Arts and Culture

Was Isaac Newton gay? Filipina author offers answers

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com
Was Isaac Newton gay? Filipina author offers answers
Locally-based, best-selling author Samantha Sotto recently launched her second book, "Love and Gravity," about the imaginary love story of English physicist Isaac Newton.
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MANILA, Philippines — Was scientist Isaac Newton gay?

“No, he’s not gay!” Filipino best-selling author Samatha Sotto immediately exclaimed.

“How did you know?” Philstar.com asked.

“Because I researched!” affirmed Sotto, who “stalked” the late English physicist for her latest romance novel, “Love and Gravity.”

Now available at National Book Store, “Love and Gravity” follows the story of Andrea Louviere, who met a mysterious boy when she was just seven years old. On her 17th birthday, she receives a 300-year-old love letter from Isaac Newton. Andrea knows that Isaac will change the world with his groundbreaking discoveries; the letter tells Andrea that she will change him.

Despite a burgeoning romance in the present time, Andrea grows determined to follow Isaac’s clues to their shared destiny. When she finally discovers a way into Isaac’s time, Andrea realizes that she faces a heartbreaking decision: between what was, and what might be.

Sotto majored in Communications at the Ateneo de Manila University. She followed her father’s footsteps and joined the marketing group of a multinational company. Due to the constant travel required by work, she felt that she was living in a suitcase and opted to quit work and focus on her family. She would later release her first novel, “Before Ever After,” in 2011.

“Before Ever After,” said Samantha, has a main character that believes he could get anything if he had a chicken, making this manuscript quirkier than her second book. She wrote “Before Ever After” after having a “hangover” from the movie, “The Time Traveler’s Wife.”

Devastated at the death of Eric Bana’s character in the movie, Sotto told herself: “If I would write my book, he wouldn’t die. In fact, he couldn’t die!”

Sotto wrote her novels while waiting for her kids to come home from school. So, is she a J.K.Rowling in the making?

“Well, except that she’s a billionaire!” Samantha cajoled.

Following a book on how to publish internationally, Samantha e-mailed her raw, unedited manuscript to many publishers abroad. After three months, she successfully found an agent, the same one that represented Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl,” now a Hollywood motion picture.

The agent, said Samantha, no longer accepts clients after “Gone Girl,” but agreed to represent her as the agent reportedly cannot put her book down. The book was then published by major publishing company, Random House. The book now has a Polish edition.

Her second book, “Love and Gravity,” is actually the third since the real second was rejected and she has no plans of publishing it.

At first, “Love and Gravity’s” publisher, Ballantine Books, was hesitant to release the book, thinking that Newton is not “commercial” enough. But since an official of the company reportedly cannot get the book out of her head, the company decided to give the book a shot.

“Love & Gravity” is more serious than “Before Ever After” because of its subject matter, Newton. “I was watching ‘Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter,’ then I thought it would be fun to do an alternative history,” Sotto enthused.

She then challenged herself to think of “the most unlikely romantic person” from the past. Her list included Galileo, but she narrowed it down to Newton.

“Math, Science, no way!” she immediately said in defiance when asked if she is a science geek or a fan of Newton.

She chose Newton because she found out that when he was 24 years old, he had his “annus mirabilis,” his miracle year. Cambridge was closed that year, so he had to be back home. “But at the end of that year, he was able to come up with Laws of Gravity, Motion, Calculus, and no one knew what happened, especially when it comes to his personal life. No one knew what happened to him that year,” Samantha explained.

She also discovered that Newton was boarding with a family before he went to Cambridge University and had a relationship with the daughter of his landlord.

“Since there’s this gap in his life that no one knew about when he was 24, doon ako sisingit. I will put my own story in. I will provide a different explanation as to why he was motivated to come up with these discoveries. Everybody knows Newton as the guy who saw the apple fall and explained how it fell. I wanted to write the story of the woman who dropped the apple. That’s how the story formed in my head.”

She admitted that the book is so fantastical, so she heavily Googled Newton and watched documentaries on the mathematician’s life. “You have to have the facts correct for you to have that leap of faith from this foundation of truth. Otherwise, it will not be credible. It will be harder to believe…Fact is so important to fiction.”

After “Love and Gravity,” Sotto is actually done with her fourth novel, which still delves on love.

“Love is something that we need now, especially when you look at social media. Everything that you see is bad news. The first things we lose as adults is the sense of wonder, magic, and hopefulness and it’s very hard at these times to remember that feeling that we had when we were younger. I feel that stories like these help bring us back to a happier time. I feel that it’s a chain of things – if you feel good after you read something good, you will tend to have a better day. If you have a better day, then the people you meet that day will have a better day. It’s like a chain effect,” she explained on why she continues to write about love.

“It’s not going to change the world or anything like that, but it’s a little dose of happiness, and who doesn’t want to feel in love?”

While she does not know how writing changed her life, she does know that it saves her from one of the most horrifying events in recent times — heavy traffic.

“All I have to do is roll out of bed and write!” remarked the mother of two, who finds it a privilege to write stories for a living. Though she does not earn as much as Rowling does, she said that as a full-time writer, she gets as much as she did when she was still working in the office.

“It’s like being a kid again. I get to play with my imaginary friends and get paid for it!”

So far, her books had no movie offers yet, so before closing the interview, she made a bid: “Hello, Mother Lily!”



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