Author: Natalie Williamson
Title: Rules We’re Meant to Break
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 11th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Honest and full of heart, this clever contemporary romance debut deftly combines utterly relatable family drama with all the sweetness and uncertainy that comes with falling in love.
Rule #1: Don’t get attached.
Amber lives by strict rules to survive her mother’s love life: Always keep your eyes on the horizon and never get close to anyone connected to Mom’s boyfriends.
But after they move in with Kevin, the latest of her mom’s “soul mates,” the rules become increasingly difficult to follow. Kevin’s daughter, Cammie, keeps acting like Amber’s friend, even though she’s definitely not. And Jordan—star basketball player, hottest boy in school, and Cammie’s best friend—keeps showing up at the most inconvenient moments.
Amber has reasons for every one of her rules, and following them is the only way to protect her heart when her mom inevitably moves on. But as she spends more time with Kevin, his daughter, and especially Jordan, she starts to wonder if the rules might be worth breaking this time.
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Rules We’re Meant to Break is a charming, heartachingly real story of family and young love by debut author Natalie Williamson.
Praise for Rules We’re Meant to Break:
“The last time I devoured a book like this—I can’t even remember. … It was so openhearted and raw.” —Clarissa, reader on SwoonReads.com
“It is such a true true story about a girl finding herself within her first love. I loved it!” —Forever Bookish, reader on SwoonReads.com
Hello Natalie! Rules We're Meant to Break is your debut novel! Tell us a few things about it!
Hi there! RULES WE’RE MEANT TO BREAK is about a girl named Amber who has a list of rules she lives by to help her deal with her mom’s ever-changing love life. But when they move in with Kevin, her mom’s latest boyfriend, the rules become increasingly difficult to follow. Kevin’s daughter, Cammie, keeps acting like Amber’s friend, even though she’s definitely not. And Jordan—star basketball player, hottest boy in school, and Cammie’s best friend—keeps showing up at the most inconvenient moments.
How did you create the characters for your book?
I knew I wanted to write about a main character who was dealing with blended family issues, and Amber came to me pretty quickly—sometimes I struggle a bit to find the right voice for a main character, but hers was just there in my head from the beginning. The rest of the cast took a little longer, but when I realized that Amber’s mom’s new boyfriend needed to have a daughter that was about her age and went to her school, things fell into place pretty quickly.
How long did it take you to write Rules We're Meant to Break?
It took about six weeks to write the very first “garbage” draft, another two months or so to revise that into a draft that got me into a writing contest, then another two months revising to get the draft that eventually ended up on the Swoon Reads website. Once it got acquired by Swoon, it took another 6-8 months of editing to get to the final draft. So in total about 12 – 14 months of actual writing time. But that very first draft? I wrote it in 2013. So there are six years between when I first started working on this seed of an idea that I had and when people will get to hold it in their hands.
Was there a moment that you said “I give up”?
Oh, there have been multiple moments! Totally. In 2016 my husband and I lost his grandma, the best man from our wedding, and one of our beloved dogs; bought a house and a car; and had a baby. All of that happened in the span of 9 months, and it was a LOT for us to process and deal with even though happy stuff and sad stuff were pretty evenly split. I didn’t write a single word in 2016, and I felt SO guilty about it. I worried that I wasn’t a real writer anymore because I’d passed some imaginary threshold in my head about how long it was acceptable to Not Be Writing. I definitely told my husband at least a few times that I was giving up on the whole thing.
But you know what? Eventually I realized that I was being way too hard on myself, and that even if I never got a book published or finished another project, I was still a writer. It makes me happy to create new worlds and stories, even if I’m the only person who will ever read them. And even if I sometimes need to take time away from the keyboard to refill my creative well.
What do you like most about writing for this age group?
It’s hard to pick just one thing, but if I must: I love being a part of the YA community in general. I’ve been a big reader for as long as I can remember, but as a teen most of my friends didn’t read as much as I did. It was frustrating because I wanted to talk about all the awesome books I was reading but I had to wait for my friends to finally pick them up. So it’s been really cool to see how social media has allowed writers and librarians and bloggers and booksellers and readers to connect and share their favorites with each other. I’ve learned so much as a writer from following and interacting with readers and other publishing folks, and I’ve discovered so many amazing new reads too.
What makes your book different from other books out there in the same genre?
Mm, this is a tough one. I think mostly that it’s mine. RULES is really personal to me on a lot of levels, and even though there are some common tropes, I put my own spin on things based on my history. Also, it has a dog named Buffy, who is pretty fabulous if I do say so myself. :)
Any tips for aspiring writers?
Try to find a writing routine that works for you (write every day, or write on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, or write on Sunday afternoons when you have the house to yourself, you get the idea) and stick to it as much as you can. Creating a routine makes writing a habit, and it’s a lot easier to get through the sticky parts in a draft when it’s a habit to just keep chugging along.
But also, most importantly, give yourself grace. Your first draft is never going to be perfect. You may not always be able to work on your usual writing days. Sometimes, you might need to take a break for longer than you anticipated. And all of those things are 100% okay.
Natalie Williamson is an HR person by day and a YA writer by night and nap time. She referenced Harry Potter in her first ever full time job interview, which tells you almost all the things you need to know about her. Other important things to know include: she loves her husband, daughter, dogs, and cat; she has a serious dessert problem; and she frequently Wikipedias movies and TV shows to find out if they have happy endings. RULES WE’RE MEANT TO BREAK is her debut novel.