We fell in love with the opposites-attract love story in Before You, so we were exited to catch up with debut author Amber Hart and talk books, diversity, facing your fears and, of course, love.

(And PSST…click on the book cover for even more on BEFORE YOU!)

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Can you share a little about Before You with our readers?

Before You is about the forbidden love between a “good girl” with a secret past and a Cuban refugee on the run from his own demons.

Loved it! It reminded us of some of our favorite cross-cultural romances like West Side Story and Simone Elkeles’s Perfect Chemistry series. What inspired you to write it?

I support diversity. And I wondered what would happen if you threw two people from different backgrounds with their own challenges together; could they fall in love? Is love strong enough to overcome? What if those challenges came in the form of a girl who harbors a dark secret and a tattooed, troubled Latino? This is how Before You was born.

The cultural challenges they face are a huge part of their story and the way each deals with prejudice feels so real. Did they have real-life inspiration?

Thank you! I do have a real-life Diego. Latino, sexy accent, take-charge personality. Inspiration in the truest form. And there are dashes of me in Faith. I know what it’s like to grow up in a “broken” family. I drew from the pain of my childhood to write some of Faith’s scenes. I also know people who have dealt with similar situations—drugs, gangs, social differences.

Faith is an interesting heroine – so strong, but also plagued by fears and meeting others’ expectations. Do you have a favorite heroine in fiction?

I have a favorite “type” of heroine. I like a girl who is bold and flawed. Who is raw and real. I didn’t come from a cookie-cutter background and I now know that I’m not the only one. I remember, as a teen, wondering if there were other teens facing similar problems. I want to feel like I can relate to that character, that book, that journey. I don’t want perfect. I want a heroine who knows what it feels like to be damaged. Because sometimes, through relatable characters, books speak messages. Like: You are not alone.

OK, now that we’re all in love with these characters, can you share any news on a follow-up book or your next project?

Though Before You is a stand-alone novel, it does have a companion book, After Us. It follows the story of Faith’s best friend, Melissa, who is trying to overcome her own scars, and Diego’s cousin, Javier, who is on a quest for revenge. Keep an eye out, After Us releases December 30, 2014!

OK, time to play quick questions!

Faith and Diego in three words?

Faith: Loyal. Brave. Liar.

Diego: Real. Passionate. Dangerous.

The best theme song for Before You?

Corazon Sin Cara by Prince Royce.

Your three favorite books?

I’m really into the Lunar Chronicles series right now. Also, though it’s not a new release, I love the book Candor. And my all-time favorite is the Fearless series.

Other than Diego, what character would you date from fiction?

Ah! I’ve fallen for so many. I might possibly be in love with Sean from Uninvited, Wes from The Archived and Sam from Fearless…to name a few.

What’s the best thing you could hear from a reader?

That my words gave them hope.

Thank you, Amber!

And everyone run and check out the swoon-worthy new release Before You!