Saturday, June 6, 2015

Interview with author Natalie Herzer

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! My name is Natalie. *waves*

About myself? Hmm.

I’m me...I’m a friend, a sister, writer and reader. My family back in Germany say that I have itchy feet, which is not that far from the truth seeing as I’ve lived in a few countries. However, I realized that I’ve been looking for the one that I could call home.

And now, in South Africa, I know that my home has a heartbeat.

Q ~ If you were stuck in a dingy floating in the middle of the ocean, who and what would you want with you and why?

Definitely the man of my life...for great conversation and deep kisses. Other than that I’d want pen and paper with me to keep notes of all the ideas we will bounce off each other.

Q ~ How do you think people perceive authors?

Good question. I think it depends on who you ask.

As a reader I would say authors are these awesome people who give us a chance to get to know amazing characters, friends even, and take us on incredible journeys.

Others...for instance parents, friends, colleagues...uhm...they might think I’m just someone who listens to voices in her head, dreams up stories and sits on her butt all day.

Q ~ How do you feel about self-publishing?

Well, to be honest I kind of stumbled - quite ungracefully - into this whole self-publishing business. After I finished my first novel, I sat there and didn’t quite know what to do with it. I had written it in English (and not my native language, German) and figured it would probably be difficult to send it to someone in Germany. So I decided to query a couple of agencies in the USA. *laughs* Those queries probably serve as the ultimate example of what definitely not to do nowadays.

Anyway, it was my brother who brought up the idea of self-publishing actually. At that time KDP had just started in Germany and he told me about it. I did more research, and felt like it was the right thing to do. I still feel that way and want to keep self-publishing my ebooks, that’s for sure.

Q ~ Are there any new Authors that have grasped your interest recently and why?

While I’m in the middle of my own book, reading has to take a back seat unfortunately. That’s how I work. And if you have a look at my Goodreads Reading Challenge for this year, you will see I’m faaaaaar behind. So I will have to go back a bit...

My favorite book in 2014 was My African Dream by Mario Saincic and still resonates within me. He is a male romance writer, in this case romantic suspense, and has taken me on an incredible journey to Kenya and opened my eyes to the brutal reality of rhino poaching.

As for my to-read list after I’ve finished my book...these three are on the top:

Blud - Ukiyo by Mario Saincic...I absolutely love his writing and am curious to see how he managed his venture into urban fantasy

Riversong by Tess Thompson...just because I like the cover

Child of the Ghosts by Jonathan Moeller...I enjoy reading fantasy...add ‘assassins’ and I’m in

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?

To be honest, I was in a bad place when I started writing. Only later did I realize that I used it as an escape and form of therapy. With the book that I’m currently working on, I had some trouble in the beginning since I needed to find a new motivation. It was quite amazing to discover that I could actually write for fun now, and that I could relax and take pleasure in what I do.

Q ~ What’s the best thing that’s happened since you began writing? The worst?

Since I’ve started writing, a lot has changed in my life. It did not happen from one day to the next, mind you; it was a slow journey. But in the end writing gave me a lifeline to grasp a hold of and showed me who I am.

My words gave me strength when I needed it, and even helped me discover love.

Q ~ What are your biggest influences in life? Who are your biggest supporters?

My Mr. Romance for one. *smiles happily*

He’s a fellow writer, so the support and understanding goes both ways. It’s incredible to share your life with someone who not only gets you but also your work. The moment we sit down to write or just talk about it, we spark each other so creates an amazing writing atmosphere filled with ideas.

And then there’s my former roommate back in Ireland.

An utterly amazing and gorgeous and sweet Polish woman. She’s also slightly crazy, but in a very endearing sort of way. I lived with her for 7 months, and we just clicked the moment we met. There were so many differences between us that it only could get interesting, and yet we had plenty in common. It created a connection that will echo through a lifetime. The girls’ nights and conversations we had, the wine we shared, the encouragement she was always eager to give...that alone is inspiration enough for the rest of my life. There will probably always be one character in my book that reflects a part of her.

Q ~ Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?

My ritual is nothing spectacular. Shower, get dressed, eat some muesli and then I set up my laptop in the lounge. Oh, and I send a little prayer that there won’t be any load-shedding (a South African thing where the power goes out unexpectedly for a couple of hours - joy).

My go-to snack used to be chocolate when I started writing, but I realized that hydrating myself seems to be more important here in South Africa. So, nowadays I prefer to have a glass of Oros (South African orange squash) within easy reach.

Q ~ When you write, do you try to reach a specific word count or simply write until you are done?

As a writer you tend to like research and you even research writing, so you know the suggested word counts for novels, specifically for each genre out there. I keep that in mind as I go along, but rather focus on telling the story, not the word count. If I shouldn’t reach the target, I wouldn’t go and add, let’s say, an extra 2000 unnecessary words.

I learned that it’s better not to force myself. If the creative juices are flowing, then that’s awesome and I won’t stop until the flood has calmed. On other days it can happen that the screen stays blank and I end up working on outlines or playing with ideas.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release Ivory Guard and what inspired you to write it?

Most of the time my books start out with a snapshot, an image in my head, and then I try to find out more about the place or people it shows. Over time the image develops into a movie.

I was listening to “Wheel in the Sky” by Journey when the picture of a girl with wings in a black-and-white world popped up in my mind. It was followed by snippets of her in front of an abandoned farm house, sword in hand and training with an angel. The images came faster and faster, and fight scenes unfolded with the song providing the perfect soundtrack.

Quickly I discovered that Lillian is an eight-teen year-old bookworm, who finds out that there is more to her than she thought. She is half-human and half-angel, and was born to help fight in the age-old war between Heaven and Hell.

Lillian is supposed to stay and fight on the white field, but finds herself intrigued by the gray areas of life.

Q ~ What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?

I think it’s definitely a scene at the end of the book.

Ivory Guard, seeing as it shows the creatures of Heaven and Hell, touches on the subject of faith. I knew from the start that a few readers might have trouble with it. Lillian meets God face to face and asks all sorts of questions. However, I think they are questions we’ve all asked at some point in our life. And, like in real life, we either don’t seem to see the answers or they aren’t what we expected them to be.

My personal motto in life is that everything happens for a reason, so I’d like to remind people that The Guard Duet is a series and not a stand-alone, and to encourage them to hang in there while book two is developing.

Q ~ What was the most difficult part of the process while writing Ivory Guard?

While I was working on Ivory Guard, the most difficult part was probably finding a calm and quiet place to write.

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about the process that went behind the cover artwork for this novel?

The cover was designed by Heart Covers, and it shows the symbol, the coat-of-arms to be exact, of the Ivory Guard. It’s Heaven’s garrison of half-human and half-angel creatures that fight demons trying to claim human souls on earth while Hell’s army of Ebonys keep them on their toes.

Ivory Guard shows one side, while Ebony Fight, book 2 in the series, will explain the other side of the story. The covers are supposed to show this sort of yin and yang balance.

Q ~ What inspired you to develop/write the world that Ivory Guard takes place in?

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think what inspired me the most was the fact that I, like Lillian, wanted to spread my wings. I wanted to discover who I was outside of the gray world I was in, my own purgatory, and where my place in this world was.

Today The Guard Duet series is a confirmation that writing is not just an escape any more, but also a pleasure.

Q ~ What is your process for choosing character names?

I don’t have much of a choosing process, since the names tend to pop up rather quickly. However, if I have to research one, I definitely go with names that suit the place and time the character was born in.

Q ~ Do you have a favourite character in the novel? Is this person based on someone, or multiple someones, in your life?

Two characters: Lillian and Becca. Lillian tries to make the best of everything that’s thrown her way and wants to see beyond the limits imposed on her. Becca fights for the ones she loves while staying optimistic and enjoying life.

Both characters are more of an inspiration and motivation, and are not based on anyone in particular.

Q ~ You’ve written works outside of this series as well. For you, do they compare to one another? Do you have a favourite or do they all stand out in their own way?

The other series that’s out there, and which I’m still working on as well, is an urban fantasy called The Patroness. It’s the story about Maiwenn Cadic, a woman who was born to protect the city of Paris. She works as a private detective in the hopes of making her presence at murder scenes seem less suspicious.

All books stand out. To me each one of them shows my progress as a writer. Whatever mistakes I made in one book, I tried to avoid in the next, of course. A big worry of mine, after I realized that people are actually buying my first novel, was the editing. As an indie author it's not always easy. We know that our works need editing, but as often in life it comes down to money. And at the time I didn't have enough of it to afford an editor.

Once I could, I learned that there are a lot of editors out there and it was bad luck that I happened to stumble upon the wrong one at first. But then I found Honest and Brutal Edits. H & B actually listened to me when I told them that English was not my native tongue, and that I needed them to have a closer look - especially at syntax and grammar.

They did an amazing job with Ivory Guard. So, I’m glad that H & B Edits is going to polish up my Patroness series as well.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?

Yes, actually I have a few projects just waiting for my hands to type a bit faster. I have a fantasy series and a suspense co-write coming up. However, my priority at the moment is Ebony Fight, book 2 in The Guard Duet series, and I’m having lots of fun with it.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?

I have two, actually.

The first one was given to me by my love, who told me to stop calling myself aspiring. You are an author, that’s it.

Secondly, write...always keep on writing.

About the author:

I'm a 28 year-old author suffering from itchy feet which recently carried me to South Africa.

Much like my beloved travel bug, my love for words has always been there, but is thankfully a lot easier to satisfy. When I'm not off wandering my own imaginary worlds, I love to curl up on the couch and get lost in a good book.

Though I guess in the end books are just another form of traveling, seeing places and finding friends.
|  My blog  |  Facebook Page  |  Facebook (to befriend)  |  Twitter  |  Amazon Page  |  Goodreads Profile  |  Goodreads - Ivory Guard  |

Life will make you stumble

One peaceful afternoon Lillian finds two angels in her living room - wings and gloriole and all - telling her she is an Ivory. Half human and half angel she is born to fight for humankind and to guard the hellholes where the membrane between worlds is at its weakest.
She, an important warrior? Yeah, riiiight.

Life can make you fall

Raz might be an angel but he doesn’t do compassion. His job is to train her, to make her a leader and that’s what he will do. So Lillian will just have to suck it up when she discovers the deadly truth behind his words. When she does exactly that, he has to admit there’s more to the bookworm than he thought. Much more. But there’s one thing he shouldn’t forget – in his world feelings come with a price. Is he willing to pay?

Love will give you wings.

See my review of Ivory Guard.
|  Goodreads  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  Amazon CA  |

And now, enter to win 1 of 5 ecopies of Ivory Guard by Natalie Herzer.
Contest is open internationally, where applicable by law.
Entries close at 11:59pm June 12/15.
Winners will be drawn June 13/15.
Winners will be notified via email to the email provided to the giveaway and will have 72h to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to all the winners!!! :D
    I hope you will enjoy the book.

    BIG thanks to Jonel for her review and for helping me spread the word about the re-release of "Ivory Guard" with this wonderful giveaway!