Gemma’s first year of high school isn’t starting out the way she hoped. Jess is back from California and before she can memorize her class schedule their summer romance comes to a screeching halt. To add to her misery the gorgeous new girl in school also has eyes for Jess and despite Gemma’s unfailing attempts to win him back she keeps finding herself alone.
But when a late night car crash lands her a three month grounding and twenty hours of community service she discovers that there’s more to life than just romance and boyfriends.
Unpredictable and heart wrenching, Second to No One is the perfect continuation to the magical beginning of the Gemma and Jess romance.
Natalie: Perplexing question, Shawn. I had to think about this one for a minute. I think it’s because I’ve always felt sad that I missed out on my husband’s teenage years. We met in our twenties and I’ve always been kind of jealous of his high school female friends who knew what he was like back then and got to hang out with him and laugh with him and flirt with him (grrr). So I created a story about what I like to think we would have been like back then had he always lived across the street. And as stupid as Gemma can be sometimes… well, this book isn’t entirely autobiographical but it’s freakishly close.
Shawn: Lauren is a...shall we say, interesting character? What inspired you to throw her into the mix?
Natalie: Again, the inspiration came from my husband. (Isn’t it nice to know that you can still be obsessed with a guy after being married to him for seven years??) My husband is a psychiatrist and his stories have opened my eyes to the world of mental health. Depression and suicide are all around us… in our friends, family, school and often in ourselves. I wanted my readers to be surprised by Lauren. I wanted her to appear as any other chick that might be trying to steal the boy we love and just when you think you can’t hate her anymore… you find out the truth.
Shawn: All of your characters are SO well rounded and whole, what's your process for character creating? How in-depth do you really go into making each and every character so real?
Natalie: That is a huge compliment. I work extremely hard to not have shallow characters. One of my pet peeves in any book or movie is fluffy characters. For my personal writing technique I like to form characters through dialogue. For me, dialogue is the meat and potatoes of a great story. I like to show how my characters react to anything from meaningless teasing to the most frustrating, agonizing and heart breaking fight they’ve ever had in their entire lives.
Shawn: What was YOUR high school experience like? Any impacting crushes you care to share with us?
Natalie: Oh geez. I was totally boy crazy. I juggled at least three to four crushes at the same time throughout most of grade school. Trace is the combination of a few of those crushes and Jess is the combination of a few thousand different fantasies. Anyone who knew me well, though, knew that I did have one eternal crush on “that guy”. (He will remain nameless as I’m sure he has found out about my books and is stalking me on this blog tour as we speak…not.) In hind-site that crush was so stupid. But for so many years he was what got me excited to get out of bed for school in the morning. I guess we all need those guys to get us through the toughest years of our lives (aka high school). So yes, I’m the master of crushes and unrequited love. Until now. And I’m SO relieved that I got the boy that I did!
Shawn: There aren't many contemporary YA series out there, what made you decide to write a series vs. a stand-alone novel?
Natalie: Are you kidding me? Fit Gemma and Jesse’s entire story into one book? That’s crazy talk. Seriously though, I want my readers to be able to see Gemma grow up. I want them to feel the tension between her and Jess… to taste the tears on her cheek, to smell the scent of his shoulder against her hair and feel the ache in the pit of their stomachs when those two just can’t seem to figure it out. I want my readers to really get to know Gemma’s family and to see how their lives change when their dad is no longer in the world. So many of my readers hate Gemma because she’s full of flaws, inadequacies and idiotic decision that make you want to scream. But she’s going to change. She’s going to learn and blossom and become amazing and I really couldn’t accomplish all of this in just one book, nor did I want to.
Thanks for the questions, Shawn. It’s always a party to be able to talk about myself to a sea of people I’ve never met before. And thanks to Shawn’s followers for reading this far. I’ll be hanging out on the blog all day so please feel free to ask more questions or even better… tell me about your past, present and future crushes, fantasies and unrequited loves.
Okay, ya'll! Now's the time to kiss and tell! Share your stories and be sure to check out Natalie's series and the rest of her stops on the blog tour!