Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Introducing: My New Self, by Natalie Charles

I sometimes wish I was more interesting. Like when I meet a non-writer who wants to know all kinds of things about my fascinating second job and the creative process, like where I get my ideas, or how long it takes me to write a book.

I squirm a little and shrug. Where do I get my ideas? Magic, maybe? Although lately I suspect they're left by moody gnomes. How long does it take me to write a book? Uh, too damn long, because I'll set down the wrong path a few times before I realize where I'm going. The gnomes don't leave maps. Stupid gnomes.

(Oh my gosh, I was totally kidding! Please keep leaving me ideas.)

These are disappointing answers from a writer who falls short of the Writer Ideal I'd always envisioned. Who wants to believe that the person writing their books is a self-flagellating artist with a mild addiction to caffeine and a day job? Is that the kind of person I want writing my books and telling me stories? Of course not. I want my writers to embody a fantasy. I want them to live in palaces heated by burning money. And when I ask them where their ideas come from, I want a concrete answer, damn it!

So, breaking news, I'm inventing a more glamorous writing persona. She is the new, improved! Natalie, and she is kicking ass and taking names. Maybe she goes by Nat, because it's kind of androgynous and she wants men to pick up her romance novels, too. Anyway, here, let's practice for the next picnic:

Where do you get your ideas? - I cultivate them in Petri dishes with samples of daily news, things I overhear, and life experiences. I'm fortunate to have an exciting life that provides a constant supply of ideas. Each time I sit down and stare at the blank computer screen, I have a million story lines to draw from. Seriously, a million, maybe more, all potentially award-winning and carefully indexed. It's just a matter of choosing one.

What's it like to be a writer? - It's sort of like being a spy: it's fast-paced, there's lots of sex, and every now and then I have to take a break to save the world.I have a fancy car and a feather boa, and my martini glasses have ridiculously thin stems. When I write--which, believe me, with a high-intensity life like mine isn't very often!--I write at a desk hand-constructed from the wreckage of sixteenth-century pirate ships. It smells faintly like the ocean and reminds me of the fragility of life.

How long does it take you to write a book? - Oh gosh, you mean when I focus? I don't know, it all happens so quickly! Let me tell you: writing those fluffy romance novels? Piece o' cake. You just follow the formula. There's a man and a woman, some conflict, and a happily ever after. I can bang one out over the weekend, then enjoy several months of James Bond-style living before anyone asks questions. Hey, your glass is empty--can I get you a refill? My treat--did I mention I'm rich?

So let's hear it: who would you be if you were living the writer's fantasy life?


  1. I think as a romance writer, I feel compelled to be a bit more polished, elegant, put together, and just plain fancy. Like Mary Fisher. I feel like beauty and romance and flowers should be a part of my every day life, and that when I sit down to write it should be this calm, heavenly experience. I feel like I should be wearing evening gowns and drinking champagne. I feel like I should not raise my voice or abandon my cart in the grocery store when my kid is screaming too loud for me to continue to deal. I suppose I have a stereotype of what a romance writer should be...and I don't fit it. I wear head to toe black most days, after all. I imagined as a romance writer, I would be swathed in pink chiffon!

    Instead, I am terribly ordinary...well, with a hearty dash of eccentricity which is finally justified by my "writer" status:-)

  2. LOL. Mary Fisher is an ideal worth striving for. Breathy voice, eternally calm. I do think that wearing black its very artsy, though maybe more appropriate for literary fiction. ;-)

  3. When I was much younger, I believed romance novelists wrote their books with notepads and pens while sitting poolside (since they all lived in tropical paradises, obviously) and drinking frozen cocktails brought to them by their butlers. They wore fabulous clothes, dark sunglasses, and large sunhats.

    In the present, this is not me. This is not even me on vacation :)

    1. Wait, what? I still aspire to this! Well, maybe when those royalty checks start rolling in...right?