Happy Thursday and welcome to my stop on the REVENGE OF THE SLUTS blog tour! I’m so excited because today I have an interview with Natalie Walton to share with you! This book is truly amazing and I’m so excited to for you to find out more about it!
Revenge of the Sluts by Natalie Walton
Published by Wattpad Books on February 2, 2021
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Double standards are about to get singled out.
In this stunning debut, author Natalie Walton tackles privacy and relationships in the digital age.
As a lead reporter for The Warrior Weekly, Eden has covered her fair share of stories at St. Joseph's High School. And when intimate pictures of seven female students are anonymously emailed to the entire school, Eden is determined to get to the bottom of it.
In tracking down leads, Eden is shocked to discover not everyone agrees the students are victims. Some people feel the girls "brought it on themselves." Even worse, the school’s administration seems more concerned about protecting its reputation than its students.
With the anonymous sender threatening more emails, Eden finds an unlikely ally: the seven young women themselves. Banding together to find the perpetrator, the tables are about to be turned. The Slut Squad is fighting back!
What inspired you to write Revenge of the Sluts?
There were a few motivating factors. I was pretty young when Instagram really started picking up steam and I remember, maybe within a year of Instagram becoming popular in my area, people started making these “exposed” accounts which were throwaways meant to show off intimate photos of students. I’d also hear stories about students whose photos were shown around or bragged about. This was on top of things like, I remember reporting a student because his behavior made me uncomfortable only to be told, by an adult, that he was acting that way because he had a crush on me. I also remember students playing the “nervous game” or making it a game to slap the butts of girls. So much of this was just kind of accepted for one reason or another and it made me uncomfortable, but I was also really confused because I never saw any consequences, so I assumed I was the one in the wrong for not finding it funny. It wasn’t until around age fourteen or fifteen—it was actually the movie Easy A that did it for me—that I started to realize it was okay to be angry about what I’d seen and from there I knew I had to write a book about slut shaming. That idea eventually evolved into also being about school and societal responses to student-on-student misconduct, too, which I think was also rooted in my experiences.
As for the Warrior Weekly component, I’ve always loved journalism. I wanted to be a reporter for a huge chunk of my life—so much so that I petitioned to start a newspaper at my middle school—and I spent a few years on staff with my college newspaper. I think Eden and Ronnie reflect this same desire in a lot of ways. They might come across as too hyper-focused, but I view their passion for the newspaper as no different than, for example, someone who dedicates their young adult life to football so they can make it to the NFL. They are who I wished I could’ve been growing up, in terms of working on a news staff and tracking down sources and refusing to let any barriers get in the way to publication. I wanted to write a drama—something akin to All the President’s Men or Spotlight—for the teens who remind me of myself and get a genuine rush out of breaking news stories or features.
For many, the word “slut” has a negative connotation. What does the word “slut” mean to you?
This is tricky because I think, in a lot of ways, I still view slut as having a negative connotation. It’s a word that carries weight and history and I think it’d be ridiculous for me to try to act like it doesn’t. But, at the same time, I think slut has a lot of potential to be genuinely empowering and almost playful. Calling yourself one, if you feel comfortable identifying that way, is a way of saying “yeah, maybe I am. What about it?” I just really love the idea of reclaiming a word.
What do you hope to convey to your young audience? How can Revenge of the Sluts help young women reclaim their power?
I love this question because I think what I like most about Revenge of the Sluts is that it shows different kinds of power. It all comes down to acceptance of self and the ability to say “I feel confident in who I am and in my choices,” but the processes look a little different for the characters. For someone like Eden, Revenge of the Sluts is a story about someone trying to learn where she fits in and figuring out if she’s capable of being more than a right-hand-woman. Ronnie stands up against the school and the censorship they try to impose on her and the newspaper she deeply cares about. For the Slut Squad, it’s about asking why it’s even a bad thing to be called a slut, questioning double standards, and demanding resources, support and accountability. And, going even further into it, I think each of the girls in the Slut Squad reclaims their power in individualized ways. I like to think that readers, especially young women, can see themselves in at least one of these characters and grow alongside them. I wrote the book this way to say that there’s not just one type of ‘capable’ person; you can still be you and use your abilities—whether that’s mobilizing like Sloane, or writing like Eden, or standing up for what you believe in like Ronnie, or speaking up for others like Atticus—to make positive changes.
How does Revenge of the Sluts stand out from other books of the same genre? What do you hope to bring to young adult fiction?
I had never read a book about revenge porn as a teen and hadn’t been told what that term meant until late high school—after having already heard about instances of revenge porn in my own schools—so I really wanted to feature that in a book. I think part of the reason I was so confused growing up was because I didn’t have any resources that named what I was seeing or validated that students can hurt other students in terms of sexual misconduct. This is something that I think is really, really hard to talk about but it’s absolutely necessary. The #K12MeToo campaign started around the time that I was first outlining Revenge of the Sluts and that was a huge motivating factor in feeling like I wanted to continue that conversation in YA and tell readers what I hadn’t been told growing up.
When you started using Wattpad, did you ever anticipate becoming a published author?
In a way, I do think I always knew I’d keep pushing for publication. When I first started writing books as a kid I’d actually draw covers in my notebooks and feature fake little blurbs from my favorite authors and major news publications saying things like “one of the best reads of 2006” or whatever. It’s kind of embarrassing to think about now but it’s also a clear example of how I’ve always viewed my writing—even my early stuff and my bad stuff—as stepping stones to publication. I just don’t think I imagined I’d get the call as a college student.
What advice would you give to young writers who are inspired by your writing, particularly young women?
To preface, there’s no pressure to write in any particular genre or write anything you don’t feel comfortable writing; absolutely write what you want. But, also, don’t be afraid to write what you see. Don’t be afraid to expose outdated practices or talk explicitly about what it feels like growing up in the twenty-first century. Writing can be so cathartic, whether you’re writing about yourself or a fictionalized version of the world around you. You are the expert of your own experiences.
Natalie Walton is the author of REVENGE OF THE SLUTS (2.2.21) and the host of the podcast Sex Ed Taught Me. She wrote Revenge of the Sluts while working toward her B.A. in sociology and criminal justice. While in college, she worked as a reporter, volunteered on a sexual violence support hotline, and wrote a thesis on sexual harassment mythology. She is the 2019 Harry S. Truman Scholar for Delaware.
You can find Natalie on Twitter and Instagram @nataliexwalton.
Have you added this book to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!