Today’s post is brought to you by returning contributor, Tamika Burgess! Interested in contributing a guest post? Read the guidelines.
200 Words With Author Natalia Sylvester
Currently a full-time freelance writer in Austin, Texas, Natalia Sylvester is anticipating the release of her debut novel. With a background in magazine editing, Sylvester became a freelance writer in order to have time to work on fiction writing.
Before gaining the desire to write novels, Sylvester’s first love was poetry. She even considered it as a major while in college; but instead opted to study creative writing.
Her aspiration to write novels came about after reading Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia. In reading this book, Sylvester found herself not wanting to leave the book’s characters. It was in that moment that Sylvester realized she wanted to give readers that same experience.
The extra time that freelance writing gave Sylvester paid off in February of 2011, when she signed a contract with a literary agent. Then in October of 2012 her forthcoming novel Chasing the Sun was sold.
Scheduled for release on June 3rd, Sylvester’s novel is somewhat inspired by the kidnapping of her grandfather. Although she was too young to remember all the details that took place in that situation, her novel is centered on the traumatic event of a kidnapping.
Chasing the Sun is about a struggling marriage that continues to get tested when the wife, Marabela, is kidnapped. Set in Sylvester’s birthplace of Lima, Peru, Marabela’s husband Andres is tasked with making all pertinent decisions in order to get his wife back. The novel not only explores the idea that things do not happen in perfect conditions, but also asks the question of how a failing marriage could continue in such extreme conditions.
Write Naked: How involved were you in the book’s cover design? Do you think it reflects the story?
Natalia Sylvester: I absolutely love the cover! The street shot of Lima, which is kind of mysterious and gritty, combined with the colorful overlay, reminds me of how blinding the sun can be when you’ve been in the dark for too long. I feel that’s something many of my book’s characters can relate to, because Marabela’s kidnapping forces everyone to look at things in a new light. So I love how the cover plays with contrasts, because the story does, too: Light versus dark, freedom versus captivity, love versus loss.
WN: What is the message that you want readers to take away from Chasing the Sun?
NS: That even in our darkest times, people are beautifully capable of finding strength, hope, and new beginnings.
WN: What was the most surprising thing you learned throughout the entire writing/publishing process?
NS: The simple truth is that it really is all about the writing, the joy, and the terror of a blank page. Getting my book published has been an amazing journey, but I love that when I sit down to work on my next book in the early mornings, the blank page doesn’t care that I have a book deal. It’s still difficult at times, exhilarating at others, and incredibly intimate. Later, when it’s time to shop the book and edit, it’s a beautifully collaborative effort, but I love that it always starts with a writer and an idea.
WN: What advice would you give to writers who are still trying to get their first manuscript sold?
NS: Keep writing the next one, even as you’re trying to sell the first one. If I hadn’t started writing Chasing the Sun while my first book got shopped around, I wouldn’t be doing this interview today. A friend put it in perspective one day when rejection was getting to me. He said, “You’ve written one book. You want to be a writer. Writers write books. Plural.”
WN: What are you working on now? What’s next for you?
NS: I’m about 40 pages into a rough draft of my next novel. I’m so excited about it because usually, I only start to see how a story will come together in the revision stages. But this one has a plan, it wants to take me places! If writing a novel is like falling in love, I’m definitely at that initial infatuation stage. I can’t wait to get to the “I-feel-like-I’ve-known-you-all-my-life” stage.
Tamika Burgess is an NYC-based writer, blogger, and freelancer. Her articles have been featured on various sites including Cosmopolitan and Clutch.
She is also the force behind The Essence of Me; where she blogs about all things that catch her attention and sparks a reaction.