Natali Drake is an accredited member of The Society of Authors and writes as N J Simmonds. She is a freelance brand consultant and writer and has had her work published in various UK newspapers, websites and publications including The Mother Book. Originally from North London, Natali now divides her time between her two homes in the South of Spain and The Netherlands where she lives with her husband and two daughters. ‘The Path Keeper’ is her first novel from the series, her second book ‘Son Of Secrets’ will be available from late 2017.
Tell us a bit about your new book The Path Keeper? What inspired it?
The Path Keeper is a YA Fantasy Romance Thriller - heavy on the thrills with just a touch of magic. It's the first of a series which sees Ella, a nineteen year old with a complicated past, fall in love with the mysterious blue-eyed Zac whose secret will ultimately change the course of destiny.
Ultimately the book is about fate versus love - if you knew who you were destined to end up with, would you follow your path or would you choose your heart?
My inspiration for the book came from many places. Back in 2012 the main character Ella popped into my head fully formed, desperate to tell her story. I knew I wanted a strong female protagonist, plus I wanted to portray the crazy intensity you feel when you fall in love for the first time as a teenager, coupled with the sheer recklessness of acting on feelings and not common sense. I really drew on my own past as an illogical teen for that one!
Zac evolved slowly. I knew he had to memorable, strong and special in a way that was incomparable to anyone else Ella would encounter - so I gave him a special twist. But my biggest inspiration came from London. London has always been special to me - I've lived all over the world but the capital is where I return to every time.
"As far back as he could remember, the city had wrapped her iron fingers around his throat and brought him to her, time and time again. If he stood still long enough for the world to stop just a little, he could hear the capital whispering her secrets. Even she had secrets. The city had a rhythm, a drumbeat only her people could hear as they hurried from A to B. He pitied them. They didn't understand that every step left a footprint upon layers of history stacked beneath their city's pulsating pavements. Neither did they care that every one of their laboured breaths had been inhaled a million times before. There was nothing new here; there never would be." Chapter One, The Path Keeper
How did you become a writer?
I'm not sure anyone ever 'becomes' a writer. I slowly formed. I've always wanted to write, since I was a small child I've loved reading and making up stories. I would sit for days hand writing huge 'novels' with chapters and everything - along with terribly embarrassing poems full of teen angst and pain. I kept a journal for fifteen years and then the internet happened, so I went from being desperate for people not to read my writing to desperate for everyone to read everything I wrote! Along with writing for work in PR and marketing I also began to blog, write articles for websites, went on to co-found online magazine TheGlassHouseGirls.com and eventually plucked up the courage to finish my first novel and send it off to publishers. A year later I was taken on by Accent Press with a three book deal. I've been a freelance writer for five years now and I'm officially a published author - yet it still feels strange calling myself a writer.
What books and authors had the most influence on you?
Books are magical things, they tend to find you when you most need them. I've always admired an author that can have the power to make me feel: Terry Pratchett and Ben Elton make me laugh out loud, Isabelle Allende made me sob for a day, Stephen King makes my heart race and Roald Dahl and Judy Bloom filled my childhood with wonder. Now that I've stepped into the realm of YA I am devouring books by John Green, Jennifer Niven, Rainbow Rowell and Nicola Yoon...I'm twenty years older than their protagonists yet their books fill me with that wondrous hope you get when you love for the very first time.
Since we are LIBRARY, is there any book you would like to recommend for our LIBRARY members?
Other than my own? Ha! Well I think no one should go through life without having read certain classics - Orwells '1984', Harper Lee's 'To Kill A Mockingbird' and Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' are just as prevalent now than ever! I would also strongly recommend 'We need to talk about Kevin' by Lionel Shriver, 'The Time Traveller's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger and 'Killing Me Softly' by Nicci French as they all shocked me and moved me in their own way and inspired me to add the same drama to my own writing. I love a book that makes you think a long time after you turn the last page.
What can we expect from your event on 2nd of March?
A lot of relief from my part as this book has taken 5 years from the day I wrote down the first word and it will be held not only on World Book Day but the last day of my UK tour (which kicks off on 25 February in Waterstones, Enfield, with a book signing). So expect lots of bubbles, lots of smiles from me, and probably a few teary speeches. More than anything it will be an opportunity for a large group of people in the publishing world to get to meet and mingle and celebrate the book's launch. Plus anyone who wants to buy a copy of 'The Path Keeper' from our vendor there, or have a chat to me about writing, is free to attend and say hello. I'll be the relieved looking woman with a glass of bubbly in her hand!
Don't miss The Path Keeper launch and the opportunity to meet the author - 2nd of March@LIBRARY