Rantala wasn’t even sure if writing was the thing for her.
“I’ve always loved stories and characters. I was that quiet girl on the bus growing up, who had her nose stuck in a book, not talking to anyone else. I loved the escapism I found in stories. I didn’t really start writing books until I was in college, though, mostly because I wasn’t confident enough that I could finish something that was 80,000 words long.”
But she did finish it. Industry Darling follows recent high school graduate Riley as she follows her dream of meeting her mother, world-famous singer Kelly Brite, by going to Nashville. When she gets there, things don’t go quite as she had planned. Riley joins a music label, is renamed Ryman, and finds out just how corrupt the industry she so admired can really be.
A big Taylor Swift fan, Rantala based elements of the book off Swift’s songs and popularity. However, the side of the music industry that Rantala showcases is much darker one.
“I used to work in the music industry though and started writing Industry Darling during that time almost in response to some of the stories I heard about how new artists were being treated,” said Rantala. “I’d seen a lot talented artists, especially women, get overlooked or dropped or simply not receive the support from the label they deserved.”
This growing corruption is why Rantala chose to base her novel 25 years in the future.
“When I was developing the music culture in the book, my thought process behind it was, ‘What would the industry be like if it just progressively became more and more corrupt as the years went on? What would be the worst possible behavior you could see in the music industry?’ I wanted to have fun with the limits I could push and create a type of corruption that was unattainably fictional. I wanted to create an entirely new music world in Nashville.”
But the focus of the novel, and what has it resonating with fans, are the rawness of the emotions Rantala explores. Ryman’s search for love is a heartbreaking one. “The mother/daughter relationship is what originally fuels Ryman’s ambitions and gives her a purpose in life – a reason to succeed and have some direction.”
Ryman’s romantic relationship with sound engineer Slate is just as emotional.
“In some ways, both relationships are equally as devastating for Ryman. Both the mother/daughter relationship and the romance consume Ryman in her desire to belong to somebody, no matter what personal sacrifices she has to make. At the core of both relationships is the simple desperation to have a real connection.”
Industry Darling was Rantala’s debut novel, but the rising indie star has more planned.
“I’m currently working on a work in progress that I was inspired to write after watching ‘Easy A’ and ‘Saved,'” said Rantala. She’s also branching out from writing. “I’m also planning on launching a YouTube channel called The Glossary that features makeup tutorials based on and inspired by literary characters. I’m always working on some kind of crazy project.”