In Left to Chance, the third novel, by Amy Sue Nathan, we follow Teddi Lerner as she travels back to the hometown she thought she left forever behind. Expecting to find the same everything, Teddi is shocked to see that little is as she left it—both in good and bad ways. Readers will relish Teddi’s journey to Chance, Ohio, as she discovers both this “new” place and her new role in it and the lives of her loved ones.
What I loved best about Left to Chance centered on how you shifted expectations. Romantic interests, good guys versus bad guys, even the town itself all shifted under scrutiny in ways both the reader and Teddi didn’t anticipate. What surprised you as you wrote this book?
What surprised me most was that Left to Chance quickly became the most personal book I’d written. I didn’t expect that. This novel did not have a piece of my real life as its springboard (like my first two books), yet I slipped into Teddi’s shoes and her heart and couldn’t shake her, in a good way. Another thing that surprised me was Teddi’s love interest – or should I say interests. She certainly had a mind of her own!
I’ve heard you speak about creating places to match your novels rather than trying to fit them into existing locations. What do you like best about creating a place on the page?
For someone who doesn’t like jigsaw puzzles, I love fitting together the pieces of a city or town and making them fit what the story and characters need to create the right setting. Even if the place is real, fiction grants me the creative license to shake things up a bit (and I do). Chance, Ohio is a completely fictional town, based on nowhere real, so that was extra fun. And isn’t that a great name for a town? It’s so hopeful.
Teddi is a very relatable character; I am sure many people can connect with her “you can’t go home again story.” Where do you personally come down on this issue? Can you go back?
Strangely, or maybe not, as I was working on the final edits for Left to Chance, I was moving “back home” to Philadelphia after 26 years away. I didn’t run away like Teddi ran away from Chance, though, but after raising my children it was just time to move back near my family and oldest friends. I still struggled a little like Teddi does in the novel. Everything is familiar but nothing is the same, people are welcoming, but everyone has their own lives, and I basically had to hit a personal reset button. I have never been happier – but I’ll let everyone read Left to Chance to find out how Teddi feels about her homecoming.
Friendship motivates many threads in this book; what do you hope Left to Chance says about friendship and its power in our lives?
I hope it says that special friendships make a deep impression and have a lasting effect on us. True friendship is something we should honor and recognize in ourselves, and in others.
You lovingly describe Teddi’s work as a photographer; if you couldn’t be a writer, what other creative pursuits might you want to try your hand at?
First of all, my parents and brother are photographers, and for a big part of my life my dad was – you guessed it – a wedding photographer, even photographing a few movie stars! If I wasn’t a writer I think I’d be a be a professional crafter – maybe someone with a popular Etsy shop. My kids’ motto once was: Don’t sit still or mom will paint you! But does that mean I don’t get to be a Broadway star in my alternate life, because that’s my dream, says the person who can’t carry a tune in a suitcase.