Meet Up-and-Coming Leamington
Author Samantha Sabelli Ion
Story by Karen Tinsley
Photography by Matthew Sabelli
Born and raised in Leamington, Samantha Sabelli Ion was an enthusiastic reader with a preference for heart-and-soul-warming stories.
Now a primary school teacher and married mom of a 2-year-old toddler, it’s pretty understandable that Samantha took nearly ten years to craft and complete A Twist in Her Fate, her first book.
Since then, Samantha’s passion for writing continues to inspire her. “I like to say that my creativity knows no bounds,” Samantha laughs. “Unlike many people, when the pandemic dramatically changed our lives in 2020, I found a real silver lining. I had a ton of time to devote to writing and eventually publishing A Twist of Her Fate.”
In the first of a planned series of novels, we meet 23-year-old Sophia Destino, a small-town girl desperate for change after holding on too long to a broken heart. She decides to pursue her freedom by moving to Toronto to pursue a graduate degree.
While living it up in the big city, temptations abound for naïve, small-town Sophia and her new friend Charlotte. From potential lovers to sticky social and work situations to blunders and scandalous moments, Sophia endures and overcomes, all while discovering who she is and what her heart truly desires.
Are Sophia and the other characters inspired or based on real-life people?
Samantha shares, “They’re a bit of both. I see myself in Sophia, even though she’s a totally and completely different person than I am.”
Samantha considers A Twist in Her Fate to belong in the Young Adult fiction (YA) genre. Generally, the YA audience targets from 12 to 18 years of age but interestingly, half of YA readers are adults. The themes in YA are expansive, including most of those found in adult fiction (such as friendship, first love, relationships and identity). YA subject matter correlates with the age and experience of the main characters, which invites more mature readers to “take a trip back in time.”
New authors seeking to distribute their book have two publishing options: First, acquire a literary agent which is by no means easy. Agents are the gatekeepers to the traditional publishing world. Publishers have been known to offer deals to authors without agents, but it makes a time-consuming, tedious process considerably more difficult. A standard deal gives the publisher exclusive rights to print and distribute the book. The author works with a publishing house editor to execute a final draft. Whether or not the novel ultimately sees the light of day is at the discretion of the publishing company.
Every book you see on the New York Times bestseller list was issued by a traditional publisher.
Samantha says, “I did my homework and found out that only 2% of new authors actually secure a traditional book deal. That’s a real long shot.”
Like many new authors, Samantha is proving her chops with the second option, in the world of self-publishing.
Self-published authors skip the publishing house and get their book out by making it available for print-on-demand (copies only printed when someone orders one), as an e-book (requires no paper and no printing), audiobook (which can be issued by the author or a traditional publisher) or by printing and selling copies online or in person.
Establishing an online presence really got things going for Samantha.
“People far and wide have read A Twist of Her Fate, thanks to the internet. It’s great for connecting with readers, who give me awesome feedback. Just recently I was in touch with a reader from Thailand. It’s inspiring and keeps me going. I’m a so grateful whenever anyone cares enough to say anything at all about my book, and any online attention helps boost sales.”
Self-publishing also means authors get their books out quickly. A traditional publication may take three years from the final draft to bookstore shelves (first you need to find an agent, go on submission, secure a deal, then wait 12-18 months for your book to be released).
A time-worn piece of advice for aspiring authors is “write what you know.” If you live on a sheep farm, you know the feel of a newborn lamb’s damp, tight-curled fleece and the sharp sound a well-bucket chain makes as it scrapes on stone. If you live in a metropolis, you know the feel of the subway rumbling beneath the sidewalk and the sounds of sirens wailing in the distance. You know all the feelings that flourish in specific settings.
And no matter what your age, you also know emotional truths (how you feel about situations).
For Samantha, this means “the story should remain true to lived experience. I say to myself, “this is how I see it”, “this is how it happened” or “here’s my take on the story.”
But by the same token, Samantha tries to remember that truth is relative (what’s true for one person might not be true for another). Best-selling author Pat Conroy once remarked “if you get too wrapped up in truths, then your story won’t get told.”
And speaking of truth, does Samantha remember the first book she read that made her cry?
“Wow, good question! I was just a kid when I started reading the Harry Potter series, but the well-developed characters really resonated with me.”
Speaking of well-developed characters, writing a compelling story is hard work. From people to place to plot to purpose, an author must create the perfect storm: one that will really hook readers from the first page and not let them go until the last.
To purchase A Twist in Her Fate, visit www.sophiadestinoseries.ca