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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Samantha Sotto: The Journey From "What Aug.21 Means To Me" (1983) to "Love and Gravity" (2017)

February 7, 2017 (Ballantine/Random House)
In this unforgettable novel for fans of One Day and The Time Traveler’s Wife, a young Isaac Newton falls in love with a girl living in modern-day San Francisco, defying the laws of physics to forge a seemingly impossible connection.
“Thoughtful, magical, and alive with romantic alchemy, Love and Gravity is a rare gem of a book, both intellectual and beautiful.”—New York Times bestselling author Sarah Addison Allen
Andrea Louviere is seven years old the first time he appears. While she’s alone in her bedroom, practicing her beloved cello, the light shivers and a crack forms in the wall. Through the crack, she sees a candle, a window, a desk—and a boy. In the eerie silence, the boy clearly sees Andrea too. Then, as quickly as it opened, the crack closes and he vanishes.
Over the years, summoning the boy becomes an obsession for Andrea. On her seventeenth birthday, she receives a three-hundred-year-old love letter from Isaac Newton. Andrea knows that Isaac will change the world with his groundbreaking discoveries; the letter tells Andrea that she will change him.
As Isaac’s letters intensify in passion and intimacy, Andrea grows determined to follow his clues to their shared destiny—despite a burgeoning romance in the present. Only when she discovers the way into Isaac’s time does Andrea realize that she faces a heartbreaking decision between what was . . . and what might be.
Praise for Samantha Sotto’s Before Ever After
“I was floored by the gutsy scope of this highly unusual love story. Before Ever After is one of those books that challenges the natural laws of fiction writing, and Samantha Sotto pulls it off in a frisky and highly entertaining way.”—Anne Fortier, New York Times bestselling author of Juliet
“I was absolutely enchanted by Before Ever After. It’s a highly original and engaging mix of romance, mystery, and magic that will challenge everything you think you know about happily ever after.”—Jill Smolinski, author of Objects of My Affection
“A smartly written romance, mystery, and historical adventure all wrapped up in a page-turner that will have you guessing until the very end.”—Adena Halpern, author of The Ten Best Days of My Life
“Exquisitely written and inventively told, Before Ever After is a beautiful, moving—and quite fun—exploration of what you think you know about your own life.”—Melissa Senate, author of The Love Goddess’ Cooking School
Music. Magic. Science. History.Time. And a love that rewrites everything you thought was true.
A modern fairy tale about true love, happy endings, new beginnings, and everything in between.
From The Adventures of C
Q&A with Samantha Sotto
The Filipina writer introduces us to her long-awaited second release, Love and Gravity
06 January 2017 – I wrote about Sam and her new fiction title in Smile magazine's current issue. 
Love and Gravity is explained in the article above, but it's basically about two people and their special connection across time. (I'll try to post a more detailed review once it comes out this February, so it becomes clearer.)
It sounds romantic, full of suspense, magic and mystery – especially when you realise that these two people/characters are actually Isaac Newton (yup, the scientist, physicist and mathematician) and Andrea Louviere, a modern-day girl from San Francisco. They first encounter each other as kids through a crack in time. 
If you have read and love Sam's first book, Before Ever After, I think you'll like this one too.
I got more information from Sam to pique your curiosity and get you all excited:
Can you tell us your writing process for this book? How did it differ from when you were doing Before Ever After?
"The pre-writing work for this book was a lot more extensive. Isaac Newton is a very well-known figure and so I had to be very thorough with my research. When I was planning the novel, I had to make sure that I weaved my story into the facts of his life seamlessly. The mystery that is at the core of this book was also a lot more complex. I didn’t have an outline when I wrote Before Ever After, but with Love and Gravity, I needed to plan out every step of the plot before I sat down to write the book."  
Isaac is a mathematician, physicist and philosopher. 
What were some of the interesting things you found out about him during the course of your research?
"Isaac is recognised as one of history’s greatest minds, but when he was younger, he was actually at the bottom of his class. This made me want to explore the possible reasons for that dramatic shift in his life."
Why Andrea? What do you love about her? 
"I came up with the character of Andrea, a cello prodigy, because I wanted Isaac to fall in love with someone who fell outside the world of science and math, and yet was profoundly gifted in her own way. Andrea is a very interesting character because she gets to grow up under very unique and challenging circumstances. She discovers a song that opens a crack in time when she is seven years old, and this kind of secret can be very isolating. I love how she rises above self-doubt and fear to pursue the things that are important to her as she matures into a young woman."
The settings in the book include England and San Francisco. 
Do you have special travel memories of these places? Which areas in the book do you wish to explore more of?
"England will always have a special place in my heart, because it was my first visit there as a teenager that inspired me to write about historical mysteries based in Europe. I joined a walking tour that took us through London’s secret places and backstreets, while the funniest guide told us stories about the city’s past. Since then, whenever I visit historical places, I always wonder about the tales behind them.
"San Francisco, meanwhile, is one of my favorite cities in the US. I’ve always wanted to live in one of its Victorian homes; since I’m not able to do so at the moment, I decided to live vicariously through Andrea.
"The setting in the book that I’d love to explore isn’t a place, but a time. The 17th century is definitely a period I’d love to get lost in for a while."
What are you most excited for readers to discover as they go through the book? What do you want them to learn from it? 
"I’m really excited for them to meet Isaac and see him in a whole new light. While I don’t write books to teach lessons, it would be nice if people came away from reading my stories with a greater sense of wonder. I think that the kind of books I write prompts readers to ask questions about the world inside and beyond their pages rather than offer answers. Questions such as 'What if?' stay with you long after you’ve finished a book and make you look at the world with a fresh eye."
What do you recommend to best enjoy the experience of reading Love and Gravity?
"Music is almost a character in the book, so it would be nice to read it with some lovely cello music playing in the background. A glass of wine and an open mind would be great too."
Do you still get questions about Before Ever After? Or is it now more about Love and Gravity?
"To this day, people still ask me about the ending of Before Ever After. To answer this, I decided to write a bonus chapter called “After the End” that people can read for free on my website. This story gives people an update on the characters in Before Ever After and a preview of Love and Gravity."
Backgrounder on Sam:

In 1984, The Benigno Aquino Jr. Foundation sponsored  an essay-writing contest on the theme “What Aug. 21, 1983 means to Me”. 
Sam Sotto (born a year after martial law was declared) was deeply touched by Ninoy's heroic act. The 11-year old grade school student  from Benedictine Abbey School-Alabang (now San Beda College Alabang) decided to submit an entry to the essay-writing contest.
In those very dark days of gloom in the country, it was not the easiest thing to do, even for a kid, considering how the Marcos authoritarian regime stifled any kind of news about Ninoy in all media.
Sam Sotto, 11 years old, with our beloved Tita Cory
during the awarding ceremonies.
Fortunately, Sam's piece won in the the English category (grade school level) of the essay writing contest.
Sam Sotto is now an international author and mother of two kids.