I was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, but currently reside in nearby Woodbridge.
2. Tell us your latest news?
I am ecstatic coming off the heels of my first published teen novel “My Brother’s Keeper, and I am currently working on two projects simultaneously. The first is the follow-up up to “My Brother’s Keeper”, which I am planning on making at minimum a three-part series, and the second is a teen suspense/thriller.
3. When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in the third grade. My school had an essay contest and I decided to enter, in which I won first place. Okay, so yes, it was third grade and I was paired up against a bunch of eight year olds, but I won, and that gave me the confidence to continue.
4. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve never considered myself a writer. I mean writing was not my number one passion. In fact, it’s hard to say if anything is my number one passion. I consider myself a jack of all trades-master of none. But I’ve always knew that I had/have a story to tell. I’ve always had a vivid imagination. I remember when my grandfather died; I was five years old. My brother and I were home, and my father called from the hospital to tell us the horrible news. I did not shed a tear, and in fact I don’t remember saying much of anything. After I got off the phone I went to my room, sat on the bed, and stared off into space. The very next thought was, “Humm…I should have dropped the phone and ran out of the room screaming. That would have made for a better scene” LOL. I remember this plain as day, and I’ve done this my entire life. How can I make a situation more dramatic, more entertaining, and more believable? Saying all that to say, I’ve been more of an actor than a writer all life.
5. What inspired you to write “My Brothers Keeper” ?
I had a lifestyle blog that was really popular with my group of friends about 10 years ago, and was told many times to write a book. I’m so glad it took me as long as it did, because the book that I would have written 10 years ago would have paled in comparison to my debut novel. It would have been much ado about nothing, and as I matured I wanted to write something that could stand the test of time, and left the reader with something substantial. I remembered the books that shaped my outlook on the written word; how they made me feel, and what lessons were learned. I decided that I wanted to shape similar minds; minds like my very own teen daughter, minds that would read my work and spark future writers.
6. Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t know really. I would like to say I write realistic teen/young adult fiction. I am a character driven writer. I like my characters to be relatable and humanistic.
7. How did you come up with the title?
Ahh…the title…LOL. I played around with this title for a while. It was changed three times, and actually didn’t become official until I completed the editing process. As I read the story over and over again, “My Brother’s Keeper” fit perfectly for how the story plays out.
8. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. Granted by reading the title you would automatically assume the overall message would be “Family First” or “Blood is Thicker than Water”. But really it’s a story of redemption. Everything is not as it seems, everyone has redeeming qualities and many times it can take the most unlikely person to bring that out. Parents pay attention to your children, ask them questions about their lives, it could very well be the thing that save their lives.
9. How much of the book is realistic?
About 35% of the book is factual. Okay, so I totally pulled that number out of the air, but there is some truth in anything an author writes; be it physical characteristics of a main character, personality traits, or events. The only thing I can say for certain is that the Georgia’s mother is 95% my mother, all day long. LOL.
11. What books have most influenced your life most?
I love this question. So of course being a Teen/Young Adult fiction writer, I must say Judy Blume. “Are you there God, it’s me Margret?” by far my favorite book, and shaped my reader and writer point of view. I love Mildred Taylor as well, “Roll of Thunder Here my Cry”, “Let the Circle be Unbroken”, “Road to Memphis” I loved every last one of those. I also like John Steinbeck and his title, “The Grapes of Wrath”. As I’ve gotten older I love to read historical fiction; titles like Edward P. Norton’s “The Known World” really peeked my interest. Now that I think about and look over the other titles listed four out of five of them are historical fiction, so I guess I have always been a lover of historical fiction. I love to be taken back to time before me, and if an author can make me feel as if I am standing on a dusty country road in Memphis, or on the plantation in a fictional town in Virginia, then they have a fan for life.
12. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I had to choose, it would be Mildred Taylor. Of course I have never met her personally, but her style of writing, and her ability to draw you into each character, inspires me tremendously.
13. What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading a non-fiction book about natural cures and herbal holistic remedies.
14. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
To tell you the truth, I have not really had the time to check out any new authors as of yet. I have downloaded several e-books, one being an Eyone Williams title, and “Ghost of Atlanta”, by JE Thompson, but have not gotten the chance to read them yet.
15. What are your current projects?
I’m working on the follow-up to “My Brother’s Keeper” and a teen suspense/thriller.
16. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Jeff “DJ Gatsby” Wilson , DJ Gatsby Book Club & The WB Media Group, hands down.
17. Do you see writing as a career?
Most definitely, I look forward to being able to provide for my family by doing what I love.
18. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in “My Brothers Keeper”?
I would change absolutely nothing. I feel I told the best story that I could at the time it was written, and I wrote from the heart.
19. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Yes, a Third Grade Writing Contest. I remember my father read my first draft and gave me the best advice ever. “What are scary looking steps? I can’t picture scary looking steps.”
21. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
When writing for a living, you tend to want to flood the market with your product, which means writing multiple projects. I can only write when it comes to me. Sometimes I can go months without writing a single word; can’t be good for my bottom line…LOL
22. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Mildred Taylor and John Steinbeck; historical fiction at its best.
23. Do you travel much promoting your book(s)?
I have not traveled much as of yet.
24. Who designed the covers?
I went with a wonderful graphic artist by the name of Paganus http://paganus.weebly.com/book-covers.html
25. What was the hardest part of writing “My Brothers Keeper”?
With my hectic life and procrastination, simply sitting down and putting thought to paper would be the hardest part for me. Once I actually start, I’m good to go.
26. Did you learn anything from writing “My Brothers Keeper” and what was it?
This is not as easy as I thought it would be. Writing a book is not simply “writing” a book. It’s a business, and the process is long and tedious at times.
27. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Learn your craft, and the business side. Write your story not something you think someone wants to hear. In “Field of Dreams” they said “Build it and they will come”, just like in writing; write it and your audience will appear.
28. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you so much for your support, your prayers, your well wishes, and your reviews. I appreciate you all and will strive to put out my best work possible at all times.
To purchase “My Brothers Keeper” By Author Natalie P. Kennerly click on the link below…