Terrie Leigh Relf: What are your daily writing rituals? How do you prepare your space for these activities?
Natasha Ewendt: One word: Coffee. Every writer’s BFF. Then, after requisite caffeination, and breakfast – usually an apple or two to help wake me up (apparently they work better than coffee, but why break the addiction of a lifetime?) – a walk or yoga to give the brain a good scrub with oxygen and meditation to open it up. I find if I miss any one of these, I’m not as clear or focused as I’d like. My desk is always prepped with everything I need, which means it is, on occasion, the messiest work station in this star system, but I prefer to have everything within easy reach.
TLR: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? How do you manage your creative time?
NE: I run my own copy editing business. It’s ideal because I can control how my time is spent, unlike when I was working as a newspaper journalist. I have endless empathy for writers with day jobs. While working, I managed creative time by scheduling it in and not letting family or social commitments impinge. Even if it was only one afternoon or one day a week, I made sure I had some party time with the muse.
TLR: What tips do you have for other writers?
NE: Listen to your instincts. If you feel a plot point or character isn’t quite right, don’t force it. Get some distance – take a walk or create some down time to fold it over in your mind. The right answers will eventually come. Tapping into the right brain by counting yourself into an alpha state can also help. You can find this method online. Just always remember to count yourself out, unless you want to feel like The Walking Dead for the rest of the day.
If you’re a newbie writer, devour writing tips, especially anything by James Patterson.
For motivation, inspiration, and feedback, join your local writers group and ask if they have any critique groups and/or writing retreats. On retreat, you can get loads done because you have nothing else to do, and they’re often held at scenic locations, which can feed the creative process. If there are none in your area, consider running retreats yourself at a local lodge or camping ground.
TLR: What genre do you usually write within? How did you discover this genre?
NE: Speculative fiction is my playground. Horror, fantasy, anything that gets its start in that juicy question, “What if?” I wrote short stories about magic, monsters, and general mayhem in my younger years, but stopped writing as a hobby when I started writing as a job. I was just too worded-out. But when the idea came unbidden for my first published novel, a paranormal horror, I could no longer ignore the muse. I like that spec-fic allows the imagination to roam wild. The genesis of new worlds and fantastical story lines is addictive.
TLR: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and yours in particular?
NE: I think the process is awesomely diverse. Everyone comes to it in different ways, and I love discovering other writers’ weird and wacky methods. I suspect my process, as with many others’, stems from a desire for a deeper understanding of humankind and its infinite potential.
TLR: Where do your ideas come from? What inspires or influences you?
NE: I’ve had ideas come from all corners, including dreams. I once dreamed a book in its entirety from start to finish, movie-style, which was handy.
I’m more influenced by Victorian horror than contemporary fiction. I love the art of it. When I need inspiration, I listen to music that matches the tone of my work. If I can’t find a match, I default to Dvorak or Mozart. Wolfie can do wonders. For visual inspiration, I prop in view a cork board studded with pictures of scenery or settings similar to those in my book and the celebs who look most like my characters, though I try not to use too many pics of shirtless men, as this can prove a mite distracting. I also pin story themes to stop me meandering off-track.
TLR: What are you working on now?
NE: The sequel to This Freshest Hell, and the sequel to that, and the sequel to that, and several other fantasy and horror works. The muse is as impatient as I am, and doesn’t seem content to let me finish one project at a time.
TLR: Anything else you’d like to add?
NE: Do yourself a favor and consume Terrie Leigh’s catalog! It’s a fascinating ride!
TLR: Thank you so much for creating the time for this interview – and I appreciate the shout-out, too! Be sure to read This Freshest Hell – “and the sequel to that, and the sequel to that,” et al. She also has a blog et al on her Goodreads.com page. . .