January 19, 2015
Keeping secrets ruined her life. But the truth might just kill her.
Piper Woods can't wait for the purgatory of senior year to end. She skirts the fringes of high school like a pro until the morning she finds a notebook with mutilated photographs and a list of student sins. She's sure the book is too gruesome to be true, until pretty, popular Stella dies after a sex-tape goes viral. Everyone's sure it's suicide, but Piper remembers Stella’s name from the book and begins to suspect something much worse.
Drowning in secrets she doesn’t want to keep, Piper’s fears are confirmed when she receives an anonymous text message daring her to make things right. All she needs to do is choose a name, the name of someone who deserves to be punished...
Ohioan and Double RWA Golden Heart Finalist NATALIE D. RICHARDS won her first writing competition in the second grade with her short story about Barbara Frances Bizzlefishes (who wouldn't dare do the dishes). After getting lost in a maze of cubicles, Natalie found her way back to storytelling, following the genre of her heart, teen fiction. Natalie lives in Ohio with her amazing husband, their three children, and a giant dust-mop who swears he’s the family dog.
What inspired Gone Too Far?
By Natalie D. Richards
With my first book—Six Months Later—this question prompted a great answer.
“I had this incredibly creepy nightmare about...”
Pretty good, right? I mean, for a thriller writer, it doesn't get much better than this. How’d you come up with this book? Oh, that? I just brought a horrifying dream to life.
But every book comes into the world a little differently. I didn't have a dream about Gone Too Far…I had an ache. A place that nagged me like that pins and needles feeling when your foot falls asleep.
The annoying feeling was the idea of moral ambiguity. It was a bunch of floaty disjointed images of vigilantes and good intentions gone horribly wrong. So many times in my life, I've seen the old saying, “Great in theory, terrible in practice”, come true and I desperately wanted to bring that into a book.
I’m a sucker for that sort of thing. Good people making bad choices and bad choices being made for good reasons. Personally, I understand what it’s like to set out to do the right thing, only to wind up in a fiery train-wreck of my own making, wondering who has the fire extinguisher and how it all went kablooey.
More specifically, I started to think about the way harmless things turn sinister in high school. Why do good teens make cruel choices? When do they cross the line from teasing into something worse? And what does it take to cross back?
At first, I couldn't imagine that mess of stuff in my head forming a cohesive plot, but then I saw the catalyst scene for Gone Too Far. The image sort of unfolded in my head, and it felt crystal clear. The book was born with that scene, I think.
My main character, Piper, is a photographer. She’s trained to watch things. From the bad, to the awful, to the downright evil, she’s seeing a lot more than she bargained for these days. In fact, as desperate as she is to sail under the radar until graduation, the cruelty around her is starting to boil over.
Feeling helpless isn't a good look for Piper. She desperately wants to level the playing field and bring some sort of justice to the people she’s seen wronged. When she receives a cryptic text message, “Send a Name – Help Me Make Someone Pay” she finally feels like she has the chance to do something.
Trouble is, revenge only tastes sweet for a little while. Pretty soon, Piper finds herself in a high stakes game, where she’s fighting an unknown enemy and turning into something she can barely stand.
In the end, I felt the need to write a book where right and wrong became a muddy mess, and Gone Too Far is the result. It’s a story about exploring personal boundaries and moral lines, and about watching all the many, many ways Piper gets it wrong. Maybe by the end, she’ll even get a few things right.
We can sure hope so! ;-)
After years as a professional paper-pusher, NATALIE D. RICHARDS decided to trade in reality for a life writing YA fiction. She lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously furry dog named Yeti. This is her second novel. Visit her on Twitter @NatDRichards or at nataliedrichards.com.