This was an interview conducted by Undiscovered Publishing blogger Thomas Neil with Author of The Exsanguinated Series, Natasha Dee.
Neil: Tell me about yourself? And what made you want to be a writer?
Dee: I suppose my love for writing started early. I had a speech impediment growing up so it was difficult at times to convey what was going on in my overly active mind. As soon as I began reading and writing I found a love for poetry, something I wasn’t even fully aware of when I first started. I will admit, however, that I used writing as a shield and an escape from the reality of abuse I suffered as a child. It was therapeutic and I could convey the pain inside that I could not actively speak for fear of what would happen to my family. It wasn’t until I was about a freshman in high school that I started writing novels, my current series in particular. I fell in love with these characters pretty quickly. It all sort of exploded in 2016 after becoming extremely close with my two best friends, River and Dragon. They sort of pushed me to finish my first novel, Somataesthesis. From that point on, my series just grew and grew into this massive saga with tons of twists and turns. Thanks to them, I knew it was something I had to actively pursue.
Neil: What attracted you to the particular genre you are involved in? And do you stick with it consistently or do you change it up?
Dee: I write in paranormal romance/suspense. I’ve always loved a little bit of twisted reality, especially vampires. I wish I still had a drawing that I found a few years ago to share with you. I was very young and I drew a sort of creepy drawing for a kid, which I named vamirs weeknd. (Yes correct spelling as my spelling was bad then and now too) I have plenty of writings, however, that are completely out of the paranormal realm. The only thing I do not really switch up is my darker writing style. I like writing about the outcast, the cutters, and the abused. It helps me deal with the reality of what happened to me as a child. I feel I could really be an advocate and a voice for those in need.
Neil: What is your writing process like? And how important is research to you when writing a book?
Dee: My writing process is a bit of a mess. I have tons of thoughts running around my mind, like most writers. I have tried outlines and planning but it doesn’t really work for me. I plan everything out mentally and then I literally word vomit onto a page. That being said, it is vital to research for my books. I take reality and twist it just a bit so I am very, very picky about getting realistic details and history right. There is too much planning that goes into a book to not do research, for me at least.
Neil: Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? And do you have any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
Dee: Writers block is an evil mistress. She was absent for a few years but she came to me last year while I was editing book two. Granted, book two mirrors some real life experiences for me so it was difficult to get through that. I really only wrote one book last year, as opposed to my usual six. I suggest giving yourself a healthy dose of breaks here and there to avoid burnouts. My typical way of beating writer’s block, which is not all that healthy, is to simply write. I will sit down and force myself to write a sentence or two every single day no matter how bad they are. I tell my mind that it’s important and eventually it listens. I have also found that reading other author’s works have helped me through periods of writer’s block. But I feel writer’s block is handled differently for everyone. A break is vital, but too much can really take you away from your creative thoughts. It should be handled with care and will be different for every person.
Neil: So tell me about what you’ve written, and has it been published?
Dee: I have written way too many things to be honest. I currently have two novels up on Amazon, the first two books in my series. I also have about twelve other rough drafts for other novels in my series making about fourteen completed novels.
Neil: If you’ve had your writing published, how has it been received?
Dee: I suppose by received you mean how do readers like it? So far, readers have loved it. I have several who’ve read them in a day and a half. I’ve been told multiple times that the story just sweeps them away, which is about the best compliment I could ever receive. They like me speaking out about the outcast and abused. I will say, however, I do have some a little angry with me because of my notorious cliffhangers. But for the most part, everyone seems to really absorb my novels and thirst for more.
Neil: Is there anything you’d change or do differently now that it is published?
Dee: Right now I would change the back cover of my first novel. It has my picture on it and it is just ghastly to see it. Not that I’m knocking my photo, I just followed a format for a previous self publishing site and I just do not think it really works for me now. There are a few formatting issues I would like to change and I’m sure plenty of grammar issues as it is all self done. But as a novel in whole, I would rather have it out there with all of these mistakes than not at all. There may be that one person who relates to it and it helps them and that is all that matters to me.
Neil: Speaking of publishing, how did you go about getting you book(s) published, and what was your publishing journey like?
Dee: I went about publishing through several avenues. It was originally River and Dragon’s idea to branch out and attempt publishing in any format, which I’m eternally grateful for. I did the querying for a while and was advised by an ex-agent that with my vast growing series and how quickly I put them out, I should try self-publishing. I went through a few websites that gave me some fits but finally found my place on Amazon. It was an absolute headache for about a year and I wanted to quit so many times. But I stuck with it, thanks to my supportive people, and I’m thankful that I did. Like most writers, I have a message I want to share and I can’t do that if I don’t try.
Neil: Where can potential fans find your book(s)?
Dee: Readers can find my novel on Amazon, which is the best option. However, they are also in mass distribution so many can find them on Barnes & Noble’s website and a few other avenues. I am also creepy like a darkened alley watch seller because I keep a stash hidden in my trunk for locals, ha ha!
Neil: Did you do your own artwork for the book cover etc, and if not how did you go about getting it done?
Dee: My artwork started out one night in my bedroom. I thought it would be fun to throw red paint onto white paper and use that, that way I didn’t have to pay for a cover to be done and I would own it. I mean, I do write about vampires and blood after all, so what could go wrong? The answer is everything, everything could go wrong. It was absolutely horrid and I cannot believe River and Dragon let me do it. But luckily, when I switched websites I discovered royalty free stock photos websites. I downloaded several photos and with the help of River, my true savior, we were able to turn the covers around.
Neil: In a tweet length pitch, sell me on your latest work, or the series as a whole?
Dee: Another day another bruise. Fate is cruelest when the hits come from your own mother. Can the Vampire world Eclipse has stumbled into ironically save her from a doomed fate and bring her love? Or will it only bring her one step closer to death? – Book 2 Withering Sapphire: Evade (I).
UP: What was the original inspiration for the book series?
Dee: Original inspiration, don’t laugh, was me playing with dolls until I was sixteen. I had Withering sapphire as an episode to deal with my life as a child abused by her alcoholic mother. It was something I wanted to get out there and I wanted that fairy tale of someone saving me, someone even like a family of vampires.
Neil: Have you taken on board anything from a review (good or bad) that you’ve later incorporated into your writing?
Dee: Reviews are crucial for me. Luckily, I have three incredible friends who listen to me rant constantly and share snippets, along with some very honest readers. They give me helpful advice that I then use to edit my works. My best friend, River, is my plotter. We run ideas back and forth constantly and she tells me honestly if my thoughts are bad or if they are good. Dragon sucks my novels up like nothing I’ve ever seen. She reads all my things, gives me her honest reactions, and tells me what needs to be changed. Cri-kee gives me honest plotting advice whenever she gets the chance and makes sure I have a strong backbone. I’ve also had reviews from readers that helped me edit my final drafts or give me something to change for future novels. Not all reviews should change an author’s mind but they should seriously take them into consideration to make sure novels are hitting readers the way they need to.
Neil: Are you working on something new at the moment? And can you tell us anything about your current projects?
Dee: Look at you trying to get me to spill my secrets. I am currently working on book three of the series. To my loyal readers, it is not Spencer’s continuation just yet. I have a few more characters I need to introduce before I can begin weaving sequels to my subseries. I can tell you that book three is absolutely crucial to this series and that it has been one of my favorites from the start. It involves a girl who is both a rambler and a cutter. She gets dragged into my world by a dark Vampire, who isn’t all that he seems. Seeing as how it is currently in rewriting mode that is about all I should share.
Neil: How active are you on social media? And if you have social media as an author/for your books then please share links?
Dee: Social media is vital for self-published authors like me. I am very active on Twitter now that I understand it. I try posting every so often on my Facebook and Instagram as well. Facebook was my go-to avenue for the longest time but I’m slowly branching out. Below are my Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter links:● https://exsanguinatedseries.wordpress.com/ ● https://www.facebook.com/exsanguinatedseries/ ● https://twitter.com/exsanguinated17 ● https://www.instagram.com/exsanguinatedseries
Neil: Tell me about some writers you really like and/or admire?
Dee: That is a difficult question. There are so many wonderful writers out there. Some of my favorites are Abigail Gibbs, Anne Rice, Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Francine Rivers, just to name a few off the top of my head. I admire Francine for writing in the Christian field the way she does. She always has such a powerful message. I admire that Dean and Stephen write such dark horror novels and really don’t care much about what others think of them. Edgar is my main man, his dark yet poetic writings always take me away from reality. He spins such a web so quickly and takes you away, something that some full length novels cannot even manage. Anne and Abigail are my Vampire women. I admire their takes on the Vampire world.
Neil: What advice would you like to give writers who are struggling with their first novels?
Dee: My advice to writers who haven’t finished that first one is to not be a perfectionist. I was working on my novels for close to ten years before I ever finished my first one. I would nitpick one specific section for days and get bored then have to move on. Perfection takes time. Write it all out and edit it later. Just get it out and off of your chest. And don’t let anyone tell you that you are writing too slow or too fast. Everyone works at their own pace and that is a beautiful fact. Your story needs to be read, even if just by one individual. So keep pushing past every obstacle you face and never give up.
Neil: And let’s end with something a little different…Which of your character(s) would you take with you to spend the night in a haunted house? Why?
Dee: I would definitely say Onyx, the main character from my third book. He is tall, scary, and nothing is getting past him. He would snark the ghost to death and I would feel absolutely safe and entertained the entire night.