Today, we're doing something a little different. This is our 22nd guest author interview on the Marie Lavender's Books! blog, and fellow author Natalie Silk is visiting us.
Hi. Thank you for having me today.
Oh, it's my pleasure!
Can you tell us a little bit about your book? When did it come out and where can we get it?
Thanks in advance for reading about me. My current work is Snowfall’s Secret. It’s about a girl from another world who must live like any other tween on Earth (and she suffers from amnesia). Of course, she learns to enjoy shopping at the mall with her very own debit card and has a few secrets. At its core is the message that everyone has value and has something special to share.
Interesting! And that's so true...
Did anything prompt this book? Something that inspired you?
Did anything prompt this book? Something that inspired you?
The story was inspired by a dream I had when I was twelve. I saw five monks standing in a semi-circle. They were all wearing a triangle-shaped pendant with a red stone in the center. One of the monks looked at me and said, “You’re not ready,” and I woke. I had subsequent dreams of a girl with a pendant to the one the monks wore and I wrote them all down.
My favorite character to write about (funny how that turned out) was a secondary one to the story: Mrs. Margot Greenfield. I based her on a favorite childhood teacher.
By the way, my favorite genre to write is science fiction. Surprise! Just kidding.
My focus right now is science fiction for girls; but I’m still playing around with a short story that’s alternative history to give myself a mental stretch. I have this irrational fear that the last thing I finish writing will be my last. I wonder if I’m not alone.
I began writing when I was ten and back then we didn’t have home computers.
That's cool. Believe it or not, one professor I had called me a Luddite because I sometimes do the old-fashioned thing and start writing stories by hand in my journal or in a cheap one-subject notebook. LOL.
Let's try another question, all right?
I’m pretty ‘old school’ when it comes to my writing habits. The first thing I do is buy a brand new hand-sized spiral notebook and use it to write the basic story that’s mostly action punctuated here and there by dialogue. The little notebook helps me believe that I’m accomplishing so much. I then use my trusty laptop to write the second draft that looks as if I threw words down to see what sticks. The technical term I like to use is word hurl. Each subsequent draft looks a little more refined than the previous one. I then use the little spiral notebook to make notes and jot down ideas for the story.
I’ve been asked advice by aspiring writers. I’m very, very flattered. But let me tell you, I’m still an aspiring writer. My advice is simple: don’t ever, ever (and I mean ever) give up.
The girl slowly chewed a spoonful of undercooked scrambled egg and, forcing herself to swallow, looked enviously across the table at Ami. What would happen if she tried one or two of the wayward crunchy small circles that escaped the little girl’s spoon and bowl? Would it be worth the nausea and subsequent pain?
She patted the spongy yellow goo with her fork and wondered what else wouldn’t make her sick to her stomach. The first three days were a culinary experience gone awry just trying to keep a meal—any meal—down. So far, eggs were added to her limited choices along with water (which tasted awful), plain white rice, grapes, and carrots.
Did I ever have a problem with food? she thought. I can’t remember if I did. I can’t even remember my own name. Her memory had so many holes, but she felt sure that food was never an issue. There was a sudden flash of picking fruit in a grove. The memory quickly came and left when Jennifer entered the kitchen.
Kissing her smiling daughter on the head, she asked, “Are you done with your cereal? We need to go shopping.”
Ami dropped her spoon on the table and clapped her hands “Yayyhhh! Done!”
“Finish your orange juice and we’ll go.”
Ami obliged her mother by picking up a small plastic cup and tipped it forward to sip the last remains.
“What about you? Almost done?”
The girl looked at the last two bites left on her plate. “I will be.” She wanted to shovel the morsels in her mouth, but something deeply imbedded in her psyche prevented her from gobbling the food down in a single huge mouthful. Was it etiquette? It must be, because even though she was right-handed, she still knew it was bad manners to not eat with her left hand.
What else did she know? She knew that her hosts—except Tom—were very patient and kind, even when she couldn’t tell them her name or where she was from. She knew that Tom didn’t like her because he did his best to avoid her—at least that’s how she felt. She knew English. She knew that she had to wear the pendant at all times—but she couldn’t remember why.
Her right hand began to hurt when she started to think of Tom again. She looked down and saw that she was clutching the silver triangle at the end of the chain too tightly. She uncurled her fingers and saw that the red stone in the center and the elaborate, intricate pattern on the back left indentations on her palm and fingers.
“We need to get some clothes for you. Mike and I talked last night. We’ll wait after the long weekend to get help for you. In the meantime, you can’t just go around in one of my t-shirts and have me pin one of my shorts on you. And whereever you end up, at least you’ll have clothes.”
As soon as Jennifer mentioned the pinned shorts, the girl lifted the hem of her shirt to make sure that one of the pins on the waistband still held in place. Even though she was glad to add to her very meager wardrobe of borrowed clothes, she rather liked the yellow short-sleeved shirt she had on because it was long enough to be worn as a tunic and she could also wear it with her leggings and boots. The shirt had flowers on the front with a name of a place she learned was a local beach.
“I think shorts, a few t-shirts, and sneakers would be a good start.”
“What are sneakers?” The words tumbled out of her mouth before she could stop and now she forced herself to control the heat from rising to her cheeks.
The question caused Jennifer to arch an eyebrow, but she quickly changed her expression.
Being helpful, Ami held out her right leg and pointed to her foot. “See?”
The girl looked down at the shoe. “Oh.” A few days after her realization that she was no longer ‘home’, Mike had explained to her that the house was loaned to them for a two-week vacation with his family and friends. She didn’t want to ask what a ‘vacation’ or a ‘loan’ was; Mike and everyone else probably thought she was pretty foolish with all her questions.
Jennifer set Ami’s cup down next to the bowl and wiped her daughter’s mouth and hands with a wet paper towel before lifting her out of the chair. “One more big sip,” Jennifer said, giving the cup back to her daughter.
The girl swallowed the last bite of egg and then picked up her dishes along with Ami’s and placed them in the sink alongside two sets of bowls and spoons. One set she already knew had belonged to Jennifer.
“Where is Tom?”
“He’s out for a run.”
The kitchen door slammed as Mike, Dean, and Rob came in from a morning of surfing.
“How was it?” asked Jennifer. She took the empty cup from Ami and placed it in the sink with the other dirty dishes.
“Tom missed a good one,” said Dean.
“We’re going shopping, Daddy!”
The girl saw Jennifer grimace when Mike looked a little worried. Jennifer nodded her head towards her, “She needs clothes. Remember our conversation last night?”
He shifted his weight from one leg to the other. “Yeah. Well—”
“I’ll put it on my card.”
Mike seemed slightly mollified. “Uh-huh. You don’t have any coupons with you. Or do you?”
“Don’t worry,” and giving him a reassuring smile, “You know I’m a good shopper.”
Mike changed the subject while looking at the girl. “I’ve been searching all the websites for—”
Jennifer interrupted him, “I thought we had a no electronic-zone policy.”
“I used my phone outside.”
This caused Jennifer to raise an eyebrow and smirk at him.
He continued, “No one reported you missing. There’s nothing about you. I’m going to the police while you’re out shopping. I should have gone sooner and I don’t know why I put it off as long as I did.”
“I can’t believe no one is looking for you,” Jennifer said.
“It’s the truth.”
The girl tried to hide being upset while wondering if Mike said that out of sympathy for her–No one is looking for me? –obviously it wasn’t working.
“Hey, we’ll find your family. I promise. Just go have fun shopping.” He gave his wife a quick kiss and left the room. The stairs creaked rapidly as he ascended to his bedroom.
Noises from slamming cabinet- and refrigerator doors came from the kitchen. Dean and Rob were not exactly quiet as they busied themselves searching for something to eat.
She wondered how long Tom would be away. Ever since that time he saw the window ‘close’ by itself, she had the strange feeling that he was avoiding her. She didn’t understand why. What was it that was so wrong? What did she do? She felt like such a coward for not being brave enough to ask him.
Natalie had fantastic dreams about a girl and a special pendant when she was twelve and wrote them down. She turned those dreams into short stories during her years in junior high, high school, then college, and beyond. Some would call it tenacity—she would call it insanity—for never giving up her passion for sharing her stories with the world.