Meet debut YA author Natalie Richards

I’m really excited to bring Natalie to you today.  We’re both members of the same chapter of RWA and have known each other for several years.  To have Natalie on the blog today feels a bit like an early Christmas present.  Her debut novel, SIX MONTHS LATER, is climbing the Young Adult charts like a superstar.  So allow me to introduce you all to Natalie Richards.

NATALIE RICHARDSDonna thanks so much for having me on Romance Bandits today!  I’m thrilled to be here and can’t wait to chat with some of your amazing readers!! 

Natalie, we both know it takes a long time and often multiple books to before that first sale occurs.  How long did you write before you sold?

In some ways I’m a lifer and in some ways I’m fairly new.  I won my first writing competition in the second grade and have been writing ever since.  That said, I didn’t really start seriously pursuing writing with the goal of publication until 2008.  I was a double Golden Heart finalist in the Young Adult category in 2012 and, while I didn’t win the contest, I did sell one of the finalist manuscripts, so I call that a victory!  😛

A definite victory, I’d say!  We love to hear call stories in the lair, can you share yours?  How did you celebrate?
My call came in the evening the day after my birthday.  I knew we were close to a sale, so it wasn’t an out of the blue surprise, but when my agent called with details we were right in the middle of bedtime with three young kids.  I wound up hiding in my son’s closet to try to hear everything she was saying.  A couple of days later we celebrated with the kids at a big family-style Italian restaurant, but the part I’ll always remember is that my dream came true while I was standing next to a pile of my son’s dirty hockey clothes.hockey meme

 Why Young Adult?

Love this question!  I tried on a few other genres before moving to YA, but I started to realize that the books I loved, the books I wanted to buy, and the books that changed me…they were Young Adult novels more often than not.  

I think there’s something beautiful about the teen years.  It’s such a raw and difficult time, but there are so many amazing parts of being a teenager.  For most of us, these are the years when we first understand who we are and who we want to be.  These are the years when we first fall in love, and learn how we define romance.  Speaking to teen romance in particular, there is something about the intensity of emotion that sweeps me right off my feet!

Six Months LaterHaving read SIX MONTHS LATER, I think this story will sweep readers off their feel.  Can you tell us about the story?  And while I know you’ve been asked this question a million times, can you tell us about your inspiration?  

Six Months Later follows seventeen-year-old Chloe, who falls asleep in Study Hall on a sunny afternoon and wakes up on a snowy night to learn that six months have passed and her life is totally transformed. She can’t remember how she landed her Ivy-League worthy grades or her popular boyfriend, Blake, and she definitely can’t remember what happened to destroy her relationship with her best friend.  

So, what happened to her?  And why does everything feel so wrong?

Six Months Later was inspired by a creepy dream I had about nodding off on a summer afternoon and waking up in the middle of a snowy night.  The idea of losing a chunk of time with no explanation terrified me.  The question stayed with me and slowly, Six Months Later was born.   🙂

Inspired by a dream – some would call that a gift book, but I know that every book requires a lot of hard work.  Any words of wisdom for writers chasing the dream?  

Read a lot. Write a lot. Lather, rinse, repeat.   😆  

Truly, I believe the key to becoming a published writer is to passionately pursue fiction, both as an artist and a consumer.  Classes, craft books, and writing groups are all marvelous tools as well, but I think reading and writing are crucial. 

Can you share an excerpt?

The memory rocks through me like a shockwave.  Quick and powerful.

I see leaves.  A red-gold carpet of them litters my lawn.  My rake pushes them into piles, baring trails of green grass and the crisp, unmistakable smell of autumn in the air.  

Beside me, Adam looks up from his own rake.  “I can’t believe you talked me into this.”

I roll my eyes. “You’re the one who kept me up until three in the morning for, what was it? Eight Halo rematches last night?  Remind me again how many of those you won?”

Instead of replying, Adam tosses his rake and lunges for me.

I feel his hands on my waist and laughter bubbling out of me as he hauls me into the air and then tosses me into the pile.  Leaves crunch beneath me as I laugh, pulling at his feet and knees until I bring him down beside me. 

I smell the sweetness of October all around me as we lie there side by side, laughing until my cheeks ache with it.  Adam rolls on his side to face me.  His eyes are so blue, I feel myself getting lost in them.  I know I’m staring and I know it’s obvious and somehow it’s so ridiculous that it only makes me laugh more.

My shoulders are shaking and I should stop, but it’s just so crazy.  Then Adam reaches for my face, and there’s nothing funny about it.

His eyes go soft and my insides curl like ribbons on a gift.  I feel the ghost of his fingers on my hair.  It only leaves me aching for more. 

Love it!   What’s next for you?

My second Young Adult Thriller for Sourcebooks is tentatively titled Choose One Name.  I’m very excited about this book, but since it’s still in edits, I can’t say too much yet.  I will say it’s a story that explores the cost of righting a wrong, and how bad things can go when someone can’t afford the price.

I can also tell you that, much like Six Months Later, Choose One Name is set in the heart of winter!  For a girl who prefers the beach at summer, I sure do write a lot about snow! 😀  

So what about you?  What’s your favorite season and why?

Also, Donna mentioned sharing a favorite recipe, so I’ve chosen a classic that’s super easy and sanity-saving for those last minute holiday gatherings. 

 

N0-BAKE NO-FUSS COOKIES

For when you can’t possibly deal with waiting for butter to get soft to make real cookies…

1 stick of butter

2 cups of white sugar

¼ cup cocoa

½ cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

¾ tsp. salt

1/3 c. peanut butter (or sunbutter if you’re allergic!)

3 cups of oatmeal

Cook first three ingredients until at a full boil.  Boil for one minute.  Remove from heat, stir in last four ingredients and drop by spoonfuls onto foil or parchment paper.  Cookies will set up in an hour.  The little sloppy bits you drip are delicious and totally fair game.

Natalie will be choosing someone leaving a comment today to receive a copy of Six Months Later.  As part of the twelve days of Christmas, that individual will also be receiving a rooster ornament from the Romance Bandits.  

COME BACK TOMORROW FOR MORE HOLIDAY FUN WITH THE 12 DAYS OF BANDITA CHRISTMAS! LOOK FOR MORE INFO ON OUR BIG CHRISTMAS DAY PRIZE!

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Comments

84 Comments

  • Helen says:

    Is he coming back to my place ?

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • Woohoo!! Eleven minutes in and someone’s got a Rooster! Congrats on being the early bird commenter!

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Helen!! I admit it, I’m a wee bit in love with Adam, but don’t tell Chloe I said so!

      Congrats on the Rooster and have a very Merry Christmas! 🙂

      • Helen says:

        Merry Christmas to you as well Natalie and I did love that scene from the book they seem like a wonderful hero and heroine

        Have Fun
        Helen

        • Thank you SO much — I’ve had a lovely release and have been so blessed to have wonderful reader support. 🙂

          Oh my, that sounds pretty hot. Normally we’re quite chilly here but today has been bizarre weather-wise in Ohio. It was 60 degrees–maybe even higher. Normally it’s closer to 25-30 so this was very odd. I didn’t even need a coat. Would have been lovely if there wasn’t so much dang rain. Oy!

          Hope you get a bit of relief and have a lovely holiday!!

  • Helen says:

    Hi Natalie and Donna

    This book sounds really good congrats on the release 🙂

    I love autumn and winter myself and I so wis it was winter it has been so hot over here the last few days 40c yesterday and 30c today and so cool change in sight 🙁 we have had the aircon running pretty much for 2 days I hate to think what my electricity bill is going to be like but with all the cooking and present wrapping and housework that needs to be done so everything is ready for Santa I need it 🙂

    Great recipe as well

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • Well Helen – maybe those grandkids running around will create a little breeze. Let them chase the rooster, he needs to work off the effect of all those tim-tams.

      Hope you have a fabulous Christmas!

      • Hey, even roosters are allowed a few extra ounces in December. Tis the season, right? 😉

      • Helen says:

        Donna

        I have Jaden staying over tonigh his sister Hayley has to have more X-Rays on her broken arm very early in the morning so we thought it best if Jaden stayed over so the GR is being run round in circles at the moment but the aircon is still on

        Have a wonderful Christmas Donna Hugs

        Have Fun
        Helen

  • Jane says:

    Hello Donna and welcome, Natalie. We’ve been having wacky weather, too. It was 70 today in NY, but it’ll be 33 on Christmas. Autumn is my favorite season. I just love the cool comfortable weather and the fall foliage.

    • Hi Jane!

      I’m with you — my absolute favorite is autumn. There’s something about the smell of falling leaves and the feel of the air turning cool. I adore all the months that end in “ember.” 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

    • Not sure we had much of a fall this year. We went from cool summer to winter, but I do love the fall. My birthday is in October, my anniversary in November so it’s prime gift-receiving season :-). Love the fall colors and the crisp air and Halloween!

  • Mary Preston says:

    Favourite season? Well, I can tell you it’s NOT Summer. Even just a lick of a breeze would be welcome right now. It’s so still and hot.

    I love Autumn. The cool crisp mornings & warm days.

    • Autumn is racking up the votes!

      I think I prefer Summer over winter – with winter defined as January through March. December may be cold as winter here in the states but the holidays make it so darn festive – it’s not like the other winter months.

    • Mary, how did I miss you! I don’t like it too hot either — NO THANK YOU! I like to be able to talk a stroll without sweating, so I’m with you!! 🙂

  • Heathercm2001 says:

    Good morning everyone! 🙂

    Six Months Later sounds very interesting. I think I am going to have to get it, and maybe one for someone as a gift as well. I’ve been trying to find some good YA to send down to my future step-niece. She is a reader, 12 years old, and I must admit, I have not read a lot of YA recently. So thank you for the help!!!

    My favorite season is autumn, without a doubt! The colors are just beautiful! Plus, it means winter is on the way, which is usually nice and peaceful. I can’t imagine living in a place that did not get a little bit of all four seasons. It would definitely not suit me at all.

    • Heather, thanks so much — I’d love it if you checked our Six Months Later! And I’m completely with you — fall is the best — those colors are to die for. 🙂

      Hope your Christmas is extra merry!! 🙂

  • Patty L. says:

    This sounds like a great book, and since it is so close to Christmas I am going to order it and send it to my daughters Kindle. I love summer too. The sun, warm air, fresh grass, chlorine all make me happy and relaxed but for some reason snow and winter is romantic.

    • Aw, thank you so much! I sure hope she enjoys it and I appreciate you giving Six Months Later a shot! 🙂 It is a good book for Christmas, very wintery!

      Even though summer isn’t my absolute favorite, I do adore the smell of fresh cut grass and the fun of having my kids all tuckered out and smelling like the pool. 🙂

  • Maureen says:

    Congratulations to Natalie on her debut novel! I like spring the best, watching everything coming back alive.

    • Ah, spring is a wonderful season — it’s always kind of a sigh of relief around Ohio when we finally see the tulips and daffodils springing through!

      Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

  • Barb says:

    I like the sound of this book Natalie…

    As Helen says the weather here has been in the 30 and 40C … A lovely cool change has come so it should be a bit cooler tomorrow … I like winter but of course winter is not as cold as you have …

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad it’s intriguing! 🙂

      Yes winter can get brutal around these parts. It’s all fun and games until you walk outside and your breath kind of freeze-burns its way into your lungs. LOL!

  • Caren Crane says:

    Natalie, I so agree with you on the swept-away feeling of first love. Is anything more wonderful or horrible? And losing 6 months of time really is a nightmare to imagine! I hope this book really takes off. The one in edits has me intrigued, as well! Best of luck to you and I look forward to seeing your books around for a long time to come!

  • Diana Huffer says:

    This was a great interview! I love the story of her call celebration — especially the part about where she took the call… 🙂

    This is one of my favorite recipes! A domestic goddess I’m not, so the easier, the better!! 🙂

  • Mozette says:

    Your book sounds so interesting! I’d love to read it.

    I love Winter. Here in Australia, Winter isn’t as bitterly cold as it is in other parts of the world. But we do get a chill in the air. I love dressing up in my trackie-dacks and Ugg Boots and just keeping warm and cooking comfort food… it’s just so much fun to snuggle under the duvet and read something wonderful until late at night. 😀

    Summer just simply stinks. 😛 It’s too hot, we sweat… and you can remove so many layers of clothes before you insult sombody, or it’s illegal 😛

    • Oh. My. Gosh. A fellow boots-lover. (hugs you!!) I am with you! The MOMENT I feel the temp has dropped enough to not make me a crazy person, I’m tugging out boots. I love boots! I have an addition. Which is another reason fall is my favorite season! By the time winter rolls around, I can’t wear my really cute boots because there’s slush and salt and just…UGH.

      • Mozette says:

        Natalie! I love, love, love my Doc Martens! When it’s hot and stinky here in Summer, I stick them out in the sun and then polish them until they shine, then, when Winter comes around, I’m parading around in them! I love them! I have 8-hole black military style Doc Martens (which, right now are hiding under the chair in my bedroom feeling very neglected!). But I do love rugging up and keeping warm… 😀

        I have so many clothes which say ‘I love Winter’ all over them, you’d swear I’ve just migrated from Scotland (I’ve got the scottish red hair and fair skin) and I hide from the hot stickiness of Summer when it rolls around here in Australia. 😀

        • I, too, had a pair of Doc Mart’s for years and years. Reading this response makes me really want to go get a new pair. As if I need another pair of boots… (No really, it’s that bad!) 😉

  • Robin Gianna says:

    Good morning, Natalie! Your cookie recipe sounds delish! My son who’s home from college adores oatmeal cookies, so I just might have to make those today!

    You know I absolutely LOVED Six Months Later! Can’t wait to get my hands on your next book whenever it’s out!

    Is it lame to say I truly love every season, and what each brings? I enjoy the feeling of change in the air, and a chance for personal renewal along with the earth’s. But if I had to choose just one, springtime would be it! There’s nothing like the feeling of a warm breeze on one’s face after months of chill 🙂

    • Aw, thank you so much, Robin!! The cookies are super duper easy, and not nearly so unhealthy as some! Okay, well there’s less butter. 😉

      I totally understand the love of the change of seasons. It is kind of great to enjoy each one for what it offers. 🙂

  • Shannon says:

    Congratulations on your debut novel.

    I’m a huge fan of spring and summer. I’m a flower person and welcome each bloom of a crocus, daffodil, and tulip. I take a morning off to go commune with the cherry blossoms.

    But summer is my pool season and lots of reading. I gather with friends to gossip at a pool where I used to live. At the other pool at home, I read and dash in to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer and then to hangers. I suppose summer would be hot and oppressive if I didn’t have the pool, but the time outdoors in the sun is so energizing.

    • Oooh, reading at the pool and/or beach is an absolutely lovely pastime! Wonderful thoughts! I can see why you like it. 🙂

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words!! 🙂

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    Fall is my favorite season. I love the changing colors of the leaves on the trees, and the smells . . . Apple and pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. The temperature cools down and there’s just a difference in the air. It also means Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner!

    • Debbie, the smell of fall finds me sniffing and smiling too. It’s just magical to me, the change in the air. Plus, you’re so right — it’s a reminder of more good things to come! Can you believe Christmas is already upon us! WOW!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Janie Mason says:

    Hi Natalie (and Donna).
    Summer is my favorite time of year as my day job is teaching. Not that I don’t love working with kids, but our vacations have always had to fit within the limitations of school breaks. As soon as I retire, Autumn will be the favorite. Cooler temperatures and pumpkin muffins : )

    • Hi Janie –

      Man, I can so relate. I always envied those people that could take spring break vacations. Spring break doesn’t exist for accountants unless it falls after April 15 (and I don’t think it ever did while my kids were in school).

    • Oh, how I would love to have a job that allowed summers off. But as a teacher, I think you earn every last one of those days off. Enjoy them, and thanks so much for stopping by!! 🙂

  • gamistress66 says:

    congrats on the release of your 1st book 🙂 I’ve always loved this time of year with the lights & people often seeming to have a little extra nice & friendly but each season holds something that makes it special in it’s own way.

    • I really love the Christmas lights. They chase away the dark. Of course, now that the winter soltice has passed, we’re getting a few extra seconds of daylight every day. There comes a time in January & February where I live for those few extra seconds 🙂

    • It’s so true that every season does have its own charm, but I completely see what you mean about the lights! Is there anything more magical than Christmas lights? So dreamy! 🙂

      Thank you so much for the congrats — I’ve been enjoying every step of this awesome ride!

  • Natalie!!!

    Just stopped by to wish you continued writing success. Great interview!

    Merry Christmas and best wishes for a Joyous 2014!

    Patricia

  • ellie says:

    Congratulations and best wishes. Merry Christmas. I love Summer, the warmth, night soothing temps and walks.

  • may says:

    Congrats on your book!

    I live your recipe! No baking is good! Will try it!

  • diane says:

    The Fall is wonderful here, perfect temps and bright blue skies which are ideal for long walks. Your book sounds wonderful.

  • annie says:

    Congratulations on your release. I enjoyed your post and recipe. I am a summer person and have always been from way back. I need heat and lots of it.

  • pearl says:

    An interesting interview and great recipe. Congrats and much success and happiness. I left winter for a warmer clime.

  • Thanks so much for the lovely wishes, Pearl! No Bakes are super yummy, right? 🙂

    I hope you enjoy a nice, warm Christmas this year. The temperature has dropped significantly here so it is CHILLY!

  • sandyg265 says:

    I like spring when everything turns green again.

    • I do love the return of green. Winter can be lovely, but by the time April rolls around, I am ready for green grass and sunshine, and that’s usually how late it is before we get it. 🙂

  • bn100 says:

    Sounds interesting

  • Connie Fischer says:

    Hi, Natalie! I am intrigued by the plot of your book and look forward to reading it. Congratulations on the release!

  • Hi Donna! Hi Natalie! Natalie, huge congratulations on your debut – and on your huge success. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about SIX MONTHS LATER. Great title, by the way. Was it the original title or one that changed during edits? What a fabulous premise! A dream gift in many ways!

  • I love this advice: Truly, I believe the key to becoming a published writer is to passionately pursue fiction, both as an artist and a consumer.

    Yes! I couldn’t agree more. I am reaching for that Golden Heart final, same as you did 🙂

    • Stephanie, I wish you the absolute best of luck!! The Golden Heart contest is an amazing experience and I highly recommend it. Something tells me I’m not the only one who does! 😉

      Thank you so much for stopping by — best wishes for publication success!!

    • Hey Stephanie – Just wanted to send some good luck vibes for the Golden Heart your way. Just remember that every contest is a crapshoot. My entry that won in 2006 didn’t make the finals in 2005 – so luck does play a part. Wishing you plenty of it. 🙂

  • catslady says:

    Thanks for the excerpt. I’ve not read a lot of this genre but I’m always looking for something new. I enjoy Spring the most. All that green and flowers beginning to show and no more cold, icy days.

    • You’re very welcome! I can sure understand that. Winter in Ohio is a long and somewhat miserable ordeal. It’s always a bit of a relief to see a crocus sprouting up here or there. 🙂

  • Amy Conley says:

    My fav season is easy, summer, summer, summer, and summer. If I had the money I would travel almost year roungd to live in places which only had temps of 80 degrees or warmer year-round.

    • Oh, Amy, you really are a summer gal!! 80 degrees is nice, but just a few degrees after that is too hot for me, so I’m really glad someone enjoys it! Thanks so much for stopping by!!

  • Marcy Shuler says:

    I loved the excerpt from your book, Natalie, and it takes place in my favorite season: Fall. I love the color of the leaves and the scent in the air. Also it’s not too hot or too cold…yet. 🙂

  • What a great idea for a book !! Loved the excerpt. I can’t wait to read it and I think my niece will love it too.

  • flchen1 says:

    Wow–what an exciting premise for a story, Natalie! Congrats on this! I confess that I haven’t read much YA lately, but am starting to again, especially now that my kids are beginning to be old enough to be reading it also! It is such a good reminder of some of the things that are so key to the human experience that transcend age.