Nathalie was kind enough to answer ten questions for Fantasy Debut.
According to your blog, you based the world of PRINCES on the Ottoman Turk's Kafes system, which you learned about on a documentary. However, your writing betrays a significant amount of research on the Ottoman culture. You appeared to have researched everything from the type of clothing worn by different social classes to the type of pastries that were popular. How much research did you have to do to write so convincingly? Did you go to Istanbul to see the Kafes for yourself?
I did quite a bit of research, which for me isn’t a chore at all because I have a true passion for history and culture. As for visiting Istanbul, I wish I could say that I had. By all accounts, it is a fabulous city. No, what I did instead is use the Topkapi palace’s virtual tour set up by the Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. (One can also download a very detailed map of the palace. A very helpful tool when you’re building your own imaginary palace.)
All the other details I found in books and websites. I conducted my research in two waves: the first I did before starting the book and the second, more specific that one, when I had two drafts penned down. By then I knew what I was missing or wanted to add to the story to give it its Arabian Night flavor.
The pastry-eating demons were my favorite. How can you hate a demon who likes sugar? Did you make that up or did it come out of legend? And if it did come out of legend, which one? And if you did make it up, how on earth did you think of such a thing?
Glad you loved it, Tia. The idea didn’t come from a legend but from one of many folklore and mythical books I read—I can’t recall which one it actually came from though. Anyway, these volumes are seeded with little-known facts concerning mythical creatures. Djinn, for example, are known to relish eating bones and to be allergic to salt. I found only one mention of these creatures craving sweets. It was enough. The image of a powerful winged demon stuffing his face with pastry was just too appealing to pass up. I had to use it, even though it was never specified what type of demon it was—one of the pleasures of writing fantasy it that it allows you the freedom to take small liberties with things.
What is your favorite scene in THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE?
I’m really fond of the scene where the kitchen’s old servant tells Amir about the different kinds of honey. I also love all the scenes involving Amir and Darius, especially the one where Amir, disguised as a baker, is rescued by Darius.
What scene gave you the most trouble?
In the first chapter, the scene where Amir looks out the window, wishing he was free. It wasn’t a difficult scene to write in itself. But at this stage in the story you need to give background info on your protagonist and on the world he’s living in. At the same time one doesn’t want to kill the pacing of the story and bore the reader with this. Then again, not clarifying these points can lead to confusion. It’s a juggling act. Amir’s secret meetings with the Princess were also a bit challenging. I didn’t want the story to become too “romancy”, so I had to be careful to keep this aspect of the story under control.
Can you give us a small teaser about the sequel, KING'S DAUGHTER and can you tell us the release date, if you know it and are permitted to say?
THE KING’S DAUGHTERS has a Russian inspired setting. Yep, I went from burning hot desert to a cold snowy landscape. For Amir, who has never stepped out of the luxurious comfort of the cage, this is quite a shock.
Now free to see the world, Amir travels to the frozen kingdom of Sorvinka to meet the King. The trip is most unpleasant; this land is harsh, cold and infested with brigands. Sadly, things only get worse once he arrives at the King’s castle. Amir discovers that he has made a terrible diplomatic faux pas. Devastated, he fears he will never gain the King’s approval. But when he learns that the King’s youngest daughter has disappeared, Amir sees some hope. Perhaps if he can solve this mystery, he may win the King’s esteem.
The tone of KING’S is quite different than PRINCES. A fish-out-of-water tale, it’s fast and filled with humor. Also the fantasy, magic and mythical elements will play bigger roles in the sequel. THE PRINCES, was Amir’s introduction to magic, so to speak. Nothing will ever be the same for him now.
The King’s Daughters is coming for summer 2008
Is this an open-ended series? If not, can you say how many books you plan on writing in this world?
Right now I have plots for eight books, but I would love to do ten in all.
Have you finished any other novels besides PRINCES and KING'S DAUGHTER and can we expect to see them in print?
I have a couple more—all science fiction. There is no plan to market those for now. At the moment, my priority is to develop and promote the Prince Amir Mystery series.
Do you have a day job, or are you in the author's nirvana of writing full-time?
Pure nirvana! I don’t have a day job…at the moment.
How often must you remove a bear from under your patio (as mentioned in your bio)? And how do you go about it? Here in Florida, we must summon an alligator removal service for similar alarming situations. Are there such services for bears in Canada?
Conservation Officers usually take care of it. Unfortunately, bears tend to come back, and that can spell trouble for them. Our bear didn’t come back because we blocked the access to the nest he made underneath our patio and got rid of the blueberry bush that had attracted him in our yard in the first place.
Please share your publishing story and any writing advice that you may have.
I always wanted to write. Throughout the years, I made several attempts at writing, but life got in the way, and I could never finish a novel. Back then my priorities were different. (What can I say, I like pretty things.) When I decided that it was time to make the plunge, I quit my job and put all my energy into my writing—I’m an all-or-nothing type of person. It drives my husband crazy.
Well, the first thing I did was to write a story, a sci-fi action-adventure called The Digging Crew, which included all the elements that frightened me, such as moving large groups of people within one scene, fast action, etc. Once that novel was completed, I set it aside and wrote PRINCE then started other projects. A friend of mine read my first novel and encouraged me to send it out. I did, and it was picked up by an e-book publisher, which wound up closing its doors soon after the novel’s release date, so the book got reviewed but was never really out. Still, I thought it was a good omen. By then we were moving to another city, so THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE stayed in a box for eight months until I was ready to send it out to agents. A couple months later, I was signing with Jenny Rapapport, now of the L. Perkins Agency. Shortly after Jenny called me with the news that Night Shade Books were interested in THE PRINCES, and that they would like a sequel. I was jumping for joy!
Read and read some more! Write and rewrite! Be persistent! The writers who get published are the ones who do not quit. Rejection is part of this business, so shrug it off and continue.
Thank you again!