Hey everyone. Running a bit behind this week. Work has been crazy busy! Anyway, I have another interview today. This is a bit special to me. This is the woman who introduced me to and is currently the main admin of the Robot Review Club. The creative, talented, and prolific…Natasha House!
Natasha! Great to have you here. Why don’t we start with your background? Where are you from? Do you have pets? An Imaginary unicorn friend?
I’m from Northern Michigan, where we get about a million feet of snow a year. I currently have no pets, though I did have 3 mice at once time. It was a phase. As for the unicorn…well…I do have an amazing unicorn in my book Superhero Princess, so yes, I guess I do have an imaginary unicorn friend!
Okay, that’s the first yes to the unicorn question! So how old where you when you start writing, and why?
I guess I really started writing when I was 12. I wrote a story for school, and when I showed it to my mom she thought I copied it out of a book! Later on when I was 16, I was super bored and in this chat room and I started writing a story. Pretty soon I had a bunch of people joining in. I had this thought like, “Why don’t I make a book out of this?” So I did! Why did I start writing? Honestly, it was just tons of fun for me. I had nothing planned, it was just me and my huge imagination. I never even thought to be an author for some reason!
That’s kind of funny considering how many books you have written. And those books are for many different genres. Will that trend continue, or do you have a favorite genre you want to focus on in the future?
I can’t sit still in one genre. Though, I’ve felt as if I’m “testing” the waters to see what I like. My first published book was a sci-fi/dystopian book, followed by an adventure/fantasy, epic fantasy, to Christian genre. So I really skip around! I liked all of them in different ways. My epic fantasy is my most fun to read for me, but it was really hard to write! I guess if I had to pick a favorite I’d say something of the paranormal nature, though I’ve yet to write a straight up paranormal.
I know I’ve asked you this before, but for the sake of the interview, let me ask again. Are you a planner or a “pantser” – do you plan out your books meticulously or do you write by the seat of your pants?
Haha. Oh man. I’m definitely a pantser. Which has come to nip me in the butt a lot. I have a formula somewhat that I recognize I do as a writer. I just simply open my eyes and ears and write. Sometimes I birth the most amazing things this way. It sorta leads me in crazy ways, but hey, that’s how the Jade Series was born! Though there was a lot of blank stares at the computer sometimes. I have learned to plan a little bit more since then. It’s annoying to delete 100 pages out of your book.
The Jade Series is one of my personal favorites. There is so much creative juices behind that world that it did not surprise me to learn you were a “pantser”. But that begs the question, what do you write and why? And is there anything in particular you enjoy about writing?
I write whatever is currently circulating in my brain. I enjoy the thrill of the story. Sometimes I’m writing and I’m so captivated that it takes my breath away. A few of the Jade Series scenes literally made me sit back and breathe out, “Wow.”
Is there a particular source for your inspiration?
I have different kinds of inspiration. For a long time my inspiration was just because it was simply fun. As I grew more serious about it, it turned to get myself out of retail and to be able to be a stay-at-home-mom (currently no kids). I also find inspiration in random fans that cheer me on.
Name a positive experience from your writing and a negative one.
One of the most positive experience was the raving fans I got for Grace Alive. It was a book I literally wrote on a whim. Which was funny, cause people were like, “OMG IT’S AMAZING.” I wrote the thing in 10 days. It was pretty fun! Negative ones? Oh man. There are always bad reviews, but that’s a typical thing to say. I think my recent negative experience was overwhelming myself by finishing up Grace Unbroken (a book after Grace Alive, but a separate story) and finally releasing it and not seeing the sales I thought I’d get. It almost took me out. I don’t know why. It put me in a slump for nearly 3 weeks, which I’m finally shaking myself from. I don’t think people know what authors really go through in their writing journey.
I think a lot of authors share those sentiments. While writing can be so rewarding, the lack of interest in your book can be devastating. Let’s talk a bit more about your process. Do you listen to music or watch TV while you write?
Gosh no. If the TV is on I am useless with my story. Music…I barely tolerate. Most the time I can’t with that either. Even when my husband is on Reddit I have a hard time, cause I want to look at those cute cats!
They are too cute, aren’t they? So then, is there any message conveyed within your writing?
In Grace Alive for sure! It is a strong message of Grace vs. Law, and how powerful love is. Grace Unbroken has a message of how to overcome shame. Citizen has a thread of how the impossible can be possible. Superhero princess is just to lighten your heart, while the Jade Series has a powerful story of love weaved through it if you look.
That is interesting. Each of your works has a different message to it then. You obviously have much to say! Let’s talk for a moment about the different aspects of a book. I’ve chosen four: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you sort these in order of importance to you and explain why you chose that order?
Great characters, solid plot, great world building. I chose this order because if don’t snag the reader by a good character then they won’t read your book. You have to have a plot or again your reader will scratch their head and wonder what is going on.
So your main focus is on great characters then. What about research? That can be a very important in world building, especially in Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres. How much do you do for your books?
I’m a slacker with that. I don’t research really at all. I don’t usually need to though. I might research how to spell a name of something, but that is about it.
So research is not your thing. What about editing? Do you self-edit?
I do. But I also have 2 betas who really help me with that too. For, the 2nd book of the Jade Series I had an actual editor. He really didn’t find that much to fix, so I figured I was doing okay for myself. It’s really expensive is mostly the case. I’m like a hyper-editor person too. I reread my book a jillion times.
So you mostly have done your own editing. In general, do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?
Oh yes. I have read some really, really, really rough indie books that I cringed at. I try to help them out and teach them rules I’ve learned. I used to do the same stuff they did. Thank God I’ve learned more since then.
What about reading? Most authors like to read I have found. What have you read recently?
I love, love, love reading! I have recently read “Flawless” By Dawn Garcia which was from my indie author group. If I’m not reading then I’m editing, which is reading with a headache.
Do you have a favorite traditionally published author?
You know that’s tough for me. I used to say Ted Dekker, but I have kinda steered away from him. I really liked Frank Peretti in the past too. I guess whatever keeps my interest.
What about a favorite indie/self-published author?
So far I have to say Bill Massa. He wrote this book called Silicon man that I loved!
As an indie author yourself, you know the ups and downs of self-publishing. What was your experience with getting your book published? How did you start out? Did you have help?
Hmm…wow…I gotta think back. I first published Citizen with Lulu. I had no clue what I was doing. I did have a girl “edit” but honestly, she had no idea what she was doing. After I learned a bunch of stuff, I went back through Citizen (it probably would still make me cringe) and my book Superhero Princess. I did have help here and there with random authors that talked to me.
How about marketing? That seems to be a particularly sore subject with most indie authors. Can you tell us a bit about your experiences with that?
Marketing is my bane. I’ve used Facebook, twitter, and begged bloggers to review it. It’s a ton of work. I did do a Facebook add that didn’t help at all.
Well Natasha, now that we’ve gotten to know a bit more about you, let’s talk a bit about your books. Is there a particular book or series that was your favorite to create?
The Jade Series for sure. It was so out there that I could just dive into this world where there were Wolfincs who could see the future, Vullens who could sing a death song, Deities to keep you wondering, I mean…ah…it gets me excited to think about.
That is so cool. I love when an author still gets excited about their own work! So, if you could change anything in an existing book, or series, of yours, what would it be?
I would probably change the choppiness of some parts of my books. I’ve had some reviews that mentioned that, and I think it’s mostly because I like to keep the story rolling forward. I’m not much for fluff.
Tell us about your latest book.
Grace Unbroken is the latest. I just released that about a month ago or so. The next book will be the final chapter of the Jade Series. It’s currently being beta read.
Is there any project you started and are just completely stuck on?
I have a list of those. Oh man! I did start my prequel to the Jade Series, but it kinda fizzled on me. I think I gotta back pedal on that. I have a lot of cool “ideas” just no plots, so they die.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the Jade Series. Tell us about the world of Jade itself.
Jade is a planet made up of several races. It’s divided by a gigantic forest called the Dredge Forest. There is the half where the Icers live (a race that lives in ice and snow) then there is the Zares (who live in the extreme heat.) Either race cannot survive in each other’s climate. Then you have the forest. There is a lot of mystery about this mystical place that houses several people such as The Vullens (a death-loving race), Wolfinics (Seers who can see the future), and Deities (a mischievous race that keeps you on your toes) There are a lot of creatures that I made up as well.
Tell us about some characters in Jade.
I really like Deilia. She’s a Vullen child who for reason’s she doesn’t even know herself is different than anyone else in her village. Her heart is so pure, even though she fights a darkness.
Oni’on Sulstic is another I enjoy writing. He’s just a mess. He’s the older brother of Rhyme who loves to just waste his life on drinking and women. Even though this guy has almost zero morals, he has this inner spark. I think I like him, because he’s just such a contrast to Rhyme, and buried underneath he really has some good.
Who is your favorite character?
Otsana is my ultimate favorite. She’s a Wolfinic who tends to see the future better than others. She keeps seeing flashes of something really bad that will happen. She doesn’t care what it takes to keep her pup safe, she’ll do it. Plus, she bites people’s heads off. I like that.
Is there a character, in any series, you hate?
I hate Jacob in Grace Alive. He’s soooo slimey. He’s just so manipulative!
Are any of your characters based on real people?
No, but I do use people’s names in books. The Jade Series has quite a few. I tend to mix names together and make something up.
Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?
No, lol, but that’d be funny.
Well Natasha, we need to wind things up here. Before we go, just a few last questions. What formats are your books available in? Do you intend to add any others?
My books are all in e-book and paperback. I have considered doing audio, just haven’t done that yet.
Give us one fun/silly fact about yourself you would like your readers to know.
I love Doctor Who. I have a bumper stick of the Tardis on the back of my car.
Lastly, is there any advice you would pass on to those authors who are still just starting out? Do’s and don’ts?
Do have Beta readers. Ones that will be honest with you! Don’t take reviews to seriously.
Thank you for your time Natasha House! For anyone who is interested in finding out more about Natasha, here are links to her Author page, facebook page for Superhero Princess, and the Jade Series book one:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B00DEQRW3A
The Jade Series
Book 1: The Vullens’ Curse is Free