Take Note

Behind the books: author Natalie Sue

Published 2 weeks ago. Estimated reading time: 7 minutes.

May 3

It’s certainly no secret that at Martha Brook, we love sinking our teeth into a fantastic fiction. To us, there’s nothing better than curling up on a rainy weekend afternoon with a mug of something warm and a brand-new book with an unbroken spine to indulge in. When we read the blurb of Natalie Sue’s debut novel, I Hope This Finds You Well, we were lucky enough to get our hands on some advanced copies (yes, for you too!) but even luckier to get the chance to catch up with Natalie on her very first novel and where she gets her inspiration from…

Introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about who you are, what it is you do and how you came to do it.

I’m Natalie Sue, a Canadian author currently residing in Calgary. I absolutely love to write books about all the different types of human feelings and connections; books that explore millennial ennui (in a fun way, I swear); and books that hopefully bring on some laughs as well! 

Tell us more about how you became an author?

This is a very long story, but I can summarize it best with: perseverance, luck, and a few incredibly kind people that helped me get here. I always loved writing and completed my first novel around six years ago. I then looked into getting it published and really had no idea what I’d signed up for. It took a few years of rejections, mentorship, and many hours at my desk writing two more manuscripts to finally get the right book to connect with the right people at the right time. I feel so incredibly grateful for how it all unfolded (even if the path wasn’t as straight as I’d hoped!).

What do you love most about what you do?

For me it’s in the writing itself. I love sitting at my desk and discovering something about a character or story that delights me, writing something that makes me laugh, or figuring out a really exciting plot point. It’s honestly the best feeling ever, and I feel so lucky that I get to do this!

What does a typical day look like for you?

Once my morning routine is done, I start by having a coffee and catching up on emails. Then I try and plan what to do that day, writing or otherwise. I usually walk my dog early on in the day because it’s also my “thinking time” and that usually helps me solve plot problems or think up ideas for my writing that day. I return to my desk and write (I break it down into 20 minute sprints)—then I have lunch—sprint some more, and answer any emails that come in between sprints. I usually logoff for the workday around 3pm.

What do you do to switch off?

I love to read (of course!), and I’ve recently gotten into pottery (with varying degrees of success), also love to hang outside when it’s warm (I’m big on wandering the woods and do it even in winter), and love watching both great and terrible TV. 

What stationery item is on your desk that you cannot live without and why?

This was extremely tough to narrow down! I always have about three notebooks on the go—and a “special-one” for each book I’m working on. Different colours of pens are a must, but I also always try and have a cup full of sharpened pencils on hand. I love to jot my weirder ideas with them (the erasable factor is very freeing and ensures I’m not too hard on myself!)

A congratulations are in order on your debut novel, I Hope This Finds You Well! We found the characters all very loveable, and they were all especially refreshingly real. Where did you draw your inspiration from for these characters?

Thank you so much! This was sort of an amalgamation of me starting with “typical office people” stereotypes while wanting to add many realer layers to the characterizations. That inspiration is the tougher part to narrow down as it’s never one thing for me. It comes in little drops from the many people I’ve met in life; overheard conversations in public/mixed with the ideas in my head; or even other fictional characters that have lent an impactful flavour. In short, my favourite thing to do is observe the world and let character wants and needs drive my plotting.

We were on the edge of our seats when Jolene hits ‘send’ on her emails with the insults at the bottom hidden by using white text. Where did this hilarious idea come from?!

I really wish I knew for sure because it seems like I should! My best guess is it’s an offset of my college days where there was a minimum word-count for papers and a “smart” way to get around that was to include whited-out random words so that the header would display a higher word count. (I think I twisted that but made it petty—ha!) 

Now we’ve fallen in love with I Hope This Finds You Well, we’re dying to know if there’s anything exciting in the pipeline you can tease us and our readers with?

I can’t share too much on this mostly because I’m still figuring out a lot, but I’m working on something I’m really excited about! It involves an ensemble cast again and explores different types of isolation in what I hope is a fun and interesting way. 

What’s the best bit of advice you would give to someone else looking to become a first-time author?

I find my best writing and my favourite stories come when I lean into what sparks my joy. So my advice is lean into your desires of what you’d love to read and discover the story that way, because I think a lot of magic happens when we try to entertain ourselves. (Also try not to be scared to let the naughtier/less “perfect” thoughts out.)

Do you have a life mantra or favourite saying that you live by?

I like to think of the lyrics to “Row row row your boat” whenever I need perspective. In life, I can control only my rowing, and the stream path will factor into my journey no matter what. I use it to remind myself what I can control, which battles will only serve to ruin my peace, and when I should just mind my own business and keep “rowing.” This thought is also referenced by a character in I Hope This Finds You Well. 

P.S. Wish you could get your hands on Natalie Sue’s brand-new novel I Hope This Finds You Well before anyone else?! Good news! In the next 50 orders when you buy any personalised journal and use the code FREEBOOK, we’ll include a limited-edition proof copy of I Hope This Finds You Well, ahead of its launch on 23rd May!

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