Natalie's book, "Through Shade and Shadow" is officially available on Amazon, here, today! Let's plunge into her mind below!
Who’s your favorite author?
I’m not really great with favorites because they kind of change all the time. That said, I have loved Tolkien, Asimov, Katherine Kurtz, Mary Stuart, Stephan R. Donaldson, and of course JK Rowling, and so many more. New favorites include my good friend K. B. Wagers, who is writing awesome science fiction right now.
Which book or books have most informed you as a writer?
I think everything I’ve ever read has informed who I am as a writer in some ways. I remember the first time I got my hands on The Hobbit, I was nine and I was just starting to realize that writing was something that I could actually do. I think that heavily influenced my storytelling. Up until that point I had read things like Nancy Drew, the Bobsey Twins and the Black Stallion books. I loved them, but they didn’t inspire me the way The Hobbit did.
From there, I discovered the sci-fi/fantasy section of the library. I read so voraciously then! I think I can claim Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni series as a heavy influence as well. Her world building was so amazing, it felt like you could open the book and step into her world. I wanted to create places that were that convincingly real.
When did you realize you wanted to write?
I think I’ve always known that I wanted to write, I just didn’t realize I COULD for quite a while. And, even when I had realized that I could, there was a certain amount of fear involved. I wrote my first novel at 14, long hand in school notebooks and the like. It was awful, I promise. It was a rip off of every book I had ever read and movie I had ever seen. But, my friends liked it. And the sequel, which was just as bad, was read by a wide swath of my high school. They would line up outside the front doors to take pages to read during the day, and they would swap pages with others. At the end of the day, I’d wait for them all to be returned before heading home to write more.
What was your last completed project?
I have a book that I just finished and will be published in February. It’s the first book in a series of at least 3, possibly 4. It is contemporary fantasy, part political thriller, part paranormal fantasy. The two main characters in the first book are Mason Jerah and Alaric Lambrecht, both of whom are members of paranormal clans. The first book, Through Shade and Shadow follows the two of them as the United States experiences violent uprisings in the wake of a serial killer exposing Mason’s clan to the world. In the political landscape of an upcoming presidential election hinging on questionable morality claims and increasing xenophobia, both Mason and Alaric find themselves thrown into a conflict they have little control over.
What are you working on now?
I am working on the sequel to Through Shade and Shadow, which is tentatively titled, In Shades of Sage. It continues the story of Mason and Alaric, and introduces new characters, some of them from other paranormal clans, who are involved in trying to stop the war that seems to be looming on the horizon.
What is your writing “process” typically like?
Hmmm. That’s a difficult question. I’m not sure I have a “process” so much as I have a brain that will not stop creating characters and worlds and situations. I’m pretty much “writing” in one form or another at all times. As to the mechanics of actually getting things from my head to paper…I set aside time to write every day. It’s important to me that there is at least a 15 minute window in which I can indulge the muse and let her spin a story. Most of that time, that writing window is focused on the current WIP, but sometimes what comes out instead is a random act of poetry or a scene for another story.
How do you combat writer’s block?
I don’t often suffer from writer’s block (knock on wood), but like any creative, there are times when the words just don’t work. Generally, my first response is “don’t force it” and get up and go do something else. If the drought lasts longer than a day or two, I will try to shift focus creatively. I’ll pick up a different story, write poetry, or grab my camera and head out to photograph random beautiful things. Whatever it takes to get the juices flowing again.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere? Like I said before, my muse is overactive and never stops spinning. I often can’t place where something comes from objectively. My friends enjoy challenging me by handing me a handful of unrelated things and having me tell them a story using them. It boggles them how things just spring forward, fully formed with only a moment or two to think about them.
It boggles me that everyone’s brain doesn’t work the same way.
What’s your greatest challenge as a writer?
Getting it out of my head and down on paper in a way that is as satisfying and complete as what I see inside my head. I joke that when we finally get the technology to allow us to plug in and download our brains, I’ll be the first to sign up. My brain can create a fully fleshed out world in minutes, and it can take months to recreate it in words.
And what has been your greatest triumph (so far)?
Hmmm….I think my first book was something of a triumph. There’s a whole lot of my life in that work. It began when I was sixteen, and I published it with Creativia when I was 47. That’s a long time coming. I’m exceptionally proud of that book too. It is very different in tone and voice from anything else I have ever written.
Besides, you always love your first, right?