Local people, places inspired seventh grader’s superhero novel

AGAWAM – Samantha Izzo, a seventh grader at Agawam Junior High School, recently published her first novel, “Tale of the Animagee.”

Izzo’s inspiration for writing this novel began in third grade, and came from her teacher and the writings of JK Rowling. However, it wasn’t until fifth grade when she officially began putting her thoughts to paper.

“I like to make short stories,” said Izzo, although her creation was much more.

In a little over 200 pages, Izzo tells the fictional story of four siblings who are orphans, living on their own and navigating through life. They later learn they have superpowers, which takes them on a whole new journey.

The book is aimed towards readers aged 9 to 14 – kids like the author herself, who is turning 13 this month.

That’s not the only similarity to Izzo’s life, as “Tale of the Animagee,” takes place in West Springfield, and mentions the town’s rivalry with Agawam. Izzo’s parents, Melissa and Chris, are from Agawam and West Springfield, respectively. Melissa said a lot of influence on her daughter’s choices for the places and people mentioned in the book stems from them.

Chris is a teacher at West Springfield High School. When Izzo was writing her book, she said a coworker of her dad’s, an AP English teacher, assisted in the editing process and provided feedback.
It’s her work, though. Melissa said, “We read through it. [as well]and didn’t want to change much.”

Melissa said they submitted Samantha’s story to Amazon.com, which reviewed it and judged it to be worthwhile for publishing. As of last week, Izzo has sold over 100 copies since the book’s Christmastime release.

“At first it was family and friends, but then word started spreading around school,” said Izzo.

By posting to social media from her own account, along with her parents, Izzo has gotten the word out and is proud of her sales. After receiving positive feedback from individuals in person along with Amazon reviews, Izzo decided to “put herself out there,” and host a book signing, said Melissa.

Samantha, who writes using the name SD Izzo, will sign books on April 4 from 6 to 8 pm at the Dante Club, 1198 Memorial Ave. in West Springfield. As the Dante Club is mentioned in the story, the restaurant donated space for the event. All are invited for desserts and light refreshments, and to meet Izzo and either purchase a book or bring their own copy to be signed.

Limited copies of “Tale of the Animagee” will be available during the signing. Izzo encourages attendees to purchase the novel ahead of time. The book is available on Amazon at www.amazon.com/Tale-Animagee-SD-Izzo/dp/B09MDNBTG1.

Izzo said she purposefully ended “Tale of the Animagee” on a cliffhanger, to lead into her next novel. She hopes to complete the sequel by the end of this year. In the meantime, her goal is to “share the novel with as many people as possible” and continue getting the word out.

As an avid reader herself, currently, Izzo’s favorite author is Rick Riordan, writer of the Percy Jackson series. Her favorite novel of hers is “The Maze Runner.”

Melissa said Samantha has a shelf in her room that is stocked with books that “take up the whole wall.”
Aside from writing and reading, Izzo plays basketball, soccer and softball.

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