5 Questions With: Author Natalie D. Richards + Book Announcement!

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[Note From Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora Dominguez got the opportunity to interview author Natalie D. Richards and ask her five(ish) questions. Natalie’s novel ‘What You Hide is out now!]

We’re thrilled to announce three new pulse-racing YA thrillers from Natalie D. Richards, author of What You Hide, starting with The Detour in fall 2020, and followed by the other new titles in fall 2021 and fall 2022. In The Detour, a blizzard diverts teenager Avery’s flight to visit her mother for Christmas, so she joins a carpool with a group of waylaid college students. But as their journey proceeds and road conditions worsen, it becomes devastatingly clear that someone in the car will do anything to keep them from reaching their destinations.

Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel, What You Hide?

Natalie: Well, old libraries (the creepier the better) are inspiration enough, but working in an old, beautiful public library has opened my eyes to the reality that while our challenges and difficulties vary wildly depending on our situation and support, we’re all struggling with something. My childhood left me very close to a struggle incredibly similar to Mallory’s and these things together created the story.

What character do you most relate to and why?

Mallory from What You Hide is probably the closest character I’ve ever had to my teenage self. Her need to stand on her own two feet and to step away from the path paved by her mother is something that came very naturally to me.

Why do you feel young adult books are so popular and have such a voice right now?

Mostly I think it’s because there are very high quality authors putting out great content. A lot of YA fiction has a cinematic quality to it, which is also appealing, but mostly I think it’s the quality of the work, the honesty of the age, and the boundaries that YA is willing to push. 

Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.

What You Hide follows Mallory, a teen struggling with homelessness, and Spencer, a privileged teen with struggles of his own. Inside the local public library, Mallory finds an unexpected connection with Spencer and a safe sanctuary for cold nights. But Mallory isn’t the only one hiding in the Fairview Public Library…and therein lies the creepy edge to their story.

What’s next for you in the book world?

I’m currently working on The Detour, which is about a stranded teen who winds up on a nightmare road trip. Desperate to make it home for the holidays, Mallory accepts a ride with four strangers, but the people in this car are hiding big secrets. And one of those secrets might be murder.

What’s your favorite writing method that you follow for inspiration?

I tend to write by the seat of my pants without too much clue where I’m going in each scene, and often in the book as a whole. I find this helps me to maintain an authentic edge of suspense in my work because frankly—I have no idea how or if these characters are getting out of whatever mess I’ve written them into.  HA!  As for editing, though, I do have several methods I use. I follow Hero’s Journey and think this is a great way to evaluate a manuscript to see where there might be holes. I also use Freytag’s Pyramid and occasionally the three-act structure. And color coding. And timelines. And collaging.  Frankly, when I’m stuck or editing something tough, I will try ANYTHING and every book proves to be a little bit different.

The Three Thrillers that Everyone Should Read:

I doubt all of these are technically considered thrillers, but they’re all books with a spooky, thrilling edge and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

The Girl With All The Gifts: M.R. Carey

I think this is a fascinating study of what it means to be human. Also, the slow sinister reveal of what’s happening in this story kept me utterly transfixed. It was amazing and everyone should read.

Silence of the Lambs: Thomas Harris

Being able to create a three dimensional villain is critical to a successful thriller, however creating a villain a reader can (in some way) like? That’s a whole different level of success. Hannibal is one of the greatest villains ever written and everyone should check him out.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

I’ve never read a book that sucked me into the atmosphere so quickly and completely as Rebecca. Every page I turned seemed to pull me further under its spell and I stayed that way until the end. It’s not precisely a thriller, but it thrilled me and I can’t recommend it enough.

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