#3 PATHS 2.0: Natasha D. Lane
Natasha D. Lane is a friend of most things caffeinated, a lover of books, and a writing warrior to her core.
As a believer that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” she graduated from Juniata College in 2015 with hopes to become a journalist. Instead, life took her on a different path and Natasha found herself digging up a manuscript from her childhood.
This dusty stack of papers would become “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone." With one book under her belt, Natasha went on to release "The Woman In the Tree: The True Story of Camelot, "The Pariah Child: Sarafina's Return," and her most recent work “The Pariah Child: Serwa’s Descendants.”
Tasha is actively working on Evley's Descent (working title, Pariah Child #4) a continuation of her fantasy series!
1. What first inspired you to start writing?
I'm not really sure. I always enjoyed reading as a kid and I excelled in my English courses, so it felt natural.
Like many writers, I started out in poetry and grew from there until I finished my first novel. If I had to answer directly, I'd say writing was just a creative outlet. Sadly I was bullied as a child and I come from a dysfunctional family, so I think writing was an easy way for me to express myself. All I needed was a pen and piece of paper to feel some sense of control.
2. Where do your ideas come from? What genre do you love to write?
Sometimes my story ideas are so random. I'll hear someone say something and my mind will start stringing things together until there's a story. Or I'll be out (not so much now) walking around and something will catch my attention. It might be someone who's dressed in a certain way, someone with certain body language, or just a delivery truck being unloaded and my mind whirls with all the possibilities. Actually, I think that's where most authors get their story ideas from. They're from a constant series of what-if questions.
In terms of genre, I primarily write fantasy with a bit of scifi now-and-again. That said, I definitely plan on dabbling in other genres as my career continues.
3. Where or when do you write? Do you have a ritual? Is there music, silence, coffee, tea, etc.?
Don't get me wrong. I understand there is something very poetic about writing your novel in a coffee shop. I get it, and I've done it. That said, I definitely prefer writing in my own space in complete silence. Leads to a better product, I think and a quicker product because I get easily distracted.
Currently, I aim for 2K words a day splitting the goal between morning and evening writing. I partially do this because I have a day job that needs my attention but also because I don't feel so creatively stretched when I do. Strategy.
4. What's your favorite book and why?
I have too many. It's honestly hard to pick one but for the sake of the question I shall.
Hmmmm...1984 by George Orwell. It's one of the books I was forced to read in high school but actually enjoyed. I can't say the same for The Scarlet Letter...
I think 1984 is special to me because of the ending. It was the first and now one of the few books that doesn't have a happy, cookie cutter wrap-up. When you reach the end of the book, you're left with a "Wow, so that's it" sort of feeling. Simultaneously, it was still so well done and brave for George Orwell to break from the norm.
A more modern favorite is Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer.
5. How does your cultural background influence your writing?
Geeze, I could write an essay for this one. Well, I think as I've grown more in touch with my femininity and my blackness, I've noticed that all of my story ideas not only have a black female lead but have primarily black or BIPOC cast. I also feel that I've tried to make sense of my experience with blackness in America through my writing, primarily a few personal short stories. And, of course, I always write my characters as human which black people are.
6. How has COVID affected your writing?
Since I work from home full-time now it's actually affected it in a positive way. You'd be surprised how much time you save when you don't have to commute. All of that time now goes to writing.
7. What is your current work in progress that you're most excited about?
I'm wrapping up the fourth book in my Pariah Child series, tentatively titled Evley's Descent. Technically, Serwa's Descendants was supposed to be the last book in the series but my brain wouldn't turn off and here we are.
In terms of brand new material, I'm actually working on a time travel series where a witch finds herself stuck in 1790s France. Let's just say she's not happy about it. I'm planning on the series to be a trilogy, and it's tentatively titled the Keyona Thompson series.
8. What advice do you have to other aspiring writers out there?
You need to read and write, not just one of the two.
If you wish to become a professional author, make writing a part of your daily schedule. Put time on your calendar solely for writing and set a word goal.
Start promoting your book while you're writing it. Lots of authors do this and build a following which makes creating a reader-base easier down the road.
Lastly, read the books Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque, Let's Get Digital by David Gaughran, and On Writing by Stephen King. Some of these works are a few years old but many of the teachings still apply. That's all I got! :)
Want to read more from Natasha?
See you next Sunday for more on paths to writing!