Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An interview with Natalie Whipple!

No, it's not Aspiring Author Thursday. BUT, I thought this interview would pull me out of the slump I was in yesterday. :)
I've been following Natalie's blog for a long time. I just love her sense of humor and how honest she is about her publishing journey and publishing in general. She has had an amazing writing journey so far. One full of blood, sweat and tears. She is SO nice and hopefully I'll get to meet her one of these days! Anyway, I thought it would be great to have her on my blog before she starts doing stuff for her book TRANSPARENT that's coming out Summer 2013! Woot! I can't wait to read it!! :D Anyway, here is her blog, Between Fact and Fiction. She always has great advice and if you're not following her, go follow her right now! You won't be disappointed. :)

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Oh, forever ago. I have always wanted to be a writer, since I was little. But I didn’t think I could actually be one up until about five or six years ago. It was always a dream—not something I could do seriously.

Then one day I was working out “life goals.” I’d just finished college. I had a newborn. I was married, and it seemed like I had accomplished so many of my long term goals. Well, it was time to get some new ones. Traveling went on there, as well as keeping up with some of my hobbies and learning languages and such.

And, to my surprise, the number one thing I still wanted to do with my life was write stories. I still didn’t know if I could do it, but I decided to give it a shot. I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t at least try.

Isn't it funny how many of us start writing after we have our kids? I love it.

Do you have a writing schedule, or do you just sit down whenever you get a spare moment?

I do have a schedule, but it’s constantly changing, if that makes any sense. It largely revolves around where my kids are in their lives. Early on, I’d write during nap time always. When that went, I’d save a movie for afternoon and try to slip in a few words. When they started school, I’d work then. During the summer we went back to movies/video games. Now we’re back to working during school.

I have to work during the day though. I am useless after like six in the evening, when it comes to generating creative material. I really wish I could work at nights, but it’s always a struggle.

I wish I could stay up later than I do, but I've been getting up early lately. It's been hard, but writing first thing in the morning has done wonders for my books. :)

Could you tell us a little about yourself? Random facts? Hidden talents?

Uhh…what do you want to know? I guess I can go for my old fall back—I’m left handed. Pretty proud of that. I’m a pretty hardcore introvert, and I’ve been told (by friends, mind you) that I don’t make a very good first impression. I’m shy! Really. And I’ve discovered that sometimes that is interpreted as “I am stuck up and don’t want to talk to you.” When really I’m standing in the corner thinking, “What do I say to people? Why would they ever want to talk to someone like me? I’m so lame!” Go figure.

As for hidden talents and random facts…I can tie a cherry stub with my tongue? Um, that’s silly. I quilt, or use to before I started writing. I’m part Polynesian—my grandmother was from New Zealand, and she was part Maori. I played the flute in junior high. I’ve had more crushes on cartoon characters than actual people (Anime fan). And my favorite Final Fantasy is VIII.

Oh my heck! I'm the same way! I'm super shy and some people have told me it makes me look stuck up. I swear I'm not! I just don't know what to say to people. I'm scared they'll think I'm a huge dork or something. Yes, I'm lame as well. :) We can be lame together! Oh, and I also played the flute in junior high. I'd say lets get together and play a duet, but I can't even remember how to make any sound out of it anymore. :P

You write young adult. What is your favorite genre within young adult to write?

Man, I like them all, honestly. I haven’t written historical yet, but I wouldn’t put it past me. I’ve done just about everything else—contemp, sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, steampunk, etc. I enjoy jumping around. It keeps things interesting.

Yay for interesting! I do the same. I usually go for fantasy though. And I can't write sci-fi...

Where do you come up with your ideas? Dreams? While driving?

A little of everything. They come while doing chores or in conversations with friends. They sneak up on me while driving or while I’m working on another book. I get quite a lot of inspiration as I watch anime and draw, as well.

I so wish I could draw. Your drawings are awesome. :)

Tell us a little bit about your path to publication. Your story is so inspiring.

Whew, that’s a long story! I will try to make this short. I started writing seriously around 2005/2006. I resurrected one of my high school ideas and rewrote it 100% from scratch. It…was awful. After 5 equally awful queries, I started writing novel #2, finished about six months later, did far too little editing, and began querying. During that came #3 and #4, and after about 25 queries on #2 I jumped to #3 in querying.

I was sure #3 would be The Book. THE BOOK. It wasn’t. But I kept at it, racking up about 100 queries on that one while I wrote book #5, #6, and #7.

Should I mention books 2-7 all got written in one year? It sounds awesome, but really all I had were a bunch of first drafts on my hands, since I didn’t really know how to edit. So I wasn’t getting past a partial request, and there was a mound of frustration to be had.

Then I wrote a paragraph for Nathan Bransford’s first paragraph contest (in 2008). It was about ninjas. It happened to win. I wrote the draft in six weeks, was stupid enough to send in the partial for my prize crit, and nine months of editing later Nathan took me on, bless his heart (in 2009).

Submission to editors…did no go well. The ninjas were either too “boy” or too young or too weird or just not what editors were looking for at the time. A year and four or so months later, I still didn’t have a publisher and my wonderful agent had to leave the biz. Luckily, he set me up with the wonderful Anna, and after talks we decided to go out with something new. I finished up the edits on TRANSPARENT, and after about 6 rough weeks on submission we had an offer (in 2011). And my book first book will finally be out in 2013!

I think it’s more of an average story than people think, in that I had many roadblocks and detours and setbacks. Publishing is just hard, wherever you’re at. Somehow it’s still worth it, and I still have fun.

…and that wasn’t very short. Sorry.

It's alright. I love your story. Like I said. It's so inspiring. Thank you for sharing. :)

Can you tell us a little about your writing/editing process? I love hearing how others do things. Everyone is so different! :)

Well, I usually get a premise/opening when I get ideas. The rest of my first drafting consists of trying to figure out what happens AFTER the beginning. It’s mostly fun. I write out rough notes and outlines, sketch characters, and research all manner of things. I like drafting far more than editing, for sure. I run into issues and blocks, but not knowing everything is what keeps me excited.

Editing…is another story. It’s not technically hard for me, but it does a number on my emotions. I get really down on myself and my work in edits, which causes me to be less motivated. I really have to keep to a schedule and push myself throughout the process.

Oh, man. Editing is so worth it but it's such a downer sometimes. I know exactly how you feel.

How do you handle those moments when you doubt your writing? I know everyone has those feelings at times.

Not well, honestly. I mean, I get through them, but there’s crying and eating of fatty things. There is usually an anime binge in there, too. I can wallow with the best of them. But what I always try to do it set a deadline for my moping. I don’t let myself stay that way. I say, “Okay, today you can mope, but tomorrow you are working again.” Getting back to work is usually what helps most.

Great advice. Mope today and back to work tomorrow. :)

What is one thing you wish you knew before you started your journey to publication?

Just how long it would actually take. I’m not patient at all, and I had these timelines in my head. Well, it took usually double that time if not more. I wish I really had a grasp on taking it slow. I also wish I would have known it would take seven years to see my book in print, so at year three I wouldn’t have been like, “WHY is it taking so long?”

Amen to that. The publishing world is SO slow. But we just keep hanging on. And waiting. And waiting some more. :) Thank you SO much for being here today, Natalie! You are so awesome!:D


Mindee Arnett said...

I totally sympathize with the "I'm shy but people think I'm stuck up" bit. Same here. But super congrats on the book deal to Natalie. This was an awesome interview and very interesting.

Angie Cothran said...

Great interview Chantele :) I love the "tomorrow you are working again" advice. I think that is key--just keep moving forward.

And as an extrovert myself, I really appreciate introverts for the quiet peace they bring into the world.

Ruth Josse said...

Great interview! I started following Natalie after attending a class she taught at a writer's conference. I thought she was just wonderful. It's been been fun to watch her journey and I'm excited to read her work!

I don't make a great first impression either. I hate that shy people get the stuck up or weird label! After I warm up, I'm fairly normal:)

Abby said...

I love Natalie's blog. But what I love most is her totally rocking those red high heels! Yeah! I'm not even a dressy person but I want red high heels so bad! She looks awesome!

Michelle Merrill said...

Great interview! I didn't know much about Natalie, but now I know a lot! And we have a little in common :)

I didn't start writing until after I had kids. I played the flute in Jr. High. And my first draft is usually figuring out what happens AFTER the beginning!

And I love your story of your road to publication. Thanks for sharing.

E.R. King said...

Love you, Natalie! Great interview and questions, Chantele, especially the one about Natalie's path to publication. It always gives me hope!
Sidenote: I just realized I've been spelling your name with two l's. SORRY! I'll remember from here on out, Chantele with one l.

Anita Saxena said...

Thank you for sharing your journey. Been seriously writing since 2004, the words and ideas ebb and flow. Queried to early in the beginning as well, and haven't queried since. Still trying to write the best book possible.

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm the same way--introverted and a bit shy, so I don't often talk much when I first meet people.

Great interview! :)

Sarah Pearson said...

I really enjoyed this thanks. I love Natalie's drawings. When ever she posts new one I always send the link to my daughter as she draws in a similar style.

And I'm a lefty too, and very proud of it :-)

Angie said...

Great interview! I also played the flute in Jr. High. I think your journey is inspiring, Natalie. So happy for you!

Steph Sinkhorn said...

Great interview! I can completely relate to being-shy-but-people-think-you're-stuck-up thing. I think it honestly doesn't occur to extroverted people that someone might be shy rather than snubbing them.

Nicole said...

Fantastic story! Thanks to you and Natalie for sharing it. Best of luck to her with her book!

Katy said...

Fantastic interview! Natalie is delightful on Twitter and it was such fun to learn more about her. Looking forward to more interviews in the future. :)

Jolene Perry said...

WHAT a great interview!!! Natalie - you run the coolest blog :D

I'm SO SO SO excite for you and your book!! HAPPEE :D

Thanks Chantele for another great interview!!

linda said...

Yay, Natalie! Totally agree with you that her story is super inspiring. I never get tired of hearing about it. :)

Jessie Humphries said...

Natalie is the BOMB. Is that an outdated description kids? Anyway, I love her story and will be first in line to buy her book when it comes out.

Patti said...

I really have enjoyed Natalie's honesty when it comes to the publishing world. I've learned a lot reading her posts.

Great interview, Chantele.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Loved reading this! I adore Natalie, so thank you for this interview, you two! Natalie, I had no idea you could tie a cherry stub with your tongue. That's actually pretty awesome. :)

Candice said...

I just love Natalie! She is as colorful and fun and inspiring in real life and she is on paper (on computer screen).