Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Spotlight in Six - Natasha Oakley

This month we're thrilled to shine the spotlight on Romance's RITA finalist...Natasha Oakley!

Where do you find new and fresh ideas?

Ideas are the easy bit. I just have them. Always have and it was a huge surprise to me when I discovered other people didn’t have stories popping spontaneously into their heads. What very dull lives they must lead.

‘Fresh’ ideas are perhaps more tricky. In romances I think you’d be hard pushed to find an idea which hasn’t already been used. The knack is to be really character focused. Everyone is different, shaped by different experiences, and when you allow your characters to be multi-faceted that automatically takes a book in a direction which is distinctly ‘yours’.

Writers often use photos of celebrities as “casting”. Do you do this, and who has inspired some of your characters?

Well, I play at it because fellow Pink Heart Society editors do it! It’s kinda fun but it’s not honestly something I need to do. A celebrity comes with too much ‘baggage’ really and it gets in the way. Occasionally I happen across a particular photo where there’s an expression, a look in the eyes, which sets my imagination alight but that’s more about ‘where ideas come from’ than a need to ‘cast’.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of writing a novel? Is there a particular section that you struggle with?

The beginning is by far the worst for me. I hate that blank page. And then there’s the fear of failure. It’s about finally letting go of a lovely big WIP and starting all over with people you don’t know so well.

I’m a ‘tidy’ writer. I’m much slower at the beginning of a book than I am towards the end. I’ll go back and comb through new ideas before I can move on. I don’t write a ‘dirty’ draft. When I get to the end I can push ‘send’ straight away. It’s a bit like building a house. I have to have the foundations really solid before I’m ready to move on.

When you are not writing, what do you do? How do you pamper yourself?

I watch a lot of movies. A glass of wine, large packet of cheddars and a romantic comedy and I’m a very happy girl.

My all time favourite is a little black and white movie called ‘Hobson’s Choice’. Directed by David Lean, it was released in 1954 and stars the great Sir John Mills as Willy Mossop, the boot-maker. It’s pure charm. Find it if you can.

Imagine you’re stranded…where are you and who are you with?

Danescombe Cottage in Cornwall. It’s my favourite place on earth. Tucked away in a wood behind Cotehele House, it’s owned by the National Trust and you can rent it for holidays – which my mum and dad did when I was ten. (http://www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk/)

We had ‘the’ most fantastic holiday there. We made dams in the little streams all about, walked for miles, played cards (I’m a demon card player) and wandered up through the gardens of Cotehele House whenever we chose. It’s a little piece of heaven.

I wouldn’t mind being stranded there with my husband but I’m going to go for my late mum. I miss her.

Finally, Natasha, please tell us what’s up and coming for you in the months ahead!

I’m currently writing book two of a ‘sheikh duet’. The first one is ‘Cinderella and the Sheikh’ and that’ll be out January 09 and the second one, the one I’m writing now, is tentatively called ‘The Desert King’s Bride’. Both books are set in my fictional kingdom of ‘Amrah’ which I’ve squeezed in next to Oman. Just room there I thought! Hanif is getting paired with Seb’s ‘wild child’ younger sister from ‘Crowned: An Ordinary Girl’.

This month I’m at the Lincoln Book Festival on a Mills & Boon panel with Kate Walker, Trish Wylie and Kate Hardy. 17th May if you are in the area. It would be lovely to see you. http://www/lincolnbookfestival.co.uk

The other thing that’s happening this month is I become Bedfordshire libraries ‘writer in residence’. This is part of the UK’s 2008 Year of Reading which is all about promoting a love of reading. Each of the 149 participating library authorities have been paired with a local author – not just authors of category fiction. It’s a real cross section. I’m very excited about that. http://www.yearofreading.org.uk/

Well Natasha as long as you're not busy....

Thanks for joining us this month!
Natasha is giving away a copy of her current release Wanted: White Wedding to one lucky reader. Send an e-mail to hrablog@hotmail.com with the subject line of Natasha to be entered.

1 comment:

  1. Danescombe Cottage looks and sounds lovely, Natasha.

    Good luck with your year of being a 'writer in residence'.