We’re so excited that we had the opportunity to interview Amber Lynn Natusch, the author of the Hometown Antihero series. Check our reviews for Dare You to Lie, Don’t Say a Word and Come Out and Play. We’re eagerly (and impatiently) waiting for the fourth and final installment.
1. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
Soooo….funny story. I never wanted to be a writer. I’m a science nerd at heart and always knew I would work in the health care industry (I own a chiropractic practice with my husband where I specialize in pregnancy and pediatric care). But I’ve always been a creative person and a daydreamer, and it wasn’t until I got back into reading after eight years of college and grad school that I started to remember how much I loved to use my imagination.
One day, I was complaining to a staff member about a book I was reading and how it was a great premise, but it was dragging, and she said, “then maybe you should write one…”
I never back down from a ‘hold my beer’ challenge. Never.
*cue my Irish temper*
So, I wrote a book, then spent a year editing it and learning the ropes of both traditional and self-publishing. I decided to self-publish my first book in December 2011. Two months later, it hit big, and I realized that I was about to have a career whether I wanted it or not.
Now, I can’t imagine NOT having it, so I feel very fortunate that the universe pushed me that direction.
2. What inspired you to write the Hometown Antihero series?
Two things, really:
1) My undying love for Veronica Mars. I used to watch that show and blurt out responses to characters. Veronica would say EXACTLY what I’d just said…. It was creepy. I’ve never had a series check all the boxes for me the way that one did—and then it got cancelled. I was gutted. Absolutely gutted. Jump to ten years later when my agent and I were chatting about projects, and I told her I had this idea for a young adult mystery series a la Veronica Mars—and edgy Nancy Drew type project (Nancy was my obsession as a kid). She liked it but it got pushed to the side. Then an amazing editor at Tor Teen, who I’d submitted an adult fantasy to, asked if I wrote YA. We pitched her Hometown Antihero, and she was all in.
2) The small town in Southern Ohio that I moved to in high school. That place was a TRIP. So much of what I write about is based on people and places there. It was the perfect backdrop for the story I wanted to write, so I gave it a new name and some darker tweaks, and it was good to go.
3. Which character do you relate to most in your books?
I have a LOT of books at this point, but Kylene might be closest to how I am now. She’s what I wish I’d been at thirteen, facing a town that didn’t love outsiders. Oh, to have that level of confidence combined with zero fucks…. I would have been a force of nature.
4. What are you hoping readers will take away from your books?
That people can be flawed and still heroes.
That we don’t always have to be strong.
That we don’t always have to stand alone.
That emotion doesn’t make you weak.
That humor can help pull you from the darkness.
That life is what you make it.
5. What are your favorite Young Adult books?
Honestly? The most memorable for me are Nancy Drews. They shaped my mystery-loving mind, so I have to stick with them (though I have MANY fantasy favorites too).
6. Which writers influence you the most?
I’m not sure any influence me, but I have many I adore and respect. If I had to pick one, I would say Karen Marie Moning because when I first read the Fever series EONS ago, I thought, huh…..this is the style I would have if I wrote books. She indirectly gave me the confidence in my voice to rise to the aforementioned “hold my beer’ challenge.
7. What was the most difficult part of the publishing process for you?
For Dare You to Lie, the hardest part was lack of control. Working with a publisher means giving all of that up, and since I’d been effectively functioning as a small publishing house on my own for years, that was tough. But I knew that would be the case, so it wasn’t a shock….just hard to navigate at times.
8. What is the best advice that you have received? Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I had the pleasure of working with an amazing editor at Tor Teen named Amy Stapp. She said something to me in passing once that has stuck with me, and is now the one thing I constantly ask myself while writing: “How does this further the story/plot?” If I don’t have an immediate answer, it goes. Period.
There is no ‘right’ way to write or publish, and if anyone tries to tell you differently, run. Fast.
9. What is your writing process like?
Chaos. Utter chaos.
I don’t outline. I don’t break everything down in to a neat and tidy spreadsheet. I don’t write linearly. I don’t necessarily know who the bad guy is when I start writing. I have rough ideas and scenes I’ve seen in my mind and strong characters who do whatever they want whether I tell them to or not. I have notebooks and whiteboards filled with arrows and circled words and heavily underlined bits that somehow add up to a story at the end of the day.
Most of my friends are gobsmacked by my “process” but…. It works, so I leave it alone.
10. Can you tell us anything about the fourth and final installment of the Hometown Antihero series?
Yes…but the real question is WILL I tell you anything
Just kidding! I can tell you that there WILL be a fourth and final book. I can tell you that you will get all the answers you’ve been waiting to get throughout the series. And I can tell you that the Ky and Dawson fans should be happy with how it all comes together in the end.