The short version is this: Samantha Sotto walked into a secondhand bookshop one day and became an international best-selling writer. The long version, as the Filipino author herself tells it, is much more interesting. “It was like the universe was leading me to it,” she says. “I was in Booksale and I saw an Idiot’s Guide to publishing. It was like P50, and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s a sign!’”
Her first book, Before Ever After, was a product of daily writing sessions at Starbucks while she waited to pick up her son from school. After making her impulse purchase, Sotto, who didn’t consider herself a “real writer” at the time, started considering submitting her novel for publication. Before Ever After was a huge hit, but when it came time for a follow-up, Sotto at first couldn’t deliver. “I experienced rejection, so my agent basically told me, ‘What do you want to do? Do you want to revise this, or do you want to start over?’ And that was the point I had to decide. Do I really want to be a writer? So it was in that moment that I decided, yes, I will be a real writer. I’m going to do this.” And so she started over. The result, Love and Gravity, finds a girl from modern-day San Francisco crossing the boundaries of time and space to fall in love with a young Isaac Newton.
Sitting in the Writers Bar of Raffles Makati, Sotto spoke to Young STAR about her influences, Newton as a romantic lead, and what it means to kill your darlings.