In the past few weeks I’ve interviewed two new authors who are doing really well, and this week is no exception. I’ve found a true rising star in the Young Adult genre. Natalie Star is the author of The Keeper. Everywhere I look online these days I seem to hear about her, and her book. I was very happy to be able to ask her some questions recently.
Thanks for having me Martin. You’ve asked some really great questions of me. I had to use my brain to answer them, but overall it was a fun process!
Natalie, you have such an interesting life, and I know that from your Facebook posts. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, your family, etc. Oh, and please talk about camping, I know you and your family just had an awesome camping trip.
Interesting life is one way to put it. I could probably write a book just on my own life, but I don’t think anyone would care to read about my imaginary playmates and my awkward teenage self. I grew up on Long Island in New York. I went to Amityville High School (for those of you who are wondering, yes, it’s that Amityville from the movie, and no, I’ve never been in the house).
I married my high school sweetheart who joined the US Navy, and I moved right along with him during his twenty years of service. It was during this time that we fell in love with traveling. While stationed in Sicily, Italy we toured around Europe, Malta, Russia, and Egypt.
We have two children together, a daughter and a son; we don’t let them slow us down. We just finished summer trip #1 – camping near Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. (We actually don’t live too far from there). It was our annual “School’s Out Camping Trip”. We did absolutely nothing. Just relaxed in the hammock. Rode bikes. Went to the beach despite the unusually cool weather. Swam in the freezing cold pool. Made Smores over the campfire each night. Dragged along Lucky, our old diabetic cat, to save a few pennies on boarding her at the vet. Lucky was not thrilled with the location. We were in the flight path of the local Navy base where we got to hear and see the F-18 fighter jets do touch and go’s. It was almost too loud to talk over them.
When were not traveling, that usually means the kids are in school, or it’s soccer season. Our children enjoy fall & spring outdoor ball, indoor ball during the winter months, and sand soccer every June in Virginia Beach. (They just competed in that last weekend, and wouldn’t you know it was twenty degrees warmer compared to this week).
By the way, summer trip #2 is coming up very soon. Stay tuned to facebook for more details! (#3 & #4 are in the works as well).
One of the things that I’m finding, since meeting so many authors is, I’m reading books in genres that I never considered before. Young Adult seems to be a huge market. What drew you to that genre?
Four years ago my daughter was eleven, and reading Twilight, by Stephenie Meyers. Someone told me I needed to read up on it quick to know what she was reading. Unbeknownst to me Edward and Bella get a little steamy in the series. So I finally broke down and read it. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it, so much so that I read the series a few times over. Before that, I could count on two hands how many books I’d read total in my life. None in the YA genre. I devoured several other YA vampire series immediately after my Twilight phase, and then moved on to other paranormal creatures. I’ve read over 250 young adult titles (mostly paranormal) since I first picked up Twilight. I always assumed that I hated reading, what I didn’t realize is that I wasn’t reading what appealed to me. I’m only sad that I didn’t discover this years sooner. Think of all the books I could have read.
We need to speak about The Keeper. Or, I’d like to speak about The Keeper. I’m an appreciator of great covers and titles and you’ve come up with a great cover and a very marketable title. Can you talk about the book a bit please?
Fiona Jayde is the cover artist for The Keeper. I received a questionnaire from my publisher and it was forwarded to Fiona. She pulled the cover together based on my answers from that form, and she did an awesome job. I love it.
My working title was called The Mist. I did research on that title and there were too many Mist’s out there, and it just didn’t feel right anyway. The title wasn’t set in stone until I hit the last third of the story. That’s when I knew.
The story itself wasn’t ever supposed to be seen by anyone else’s eyeballs, except maybe by family, and some of my daughter’s friends. As I wrote it, I really liked it. Now that could have been because I was biased, but I kept thinking that it might be good enough for others to read. So I passed a few chapters on to my friend’s teenage son, because if a teenage male enjoyed it, others probably would too. He enjoyed it so much he would request more chapters. Then he encouraged me to submit it to a publisher. So I did. It’s because of him that it’s out there. Without him it would still be sitting as an unedited file on my computer titled The Mist.
I read some of your reviews on the Amazon site, people really like this book, and you have some very passionate readers who enjoy your work. That must be extremely gratifying.
It is! I love them all for their kind words, and their enthusiasm. It’s because of the readers that I want to keep going and to continue writing.
Your readers are from all over the world, and from what I read, they want more. Is there another book ready, or is it in the works? And, after the success of The Keeper, did you feel any pressure in writing your next book?
The next book is 90% done. As soon as it’s finished I will submit it to my publisher and keep my fingers crossed. I had to put it on hold to work on some other books under a different pen name. But I am ready to rock and roll now. I’ve decided to write two more novels in The Keeper world. I haven’t announced this publicly (until this moment), but the next title is called, The Organizer. For those of you who have read The Keeper, this next title gives a lot away and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Pressure. It is very much there. My fans enjoyed that first one, and I only hope I can deliver with the second one. When I wrote the first one, I wrote it for myself. I am trying to do the same with this one, but in the back of my mind, I keep thinking about the people who will be reading it.
What’s the secret to writing a book that people will read and enjoy? Or, I guess I should ask, is there a secret? You seem to have a book that is appealing to not only YA readers but others as well. Do you have a secret formula? Have you had help from somewhere that you’d like to acknowledge, or is it as simple as just writing a good book and having a publisher publish it?
There really wasn’t a formula as I wrote it, but I guess if you were to dissect my writing process you might see one. I didn’t have an outline to work with since I was writing for myself and no one else. I wrote by the seat of my pants, what is also known as a Panster. Not that that’s a formula, but it’s how I wrote.
The prologue from The Keeper was a result of a dream I had. I had to write it down or I was going to bust. It haunted me for four days. Once I typed it out, I was free, but then a funny thing happened, I wanted to keep going with the story. My mind kept asking “what if” questions, and before I knew it, I had several chapters typed out. The story has a lot of twists and turns. Most take the unexpected path, that’s because when I would hit a crossroad I’d ask myself, “What would the average reader expect to happen?” The majority of the time, I took the road less traveled, and it paid off with a story full of action, suspense and romance.
Thanks for doing this, is there anything you’d like to say to your readers, Natalie?
Martin, this was so much fun and I’m feeling generous at the moment. I don’t want the fun to end, so I want to offer a giveaway to one lucky person. I’d like to give a digital copy of The Keeper. (Winner will be able to choose what format they want for their eReader or they can request a PDF copy to read on their computer).
I fully expect to hear Natalie Star’s name lots in the future, she’s a great writer and I encourage you to take a look at The Keeper. It’s available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Keeper-ebook/dp/B006TKEX30/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Or on her publisher’s website: http://bonobookstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=20&zenid=ldbna4a4k53m9j9a7pf3880712
And, please leave a comment, as Natalie mentioned, she’d like to give away a digital copy of The Keeper. We’ll draw a name from the comments that we get, and announce the winner within a couple of weeks.