Today we're excited to chat with Sara Shepard, author of Follow Me. Read on for more about Sara and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Sara Shepard!
SARA SHEPARD is the author of the first book in this series, The Amateurs, as well as two New York Times bestselling series, Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game, and the series The Perfectionists. She graduated from NYU and has an MFA from Brooklyn College. Visit her online at @sarabooks on Twitter and Snapchat, and @saracshepard on Instagram.
It was the perfect night for a party.
That is, until twenty-one-year-old Chelsea Dawson disappeared. The social media star was last seen enjoying a beautiful summer night at the Jersey Shore with her friends. But after an explosive fight with her ex-boyfriend, she vanished without a trace.
When Seneca, Maddox, Aerin, and Madison hear about the suspected kidnapping, they notice a jarring detail about the victim: she looks exactly like Aerin’s sister, Helena, who was killed five years earlier. Seneca is convinced she knows who killed Helena, and she can’t shake the feeling that the same person has taken Chelsea.
Desperate for answers about the two girls, and the truth behind her mother’s murder, Seneca will stop at nothing to find out if the cases are linked. So when Maddox receives an invitation to the Shore from none other than their primary suspect, the Amateurs begin an intense new investigation.
Full of disturbing secrets, startling twists, and horrifying revelations, the second book in #1 New York Times best-selling author Sara Shepard’s The Amateurs series follows the team down a twisted path—one crafted by a brilliant killer.
1.) What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Well, FOLLOW ME is the sequel to THE AMATEURS, which is a story of a group of teenagers who come together to solve a particular cold case. What they learn, though, is that cold case ties to some personal stories in their own lives…and that there’s a big bad villain they need to chase. FOLLOW ME is a continuation of that story featuring all the same characters as they delve into the truth about this villain and how they can catch him or her. (I’m not telling if it’s a guy or a girl— I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read the first book!) It’s a cat-and-mouse sort of story, which I love reading and was thrilled to try my hand at. I was so inspired by old noir thrillers as well as the Mr. Mercedes trilogy by Stephen King, in which a killer “taunts” to retired detective to find him. FOLLOW ME is a little like that— you don’t know who’s smarter, the villain or the detectives, but you’re seeing the chase from both perspectives. By the way, I love writing chapters in the voice of the antagonist. It was probably my favorite part of writing this book.
2.) Who is your favorite character in the book?
Well, to tell would be to spoil some things, but I think it’s safe to say that my favorite character is our villain. I think that’s because I can write a villain as despicable as I want without worrying if the audience is going to sympathize with him/her. It’s also fun to delve into what makes a villain tick and what sorts of dark secrets are in his or her past. I did this with “Ali’s Pretty Little Lies” as well, writing a book exclusively in Alison DiLaurentis’s (from Pretty Little Liars) point of view. It’s interesting to get into the backstory of what makes a person bad, you know?
3.) Which came first, the title or the novel?
For me, the books always come before the titles. I am not a very good titler. I’m not sure I’ve titled any of my books, to be honest— or they’ve had different titles when I was working on them, and they were later changed. I know a catchy title is key, but for me a book is so much more about character, plot, pacing, story.
4.) Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I’m going to use “the beginning” as the beginning of my writing career, not the beginning of me being a writer…because then I’d have to go back to about second grade. When I started out as a writer (and got paid for my efforts), I was a ghostwriter for middle-grade and YA fiction. Meaning it was someone else’s idea and characters but I made the thing into a book. I didn’t know much about writing books, but I learned everything— how to be edited, how to write dialogue, what made a good, page-turning chapter break, etc. So in a sense I’ve learned everything since I started. But since writing my own stuff, like Pretty Little Liars, I learned that cycles in fiction come and go. Sometimes, thrillers are really hot. Sometimes it’s romance. Sometimes it’s historical fantasy. But you shouldn’t try to force yourself into the “hot” box if it doesn’t feel right— you have to keep writing what’s you, and what moves you. Sort of like the lesson they teach you at school: be yourself!
5.) What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2017-2018?
So 2017 is almost over, but I am really looking forward to reading E. Lockhart’s next book, Absolute Fraud. I really like the quiet spookiness of WE WERE LIARS and I’m eager to see what she’s done next.
6.) What was your favorite book in 2016?
Believe it or not, I don’t actually read a lot of YA— I like adult fiction, especially literary stuff and thrillers. My favorite book in 2016 was Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld— she’s one of my favorites, and I’ll pre-order anything new she comes out with. I also really liked THE TAKEDOWN by Corrie Wang, which is YA and set in the near future and about an ambitious girl grappling with an ugly rumor spreading around about her (among other things). I also really liked THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR by Katharine McGee, which is a social tale about kids in the distant future— the sci-fi details were amazing.
7.) What’s up next for you?
Up next is the third installment of THE AMATEURS series, LAST SEEN. FOLLOW ME leaves readers on a cliffhanger— something awful has happened, and a character in danger. LAST SEEN takes our detectives through solving that mystery…and answers a lot of burning questions that have been set up in the series. I also have a novel for adults coming on in March 2018 called THE ELIZAS. It’s being called a Hitchcockian thriller, which I love— maybe that’s because I adore Hitchcock— but it’s a noir story about a hot mess of a young woman desperate to solve her almost-murder and put together key pieces of her past. As you might have noticed, I like to write thrillers. I make myself nervous and scared whenever I’m writing!
8.) Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
THE AMATEURS series features male POVs— and besides an adult novel I wrote years before, this was my first foray into writing from the male perspective. It was tricky to get right— I’ve been in a girl’s mind for so long. I find myself observing my nephews, who are teenagers, very closely. But boys don’t admit as much as girls, nor as they as emotional. It’s hard to know sometimes what’s going on in their heads.
9.) Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I would say revising because it’s easier, in a way— the words are already there— but drafting is satisfying too because when you have a good day or a breakthrough, you feel great about yourself. Not all days are good days, though. I usually write on and on regardless of whether things are flowing or not in hopes that the following day I can come back and fine-tune.
10.) Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I would say the Humane Society— when I lived in Arizona, about ten years ago, there were a lot of stray dogs around, and I helped rescue quite a few of them. But because my house couldn’t accommodate, say, six extra dogs, I needed to take them somewhere where they’d be cared for. So many shelters euthanize great dogs, but the Humane Society near me took care of so many animals in need. I actually just donated to the Humane Society so they could help in disaster relief in Texas and Florida.
By: Sara Shepard
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Two winners will receive one copy of FOLLOW ME (hardcover) and one copy of THE AMATEURS (paperback) each.(US only).