Today Natalie Anderson is with us. I had the pleasure of reading her anthology Flirting to Win, you can find the review here and I loved it. Her vivid descriptions, her torrid scenes between the characters and the charming storyline takes you to an incredible trip you won’t want to come back from.
Natalie, welcome to Confessions.
Thank you so much for having me here!
Share a little about yourself with us. What made you start writing? What made you interested in writing romance?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Reading and writing were always my strongest subjects in school and in a box somewhere at my mother’s place I have one of the first stories I wrote—I think it was called ‘Pansy in the Land of the SoapSuds’! But when I went and did a degree in English Lit I kind of got put off creative writing for a while. But I went overseas and met the man of my dreams (who happily was also a New Zealander). The drive to write had returned but it wasn’t until I had children that the urge really hit hard to make a serious go of it. I found the Nanowrimo bible ‘No Plot, No Problem’ in the library and just went for it. The first thing I thought of writing was a Mills and Boon romance—I’d read them as a teen and I love romance and adore a happy ending. I thought it would be a hell of a lot of fun—and it was! It was also a heck of a lot of hard work, but that’s all good too!
When did you post you first book? Can you share with us the details?
I was very fortunate in that my first submission to Harlequin Mills and Boon was accepted back in 2006 and it was released in 2007. It was a really crazy time for me as I was about 30 weeks pregnant with my twins at the time the editor in London emailed asking for revisions on the manuscript. I did them and I sent them back a couple of weeks later. Then one night I stood up and my waters broke and it was all on. The twins were delivered by emergency C-section later that night and whisked away to NICU (they were okay, but they were a little early and needed some extra TLC). Even later that night another email landed from the editor in London requesting a few more tweaks—and could they be done in a week? If so, the book might make a possible publishing slot.
Obviously I hadn’t told the editor that I was pregnant! My husband ummed and ahhed about bringing that email in to me, but then he figured he had to. He came in, declared ‘nothing is impossible’, borrowed his brother’s laptop (we didn’t have one) and so I spend the week sitting beside my girls’ incubator and revised away. I sent that book back at the end of the week and a couple of night’s later I got the call!
I couldn’t believe it—neither could my editor!
That was six years ago this month. Since then I’ve sold 24 novels and novellas and still can’t believe I get to do this for a living! My twins have just had their birthday and I can’t believe that either! I do feel very lucky
You are publishing with two different publishers, Entangled Publishing and Harlequin Mills & Boon. Do you find differences in their approach with your work? If so, what are they? This would be particularly useful information for would-be writers who want to find homes for their own work.
Yes there are differences of course—Harlequin is a very large company and Entangled is much newer! But to be honest, at the end of the day the process is the same—write the very best book you can. Try to get it in front of an editor and hopefully that ed will ‘click’ with your writing. It’s the editor that you’re going to work most closely with and you really do want to do your best for her or him.
I think both companies offer fantastic opportunities for their authors and I’m thrilled to work with both of them!
You’ve published quite a number of books, which one is your favorite and why?
Nope! This question simply cannot be answered! I think of one and think ‘yes, that’s it’, then I think of another and think ‘oh no, it’d have to be that’ and then I think of another… they really are like kids!!!! All have the most wonderful things about them, and all of them have had their challenging moments along the way too!!!
I think my real favourite is the book I’m about to write—the one hovering on the edges of my imagination, still in the mist a little but promising so much fun! There is nothing as seductive as possibility.
We would like to know a little bit about your writing process. How do you come up with the ideas for your books? How do you build your characters? Do you have an end in mind when you start a book? Do you have a set writing area in your home that you use or do you write on the go, perhaps taking your laptop along with you and writing as inspiration finds you?
I do think that ideas are everywhere—read a newspaper of magazine and you’ll have three ideas minimum after finishing… not all of them might be viable, but there’s always something there. So I think in terms of creativity, you just need to be open to new ideas, have your eyes and ears open, meet with people, do things, get out and about! My characters often spring into my mind in the middle of a conversation—so I get the gist of personality right there. But then I do sit down and nut out who they are and what they look like and what their backstory is. You need that for the all-important ‘conflict’. So yes, I do ‘design’ them somewhat. But then I draft. I’m a really dirty discovery drafter. It’s a mess. There are no chapter breaks, I skip about all over the place. And it’s always as I get nearer the end that that character finally coughs up something that’s really relevant. Then I revise and rewrite from the start. It’s a bit crazy, but it works!
For the first five years of my professional career I never had an office. With four young kids and moving cities a couple of times, we just didn’t have the room. So I worked anywhere and everywhere—libraries, cafes, the laundry, the car… I used to go park up somewhere pretty (the beach or the botanic gardens) and sit there with my laptop. But honestly? After five years of that I was pretty over it. But at the end of last year we moved back to our own house here in Christchurch, New Zealand. We have a lovely patch of native bush in our front yard with a tiny creek running through it. So my husband put up the most gorgeous kitset ‘shed’ on the ‘far side’—and that is MINE. The neighbours thought it was going to be a playhouse for the kids, but it’s my playhouse. I go through the plants and over the stepping stones to get to work. It’s wooden and smells yummy and I have lots of ducks come and visit. I adore it!!! You can see some pics of it on my Facebook page if you’re interested! http://www.facebook.com/authornataliea
Flirting to Win contains three different stories, how did you approach these? Did you write all three at the same time or attack them one-by-one? How do you budget your time as a writer?
I came up with the concept first but then I wrote them one after the other. I can’t seem to write two stories at once. I need to get really deeply ‘lost’ in the story and be thinking about it all the time—especially in the final finishing phase. So one at a time is definitely the way for me. TIME is such a tricky thing—it keeps disappearing!!! I think time management for writers is absolutely a key thing. You do need to be disciplined—set a word count, or a timer or something and absolutely switch off the Internet!! I’m still trying to balance out the time I spend writing and the time I spend doing admin stuff and promo stuff—that’s really hard to get right, but I think I’m getting there! Setting aside blocks of time is working for me at the moment
What can you share with us about your plans for the future? Any tidbits on ideas in the works?
In terms of releases, I’ve got one out with Harlequin this month called “Dating and Other Dangers” which is a romance filled with a he said/she said blog war and a dating reputation website at the heart of it. That one was hilarious to write as the characters tried to out do each other—the hero especially was outrageous! Then in the UK next I have a Mills and Boon release at the end of the year called ‘Blame it on the Bikini’ which is about a text sent to the wrong person… oops!
In terms of writing, I’m just finishing up a novella duo that has a bit of a twist at the heart of it—but I can’t tell you what that twist is yet! After that I’m going straight into a full length contemporary that’s likely to end up a trilogy—I can’t wait to get stuck into it!
You can contact Natalie Anderson on her: