Where Honesty Never Ends.
Hello and Welcome to The Review Board. For the month of August 2016 The Review Board will be taking a closer look at Author Carol Van Natta.
Conducting this interview will be the Harmonious One.
Hi Carol. I’m thrilled at this opportunity to get to know you. First of all, I must complement you on your website, which has a great ‘spacey’ feel to it. Okay then, lights, camera, and … action:
Your ‘About the Author’ page is full of lots of fascinating information about you, and I see that you’ve worn many hats through your life. Which one was your favourite? (Other than writing novels, of course!)
For the most part, my favorite hat is whatever I was wearing at the time. I learned interesting things and met new, fascinating people, or at least got interesting life experiences that I could use in my books. Being an actor taught me a great deal about creating characters, so it was a natural segway into writing them. Being a security guard is mostly solitary, boring, and invisible work, so when I was looking for something for Mairwen Morganthur (OVERLOAD FLUX) to do, it sounded like the perfect job for someone who was hiding herself away. Working in an IT department gave me ideas on how to structure a future where all important information is digital. One of my co-workers was a trained and certified sniper with the police, and he gave me invaluable feedback when creating Jerzi Adams, the lead male character in PICO’S CRUSH (book 3).
What prompted you to make a move into fictional writing?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing fiction. That said, I only started writing it professionally about seven years ago, when independent publishing became a viable option. Back in the day, I and my friends wrote truly awful fan fiction in high school, but we had fun. I have dozens of notebooks filled with plot bunnies, snippets, scenes, etc. I was corrupte… uh, introduced to science fiction when I was young, so that’s where my muse lives, but it likes visiting other genres — fantasy, romance, adventure, suspense, and mystery — most of which are liable to appear in my stories.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Science news and people watching, mostly. It could be a TV show on the biochemical mechanism an eel uses to shock its prey, or the story of a girl whose family kicked her out of the house because she kissed another girl, or an article on how squid can recode their own genetics, or that clerk with vampire coloration and the most annoying voice ever, or an animated map showing how a pandemic disease from the Spaniards may have devastated the Aztec civilization. They’re all fodder for my muse, which is fond of the shiny.
On a typical day, how much time do you tend to spend on your books?
If you ever find a typical day, I hope you’ll point it out to me. 😉 Some days, I only get fifteen minutes to write, and some days, I get six or eight hours. Being an independent author is a small business, so in addition to the fun parts, such as writing or interacting with fans on Facebook, I also have to do marketing, administration, publicity, budgeting, write blog posts, hire editors and cover designers, etc. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though, because I like being in charge of my own destiny (my risks, my rewards).
For your Central Galactic Concordance series, did you have to do a lot of research? Or did you simply badger your mad-scientist hubby to give you all the dark and dirty details? Oh, and do the cats know that you’ve made them into (scape)goats?
The central idea and big damn story arc behind the Central Galactic Concordance series, which will probably be nine books before I’m done, is all my own. It took over my brain one summer, and the resident mad scientist became convinced that my laptop had enslaved me. I do the initial research, but when I need specific technologies, I ask the poor man innocent questions, such as “could there be an electric jet engine that works in high planetary atmosphere?” or “are there explosives that would work in the hard vacuum of space?”, and he provides the answers (both of which are “yes,” in this case). The cats demanded that I include them in my biography, and then were too lazy to check to see what I’d written, as I knew they would be.
Name your biggest pet hate. Give us the lowdown on what gets you hot under the collar.
I’m usually very even-tempered, because I enjoy life and look forward to each day, but violence against animals or children short-circuits my rational brain and fires my ire faster than anything.
Do you write under your real name or your pen name? Why?
For science fiction, like my space opera series, or fantasy, like my paranormal romance, I write under my real name, Carol Van Natta, mostly because I like my name. If my muse ever took a cross-genre detour, such as, say, an erotic steampunk story, I might publish it under a pen name, mostly to protect my current readers from being shocked by the content.
What’s next in 2016?
I’m in the middle of writing book 4 of my Central Galactic Concordance space opera series, which will be out in fall 2016. After that, I’ll return to the paranormal fantasy world for another book loosely related to IN GRAVES BELOW, followed by book 5 of the space opera series. As you might imagine, I have plenty to keep me off the streets and out of the karaoke bars for a while.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write the book—the whole book. You can’t edit what you don’t write, and you can’t sell it, either. The first draft is a contract you make with yourself to make it better once it’s on paper. Also, treat writing as a business from the start, because (and you may trust me on this) you don’t want to be tracking down stray receipts from that thing you bought last year, all so you can write them off on your taxes.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known when you first started out on the writing path?
That learning to write fiction is just like learning any other new skill, and that it takes time. I’d been a technical writer for years, and expected that speed and skill to translate immediately over to writing fiction. I spent a lot of time kicking myself for it until I realized that fiction writing is very different, and I should cut myself some slack.
Okay, confession time: Are you laid back or a neat freak? A play-it-fast-n-loose or a hard-and-rigid-planner type?
I’m a contradiction: My physical surroundings are an impossible, cluttery mess, and I have to pay someone to clean, because I’m hopelessly incompetent at it. On the other hand, when it comes to my independent author business, I’m rather organized, and when I write stories, I have a plot outline ready to go before I start chapter 1, though I allow room for inspiration along the way.
If you could be one of your characters for a month, which one would it be and why?
I think I’d pick Rayle Leviso, a supporting character from MINDER RISING, book 2 in the space opera series. He’s happy, content with the life he’s made for himself, and in far better shape than I could ever hope to be, so maybe his enjoyment of exercise would spill over into my life.
Okay, that’s a wrap! Thank you for being such a great sport, Carol, and best of luck with everything.
Thanks everyone for tuning into our Author Spotlight. Have a wonderful day!