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Behind the Magic of Samantha’s Stories

Samantha’s stories are cleverly written, engaging, and magical. Reading it while curling up on your favorite couch will take you to another world that’s almost tangible, surrounding you at that moment. Her keen mind is able to merge reality and fantasy, making you believe that the said universe exists. It pulls you in and makes you want to be part of it. 

In a sea of great books waiting to be read, the authenticity, imagery, and heart of Samatha’s stories and characters may very well deserve a spot on your reading list.

So how does one come up with these stories? Samantha was kind enough to be the debut feature of The Corner Office and give us an in-depth look at her creative writing process, journey, and outlook. 

Write the Story In Your Heart 

And so, it began…

Samantha studied AB Communications at the Ateneo de Manila University and Marketing at Webster University in the Netherlands. During college, she was Features Editor of Ateneo De Manila University’s The Guidon. She also worked as a marketing executive in multinational corporations for almost a decade.

Her journey as a book author started as a way to pass the time while waiting for her son to finish school. She thought of it as an armchair vacation. 

“I love how it is a journey I can take without ever leaving home. I can live a thousand lives through my characters. It never gets boring,” she explains.

This was when her first book, Before Ever After (2011), was born.

Time and Space 

Samantha has always loved things related to time travel or time slips. She tries to incorporate them in her own work. 

“I love playing around the time, because it’s the one thing that we have the least control of in real life. So, for me, this is my chance to be the master of time. I almost treat time like another character in  the book.

This play of time was apparent in her first novel, Before Ever After (2011). It undercovers the mysterious death (or not) of the heroine’s husband. Love and Gravity (2017) tells the love story of a young Isaac Newton– a music prodigy, who lives in the modern world. 

I really like to experiment with itnot just like the obvious ways to time travel, and things like that. I just like to see how much you can manipulate time and use it as a way of telling your story,”  she continues.

About Water Moon 

Her upcoming novel, Water Moon, is Sotto’s first foray into the speculative fiction genre, diving into a whole new world, specifically in alternate Japan. 

What started all of this is a trip that my family took to Japan. Japan is really a country that’s close to my heart. It’s one of my favorite, favorite, places in the world to visit. It was the first county I visited as a kid (pauses) in my life. I was 9 years old and that’s my first trip abroad. So, because of that, I guess Japan has always meant, like, something special to me,” Sotto explains. 

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“So, in our last trip to Japan, before the pandemic, we were actually in Kyoto, not Tokyo, and we were exploring the historical district. We were in Ninen Zaka street. In  Ninen Zaka, it’s this cobbled road, and along the street are all these historical houses. They’ve been preserved. It feels like you’re stepping back in time when you walk along that road. On that particular trip…so, we were walking along and it was quite crowded. We went into one of the houses and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a Starbucks, ” she continues.  It had this little tini-tiny Starbucks logo, but it was printed on wood, so you could not even tell that it was a Starbucks from the outside. 

Similarly in Water Moon, from the outside, the mysterious pawn shop looked like an ordinary ramen restaurant in Tokyo. For the select few, however—those who have regrets to sell, once you step into the restaurant, you discover that you’ve actually been transported into this magical pawnshop. 

Telling your Story 

“I think anybody who does anything creative can relate to that, you know, where these ideas just pop into your head, or even wake you up in the middle of the night. So for me, I really have to have a notebook beside my bedside table. Chances are, for sure, especially when I’m in the middle of writing something, I’ll wake up at 3am and yeah, suddenly like, yeah I can do this or I can do that. But regards to knowing whether it’s right, I really won’t know until I’ve actually written it down. I try not to judge the idea when it first comes out,” she points out. 

Samantha continues to say that while an idea can be great, it might not be great for a specific project. Ideas, however, come to us for a reason. 

Her advice for aspiring writers? 

“Any book really starts with one word at a time. It’s really like putting one word in front of the other.  When I was starting my first novel, with really no (professional) background in writing, I really just told myself  ‘if I can write one sentence, I can write two. If I can write two, then I can write this paragraph’.”

Tell the story from your heart. If you write a good story, somehow, the universe will help you get it out into the world. 

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