MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Mahopac native Samantha Apicella always knew she wanted to be a writer.
“I’ve been writing my entire life,” the 24-year-old said. “When I was in elementary school, I would write little stories. I kept a journal; I was always looking to write.”
Apicella was born in Yonkers, but her family moved to Mahopac when she was 4. She attended Lakeview Elementary and graduated Mahopac High six years ago. Earlier this year, she released her self-published debut young-adult novel titled, “Through Her Voice,” which is now available for purchase on Amazon.
“I went to Pace University where I majored in communications and wrote for the school paper; I had my own radio show there at one point,” Apicella said. “That was when I started to write ‘Through Her Voice.’ It took several years to write and publish it—it’s a long process.”
“Through Her Voice” tells the story of two high school misfits, Her (whose name doesn’t matter) and Rusty (her bad boy ex), whose journal entries take the reader into the characters’ evolving yet angst-ridden lives growing up in a small, suburban town.
Apicella attended the writers’ group forum at Mahopac Library where group members offered useful advice on plotting and self-publishing.
“I used Create Space by Amazon [to self-publish],” she said. “I went with that platform because the writers’ group said it was good. I got lost at first, but they helped me. My uncle gave me a few pointers, too. Once I got the hang of it, it was just a matter of going back and editing and resubmitting files. I finally got it.”
Apicella said that the writers’ group, as well as family and friends, told her that early incarnations of the book were missing something.
“My mother is brutally honest,” Apicella noted.
Apicella realized the book needed another voice besides that of the protagonist, “Her.” So, she added Rusty, Her’s “bad boy” ex-boyfriend. Both of their stories, intertwined, are told via journal entries.
“I read a lot of young adult books and [many] are in journal form and I like that. It’s more accessible,” she said. “I was pretending to write [a journal] as a girl in high school. I was thinking of people I knew in high school and had those characters in my head a long time. I started writing and didn’t stop.
“The girl, you never learn her name because, for me, the story is universal themes and messages. She could be anyone,” Apicella said. “It doesn’t matter who she is, and I want to leave it up to the reader to decide.”
Apicella describes the young-adult novel as “edgy.”
“She (the protagonist) is trying to avoid [Rusty] because he’s a stoner and hangs with a bad element,” she said. “She is a loner with a journal, which is where she can be free. Meanwhile, Rusty is starting to realize that [he needs to change].”
Apicella said her female protagonist has a dysfunctional home life with a mentally abusive father.
“These are evergreen elements,” she said. “Whether you grew up in the ‘70s or today, they’ve always existed. Even though the story is fictional, it’s based on people I knew in high school. One guy thought it was based on him, but I had to tell him, sorry, it’s not about you.”
Apicella said that after several years of hard work, she is ecstatic the book is finally finished and available for purchase.
“For so long I was afraid to publish it and I don’t know why, and I now feel such a sense of accomplishment,” she said.
Apicella has already begun the task of her second book— and while it is a young-adult novel, this one won’t use journal entries for the narrative.
“This one is completely different,” said Apicella, who works in the sales department for Westchester Magazine when she is not writing. “It is toward the young adult side, but it will have some supernatural elements. I am in the very beginning stages of writing it.
“Becoming a bestselling author is my dream,” she added. “I work in media at the moment, but writing is something I am never going to stop doing. It has always been an outlet to express myself.”