PLEASE NOTE: The contest portion of this event is now over. The winners will be drawn at a later date and concacted via email.
PLEASE NOTE: This is not a fixed time event, the post just goes live at 12:30 pm Central. You can stop by any time during the day or evening and leave your questions and chat.
PLEASE KEEP SPOILERS TO A MINIMUM. Not all of the readers today have read Natasha’s books.
Welcome to Bitten by Books, we are excited to have you here today!
I would like to thank you taking the time to join us for the question and answer session with our readers. It has been very interesting to get to know more about you and what makes you tick as a writer! Readers, if you haven’t done so already please stop by and get your copy of Natasha’s new release Keeper of Light and Dust.
BBB: What are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of writing?
NM: I love research and it shows. There is a lot of stuff in my books that is quite a challenge to explain in an entertaining way. In SEASON OF THE WITCH I write about The Art of Memory – a rather esoteric concept – and in Keeper of Light and Dust I even dip my toe into quantum physics!
For me, the most difficult part of writing is to incorporate all that lovely research material into my story without making my readers go, Huh? Sending your readers to sleep or confusing them, is not high on an author’s wish list. A thriller has to move; the pages have to turn. I may find the mating habits of slugs riveting, but my readers probably will not. And the reader is always king.
The most rewarding aspect of writing? Like all authors I am blessed. I am paid to let my imagination run riot. What’s more, I get to dream up heroes and villains who are larger than life: brilliant, good-looking, hugely talented. Not only do I get to hang out with these guys, I dream about them every night. My husband knows all about this by the way, and no longer freaks out when he finds doodles with the names of other men surrounded by hearts next to the telephone.
BBB: Please explain for our readers how your childhood growing up in South Africa influenced your interest in mysticism.
NM: In Africa, mysticism fits in seamlessly with reality. And what is considered “magic” and “paranormal” in the West, is considered very much part of everyday life over there. If you grow up in an environment like this it is certain to influence the way in which you look at the world.
I was extremely fortunate to have as my nanny a Zulu woman who was training to be a witch doctor (isangoma.) She sharpened my awareness of things that cannot be easily explained: synchronicities, coincidences, those little things that hint at something hiding behind the dusty curtain of everyday living. She certainly had a huge influence on my interest in mysticism.
BBB: You combine the paranormal with science and technology. Did you plan this approach, or did it just happen while writing?
NM: I suppose it just happened. What pleases me more than anything is to receive messages from readers saying they can’t tell in my books where reality ends and fantasy begins.
Paranormal stories are usually sensual, resonant stories filled with dark images that are tinged with apocalyptic fire. This appeals to me. But I also I find that very often science can be far more fantastical than what is considered “supernatural”. When I researched KEEPER I happened to read a book on biophotonics — “light inside the body” — and was fascinated. We all have tiny fugitive pulses of light inside of us. Who knew? This is hard science, but it also poetic , wondrous and makes for a great idea for a story. And this is how I came to write Keeper of Light and Dust. My vampire is a man not interested in blood, but in light!
BBB: What character (s) in any of your books is most like you?
NM Ah,well. Sadly, I live a very boring life. Only my characters do amazing things: bungee jumping, posing in the nude, walking through memory palaces or cracking the secret of eternal life. Me? I snack obsessively and stare at my computer screen for nine hours a day.
It is true that the heroine in Keeper of Light and Dust, Mia Lockhart, is a martial artist and that I have practiced kickboxing for eight years. But that is as far as it goes. She is also a practitioner of FA GUNG, an ancient art whereby she can heal through energy. I have problems removing a band aid strip from its wrapping. She has martial arts skills that will put Jackie Chan’s to shame. I’m clumsy and have broken bones while sparring. But I did enjoy living vicariously through Mia and sending her on adventures.
BBB: How would you say that your interest in physical activities such as kickboxing and running have influenced your writing?
NM: If I did not have a dojo to go to at the end of my writing day.,I don’t know how I would keep sane and healthy. Writing is not only a very sedentary occupation, it is a lonely one. Kickboxing is a tough work out and it burns the calories. Without it, I would look like Jabba the Hutt. Furthermore, I do full contact sparring, which means I am forced to engage with my fellow students in a very physical and direct manner. This is excellent therapy for a desk bound writer. Physical activity also keeps me grounded. It is the only time I switch off from my work completely. Every other minute of the day (and my dreaming life for that matter) is occupied by fictional characters.
As a bonus: my experiences in the dojo gave me the idea for a book – Keeper of Light and Dust!
BBB: How do you keep track of your world building?
NM: Notes, many notes. I plan compulsively. I have to, as my stories are quite intricate. If I don’t plan and keep on top of all the material, I’ll write myself into a corner.
BBB: What do you feel are the benefits of the new electronic readers such asor to the environment?
NM: Not sure if you mean by environment – physical or reading environment? If physical, I suppose they will help towards a paperless environment, which makes eco sense. On the other hand, you will now have many more electronic devices to dispose of and people aren’t always good with recycling.
Reading environment: they’ll attract more readers, I hope. The next generation will probably only rarely read a paper book. I find this sad and I know many others do too. Still, if we had all grown up in a world in which books did not exist except on e readers, we wouldn’t be missing paper and it wouldn’t even occur to us that there is an alternative.
BBB: What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors in the end? Do you feel they have a negative impact or positive, or no impact at all that you can see?
NM: These are early days for authors but there is already blood in the water between publishers and producers of e readers such as Amazon. The real problem lies with hardbacks. An author’s royalty on a hardback is much higher than it is on a paperback, which is why publishers allow a year to pass before bringing out the paperback edition. What Amazon is doing is to wipe out that higher royalty by making the book immediately available on its Kindle for 9.99. Who will now buy the hardback? Especially for commercial fiction? This is why some publishers refuse to allow Amazon to release some of their books on the e reader at the discounted price.
It is important, though, that readers realize that we hapless writers have no say in this dispute. So if readers start posting one star Amazon reviews to “punish” an author for a high book price (as has been known to happen,) it’s pretty unfair on the writer. Ours not to wonder why, ours just to do and die — as the poet says.
BBB: You’ve written quite a bit about reviews on your blog, specifically regarding the interesting dance between authors and reviewers. Considering the sensitive nature of giving and receiving reviews in general, what keeps you going? Do you actively pursue reviews (to be brave) or do you shy away from them whenever possible?
NM: Yes, I do actively pursue reviews and rely on my in-house publicist to make sure to get the book out there and in view. You cannot be a shy author. If people don’t know about your book, they won’t buy it. I don’t know how brave I am, but the first thing a published writer needs to learn is to handle criticism. The one thing you can be sure of is that you will not be able to please every-one all of the time. Even Hemingway received bad reviews.
Most reviewers do a good job. And authors don’t expect to be coddled. They accept that if a reviewer doesn’t like the book, she or he has every right to say so. My beef is with lazy reviewers who skim and then end up with inaccuracies in their reviews or giving away the punch line of your novel. I am also not fond of reviewers who use their reviews as a vehicle to show off their own cleverness and biting wit. Authors spend months writing a book – it takes me two years to finish a novel – and all we ask is of a reviewer to be professional.
Reviewers in general, have been kind to me and I am very grateful for their opinion and their time. But every now and then you get a review that makes you go — right , that one hurt. I recently received a stinker of a review in which the reviewer told me to go back to selling shoes (I used to sell shoes to get money to go to college.) That’s getting personal and is, I think, unacceptable.
In the end, though, reviewers and writers are locked in a symbiotic relationship: the one cannot do without the other. But there is no doubt that the reviewer holds the power position. And with great power comes great responsibility — if you’ll pardon the cliché.
BBB: Your titles are just as compelling as your stories. Do you go through a lot of titles before you find the right one or does one just jump out as your are writing? Does the title ever come first and influence the book?
NM: I usually have a title in mind by the time I start writing the book. They usually jump out at me in the months when I’m still engaged in doing research.
But authors seldom get to keep the titles they choose. I’ve written five books and three of my titles bit the dust. Only WINDWALKER, and SEASON OF THE WITCH were accepted by my editors. The publisher always has the final say.
BBB: Please share with us what can we expect from you next?
NM: I am very excited as I am at present in negotiations to sell the movie rights to Keeper of Light and Dust. And if everything works out, I will be writing the screenplay. Scriptwriting is something I’ve always wanted to try, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.
BBB: Do you have any upcoming appearances? If so where can our readers find you?
NM: Last year (when the hardback edition of KEEPER was released) was the year I set aside for promotion. I did 62 radio interviews, participated in literature festivals and so forth. This year is my quiet year when I get stuck in and do the writing!
However, I will definitely be in New York City for the annual Thrillerfest convention in July. This is a four day event and I will be taking part in a panel discussion and signing books. I may be heading to San Francisco for Bouchercon in October but I haven’t decided yet. It all depends on manuscript deadlines and other such gruesome things.
A few questions for the readers:
1. Please play The Keeper Game on my website. www.thekeepergame.com It is in the form of a fun personality quiz and at the end of the game you will be given a profile and told if you are a Healer, a Warrior or a Thief! Let me know if you agree with the profile you received and whether you “recognize” yourself in the description!
2. Anything about the game you particularly enjoyed? Anything you would have liked to see included?
3. If you can take the books of only one author with you to a desert island, which author would you choose? Why?
4. The villain in Keeper of Light and Dust is a brilliant scientist and martial artist who has cracked the secret to eternal life. If you had to choose a song for him, what would it be?
6. My heroine is a tattoo artist and a martial artist. She has a chameleon as a pet. If you could design an outfit for her, what would it look like?
7. What is your favourite spot where you like to read? And for those of you who are Kindle readers, do you ever take it with you to the bathtub?
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To read reviews of her work go here.
To visit the author’s website go here.
YouTube Interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1YfEEUB3LI
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CONTEST: She is giving away these prizes to six lucky contest entrants on the Bitten by Books site. Open to readers worldwide.
5 – $25.00 Electronic Amazon Gift Cards
1 Pair of Pink Boxing Gloves (These ship from the UK you must allow a minimum of 8 weeks for them to arrive)
You can also enter to win an iPad and a pair of pink boxing gloves on Natasha’s site in a separate contest that is not affiliated with BBB that she is holding here: http://www.thekeepergame.com/
To Enter PLEASE
1. LEAVE YOUR FIRST NAME AND THE INITIAL OF YOUR LAST NAME in your comment/post so we can give you the proper credit for your entries. Mandatory, if you don’t leave this, none of your entries will count.
2. Answer Natasha’s questions above and ask Natasha a question please make sure it isn’t a duplicate. Good for 10 entries. (Max 10)
3. Purchase copies of Natasha’s books
From Amazon by clicking here
From Barnes & Noble by clicking here
Good for 300 entries per book you purchase by using the links above. Email your receipt to the prize Goddess here bittenbybooks.contests @ gmail.com (no spaces). Not valid on past purchases.
OR you can use the Barnes & Noble link HERE to make your purchase of ANY kind of merchandise during the contest. You can also use the Amazon link HERE to shop as well. Good for 100 entries to the contest for EACH item you purchase. Not valid on past purchases.
4. Spread the word about this event and invite everybody you know by using the new Share Buttons below at the bottom of the post to tell your friends about this contest and come back and tell us where you shared. This is the live link to the event: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=21814 if you don’t know how to use either of those functions. Good for 50 entries per place you post the event link.
While you are here today, please join us at the Patricia Briggs Reader Interview here: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=21808
today’s book chat here: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=21722, VOTE in this week’s poll here: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=21717 RSVP for Melissa Marr’s event here: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=20443, Good for 25 entries per event you participate in or RSVP for.
Be sure to check out these other fun events for next week: http://bittenbybooks.com/?page_id=4.
RULES AND LEGAL DISCLAIMERS
The contest ends on 4/2/10 at 11:59 pm Central and the winners will be contacted via email. You will receive your prize directly from the authors. PLEASE LEAVE YOUR FIRST AND THE INITIAL OF YOUR LAST NAME as well as a valid email where we can contact you. REMEMBER the more things you do, the more entries, the greater the chances of winning. PLEASE ALLOW THIRTY DAYS to receive your prize BEFORE EMAILING US.
1. Please note, the prize stated IS the prize you will receive, there will be absolutely no substitutions or changes the prize is non-transferable. If you don’t want the prize being offered, please don’t enter the contest. If you ever win an electronic copy of a book, please note that it is ILLEGAL to forward, give away or copy it in anyway once you receive it. Doing so violates copyright. If we find out that it has been done, you will no longer be eligible to win any of our contests.
2. You have FIVE days from the day the we contact you to claim your prize by sending your name/mailing address to me. Failure to contact me will forfeit your prize. BBB can at that time, choose either to re-award the prize to another entrant or not.
3. The prize stated IS the prize you will receive, there will be no substitutions, trades or changes. No exceptions. Please do not ask. If for some reason you do not wish to claim your prize, please let me know as soon as possible. Bitten by Books has the option to re-award it or not.
4. Contest is open to readers in the USA except where noted. The prizes are shipped directly from the author unless otherwise noted.
5. Bitten by Books is in NO way responsible for the prizes being offered in any of the contests. If for some reason a contributor does not honor their prize, there is nothing we can or will do about it. We are not worried that this will happen, but we want to be very clear that WE are not offering these prizes, the contributor is and it is their responsibility to fulfill their prize obligations.
6. These rules are subject to change or be modified without prior written notice.
7. Contest is void where prohibited.
8. By entering this contest you are agreeing to our terms of entry