Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guest Post: Samantha Durante, author of Shudder


Please welcome Samantha Durante, author of the Stitch Trilogy, to the blog today! She's on a tour promoting her newest book, Shudder

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It’s only been three days, and already everything is different.

Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa’s life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she’d counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meager remains of a ravaged world. And if she’d thought she’d tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she’s discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood.

And then there are the visions.

The memory-altering “stitch” unlocked something in Alessa’s mind, and now she can’t shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers – and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world’s sorry history – will soon leave Alessa reeling…

The second installment in the electrifying Stitch Trilogy, Shudder follows Samantha Durante’s shocking and innovative debut with a heart-pounding, paranormal-dusted dystopian adventure sure to keep the pages turning.

If you haven't already read the first book, Stitch, you can find my review here. It's also just $0.99 at Amazon! In the meantime, enjoy a guest post by Samantha and don't forget to add these to your reading list.


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Guest Post: Inspiration for ‘The Dumpster Scene’ by Samantha Durante, author of the Stitch Trilogy


Even though the Stitch Trilogy is not exactly about zombies, as you may already know, I count the Resident Evil videogame series (which I’ve been playing since the tender age of 11) as one of the major influences on my writing. And in Shudder (Stitch Trilogy, Book 2), there’s one aspect where I must give credit where credit is due: thank you, Resident Evil, for inspiring the idea for the creatures, and in particular, ‘The Dumpster Scene.’

Resident Evil has a long history of pitting its main characters against seemingly impossible odds – mutant creatures with superhuman strength and deadly agility, hordes of zombified undead, deep dark corporate conspiracies led by individuals with no constraints on their resources or power. The game – especially in the early iterations when health supplies and ammo were limited, and old-school gameplay/graphics limitations left the player with only a modicum of control – is terrifying because your character is *nearly* helpless. In contrast to most shoot-‘em-up games (and even the more recent releases in the RE series) – where if you’re just good enough at aiming your weapon you can generally blast your way out of anything – in the classic Resident Evil games, your best bet a lot of times is to run.

In fact, there were certain enemies (e.g., Nemesis from RE3) that you simply couldn’t kill until a designated point very late in the story. This massive, intelligent creature stalked you throughout the game, and while you could choose to stand your ground and try to fight it off, chances were if you tried, you were going to end up either a) dead or b) blowing through 90% of your ammo and health before the monster was “injured” enough to back off.

And with his knack for appearing out of nowhere when you least expected it, Nemesis brought a truly bone-chilling aspect to the game – you were never safe. You could never relax. You had no choice but to be constantly on edge the entire time you played, or suffer the consequences. And when your shattered nervous system finally needed a respite, you had to shut down the system and take a break. And boy was I glad that I had that option.

In Shudder, I sought to bring the same terrorizing sense of horror and unrest to Isaac and Alessa as they traversed the world outside Paragon while being stalked by a pack of bloodthirsty creatures that they frankly knew very little about and had no way of fighting off. Unfortunately for them, though, they didn’t have the ability that I as a Resident Evil player had to “turn it off.” The only chance they had against these monsters was to RUN – so run they did. And hide.

In one scene, Alessa and Isaac find themselves cowering in terror inside a dumpster while the creatures search for them outside. Holding their breath and praying for their lives, they wait in agonizing silence while the wails and howls from the monsters outside foretell a violent death at any moment.

This scene in particular was directly inspired by a series of puzzles in the latest edition of the RE games, Resident Evil 6. In RE6, two characters find themselves needing to traverse some narrow spaces while being stalked by a new Nemesis-like creature called the Ustanak. And sometimes to bypass direct combat with Ustanak, these characters find themselves with an opportunity to hide in a dumpster.

This section of RE6 was one of the few where I found myself back in my 11-year-old self, cringing in sheer terror as I waited powerlessly to see if I would survive the monster’s hunt. As my character peered through the crack in the top of dumpster, glimpsing the hulking mass and huge muscled arms of the vicious enemy just inches away, my stomach clenched and my heart pounded against my chest, and I held my breath and clung to my Xbox controller the same way the characters clung to each other. It was horrifying.

And in that moment, I knew I needed Alessa and Isaac to experience the same overpowering horror in Shudder, a microcosm of the greater the terrors they face in their mission to save the people of Paragon. Because like those in Resident Evil, the characters in the Stitch Trilogy are faced with overwhelming odds. They struggle with feeling powerless against an all-powerful society, and with taking down an enemy that is at once elusive and everywhere. And these creatures – while scary enough on their own – are also a symbol of these greater struggles facing Alessa and her friends.

Because just like we see in Resident Evil, Alessa will soon find out that sometimes the external monsters we face are less dangerous than the monsters inside of all us – that sometimes people can be the worst monsters of all.

But first, she must survive the terrors lurking outside the dumpster. And that’s enough of a challenge in itself. :-)
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Samantha Durante lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio. Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant. The Stitch Trilogy is her debut series. Learn more about Samantha at www.samanthadurante.com.

 

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