Friday, September 28, 2012

About Us: Natalie Charles

It's almost October, so I thought I'd treat you to a Halloween picture. An oldie but goodie.

Welcome to the next installment of our 'About Us' series, where we expose ourselves in a strictly figurative sense. This week my blog sisters have put me in the Hot Seat, so while I'm squirming around and trying to come up with something clever to say, go ahead and help yourself to something chocolate. 

How and why did you get involved with The Hot Pink Typewriter?

This site started as an email exchange between me and Olivia Miles. I think it was as simple as one of us saying, “We should start a group blog.” The idea eventually evolved, and our objective was to create a platform on which to showcase our fellow writers and discuss writing topics that we found interesting. We sought out talented romance writers from various sub-genres to reach a wide range of interests and to highlight different voices.

What sub-genre of romance do you write and why?
I write romantic suspense, and my books lean more toward mysteries. Basically I write the stories I enjoy reading! I love a good whodunit, one that gets my heart and mind racing. Maybe this sounds macabre, but I just think that most stories are better when there’s a dead body and a detective involved: the stakes are high and it’s a race against time to find the killer and restore order to the world. Add a hot hero who knows how to handle a gun and a tough-as-nails heroine who doesn’t take any crap, and I’m up way past my bedtime!

I also love to geek out on forensic science, so I find the research element endlessly fascinating. Then there’s the challenge of fitting a compelling romance into a satisfying suspense plot. It keeps me busy!

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? What prompted this interest?
I’m not sure there was ever a point at which I declared that I would be a fiction writer. Writing is something I’ve always done. I couldn’t not write. Well, maybe I could, but then a part of me would die.

Did contests play a role in your writing journey? If so, in what ways did you find them beneficial? And what if any were the drawbacks?
Yes! The only writing competition I’ve ever entered was Mills & Boon’s 2011 New Voices. It resulted in The Call, so I can’t complain.

What point are you currently at in your writing journey?

My book The Seven-Day Target is out now as part of the Mills & Boon Introduces anthology, along with books by Andrea Laurence and Soraya Lane. A different, extended version of The Seven-Day Target will be published in April, 2013 as part of the Harlequin Romantic Suspense line. I’m currently at work on my next project for HRS.

Describe what makes a perfect hero for you. And what makes a perfect heroine?
I love strong, sensitive heroes. They can be a little crabby, a little damaged, but they should always be gentlemen. The perfect heroine is smart and knows (or thinks she knows!) who she is. She doesn’t need a man to take care of her. I love a heroine who can hold her own. Both hero and heroine should be a little vulnerable, emotionally. They can’t fall in love if they are emotional fortresses.

Oh, and the ‘perfect’ hero and heroine should be imperfect. I like flaws.

What does HEA mean to you?

To me, the HEA is that point at which the reader knows that two people are in it forever, through thick and thin. We’ve seen them overcome all odds, and we know that they will never question their destiny again. It’s that moment when you sigh and know that even though you don’t know what lies ahead, you know they will get through it together.

It’s completely sappy and it makes my heart melt each and every time. Yes, I write about dead bodies, but I’m a sucker for a good romance in fiction and real life. There is nothing more beautiful than two people who commit their hearts to one another for a lifetime and see that commitment through. I cry at weddings. I’m a softie.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? 

I never write about real people, but I draw a lot of my inspiration from real life. The Seven-Day Target touches on a few personally painful topics. The mystery elements in the book(s) I’m working on now are inspired by real forensic cases that I’ve read about. Music is an endless source of inspiration, and I often try to capture the mood of a particular song in my writing.

Name your five favorite movies/books, or those that have influenced you the most and how. 
This is a tough question! A confession: I’m not a movie person. Will you settle for television series? I’m going to skip my childhood favorites and go directly to adult favorites, which seem more relevant. Also, I’m going to cheat and name a few authors instead of books.

1. Breaking Bad (television series) – Okay, the series isn’t finished yet, but the writing! Oh, the writing! Brilliant, layered, heart-pounding writing. My favorite show of all time, followed by The Wire and The Sopranos.

2. Margaret Atwood – I don’t know that I read her as much as I wander through her literary gardens, hovering over beautiful phrases. The Blind Assassin is a favorite.

3. The Brothers Karamazov – I own two different translations and I once read it while on vacation in Mexico. It appeals to the part of me that’s always in a state of existential crisis.

4. Shakespeare – He was one of the great romance writers, and As You Like It is a particular favorite.

5. A Fish Called Wanda – All right, one movie. I don’t know that it’s influenced me, but it makes me laugh.

Tell us about your greatest writing challenges and how you work through them.

I struggle with writing with abandon. I have a very critical internal editor who has strong opinions—it’s all part of my perfectionist tendencies. I find it’s best to keep going and to not re-read my work on most days. If I re-read, I start to get hung up on criticism.

I'm also not a very fast writer. I can write quickly, and I had to after winning New Voices, but I don't feel comfortable working that way. Consequently, my shitty first drafts end up being fairly polished.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Live with urgency.” I think of it every time I’m tempted to put something off until tomorrow, or I find myself getting bogged down in negativity or irrelevant concerns.

What are your hopes and aspirations for your career?

My only aspiration right now is to write another book. When I finish that one, my aspiration will be to write another one. 

Thanks so much for stopping by!


  1. Since I know you better and longer than close to anyone else in this world, I can't really comment on everything I already know (and love), so I will just say...Great interview, girl:-)

  2. Wonderful to "meet" you Natalie. I love that you're not a fast writer. There are so many writers who seem to be able to produce books after book in rapid succession and it's been giving me a terrible inferiority complex! You've helped me breathe again.

    1. I hear you on the inferiority complex, Romy. I'm also in awe of those writers who can write book after book. One day I might be able to pick up speed, but for now I feel like I'm still learning the craft, so I need to be patient with myself.

  3. Great interview, Natalie!! I have to say I had a good laugh when you said, "most stories are better when there’s a dead body and a detective involved." I'll try and remember that! Congrats on all your success and I can't wait to read your first HRS!!

    1. Lol -- I won't even bill you for that writing advice, Victoria! Is my bias showing or what? Oh well. I adore lots of body-less books, too. ;-)

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. Hi Natalie. I remember your NV entry because it was so gripping. Can't wait to read your book and I'm sure your second one will be amazing.
    I have trouble writing with abandon too. I edit everything as I go long and then again just to be sure. Hopefully it's an improvement though! Good luck with your career (not that you need it) :)

    1. It's hard to write with abandon and to give yourself permission to be imperfect, isn't it? I have to constantly remind myself that I can't edit a blank page, and that the magic happens in revisions.

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Tracey. And I will ALWAYS take some good luck--same to you! :-)

  5. Great interview!!! It was hard, huh? ;-)

    I didn't realize NV was your first and only contest. Wow! Talk about totally nailing it. You certainly did. Can't wait to read the finished product.

    Thanks for sharing so much about you. Enjoyed it. And I'll keep in mind about the dead bodies but not sure how that would work in a Romance/Cherish. LOL.

    1. It WAS hard! I'm relieved to have it over with!

      And you've gone and poked a hole in my 'great story' theory! Yes, I suppose Romance/Cherish shouldn't have dead bodies in them. Fair enough. Although, if you could carry that off, you'd be my hero. ;-) Thanks for the kind words.

  6. Loved 'getting to know u' a little more, Natalie....I struggle with writing fast too...but I always always remind myself to not compare at all..on the other hand,I also always try to up my expectations of myself, or else I will just slack off...

    Oh and as another one, who's forever thinking 'what does my life mean?' I'm so going to check out the book you mentioned that appeals to that part...

    1. Sri, it's so easy to get caught up in drawing comparisons, isn't it! Ugh. The eternal struggle.

      Oooh, tell me if you read "The Brothers Karamazov"! It's great for an existential crisis--lots of characters talking about philosophy. For what it's worth, it is also part murder mystery... ;-)

  7. This was a really enjoyable read, Natalie. I relate so much to what you say about the high stakes and race against time. I love that energy in a book. Wishing you oodles of luck with the anthology release of the Seven-Day Target and the extended version next year. I will be reading both. :-) (Oh and the Halloween pup is just gorgeous.)

    1. YES -- paranormal definitely has the same high stakes vibe to it! And when it's your turn, you can tell us how stories are better when there's a vampire involved. You could very well be right. ;-)

      Thank you so much for your support, Linds! It means a lot. I will pass on your compliments to my dog--she loves the attention.