Author Chat with Sara Shepard
Today we're excited to chat with Sara Shepard, author
of The Amateurs!
Below you'll find more about Sara,
her new book.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
SARA SHEPARD: I wanted to continue writing mysteries, like Pretty Little Liars, but I loved the idea of kids actively solving the mysteries—being way smarter than the adults. I also wanted to explore the idea: “How well do you really know someone?” It seems pertinent in this day of Catfishing, social media friends, and online dating. Also, I wanted to create a character even more diabolical than Alison DiLaurentis. Hopefully I’ve done that.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
SARA SHEPARD: Well, getting into my favorite “evil” character isn’t fair because that gives away the twist. But right now I’d say Seneca. She’s the heart of our story, the smartest of the group, but she’s incredibly damaged. I like writing about damaged characters.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
SARA SHEPARD: Definitely the novel. We brainstormed for months what the title should be. At first it was going to be Masterminds, which I quite loved, but I think the title was used. There were probably several hundred titles suggested before we hit on The Amatuers.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
SARA SHEPARD: Probably the ones dealing with Seneca and how she’s dealing with her past. She keeps it from everyone at first, which makes sense—she doesn’t know any of her new friends beyond their talks online. I also really like Aerin’s inner moments where she’s feeling self-destructive and miserable over her missing sister.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
SARA SHEPARD: I think I’ve learned a lot about craft and plotting, though in that I think I’ve lost some of my freespirited tendencies to go off on tangents, which can be kind of funny. And being that I started writing stories at age 10, I’ve also learned what it takes to get from chapter one to chapter twenty. (I always stalled out at chapter one when I was a kid.)
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
SARA SHEPARD: I love the color—my books are always so deliciously bright! And the fingerprints. It definitely creates a mood.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
SARA SHEPARD: Next up is FOLLOW ME, the second book in the Amateurs trilogy. I’m working on it now. I also have a few other things in the works—two standalone novels. But I can’t speak to them right yet.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
SARA SHEPARD: I’ve found it difficult getting into boys’ heads. Teenage boys especially. I either make them too young or too old. It’s probably because I totally didn’t understand teenage boys when I was a teenager myself. My boyfriend in high school was such an adult as a teenager, but another boy I dated was so juvenile I broke up with him pretty quickly. It’s hard to strike that balance!
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
SARA SHEPARD: It’s funny, the two processes feel so different. I like the original draft, but it’s tough when you get stuck. In revision, it’s nice to have a map. I actually really love already having words on the page and further manipulating them so that they’re better. So I guess that would be editing!
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
SARA SHEPARD: Eyes in the back of my head.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
SARA SHEPARD: The SPCA/ Dog rescue communities. I’ve rescued many dogs in my life, and so many are mistreated!
Meet The Amateurs!
From #1 New York Times best-selling author Sara Shepard comes a thrilling new mystery series perfect for fans of Serial and Pretty Little Liars.
Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without answers–without any idea who killed Helena, or why.
Eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier wants to change that. After connecting with Maddy Wright, his friend Brett, and Helena’s sister, Aerin Kelly, on a message board dedicated to solving cold cases, she just might succeed where the police have failed. But Seneca is hiding some dark secrets of her own–secrets that could get in the way of the investigation.
And somewhere nearby, the killer is watching…ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.
Meet Sara Shepard!
For as long as she can remember, Sara Shepard has been writing. However, when she was young she also wanted to be a soap opera star, a designer for LEGO, a filmmaker, a claymation artist, a geneticist, and a fashion magazine editor when she grew up. She and her sister have been creating joint artistic and written projects for years, except they’re pretty sure they’re the only ones who find them funny.
She got her MFA at Brooklyn College and now lives outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and dogs. Her first adult novel is called The Visibles/ All The Things We Didn’t Say.
Sara’s bestselling young adult series, Pretty Little Liars, is loosely based on her experiences growing up on Philadelphia’s Main Line…although luckily she never had any serious stalkers. The series has also inspired the ABC Family television series of the same name.