Interview with Talented YA Thriller Author Natasha Neagle

Nat head

Natasha graduated with a degree in Biology from Old Dominion University and a Master’s in Education, Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Phoenix. A middle school science teacher by day, she spends her nights coming up with new ways to torment her characters. A self-proclaimed nerd who would love nothing more than to see the world through book store windows. She considers herself to be a forward-thinker, which makes conversations very interesting when certain topics open for discussion. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, two children, four cats, and two dogs.

Hi Nat! Thanks for coming on the site 🙂

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?

I’ve been writing since I was a little girl, but didn’t decide to attempt to write a novel until 2008. It was a long, slow process, but when I sat down to write, it was because I had a dream (as cliché as that sounds) that I couldn’t get out of my head. It became my YA Fantasy.

What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?

After my first novel, the next three novels I wrote were YA Thrillers and Suspense. I love how each of them is different from the one before it. It’s critical to me that the voice of each of my characters are unique. All of my novels are diverse in some aspect or another, which is important to me because I want my novels to reflect real life. I like to think that all my novels host badass, strong females that deal with whatever horror is dealt them in a way I never could.

Can you tell us a little bit about your thrillers (since they are fav’s of mine)?

A GAME OF SECRETS: YA LGBT THRILLER

Love can be brutal. Sometimes it can be fatal. Especially if you have dirty little secrets.

After sixteen-year-old Arissa falls for Erica, harassment from a “Secret” stalker escalates into attempts on her life. Arissa must unveil Secret and expose them before threats become reality, and she and Erica wind up dead.

A GAME OF SECRETS is an 82,000 standalone YA Contemporary LGBT Thriller with series potential. Fans of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars Series and Tess Sharpe’s Far From You will enjoy A GAME OF SECRETS.

THE LANGUAGE OF LIARS: YA PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

She loved her friends to death.

Seventeen-year-old Raine Harper doesn’t remember her party the media coined The Sweet Sixteen Massacre—the one only she survived. While under experimental treatment for PTSD, fragmented memories of the night resurface, and Raine discovers everyone lied…including her.

THE LANGUAGE OF LIARS is a 67,000 standalone YA Psychological Thriller with series potential that switches between the present and the past—the latter presented in reverse order leading to the massacre itself. Fans of Michelle Hodkin’s The Mara Dyer trilogy and E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars who enjoyed the dual timelines and thrilling twists of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places will enjoy THE LANGUAGE OF LIARS.

(I NEED THIS BOOK NOW BTW)

THE DAY YOU DIED: YA CONTEMPORARY SUSPENSE

Some friendships are to die for.

Junior year can’t get any worse after a hater blog blames Ember for her arch-enemy’s murder. But then she connects this crime to 11 murders—all unsolved. She’s next.

THE DAY YOU DIED is a 78,000 standalone YA Contemporary Suspense with thriller elements and series potential told in a semi-epistolary format utilizing blogs, journal entries, text messages, emails, and news reports. Fans of Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl and Rob Thomas’ Veronica Mars who enjoyed the plot twists of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train will enjoy THE DAY YOU DIED.

OMG I love your mind 🙂

What inspires these crazy ideas? How do you come up with them?

I become inspired by the most random things. It could be something I hear on the radio or on the news. Something a student says to me in passing or even a bumper sticker. For instance, I went to a concert this weekend and the atmosphere of the band I watched was so unique, I spent majority of the show plotting a YA Contemporary that I plan to write from the different POVs of the band members. But, like everyone has a TBR pile, my TBW (To Be Written) pile is getting ridiculous.

Did you decide right away that you wanted to go the traditional route and get an agent? How have you found the querying process?

I always knew I wanted to go the traditional path if possible. A GAME OF SECRETS (it was named something else when I queried it) landed me multiple offers of representation, but after a year with my agent we decided to amicably part ways. With that being said, I’m currently querying THE LANGUAGE OF LIARS. The pitch has been very successful, but agents are so busy so I’m locked in a holding pattern. If for one reason or another it doesn’t land me an agent, I have THE DAY YOU DIED ready to query.

What are your thoughts about hybrid and self-publishing? Would you be interested in publishing as an indie author?

More authors are becoming hybrid and self-published authors these days as traditional publishing becomes more difficult to achieve. I would like to take the traditional route for publishing first, and I’m not opposed to becoming a hybrid author.

All writers are readers so who are some of your favorite authors and why?

I’ve recently returned to grad school, so unfortunately fun reading is on hold. I’m reading tons of grad books on becoming an effective administrator. But, two authors who always stood out in my mind:

Stephen King – His mind…I just want to crawl in there and hug his brain. I love to have twists in my plots and the twists he comes up with catch me off guard more times than not. Writers tend to see the twists coming a mile away and I can’t always see his.

J.K. Rowling—Her ability to world-build. With every Harry Potter book of hers I read, I felt like I was there. I could close my eyes and see everything as she described it.

What are you working on now? Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I’m currently writing a YA Contemporary Romance to give myself a break from the dark thrill of my previous novels. It’s so much fun and I’m really enjoying it. I always have an aspect of romance in each of my novels so to have an entire novel focused around the romantic aspects of my main character is different. Not having to worry about threats or people dying is unusual, but did I mention how much fun I’m having? All the kissing…

I’m a total plotter. I outline like a crazy person. I have tried so hard to be a pantser, but it sets off my anxiety and isn’t worth it to me. I love to outline and whenever my characters do things that I didn’t anticipate, I go with it and just incorporate it into my outline. Sometimes it makes for big changes to the outline and sometimes not. Also, I have moments when something I’ve outlined just doesn’t work with the overall anymore. When that happens, I simply cross it out. I tend to leave all the chapters I’ve outlined in what I call my “background bible” (a document I create to house my outline, pitch, character descriptions, setting descriptions, etc) with the words crossed out so that if I ever need to go back, I can see what I originally planned and compare it to what I ended up writing.

What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?

I tend to reread a few pages before I start writing to get myself in the mindset of the character. I carry my laptop with me wherever I go and if I can’t carry it, I have notepad on word where each of my novels has their own file for me to add information to. I also carry a journal with me that I use if I have to go to a meeting or something and get hit with an idea that won’t let go, I can write it down and still appear to be productive. I’ve been sacrificing my makeup recently to work on my #SecretWIP so I write for about 30-45 minutes every morning before I leave to take my kids to school and go to work (I wake up at 5am and I’m out the door by 6:30).

If one of your novels was made into a movie, which would you choose and what actors would you cast to play the three main roles?

Such a great question! I always go to the internet and find pictures of people or actors who represent best what my characters look like. I’m a visual person and it helps me to see something if I’m going to describe it.

For THE LANGUAGE OF LIARS, I’d love to see the following actors cast:

Raine: Kat Graham (AKA as Bonnie from The Vampire Diaries) because my MC is biracial; African American mother/Caucasian father).

Colin: Rupert Grint (AKA Ron Weasley from Harry Potter). Written to be a redhead, Colin has a physical disability, so I’d love to actually have him played by an actor who also has said disability (which Rupert does not).

Sam: Michael B. Jordan (Creed, The Wire, Friday Night Lights) or Tristan Wilds (The Wire & Adele’s ex from the Hello video).

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

NEVER GIVE UP…NEVER SURRENDER. So what if I stole that from Galaxy Quest. It’s something I have to remind myself daily. Separating from my agent was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done as a writer and I backed away from the writing community when it happened because I was so afraid everyone was going to give me judgy side-eyes (which of course never happened). When I talked to people, I quickly found out how many authors leave their agents and it made me feel a lot better. I love the writing community and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?

Participate in twitter contests. Make friends. Help each other out. Be a cheerleader. Don’t get discouraged. Find CPs and Beta readers, but not too many. Keep that part of your writing life small. Don’t think that what you have is 100% perfect when you give it to someone to read. Let them find errors and raise questions, but don’t allow another reader to completely change your novel unless it’s something you considered doing to begin with. Join organizations like RWA, Kiss of Death, YARWA, SCWBI, etc.

MAGICAL ADVICE!

Anything else you would like to add or talk about?

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER!! I love to chat.  https://twitter.com/natneagle?lang=en

Thank you so much! Where else can people find out more about you and your books?

Website: http://www.natashaneagle.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/agirlnamednat

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