By Haofei Liu, Spotlight Interviewer
Samantha Vervoordt is a teenage self-published author of a young adult science fiction/fantasy novel. Her book, Mutant, has received very favorable reviews on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Although Mutant is only Vervoordt’s first published book, it captures beautifully her vision of a dystopian future. If you’d like to contact her or find out more information about Mutant, feel free to visit her Facebook page or contact her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
AK!: Can you give us a brief summary of your book Mutant?
Samantha Vervoordt: Mutant takes place in a dystopian future where teenagers are used as lab rats to further evolution and to aid society as a whole in a process known as the Tests. Obviously, this has gone completely wrong, and everyone realizes it. Nami, a sixteen year old who has just recently gone into the Testing process, finds herself unexpectedly thrown into an escape plan, ending up in the forest with both Mace and Joel, two boys who were also put through the Tests. While there, there are a lot of dangers that the three will have to face, but they find that the Tests were actually helpful to their survival.
AK!: What inspired the plot of the book?
SV: Some of my favorite storylines tend to come when I’m absentminded (something that happens pretty often). It’s just a sudden flash of an idea that you have to grab onto it before it goes away. Then, without even putting the thought back in your mind, that snippet becomes a movie playing behind your eyes so often that you feel that you need to write it all down. That’s what happened with Mutant. The process of coming up with a plot idea is one of the best feelings in the world.
AK!: Who (or what) inspired the characters of Mutant?
SV: Originally, I tried to put some of my friends’ characteristics into each of the characters, especially Mace and Joel. As I started to develop the story, however, the characters took on lives of their own while I wrote. Nami, the main character, was probably the most difficult to write, especially at the start of the novel, because she is very unlikely, especially in her stark pessimism even in the initial paragraphs. It was a fun challenge, though, and I think I learned a lot from just writing these different characters.
AK!: Are you planning on making sequels for this book? Do you have any other upcoming writing projects?
SV: I am not coming up with any sequels for Mutant. I think that books should only have sequels when they really need them, and I wanted Mutant to be a standalone piece that really means something. The whole piece, especially with the names of the characters, is meant to be an allegory to the way that life works and how people are. However, I am always writing other things for fun. Just recently, I began work on another science-fiction story that I fell in love with the second the plot came to mind. Even when I don’t have a serious piece that I’m working on, though, I always have something. Writing is my favorite thing to do, so it’s always nice to have something to put all of my emotion into.
AK!: What is your favorite genre of books? Besides novel-writing, are you interested in any other forms of writing?
SV: I like so many genres that it’s hard to pick one that I prefer, because all genres have their good and their bad. Still, I’d probably have to say fantasy books are at the top of my list. I love reading about the impossible; our world can be interesting, but I think that books to me are an escape from the everyday. Fantasy novels are some of the best ways to escape, I guess. As far as other writings, I write poetry and some short stories. As of now, though, those pieces tend to be more personal. Whenever I find myself stressed, sad, or even happy, I try to put that emotion into shorter pieces (but a lot of times, they just end up shorter because I don’t know how to finish them). All forms of writing are great, and I don’t think any one form is better; I just find some forms easier for me.
AK!: Who is your favorite author of all time and why?
SV: Edgar Allan Poe is, in my opinion, the greatest author of all time. His writings have survived over a century, which is already pretty awesome. But what really made him so great was his ability to create such detailed emotions and write a medley of different character personalities. His “show don’t tell” approach is something that I am working on, and I hope to get better with that in time.
AK!: Why do you think it’s important for kids to read?
SV: Reading is the greatest thing that we as people can do. It feeds our brains, and has the ability to make us better, more thoughtful people. More than that, books are friends to us in ways that people can’t be. In an age where television has become so predominant, it’s important for kids to feed those brains and make friends with authors both present and past through their works. Reading is also a lot of fun! There are so many choices for kids of all ages that everyone will be able to find something that they’ll enjoy. And reading grows with you, which is also really cool. There will never be an age group that has no books tailor-made to them at this point in history.
AK!: Do you have any advice for any young aspiring writers out there?
SV: Wow, that’s a lot of pressure. I think the biggest advice is that everyone is different in so many ways in their writings, so there’s no one single way to be a great writer. You’ve just got to write what you know you’re supposed to write according to yourself and not society. I am of the strong belief that you can do anything that you put your mind to. Writing takes patience and practice, but it’s really rewarding. It is also important to read a lot to learn the tricks of the trade and get inspired! That said, I still have a long way to go before achieving my own writing dreams. Mutant is currently my only published book (but there will certainly be more to come), and it is only available as an ebook, as it is self published. I still consider myself an aspiring writer because of that, but that dream has been getting closer since my book’s release.
AK!: The theme for our magazine’s September issue is “Histories and Mysteries.” How do you think your personal history has helped you in writing this book? For example, did you have any mentors that have greatly impacted you?
SV: I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. When I was little, my mom used to buy me these little book-making kits. I still remember dictating short, corny stories to my mom when I was 5 or 6 and making poorly drawn—yet extremely creative—pictures for those books. Then in six weeks those books would come back in a hard cover copy just for me, which was really exciting and inspiring. But I think that the biggest source of inspiration has been my grandmother, Miriam Jaramillo. She wrote her first children’s book a few years back and has been working on other books that are in the publishing process right now. I realized that I could do the same, especially since it had always been my dream. And ta-da! I’ve finally done it, and I couldn’t be prouder of myself.