Author Q&A with Natalie Debrabandere
Natalie Debrabandere is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction. We first worked with her on a cover for her book ‘Switch On!’, a non-fiction book about NLP. Then we were thrilled to help her update her covers for two of her novels, ‘Strong’ and ‘Unbroken’.
We talked to Natalie about her writing career, and found out about her preference for background noise when she works, that she likes to acts out the scenes from her book when editing, and how one day, she might just travel into space.
Here’s how it all started for Natalie at 11 years old with her sister, her dad and a hand-made newspaper…
Q. Natalie, tell us about how you got into writing.
I always wanted to be a writer, I think it’s in my bones!
When I was 11 I started a little newspaper with my sister; we would write poems and articles, my dad would type it up, and we would sell the finished product to friends and family. Not long after that I started to re-write the ending of books I’d read according to what I wanted to happen, or write little scenes based on existing characters I liked. And eventually I started to get frustrated sometimes when I could not find books that told exactly the story I wanted to read, with exactly the sort of characters I wanted to read about… This is really what led me to start writing my own stories. For the longest time though it was only very short, concentrated stuff I did just for me, until one day I reviewed something I’d written and realised it was 25,000 words. So I decided I could do something with that.
Eventually I discovered Createspace, and the world of self-publishing, and this is how Unbroken was born.
Q. Where do you write?
Mostly at home, sometimes in the library if I feel I need to get out of my home environment; sometimes in the local Costa Coffee if I’m working on an NLP article instead of fiction. I always like a little bit of background noise around me. Whenever I do any editing I like to read out loud and act out the dialogues, so I keep that for home!
Q. Where do you get the ideas for your characters from?
Characters are really important to me – I always start with a character first, and then think up their circumstances. If I’m lucky it just kind of grows from there..! Sometimes it all fizzles out pretty quickly, other times I get something good out of it.
My characters are all inspired by my own life experiences. When I wrote Unbroken it was at a time in my life when I was dreaming of leaving everything and moving to New Zealand where I had spent a few weeks in 2010. In the end I didn’t actually do it, but it provided the inspiration for my character Kristan, and also the setting for the book. Strong was born because one of the things I dreamt of doing when I was younger was join the Army, and when I moved to the UK I became very good friends with some guys who were Royal Marines. So there was a huge amount of information available to tap into when I decided to create the Tyler character.
Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?
I think the biggest influence on my writing actually comes from my own lifestyle… My characters just happen to be women I can identify with and relate to. In terms of specific life experiences, my non-fiction book Switch On! is a good example. Generally, everything that happens to me, events, interests, and people, always ends up being used in writing at some point.
Q. How do you fit your writing in around your day job?
With some level of frustration! Ultimately I would love to be able to write full-time, but I am not quite there yet. So for now the writing takes place in the evenings and at the weekends, and during holidays. A lot of the time that I don’t spend writing is actually spent thinking about it, and dreaming up what is going to happen next in the story, so in a way it is quite necessary and useful time away from the actual keyboard…
Q. Which book has influenced you the most and why?
I would say The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice. Because it really was a door onto another reality, and it felt real! I went travelling through time and space for the first time with Anne Rice, and she keeps on doing that for for me, time and time again…
Q. What are you reading at the moment?
The Way of the Shaman, by Michael Harner. Useful research for my next novel, which contains descriptions of shamanic rituals and beliefs etc. I don’t read fiction when I’m working on my own stuff.
Q. And finally, what would people be surprised to know about you?
I’m saving up for a ticket to space with Virgin Galactic.
Natalie Debrabandere’s books ‘Switch On!’, ‘Strong’ and ‘Unbroken’ are all available to buy on Amazon.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
We’re Peter and Caroline O’Connor. Creating beautiful book cover designs for authors all over the world is our passion. Every author should be able to benefit from a beautiful book cover design (not just the lucky few who get signed by a big publisher). We design, podcast, and coach authors full-time so we understand your struggles. Currently accepting new clients.