Ice-breaker time! Introduce yourself! My name is Natalie Banks and I am a romantic suspense author. I have been writing since I was 12 years old. I took classes throughout high school and college to help me hone my craft and eventually, I won the distinguished Governor's Writing award in North Carolina. I have published two novels and am getting ready to release my third. I am also working on a fourth to be released Fall 2018.
I love writing, as it is my passion and my life work. I love creating characters and stories that touch my readers in ways that’s sticks with them. It is kinda my specialty.
How did you know you wanted to be a novelist?
It happened by accident. I was just twelve years old and just finished a novel with an anti-climactic ending and I was devastated. I was on airplane flying to Colorado at the time and I had no where to go with my feelings. I wanted to fix it for the characters and myself, so I did the only thing I could do and that was to pull my notebook out of my backpack. I rewrote the ending and immediately re-read it in conjunction with the original ending. I let out a sigh of relief. When I closed my notebook, at that moment, I knew I was a writer. The bug had bitten me and hasn’t ever let go.
In an Interview with Cozy Reads, you comment that you're working with a movie producer who wants to bring The Water is Wide to cinema. Have you come across any challenges in the book-to-film transition?
I think the hardest part, is the time it takes do anything in that business. Everything moves at a snail’s pace. Honestly, it is probably good for me though, because I am used to do everything pretty quickly. It is teaching me patience. Haha!
The Canary's Song will be your third novel, and I'm struggling to write my first! Do you have any advice to fellow writers on staying committed to a project and avoiding the dreaded writer's block?
The only advice I can really give is that you need to write about something you are truly passionate about. Write a story that is so vivid and alive to you, that you can’t help but think about it 24/7. Your passion for the story will come across to the readers. When you do this, it also helps with writer’s block because the story will eat at you until you get it out. If you’re in the middle of a story and it just isn’t igniting that passion, give yourself permission to set it to the side and start one that will. Sometimes, it is just not the right time for that particular story. I can’t tell you how many times I have set stories to the side and came back to them later with a new vigor.
How did your first book, The Water is Wide, change the process of your writing (if it has)?
I would say my first book taught me to trust myself more and not to second guess my plot. It gave me a lot of freedom in my writing. I am still my own worst critic, as I think we all are, but it gave me permission to relax a little more.
"We believe the truth we want to" is a hauntingly beautiful phrase that's been following me around since I've heard it. What have you read or written that has stuck with you?
Thank you so much. It is a powerful and relatable phrase, I think. Isn’t that what we all do, believe the truth we want to?
I actually am reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and lots of phrases in his book have stuck with me already. One of favorites, is as follows:
“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I love this because I am a firm believer in people following their dreams and desires. I also am a firm believer in, it’s never too late to start.
Your site bio says that you "weave characters with relateable humanity and stories that touch the heart and soul." How do you go about creating such characters?
I write my characters as if they were my friends, actual people I know. I want them to be that way for my readers too. It is fun to read stories about untouchable people but the stories that touch our hearts, that stick with us long after the book is over, are the ones with people that we cared about, even loved. The ones who we felt we were walking beside on their journey.
Most of the reviews from your readers say your books "capture [you] from page one," "ends with a bang," and readers "couldn't put it down until it was finished." As a suspense writer, how do you keep the pace and tension?
In the back of my mind, I am always thinking about what I am working toward at the end of the book. I weave small pieces of that throughout the story to keep the climax building. I am also not one of those writers that adds a lot of details to fill the pages and get the word count up. I write the story as it is and through the eyes of my characters. As we said before, relatable, right? Not many of us take much time to stop and absorb our surroundings. We look at it, take it in, and move on. Long descriptions can be beautiful to read but don’t do much for suspense.
"The Water is Wide," "The Dark Room," "The Canary's Song" - with titles like these, I'm hooked in a heartbeat. (Whereas I can't seem to stick to one!) How do you choose a title your books? What would have any one of your books been called if you didn't select the chosen title?
Thank you so much! Each title came to me at different times during the writing process. It is one of those things that just clicks when it’s right. I try not put a lot of thought into the title because I get in my own way, if I start to panic about what to name the book. I try to just open myself up and let a title float in.
I almost re-named The Water is Wide, The Water’s Edge. I had conflicting feelings about it being associated with the old Scottish folk song. In the end, I knew The Water is Wide was the right title and that was the one I chose.
As a well-established novelist, what parts have the publishing process worked for you - what would you change?
I wish it was easier to get my books in front of readers. Getting the word out is a gruel but at the same time it is a lot of fun. I love meeting readers and hearing how much they love my books.
What advice would you offer to aspiring novelists?
Never give up on your dreams. Writing and publishing is not an easy feat but if it is what makes you tick, then you cannot walk away from it.
I would advise all them to take at least a few classes on writing, if they haven’t done so already. Even natural talent needs to be honed.
The last thing I would say, is never stop writing. Every time you write, you get better and better.
Is there anything else you'd like readers to know?
I would love for them to stop by Facebook page @nataliebanksnovels or my Instagram page @officialnataliebanks and say hello!