AuthorTube fans - here is a chance to get an insider look at the writer journey of self-published author Natalia Leigh!
At some point, every writer feels that he or she is the only one who struggles with their writer journey. They get stuck on the first draft and think it makes them a failure. They hate editing and believe they are somehow an oddity in the writing community. (Which sucks when you already feel like an oddity around "normal people".)
Sometimes, we need reminders that authors we look up to were once just dreamers, too - dreamers who started from nothing, who struggled with themselves and their writing, and who fought to make their dreams come true. Natalia Leigh is one such writer. And I am honored to share her journey to being a self-published author here on my blog.
So grab a glass of cold lemonade or a mug of hot tea and enjoy reading this question/answer time with Natalia...
Q&A with Author Natalia Leigh:
1) Are you a natural born writer, or has the passion for writing developed over time?
I think both of those apply to me. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I have a natural affinity for words, but the passion is something I certainly had to develop. I fell in love with writing in the eighth grade, and ever since then I’ve been learning and honing my craft every day in the hopes of sharing my stories with readers that will enjoy them as much as I do.
2) What was your first completed story? How old were you when you wrote it?
High Born was the first novel I completed, and I was a freshman in college, so probably about nineteen years old. That novel went through a complete rewrite and looks nothing like the way it used to, but writing The End for the first time will be something I’ll always remember.
3) What novel or author inspired you to pursue writing as a career?
Definitely Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. That was the first novel I read that made me yearn to be part of that world. I used to try to creep around my house like Alice Cullen, or would sit still for a long time without blinking like all the vampires could. It seems ridiculous now, but I was so intrigued by the world that I literally wished I could embody the characters and bring them to life. It takes a special story to do that to someone.
4) How did your peers react on finding out that you were writing a book?
I didn’t tell any of my peers I was writing a book until my sophomore year of college, and that’s only because I was living in the dorms and convinced a few friends to participate in NaNoWriMo with me. The reactions were all really positive! Many of my peers hadn’t ever known someone that was writing a book, or at the very least hadn’t ever met someone who had actually finished a book before. They were incredibly supportive, and many even bought my book when it came out. It was wonderful!
5) How long did it take you to complete your first published novel, High Born, from first idea to polished manuscript? In contrast, how long has it taken to write your most recent work?
This is a great question. I want to say probably about a year for High Born. In contrast, Song of the Dryad has taken me almost two years to complete. Granted, High Born and Song of the Dryad are starkly different in terms of quality. High Born was the novel that proved I could write a book – Song of the Dryad is proving that I can tell a good story. Writing a book and telling a good story are two different things, and I know I’ll be working on bettering my story-telling abilities for years to come!
6) Did you begin your writing journey as a "plotter" or "pantser" or an in-between? Has that changed over time?
I started out as a pantser. I had no idea what I was doing, no idea what the characters wanted, and I just went with it. As it turned out, that didn’t work very well for me. I am now a plotter, down to each chapter and scene within those chapters. I want to know exactly what is happening at every step along the way, and that’s the only method that ensures I’m telling a complete story. Otherwise, I end up finishing the first draft with massive plot holes, character inconsistencies, and a bunch of other messes that are NO fun to clean up.
7) What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?
My least favorite part is writing the first draft. It’s tedious, time-consuming, and can feel like a never-ending process. In contrast, editing is my favorite part of the writing process. I like editing because I already have the bare bones of my story, and I can start fleshing it out and making it look pretty. My books truly come to life in the editing stages, and that’s why I love it so much!
8) Why did you initially decide to self-publish? Have your reasons for self-publishing changed over time?
I initially chose to self-publish because I didn’t want to face rejection on the traditional path – I was terrified of it. Now, however, I’ve experienced the rejection and have realized it isn’t as scary as I thought. This time around I’ve decided to self-publish because I don’t want to wait around for someone else to allow me to tell my story. There are many perks to being traditionally published, but one of the down sides is that it can take years to see your book on the shelf, not even taking into consideration how long it could take to find an agent. I also have an audience for my book now, which I never had before. Knowing I have readers that are interested in reading my work makes self-publishing an even more viable option, and I can’t wait to share my story with them!
9) Tell us a little about your published works, High Born and Way of Spears.
High Born was the first novel I ever wrote. It has been rewritten, so the published story is much different than the original, but it will always remain close to my heart. It’s set in a world inspired by my interest in castles, medieval times, and magic. Way of Spears was the third novel I wrote, and it’s full of travel and adventure. I faced new struggles with Way of Spears that I didn’t with my other completed works, so writing it was difficult. After overcoming those struggles, I was able to move forward with more confidence in my writing. Way of Spears was inspired by a trip I took to Havasupai Falls in Arizona, and one scene in particular, where the characters are scaling the side of a misty waterfall, was taken straight from my own experience. I had a wonderful time writing Way of Spears, and I wrote it faster than any of my other novels.
10) Your current work, Song of the Dryad, is close to being ready for publication. What can you tell us about the main character and the story premise? And do you have an estimated time frame for its release?
Song of the Dryad was inspired initially by a hike I took on a trail called Enchanted Forest. It was lush with greenery and I thought, “This is where fairies would live.” From there, the ideas took off. The story follows Charlotte Barclay, a high-school junior who wants nothing more than to graduate and get admitted to her dream university. She’s been able to see fairies her entire life, but after a frightening encounter she has closed herself off from them. However, Charlotte is forced to face her fears when her mom gets kidnapped by the fairies that haunt the forest behind her home. Charlotte must accept the gift she has and use it to help the fairies, or else her mom may never come home.
I haven’t publicly spoken about a release day, but I have a day in mind and am aiming for Fall 2018. The novel takes place in a mountain town during the fall, so I want to release this book in time for people to cuddle up and read it while the wind is rattling dry leaves on the trees outside. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
11) Can you give us any glimpses into the kinds of stories we can look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Absolutely! Knowing me, I will always want to write about magic, myth, and folklore. I have so many ideas in mind, from dark and twisted vampire stories, to crystal-charged witchy tales. I’m currently brainstorming a Song of the Dryad sequel, but that’s about all I can say at this point!
Thank you so much for this interview! These questions were wonderful and I had a lovely time answering them. I wish you all the happy writing vibes!
And thank you, Natalia, for joining us on the blog!
To check out her AuthorTube channel and get some great writing advice, click here! Her website also has some great information on her, her critiquing services and her books, High Born and Way of Spears.