Jenny here, and I’m thrilled to introduce to Sam Levanduski, one of my friends from college. The book she’s writing, An Apple in Winter, sounds like something that I can’t wait to get my hands on! Take it away, Sam…
1. Describe yourself in four words.
Imaginative, Old-Souled, Passionate, Inquisitive
2. How did your writing adventure begin? (When did you know you wanted to be a writer?)
I remember telling my third-grade teacher, “I want to be a writer”.
We used to have to write stories about our class pet-rock, Rocky. He would take adventures in whatever time period we were studying. My teacher would type up our stories, put them in a book, and give us each a copy. Then, we would take class time for her to read them aloud.
I was convinced my stories were the best. They were by far the longest of anybody’s, and mine had the most adventure and imagery. My “Rocky in Ancient Egypt” story–perfection. As an extra clever touch, the stories always ended in a dramatic cliffhanger! It somehow always propelled Rocky into the next time period, through some continuum my young mind had rendered.
The actual reason why I told my teacher about my writing aspirations? I can’t recall the actual moment it flashed through my head. The culmination, the journey, of that entire school year must have set it off. I mean, I was really good at making stuff up. I loved the whole process of creating an adventure in my head, and putting it on paper. Why wouldn’t I want to do that for the rest of my life?
3. What stage of your noveling adventure are you at currently?
While my life, as of late, has taken slowed down dramatically (compared to my college and London days), it’s been excellent for writing time! I’m currently a domestic diva, so when I’m not doing household things–I write!
I’m in the midst of writing and trying to finish my first novel–it’s a work in progress. I have about 3 other stories floating around in my head, and have another one partially started, with some scenes already written.
I’ve been really been focusing on my current WIP, and trying not to cheat on it with the others. My WIP has now become my current baby, and my main focus. I think I’m about halfway done with the first draft, which is pretty exciting!
4. What book or writer has inspired you?
This question is hard. What book or writer hasn’t, to some extent? Growing up, I was a huge historical fiction fan. Anything taking place in a different place and time was my obsession. I loved those fictional diaries of girls and princesses that lived through different time periods and events.
However, when it comes to writers and writing, I’m really inspired by some of Hemingway’s short stories. I love the heavy dialogue, even though there’s such an “unspoken” element to them. The action and description of the story is through what the characters are saying–and not saying. Sometimes you can have a conversation about something, but no real action ever really gets accomplished–and that’s ok.
5. What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on a YA fantasy/historical fiction novel which I’m calling, for now at least, An Apple in Winter.
In it, the goddesses of Rome have a problem–their golden apples have been dwindling and going missing. They need to create a savior to deliver them back.
Aurelia is a young Roman woman living an uneventful life in the province of Britannia, around the time of the emperor Constantine. Suddenly, strange things start to happen to her. Animals are watching her, the forest beyond her villa beckons, and there’s always a strange song in her head that she never remembers learning.
One day, she decides to venture into the forest alone, and is saved by a young Briton hunter, Alwynn. They develop a secret relationship, but Aurelia begins to realize there’s something unusual about him. He speaks to animals, eats strange apples, and has unearthly green eyes that demand her attention. Not only that, he carries weapons that seem fit for the gods themselves, and delivers a disturbing truth about her real identity.
She quickly learns a valuable lesson–there’s more to everything in the forest than what meets the eye, including her.
Aurelia soon finds herself in a whirlwind of magical places, romance, and an impending immortal war. She finds herself having to choose between the life everyone wants for her, and the man she loves.
6. What inspired you to write this book?
I really took a little bit of mythology/folklore from everything when coming up with this book!
I was taking a class on magic in the Middle Ages, and got really interested in the Arthurian legends and the stories of Merlin’s mother. It goes along with the story and lore of faeries and incubi seducing mortals. I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to hear her side of the story? I also loved the idea of a mysterious and magical green knight showing up, as in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
I was also a Latin student, and I love the language, the myths, and the idea of living in ancient Roman times.
I think the thing that pulled it all together for me was a book I read, The Mistletoe and the Sword, by Anya Seton. In the story a young Roman soldier meets a Druid girl in Britain, and they go on an important mission to Stonehenge, all the while falling in love. I loved mix of Roman and Celtic cultures, and the idea of two worlds clashing together, with two young people in the middle of it.
Mythical heroes in Roman Britain fascinate me, but in books in movies, such as The Eagle, The Last Legion, King Arthur, are mostly all about men! I was excited to write about a heroine within the same legacy.
7. What’s a quick, three-song playlist for your book?
Florence & The Machine–“Cosmic Love”
The Tudors Season 1 Soundtrack, Trevor Morris–“An Historic Love”
8. Are you a Plotter or Pantser?
I think writing anything involves a little planning, but I guess I’m a Panster. I think a muse sort of visits me and pops ideas into my head randomly, and then I write them down. Sometimes I just get a snippet of dialogue or a scene and a light bulb goes on, I and just go with it and let it flow out. Unfortunately for me this tends to happen at around two in the morning.
I don’t write in any order. I usually start with scenes somewhere in the middle, and the story and plot develops from there. My stories tend to write themselves, I never know how they will begin or end. I just know that there’s a story in there somewhere.
Plus, I have a tendency to keep re-writing a character, because they keep changing in my head. I’ll read something I wrote about them, and think–gross. They sound like a goody-goody, or completely evil–which isn’t that realistic.
9. What’s your favorite part of writing?
The best part about writing, for me, is getting to create and develop characters. Through them, I get to be different people, and experience different places and times. It’s almost like playing the Sims. You sort of get this god-like complex. You get to decide what they do, want, and even eat! You give them love, heartbreak, conflict. You also get to decide how they react to it all.
That probably makes me sound crazy, but I love being able to make up a fictional person and give them their own life within the words of the story.
10. What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give to fellow adventurers?
I’ve seen this quote, not sure where it comes from, but it’s something that has kept me motivated–“Write the story you want to read”.
For whatever reason, there’s a story out there that hasn’t been written yet, that you want to hear, and you can make it happen! Sometimes you worry–will other people even want to read this? It doesn’t matter. You want to!
I’ve realized, I’m a little eccentric, unusual, and get excited about nerdy things. I wouldn’t write about sports or economics, because I wouldn’t care to read about them. Yeah, there are probably not copious amounts of people out there that read, or like, the same things as me–and that’s all right. (There were like 5 people in my college major) My novel will probably not appeal to everyone, but it appeals to me. If I ever read it’s description on Amazon, I’d put that biatch on my Kindle fo sho!
This goes to say, you have to love what you’re writing. I think it will all turn out so much better if you really can’t wait to read it yourself.
About Our Guest Adventurer: Samantha Levanduski spends her days reading, writing, and baking cupcakes. She is currently planning her wedding and writing her first YA fantasy novel. She was recently transplanted from Ohio to Graham, TX with her fiancé, where she is now a domestic diva. She graduated from The Ohio State University in 2011, where she studied Arthurian literature, Latin, and mythological folklore.