inside you. It doesn’t matter if all you come up with today is one word. It’s still one word more than you had yesterday.

Not to steal from the Shania Twain song, but what do you think is the best thing about being a woman?

For me, the best thing about being a woman was having the privilege of carrying two amazing little human beings inside me for nine months. When my kids were born, my heart began to live outside of my chest. Motherhood is the most terrifying – and most beautiful experience of my life.

If you would give your 20-year-old self advice, what would it be? 

I would tell 20-year-old Sam to make more mistakes. You're supposed to make mistakes when you're young. That's how you learn.

And to work on her abs more. She'll need it after her two c-sections.

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Photo courtesy of Samantha

Sounds like good advice! Writing books while raising a family can’t be the easiest of things. Is there anything you do to relax?

I have a massage therapist on speed dial. I like to treat myself to a massage at home every two weeks or so. I think my therapist gets a good workout trying to smooth out all the knots in my "lola" back. 

And wine. And chocolate. Or better yet - wine AND chocolate. 

Read on to find out The Books Every Woman Should Read (according to Samantha)

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About Carla De Guzman
Carla de Guzman is the author of self-published books Cities, Marry Me Charlotte B! and We Go Together. She loves to travel, coming home to her dog Kimchi and spending her weekends having dinner with her crazy family by day. By night, she’s writer and an artist, spending her midnights at her desk. Follow her on Instagram (@somemidnights) for more!
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