Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Creative Edge Author Interview – Natasha Deen

February 11, 2021
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1.     What drives you to write?

That’s a great question and I don’t know if I have a single answer. I love the challenge, the process, I love the chance to connect with readers and other authors. As a reader, I love the feeling of falling into a good book, the kind that makes me forget time and space, forget where I am, and as a writer, the chance to create that type of experience for someone is just too cool an opportunity to pass up.

2.     How long how you been writing?

Oh, gosh, on and off through school. I also wrote in university as self-care & a break with the course load. In 2006, I got serious—taking classes, attending workshops, reading books on craft—so I would count that year as THE year I began to write.

3.     Why do you write, primarily, with female protagonists?

In every story, an author has to ask themselves, “Who is the best person to tell this story?” Sometimes, the voice that has the most authority is a female voice (as in the case with In the Key of Nira Ghani), sometimes, the voice will be male ( as in the case with Thicker than Water).

Stories should also reflect different experiences, which is why my characters can be BIPOC (Sleight of Hand), sporty (Nothing But Net), and/or come from cultures & families that aren’t based in North America (Maria and the Plague).

4.     What messages do you want to convey in your stories?

Hmm, there’s a two-pronged answer to this question. I hope, when it comes to my writing voice, readers know my stories will have themes/messages of positive resolutions (though not necessarily happy ever after endings), optimism, resiliency, and strength in self. However, a story is subjective. We might all read the same book, but we won’t read the same story—our backgrounds, values, and pet peeves will come into play. To that end, my goal is to create a space that allows readers to feel and interpret as they see fit and enjoy the journey as they go along.

5.      What is your writing style – planner or panster?

A bit of both! I like to have an outline, but I like to have freedom. To me, it’s like having a map. I’ve marked my route, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stop at Points of Interest or change the route as I go along.

6.     Do you have a favorite place to write?

I have an office where I spend my days writing and editing. Final read throughs might happen in the family room.

7.     Tell us about your latest book?

Maria & the Plague is part of the Girls Survive series from Capstone Books. Each story focuses on a girl living through an important (and often, a dangerous) time in history and her battle to survive against all odds.

In my book, “years of bad weather and natural disasters have choked Italy’s food supply, and the people of Florence are dying of starvation. Breadlines are battlegrounds, and young Maria has to fight for her family’s every loaf. Adding to the misery, the Black Plague is rapidly spreading through the country, killing everyone in its path. Maria has already lost her mother and sister. Will she be strong enough to save the rest of her family before it’s too late?”

It’s an eerily timely book, given our current pandemic. The similarities and hardships between Maria and today’s readers continue to astonish me. And like today’s circumstances, hope, kindness, and personal strength twine together to help Maria survive.

8.     What made you write this particular story?

At the time, it was a chance to go back into history and learn about the Black Plague. And I loved the idea of having a strong, female character who was resourceful and clever, finding her way through one of the scariest times in history.  

Looking back, I had no idea I was doing a rehearsal for COVID-19! But from wearing masks, travel restrictions, people choosing selfishness over kindness (and vice-versa) what the people of 1300s Florence went through is very much like what we’re going through, now.

9.     Your new book is part of a series, can you tell us more about the series and what to expect?

The book is part of the Girls Survive series, which features a host of amazing writers. If historical fiction is a favourite genre, I encourage readers to look at the other books in the series, https://shop.capstonepub.com/library/search//?series-property=Girls%20Survive

10.  Has your background influenced the subjects you write about?

The short answer is, “yes.” For all of us, how we view the world and how we write about it has deep roots in how (and where) we grew up.

11.  How many pets do you have? Are they a help or a hinderance?

Our home has two cats and one dog, and they are of vital help with the writing. They keep me company during the late nights and early mornings, and hang out with me in the office during the day. Without them to remind me to eat (and—cough—share my food), take a walk, take time to cuddle and have fun, where would I be?

12.  Where can readers find you on social media?

I’m on Twitter and Instagram, both handles are @natasha_deen, and I use pinterest as a way to storyboard my books, https://www.pinterest.ca/806bd1ed29039ff5c5a5f89ffbe4b0/?autologin=true

13.  Do you have a blog?

I do and I’m hoping to be more consistent with posting in 2021! https://natashadeen.com/blog/

14.  What is your next project?

Argh, I don’t know yet—I’m flirting with a variety of ideas and “what if” scenarios, and hoping something will stick, soon!

Bio:

Guyanese-Canadian author NATASHA DEEN writes for kids, teens, and adults, and enjoys visiting libraries and schools to help people to find and tell the stories that live inside of them. Her novel, In the Key of Nira Ghani, was a Most Anticipated Novel for both Barnes & Noble and Chapters-Indigo, nominated for the MYRCA Award, the R. Ross Annett Award, and is a Red Maple Honor Book and a 2020 YALSA Pick for Reluctant Readers. She is also the author of the Lark Ba series and the Guardian trilogy (Moonbeam Award winner, Sunburst Award Nominee, and an Alberta Readers’ Choice Nominee). When she’s not writing, Natasha spends an inordinate amount of time trying to convince her pets that she’s the boss of the house. Visit Natasha on Twitter at @natasha_deen and at http://www.natashadeen.com.

Welcome Author Natasha Deen…

March 16, 2015
mandyevebarnett


Natasha

What inspired you to write this book?

Great stories, I think, are all about putting a character in an untenable situation, then seeing what happens when you turn up the heat. With Guardian, the situation was simple: Maggie’s being bullied by Serge. Then Serge dies. Problem solved, right?

Well…Maggie can see the dead and now Serge is haunting her. She has a choice: admit she can see his ghost and help him cross over, or be haunted by him forever…problem is, helping him means dealing with him—and it also means dealing with the murderer, who certainly doesn’t want to be caught…oh, and did I mention there’s a third spirit, one that seems to have a vested interest in Maggie and Serge, and if Maggie doesn’t help, she may very well end up on the other side of the veil?

Guardian

 

You can view the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBldlLwbLp4

How did you come up with the title?

It’s a nod to some of the things that Maggie and Serge will discover about themselves, each other, and the people around them.

Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?

Guardian is my sixth or seventh full-length novel. If we count published and unpublished books, then I think I’ve written at least a dozen novels.

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Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Certainly, I had a message in my novel about forgiveness, social justice, and how to best turn your hair into a weapon…but the fun thing about any story is that it’s individual to the reader. I hope readers enjoy the literary ride, I hope they’re love the roller coaster of emotion, the suspense, and mystery, and I hope they walk away with the message that best suits them.

How much of the book is realistic?

A lot of the bullying scenes, the run-ins with teachers, and the relationship with Maggie and her dad have a basis in reality, and were inspired by things that happened to me or people I know.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Serge’s journey was inspired by my grandfather, a man who made mistakes and sought redemption in his grandchildren (the full story can be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVafwmzTQ9U). But the actual plot, action, and creepy goings-on of the story were the product of my very active imagination.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Ha! I suspect every writer would answer, “yes!” to that question. I can always think of ways to change my book—an altered word here, a different description there…but truly, I’m satisfied and very proud to have my name on Guardian.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thanks for reading!

What is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?

Everything!! I love the excitement of the new idea, powering through the writing, getting the edits finished, and for sure, I love seeing my book in print!

What is your favourite theme/genre to write?

Really, anything that catches my imagination!

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Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Gosh, that’s a great question…at this point, I haven’t come across an idea that I had to set down.

What book are you reading now?

I just finished Carrie Mac’s The Way Back and Caroline B. Cooney’s Night School. Both are great reads!

Do you see writing as a career?

Definitely! And I feel really lucky to be one of those fortunate people whose job and passion mesh.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Finally winning the good spot on the couch from the dogs & cats!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Everything! The idea that doesn’t work, all the long nights/days trying to form the idea into a book, edits…writing is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but there’s nothing else I’d rather do.

Have you ever hated something you wrote?

Every book I’ve ever written, I can’t stand drafts 1-8. Only at the 9th draft do I actually start enjoying the story, and start seeing that the idea on my head is actually coming true on the page.

What book do you wish you had written?

Ha! Too many to mention!

What is your best marketing tip?

When it comes to promotion and marketing, be true to yourself.

What genre is your next project? What is it about?

My next release is Burned, a fast-paced, action-suspense about a girl who sees a corrupt cop slaughter her family, then teams up with a set of outlaw teens in order to get her retribution.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Josie (Jo) Smith’s life went up in smoke. Literally. Everyone and everything she ever loved burned in a fire—one set by a crooked cop. To survive, Jo’s been living under the radar as a homeless kid.  For the last two years, she’s been trying to find a way to knock the cop off her hero’s pedestal and put her on the other side of the prison bars. But time’s running out. A gang member’s got his eye on Josie and if she doesn’t get off the streets soon, she’ll be the one brought down. Her salvation and the key to the cop’s undoing seems to lie in a girl urban climber and a privileged rich boy. Trust and teamwork isn’t come easily—in fact, it’s not coming at all—but if Jo can’t find a way to make the team work and find justice for her family, it won’t just burn her. It’ll scorch her.

For interviews, trailers, and juicy tidbits, head to: http://www.natashadeen.com/retribution-burned

How do we find your books, blog and bio?

www.natashadeen.com

I’m also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/natasha.deen.9),

Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1314477.Natasha_Deen)

& Twitter (@natasha_deen)
Thanks for the interview, Mandy!

NatashaDeen.Chair_

 

Author Reading Tonight in Edmonton, Alberta – Come and Join Us…

August 20, 2014
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Lisa and Sharon Audrey's launch eviteAlso reading Karen Probert from your new book of short stories, Colouring Our Lives and Natasha Deen from her novel, Guardian.

Meet the authors, ask questions and heart their wonderful words.

Guardian

Colouring Our LivesJust had to share photos from the reading last night – it was a marvelous evening. Lisa Audreys reading 1Mandy Audreys 20AugKaren Audreys 20AugNatasha reading Audreys 20AugSharon reading 20Aug

Another Successful Conference Completed (Exhausted but Happy)…

March 31, 2014
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After months of planning and late evenings finding presenters, creating a schedule, leaflets, programs, and goodie bags etc. our writers conference was a great success on Saturday. Without our excellent volunteers the event would not have happened. We began at 7.00 am preparing for registration and breakfast. A steady stream of registrants arrived and were handed draw tickets, goodie bags, programs and a warm welcome.

Reg at Conference

Our presenters were well received and everyone went away with valuable information, new friends and prized silent auction items. With a diverse schedule of topics there was something for everyone to learn, no matter their preferred genre.

Barb conference 2014Barbie-Joe Smith – humor for adults. http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/authors/barbie-jo-smith

Natasha Conference 2014Natasha Deen – humor for children. http://www.natashadeen.com/

Bill Conference 2014Bill Roberts – screenwriting. http://www.celticraineproductions.ca/our-team.html

Danielle Conference 2014Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail – writing for magazines/freelancing. http://www.daniellemc.com/

We were fortunate to have our local Mayor, Roxanne Carr, open the conference and the current Writer in Residence, Margaret Mcpherson, give a short presentation on what a WIR is.

 WP_20140329_005Roxanne Carr, Mayor of Strathcona County – welcome speech. http://www.strathcona.ca/local-government/mayor-councillors/mayor/

Margaret Conference 2014Margaret Mcpherson, Writer in Residence. http://ouralbertawriters.com/listing/margaret-macpherson/

Ideas for next year’s conference are already spinning around in our minds as it will be our 10th Anniversary. Bigger & better and maybe a two day event!

To all our members and volunteers of The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County – thank you. http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/ 

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Register for a Writing Conference Here:

January 17, 2014
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Registration is open – Early Bird prize option.

If you enjoy the written word and want to increase your skill set you should attend.

http://wfscsherwoodpark.com/event/nine-ninety-nine-writing-all-ages-conference

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