Wednesday, April 15, 2015

An Interview with Natalie

Today I'm happy to be interviewing my friend and fellow writer, Natalie!

Natalie is red­headed sixteen year old living in Michigan with her family and three rambunctious dogs. She’s a country girl at heart who loves spending time outdoors under the blue skies. Books, tea, photography, good movies, writing, and playing the piano are some of her favorite things. She has yet to finish a novel, but has been scribbling stories since a young age and yearns for the day when she will complete a story. She blogs over at Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens​ and would love to have you drop by! 

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1. (Heidi) Some differences and similarities you see between the three major forms of storytelling—literature, music, and film?
(Natalie) I love this question! Well, literature exercises your imagination and allows you to create your very own “version” of the story in your head. No one’s mental picture of a book’s characters and settings would be just like yours. I think that makes reading more personal and unique. But with movies, everyone watching sees the same thing­ so there’s no question as to what the characters look like or how they speak. I greatly enjoy movies, though, because film combines the magic of both words, pictures, and music into something marvelous. And I ​love ​music. Music can express what words sometimes can’t. It’s amazing how a simple soundtrack can either make you start to cry or feel tense and excited ­with absolutely no words or pictures! The way a book, its movie counterpart, and its soundtrack round out a story is simply fantastic. 

2. How have you seen those three mesh together in your own creative process? 
To aid my writing I recently have discovered my love for putting together “soundtracks” for my stories. I’ve even written scenes based on one particular song or soundtrack and have written down which soundtracks go with which parts of the book. I think it really helps you to feel the emotion of the scene and fuel your writing. I literally have a movie in my head of what my book looks like and have a complete list of actors cast as my characters. I even save pictures of scenes from movies as inspiration for scenes in my own book! 

3. When and how did you first begin writing? 
When I was little, I would scribble little pictures stories but my first “serious” story was probably around 7 or 8 years old. I actually wrote a 5 book series (and some companion “novels”) about a princess and her 3 sisters­, one “nice” sister and two “mean” sisters. I love looking at those books; they’re so adorable and memory ­filled. :) 

4. What are you currently working on? 
My current this­-is-­actually-­probably-­going-­to-­be-­finished project is a retelling of ​The Princess and the Pea. ​I have yet to have a “real” title for it so I just call it my ​Princess and the Pea ​story. :) 

5. Particular author/s who have influenced you?’s hard for me to say. I have ​many ​favorite writers, but I can’t say I’ve noticed one in particular who has inspired my writing. I enjoy authors like Jane Austen, L. M. Montgomery, Maud Hart Lovelace, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have noticed that I write a bit like Jean Archambault-­White, who has written some wonderful books that I love. :)

6. Is there a “non­writing” activity that shapes your writing? 
Watching movies....listening to music.....reading books....watching more movies.... :) Sometimes I’ll be watching a movie that I’ve seen half a dozen times only to have a particular scene spark an idea. For instance, I re­watched ​ North and South ​with my mom the other day, and the scene where Nicholas first meets Margaret and “rescues” her gave me an idea for new story I’m brainstorming. I also mull over my story in my head whenever I’m doing something requiring little to no brain power such as putting away dishes, ironing, or taking a shower. 

7. Your opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of digital books? 
I have never tried a kindle or such before. I think it would be handy, but I also don’t like reading things on screens so....I honestly don’t know. I love real book. They hold memories, tear stains, notes, and pressed flowers and feel soft and well worn in your hands. And there’s simply ​nothing ​like the feel and smell of a brand new book! 

8. Do you ever do graphic design to help with your writing? 
Yes! I love making collages and such of my characters! I’ve made quite a few recently and love playing around with pictures and words to create something that’s simply “my story.” My laptop background is currently a collage from my book. And I ​really ​love it. :) 

9. Do you outline? If so, in a general way or very detailed? 
Yes, I do outline. I tend to outline in a broad “these are the major events” kind of way, but I also scribble down details. I usually start with a beginning and ending and write down any major (or even minor) scenes that I already have imagined. From there I may create a timeline or list of major events so I keep it all straight in my head. I leave room for creativity and a change of plan, but I still like to have a certain amount of perimeters to work within. 

10. Do you work on multiple projects at once? 
Yes, I do. Although at the moment I really have no serious projects except for my ​PatP story. 

11. Do you edit as you write?
Nope, I save that for after. I may scribble different ideas and cross out a few words as I write, though. Sometimes I’ll even write two versions of a scene and decide which to use later on. 

12. Certain themes you see surfacing and resurfacing in your work? 
Now that I think about it, my characters tend to deal with problems that require them to choose the right path and make wise decisions. Things like choosing to love and pray for a cruel adoptive parent instead of striking back in anger, putting your best friend’s wishes and wants before your own happiness, deciding to obey your overbearing grandmother instead of marrying the man you love....I like to put my characters through a lot of tough, tear­jerking situations. :) All those examples were from some of my stories, although at this time I only think one will ever be revealed to the public, if and when I finish it. ;) 

13. A particular aspect of writing you struggle with or a challenge you’ve overcome? 
Well, as of now, my biggest challenge is not having ever finished a full ­length book! I start projects but never finish them. If I can defeat that problem someday soon, I’ll be very VERY happy! 

14. How do you deal with feedback—particularly negative feedback? 
Not always too time I read part of a story to my mom that wasn’t completed and when she pointed out an inconsistency (nicely of course) I got discouraged and fell off of writing it. I still like the characters though, so hopefully I can rework it someday. That experience has kept me from sharing my stories before they’re finished ­especially since I want to complete my current work! 

15. One thing you’ve learned from other writers? 
I think I’ve learned a lot from the blogs I follow ­many are fiction writers, and reading their posts and stories inspires me to keep going and write and write and just keep writing until you get something you like. 

16. A helpful nonfiction book or website? 
I’ve read a few writing books before and a few online articles, but I tend to rely mostly on the fiction books I read. I greatly enjoy reading the writings of other fellow bloggers! I’d love to read more books or websites on writing so if you have any suggestions, please tell me! :) 

17. What do you consider one of the single most important things to remember (i.e. an attitude or technique)? 
I’m not sure if I have a “single most important thing to remember” except that you must keep writing in order to get better. You can’t compare your writing to others who are simply better than you or have been writing longer. You will get disheartened. Taking inspiration from great authors is wonderful, but if we continually compared our writing to Jane Austen and J.R.R. Tolkien we’d be pretty dismal, wouldn’t we? 

18. A word of encouragement for fellow writers? 
Just keep writing! If a story wears out for you, set it aside and try another. Keep writing until you find a keeper. :) A year or so ago I had a story (same one mentioned in question 14) that I thought was my best story to date and one I’d definitely finish. Well, as said, I didn’t finish it, but I do think it helped me practice and develop my writing and now I have another story that I love and get excited about even more than the previous. You just have ​to keep going, no matter what! 

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Thank you so much for interviewing me, Heidi! I enjoyed your questions and am honored to be featured on your blog!


  1. Thanks so much, Natalie! I so enjoyed your answers! I think we have a lot of similarities when it comes to the writing process, particularly the outlining. ;) I always know where I'm going with the ending and I have the beginning figured out, but then I'm trying to stay flexible in the middle and see how exactly the story wants to get from that point A to point B. ;D

  2. Again, thank you so much for interviewing me, Heidi! And I love all the pictures you put into the post-especially that all the girls in the pictures have red or reddish hair! Your attention to that detail was so sweet and fun. :)
    Yes! I'm glad we can relate on the outlining process. :) I'm pretty much right in the middle of my current story and it's been interesting seeing myself figure out how to keep the story focused toward the building climax but also be flexible and have fun with the middle. :)

    1. Natalie,
      You're most welcome -- I was so happy to have you! And yes, I had a lot of fun with the pictures.... ;)

  3. Great interview, Natalie! This has been so fun to read other authors' perspective on their craft! I laughed at what you said about how watching movies helps inspire you for writing, because I am SO that way too. It's almost kind of pathetic. ;-P

    Oh, you're not the only one who struggles with finishing stories! I have yet to finish anything I can claim as a book, but I'm still plodding on. Sometimes it's glorious, sometimes it's downright exhausting, but you just keep going. :-) I wish you all the best with your writing!


    1. Hahaha, it does sound kind of pathetic, doesn't it? But if it works....:) And we all know how fun a great movie is!

      I didn't know you had the same trouble! Thanks for the best wishes! I hope the same for you! We'll each finish a true book someday, I know it. :)

  4. I've never read anything by Jean Archambault-­White -- any favorites you'd like to suggest?

    Ahhhh, Nicholas Higgins. I am a huge fan of his. I almost like him as well as Mr. Thornton. Um... I had a point to this, I did. Oh! That I have had the same thing happen -- a scene in a movie sparks something for a story. I was watching this totally weird animated movie called "Rango" a while back, and part of it made this scene in my next novel just appear out of nowhere in my head. Wow. So cool when that happens, isn't it? Whenever I'm struck that way, I have a tendency to sort of bounce up and exclaim something like, "OH!" Which is not usually a problem, except that a couple of Sundays ago, a story revelation hit me right when they were collecting the offering, and I had to put my bulletin in front of my face to keep from squeaking with startled joy as everything in my next novel just rotated 180 degrees and made 100% more sense.

    Book soundtracks are such fun! My mom was just telling me about a site called Booktrack that provides "a movie-style soundtrack for e-books." I haven't really been able to check it out much, but the concept intrigues me :-) So I thought I'd mention it, in case it intrigues you too! I once wrote a novella, back in high school, where each chapter was named after an oldie song that somehow tied in with what happened in that chapter. Such fun!

    1. Well, JAW has only written a few books, but I have read two by her-a novel and its sequel- which I reviewed on my blog, here:
      They're really sweet, lovely books and I enjoyed them a lot. If you read them, please let me know! :)

      Nicholas is great, isn't he?? And yes! I just love it when you're not even thinking about your story and suddenly something hits you and it's simply perfect. Even if the inspiration comes from weird animated movies, haha. :)
      Oh my.....hahahaha. I haven't had that happen yet (a story idea coming to me during church) but if and when it does I'm sure I would react much like you did!
      I have heard of that site before, but I haven't looked into it very much. I'll have to check it out again!
      Oh yes, I LOVE songs that match your chapter plot or character or such. It's so fun and inspiring. :)

    2. Actually, just now as I was reloading the dishwasher, a Neil Diamond song I had playing made me realize how to fix the ending of a short story I've been working on for a while. Hooray for music!

      Those books look quite cool, and I would like to read them some time -- maybe I can convince my library to buy them :-)

    3. Aw, wow! How cool! Congratulations. :D

      And yes! Hopefully your library will buy them, they're really good.

  5. Sorry this is so late...

    That was such an interesting interview to read! All you blogging people who write fiction, you're inspirational;) I tend more towards poetry myself, partly because, like you, I have trouble getting anything to a full length:-/

    Oh, I want to see some of your collages! You should blog about them sometime:)

    1. Thanks, Olivia! Haha, sorry my reply comment is so late.
      Maybe I will! I certainly want to share more about my writing soon, but I just haven't felt that it's the right time...yet, ;)


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