Monday, July 12, 2021

Natalie Mae

Natalie Mae is an ex-programmer, a dark chocolate enthusiast, and an author of young adult novels. She has also been a freelance editor and a Pitch Wars mentor, and she feels it notable to mention she once held a job where she had to feed spiders. When not writing, she can be found wandering the Colorado wilderness with her family.

Mae's new novel is The Cruelest Mercy.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Like its predecessor The Kinder Poison (kind-er, like kindness), The Cruelest Mercy is an oxymoron meant to symbolize the very heart of the book - readers will know the exact line where it hits. It's also deliberately reversed from book one, which had the softer word first, as to symbolize the role reversal a couple of the characters take in this story. Without spoilers, we'll just say that the already grey lines between the villains and heroes in the first book completely dissolve in this one as the hero strives to do everything in her power to pursue what she believes is right.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

Honestly, I think my teenage self would be both incredibly proud and also rather scandalized - I was a very shy honor roll student as a teen, and I liked to keep to myself, and I certainly didn't want people to know like ... any of my secrets or guilty pleasures. I was also raised on old-school Disney movies where the hero is always good and the bad guys always bad, and the direction The Cruelest Mercy goes, with the heroine giving in to her dark side, and especially how that starts drawing her to the villain in this book, would have me blushing if people knew I'd written it. But then also, like - I didn't even know at that point that getting published was an option for me as a career? And for that I would definitely forgive myself.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Oh my gosh beginnings are the bane of my existence. Between seven published and shelved books, I have yet to write one where I don't completely rewrite the start like 30 times. Especially with fantasy books, there is so much to set up in the opening chapters, without it reading like you're trying to set all those things up, and it's really hard and I hate it. Endings I usually have a pretty clear view of from the start - while I always end up making small tweaks to the close of the book, they're usually my least edited pieces. I love endings. I'll write you endings all day.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

A piece of me is in every single one of my characters. Some of them hold my fears, some of them hold my dreams, some of them hold the better parts of me, and some of them the worst. None of them are all of me, and I often like to combine characters with bits of friends I actually know to give them extra habits and personalities and mannerisms that make them their own. I also feel like I'm hanging out with that friend when I write that particular character, so I guess I'm like the opposite of the writer-killer? Like, be cruel to one of my besties and yeah, a character with your name will probably die in my next book, but mostly I'd rather put the people I adore in there so we can hang out.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Movies and video games have a huge influence on my writing! Video games like Assassin's Creed, Tomb Raider, and Silent Hill help me visualize action scenes, establish atmosphere, and picture clothing and landscapes. Movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, Emperor's New Groove and Star Wars give me the best idea of pacing, humor, character relationships, and even how people lean or look around or move while they're talking. I see my books in my head like movies; I like them to read visually, so visual media like these is especially important (and fun) for me to take in.
Visit Natalie Mae's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Kinder Poison.

--Marshal Zeringue