Author Showcase / Interview – Natasja Hellenthal

Blurb:
It’s time for change! In a country with a cursed justice system, two women; the mysterious Queen Artride and her loyal bodyguard Tirsa, set out on a secretive perilous quest. They hope to find the sorceress, the only person powerful enough to be able to lift the curse, in Dochas; the strange Magical Land.

But they have to hurry as they only have three weeks to save Tirsa’s teenage brother’s life, sentenced to hanging for a petty crime.

They are quickly drawn to each other, however struggles and questions soon arise. Will the sorceress be willing to help them and for what price?

Excerpt:
‘Tirsa, we have to talk this through–’

‘No,’ she answered solidly through gritted teeth, and stood.

‘No more lies, no more talking … no more!’ Moreover, she wished she had a sword or at least a knife, and while she wished it, in the corner of her eye she spotted a knife glittering in the sun, shining on the surface of the pool below the noisy waterfall. Without thinking, she picked it up in one movement and the next she stood before Artride threatening her with the knife. Visibly she was shocked, sitting and staring at Tirsa with wide-open eyes. So it is true, completely? Where did she get the knife from anyway? She must have it hidden from me all along …

‘Tirsa, for crying out loud, you are not yourself. Put away that knife … please.’ She began to fear and she showed it.

The bodyguard threw her head backwards and started laughing madly. Artride had never seen her like this before. ‘All of these things she said that mattered were desires, yes, but only some of it is true, all of what I told you! You must know that!’ she pointed out critically.

‘No,’ Tirsa answered grimly. ‘She was telling the truth if you think about it. A Woodchild doesn’t lie and after all she is a Truthteller.’ And she smiled wickedly and peered around.

‘You were actually going to stay here, weren’t you?’

‘No, Tirsa. Why can’t it be possible she is lying?’

‘Because when she focused on me … what she told about me was all true.’

Artride’s face showed signs of shock and disappointment, and that hurt Tirsa. ‘It was? You truly want to kill me?’ she saw the other woman swallow and turnher face away in shame.

‘I can do this quest alone. I don’t need you or anyone,’ she softly responded, keeping her voice plain and louder, ‘I shall succeed.’ She suddenly stepped towards the queen with the sharp blade of the knife pointed at her throat, breathing heavily, her eyes filling with tears. ‘Why?’ Her voice was breaking up halfway.

‘If you seriously believe she was telling the complete truth about you, not a mixture; you also believe there is no curse, so why would you continue this journey?’

‘I will go back alone and have my brother released! You will have no power over him or anyone anymore! You are cunning, but vicious!’

‘I never had any power, you know that,’ she stated calmly, but clearly affected by Tirsa’s words; her eyes were big and watery.

‘You have been lying! There never was a curse; it was just an excuse to make me care! I understand now. I was an easy target; perfect to come along and protect you deep into this land. You have been playing with me. Well, you got what you wanted. You stay here to settle down and do not ever come back. I will tell “your people” you are dead, like you desire; but stay out of my sight from now on.’

The shocked pale queen shook her head slowly; her face still so friendly and understanding, although stunned; Tirsa almost could not bare it.

‘I am sorry I was not honest with you about my desire for freedom to run away, but I am now,’ she tried to explain. ‘You have to believe me. There is a curse, Tirsa. Moreover, this escaping thing of mine was never a real plan; it was nothing more than a crazy idea; a desire if you like from a confused frustrated mind, no more than that. I have been desperate, so very desperate. I am telling you the absolute truth. You have to believe me, trust me, like I trusted you.’

“excellent dialogue”

“A good fantasy story especially in the lesbian genre and it doesn’t get much better”

“An excellent read for the price”

“The premise is thoroughly original. The two protagonist’s backstories were well fleshed out, and created sympathetic characters that the reader wished to see succeed. I enjoyed the Windchildren and Woodchildren very much, as well as the gods of the magical land. Sempervirens was a captivating villain as well, and I thought the author handled her quite well.”

1. Welcome,
Natasja Hellenthal. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be
a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in
the writing business?
(NH) Thanks for
having me. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I was born and raised in
The Netherlands; I have travelled and lived in Norway, Wales and Ireland.
Currently I’m residing in the UK.

I met my
partner five years ago, she is British and we had our civil partnership last
year on the Holy Island, Northumberland. We have two small children, two dogs
who have a love and hate relationship and a cat with no tail, called Mathilda.
As a child
I was creating little stories already when playing with my dolls and in my head
when I was supposed to be listening to the teachers at school! Over the years,
having gained more life experiences, I started to get more and more vivid
dreams which I then wrote down when I woke up. They became short stories and a couple
of novels. It’s always been more of a hobby, therapy if you like! Writing was
something I felt I had to do but I always hoped to share my spinsels with the
rest of the world.
I love
reading and learnt from the best, but I think I have found my own voice.
Since
living in the UK, I have been translating and reworking the stories and they
have been edited with a view to publishing them.
On the
first of May I finally self-published my debut Fantasy novel ‘The Queen’s
Curse’ on Amazon successfully. It has steady sales and already some great
reviews and good ratings.
2.  All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please
tell us how you handle it.
(NH) To be
honest, a writer’s block is not something I’m familiar with as I always have so
many idea’s, so many stories still need to be written and there just isn’t
enough time. I do have less productive days or moments when I’m tired or ill
and sit behind my laptop trying to squeeze words out. Then I find it’s best not
to bother at all; as those moments are not right. You can’t force great prose
and excellent dialogue if you’re not at your best! The secret is to find the
right balance, which in every day life proves to be tricky indeed. Sometimes I
have great inspiration and want to write there and then, but cannot because of
other commitments. And when I do have time, I can’t keep my eyes open…

3. Contrary
to what some people envision about a romance writer’s life, it’s not all glitz
and glam. Well not for the majority of us. With that bubble sadly busted,
when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?
(NH) Well, I’m
quite lucky in some respects as I’m a full time mum on maternity leave at the
moment. Having said that, I’m usually more tired than I was when I had my
office job! When I came home from seven hours behind a computer and on the
phone talking to customers, I struggled getting behind a screen again in the
evenings.

Although
it’s hard, but rewarding having two little ones (a 9 month and a 19 month), I
obviously can only write when they are asleep or when I’m on my own. In reality
that’s not much during the day, so I write mostly in the evenings. But there is
always the lack of sleep, really.
I do have a
very understanding partner, she does complain sometimes as we don’t have much
time anymore for just the two of us. I try to write three or four evenings a
week, the rest is just for us. We also try to go out on date nights. As a
family we have nice days out in the park, weekends at the zoo or holidays in
Wales by the sea. 
4. I know
many writers, such as Dirk and myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do
those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?
(NH) I don’t
tend to tell people I have just met, and even not all my colleagues at work
know I write, let alone that I write in the Lesbian genre. But that’s just
because I don’t like talking about myself in general or beat my own drum. And
because of that, being my own publisher, I hate doing my own marketing!

But people
who do know me a bit better know I write, that’s no secret. It’s my second
nature and sometimes they might catch me staring into space, but that comes
with the territory, writing never stops!
Close
friends all think it’s great and are really positive and encouraging. They buy
my books and tell their friends who then check out my work. 
5. Will you
share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long
list so give us your top ten.
(NH) For sure!
One of the first authors I read as a teenager who really opened my eyes and
influenced me, both as a person and writer was Manfred Kyber. His animal stories are wonderful; very wise,
empathetic and spiritual. Frederik van
Eeden
is another of my all time favorites as he explores a lot of the human
psyche; ‘The Little Johannes’ was so deep. Robbert
Leeuw
‘s ‘De Tussen wereld’ (The World In Between, not sure if it’s
translated to English though) comforted me as a child trying to deal with my
many questions about life and death (already at such an early age!).

Then as I
grew older I discovered Science Fiction and Fantasy and devoured a lot of the
best works, especially Stephen Donaldson,
Tolkien, C.S Lewis and of course the
Queen of Fantasy; Tanith Lee, her
work is wonderful. I loved ‘The Winter Players’, her short stories and ‘The
BirthGrave’. When I was a bit older I discovered Marion Zimmer Bradley‘s writings, her Darkover series, ‘Mist of
Avalon’ and ‘Trillium’ series are enjoyable reads and have taught me how to
find my own writing style.
In my
twenties it was Hermann Hesse,
especially ‘Steppenwolf’ and ‘Siddhartha’. Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran‘s ‘A Treasury’ is a book I often return to; it reads
like poetry. Have I already got ten? Sorry, I’ll stop here then! 
6. If you
could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book
would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?
 NH) As with
most good books that made it to the big screen, I’m always a bit skeptical when
that happens. Will the director capture the world and very essence of the story
and what the writer was trying to portrait? After all, it’s someones personal
perception of a story, but it might not be the same as mine or yours. I still
remember when I went to see ‘The Horse Whisperer’ in the cinema after having
read it. I never pictured Robert Redford as him! In my mind he was dark and
well…. younger! But I still enjoyed it, even though they changed the ending.

Tanith
Lee’s work would be hard to film I think and MZB’s ‘The Mist of Avalon’ has
already successfully been made into a movie.
I would
like to see my debut novel on the big screen of course! With two good actresses
with realistic chemistry between them playing Artride and Tirsa. Not because
it’s my own book, I’m not that vain, but because I think we owe it to our main
stream audience to finally get them to see an Epic Fantasy with two feminine
lesbians as the main protagonists. Especially now with gay-marriage being in
the news again.
7. Would
you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret
information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.
(NH) By all
means; spread the word! I’m currently working on ‘Call Off The Search’ book 1
of ‘The Last Of The Comyenti’ Series. It is about a humanoid species who are on
the brink of extinction and their struggles both in the world and with
themselves. The main character is a strong female who battles between her love
for freedom, her duty to her species to continue their line and with her own
heart. She is bi-sexual and thus the story has both straight and gay elements
in it.

It’s
currently being edited and hopefully finished by the end of August/September
2013 at the latest (hopefully!). The cover and blurb are also done and can be
found on my blog http://natasjahellenthal.wordpress.com/ On there I will
also announce the release date.
8. Where
can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?
(NH) My debut
novel ‘The Queen’s Curse’ can be found on Amazon on Kindle and soon on
paperback. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CMEQD30

Also on
SmashWords, Nook, Kobo,Lulu and all the other main stream e-readers. ‘Call Off
The Search’ will follow the same trend. I hope to publish Book 2 in the series,
‘Children Of The Sun’, later in the year!
9. Would
you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?
(NH) Sure, they
can contact me by leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17900869-the-queen-s-curse Google+  or on my facebook fanpage https://www.facebook.com/pages/Natasja-Hellenthal/379200808864872?bookmark_t=page

10. Before
we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like
to share? The stage is all yours.
(NH) I would
first like to thank you for the opportunity to have my little say and thank my
readers for buying my books and sharing their opinions of them. It is nice to
know people enjoy my brainchildren!

Wrap-up 
Ladies and Gents, I hope you enjoyed our interview
with Natasja Hellenthal. If you have any questions or comments for Natasja, by
all means, leave her a message below. Thank you in advance for your
visit! 

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