Today I’m interviewing Natalie Whipple on Words Read & Written. Thanks to Hot Key Books for setting this up for me, and to Natalie for answering my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Fish Out of Water, where did the ideas for the story originate?
FISH is about Mika, who wants nothing more than to shadow her marine biologist parents for the summer. But all that is ruined when she has to train a new, grouchy (albeit cute) employee at her pet shop job. And even worse, her racist, Alzheimer’s-ridden, estranged grandmother shows up needing help from the family she kicked out years before. Mika’s perfect summer is long gone, but she learns that sometimes the most beautiful life lessons come in very cranky packages.
This story came from a lot of personal places for me. It takes place in Monterey Bay, California, where I spent many a vacation as a child. It also comes from experiences with my own grandmother and her disapproval of my uncle’s Filipino wife. She was always this conundrum in my life, because I both loved and disliked her. I wanted to address that kind of muddiness in relationships. Not just romantic ones but in families and friendships.
2. What is your writing process like? Do you try to write a set amount of words each day?
I used to write everyday, but things have changed a lot since that time. Really I write when I have time. If I’m seriously drafting or on a deadline, I do write every week day. I always take weekends off. It’s just as important to get away from your work as it is to do it when you must.
I don’t have a word count goal unless, again, I’m under a deadline and need to finish in a certain amount of time. If I’m drafting for myself, I find I naturally writing between 1200-1600 words a day. I’m very consistent in that range, without going on big writing binges where I write 5000 words in a day. I’ve done that a few times…and then I just burn out and can’t write for a few days. So it ends up evening out.
My drafting process is very “discovery” oriented. I don’t plot out a lot in advance, just a few chapters at a time so I have a “flashlight” in the dark forest of my story, so to speak.
3. What are your three favourite books?
Oh that’s just mean. I can’t pick three! But I guess I will stick to a theme-these are the three that impacted me most as a kid:
The Chronicles of Narnia
(All of which are series…yes, I’m a cheater.)
4. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Write, even if it’s bad. Edit, even when you don’t think you need to. And keep your eyes on your own paper-every writer walks a different path, and wishing for another’s journey is disrespecting your own.
5. What has been the hardest part of the publishing process?
The fact that so much is out of my control. I can’t make people buy my book, I can’t make them read it…I certainly can’t make them LIKE it. I just have to send it out and hope it conveys what I intended. It’s odd, because publishing a novel is the beginning forreaders, but for many authors it’s “the end” with that novel. We send it into the world and it’s no longer fully ours. It becomes yours.