Friday, November 6, 2009

Author Interview with NATASHA BAUMAN

Natasha Bauman is a third generation Californian. She was once a ballet dancer, which led her to acting, which led to screenwriting. When her children were still little, she returned to school to take literature classes for fun. She loved school, and stayed on to earn a BA, an MA, and an MFA in English and Creative Writing. She began writing novels when she was an undergraduate at UCLA, and finished The Disorder of Longing during her MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She currently teaches college writing and literature courses in Southern California and writes in the middle of the night and while driving.

Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

I think I have to say that my love of books was the driving force behind my becoming a writer. I read so many fantastic books, and I wanted to join in the conversation by writing my own books, telling my own stories. Books were a lifeline for me throughout my formative years. They were always an escape for me--from the drudgery of school and the mundane realities of life. I actually wrote in spite of the fact that there was no one in my life who really encouraged me to write. I think I may have written as a form of defiance, too. You know, “You don't think I can write? I'll prove you wrong!”

How long have you been writing? In what genres do you write?

I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I started out writing short stories, but I learned I don't really have a knack for brevity. So now, I write novels--historical fiction, noir detective fiction, fabulism, and literary fiction.

Who is your favorite author and why do you like his/her work?

My list of favorite authors is long, and it's varied. I love everything from literary fiction to detective novels. But, I think if I had to choose just one author to take with me to that deserted island, I would go with James Joyce. I love that his work covers such a broad swath of literary territory. His writing changed drastically from Dubliners to Finnegan’s Wake. It's fascinating to explore his work. It takes you on quite a literary journey. I read Ulysses three times.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

As a college English instructor, my biggest challenge is balancing my time. It's quite difficult shifting from grading hundreds of essays to writing fiction. My brain gets a wee bit fried! I try to claim a bit of time every day, and insist that it be my time to write. I have to argue with myself a lot in order to make sure I allow myself the time. My kids are older now, but when they were little, I used to write in the middle of the night. I also find it is important for me to get away from my house to write. There are too many responsibilities here, and I will tend to them if I am home. So, I often write in cafes or parks, or anyplace that will take me away from the realities of every day. I need the time and the place to give my imagination free reign.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

My most recent novel is The Disorder of Longing (Putnam, 2008). It's the story of a young woman in Victorian-era Boston whose husband is obsessed with collecting rare orchids and controlling his wife's every move, including her sexuality. Ada Pryce's husband teaches her about the strange orchids he brings home, and as she learns to tend to the plants, she discovers a way to tend to herself as well. Library Journal compares it to Kate Chopin's The Awakening, and calls it “an engrossing blend of female self-discovery that is...both entertaining and thought-provoking.”

The Disorder of Longing is available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's Books, and Borders Books.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

Now I am working on another historical novel, North of the Slot. Slot is set in the period following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and tells the story of one survivor. I do extensive research for my historical novels, which can take a lot of time. So, Slot isn't finished yet, and the timeline is unknown at this point.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

I strongly recommend workshops. Other writers' eyes are the most crucial part of the process. We can't always read our own work objectively, so it's invaluable to check with other writers. And it's helpful to get your work read by someone who is published, and has been writing for a while. Published writers have a lot to offer. You can learn from their successes and mistakes. If you can't find a workshop, form your own writing group. Also, read first novels by writers, to get an idea of the kinds of things publishers will buy from unknowns.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Has membership helped your writing career?

Yes. I am a member of Associated Writers Programs and the Authors Guild. I think it's important to stay current with industry news, and know what other writers are doing, as well as to attend conferences that these groups offer.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

Right now, I am teaching novel writing workshops at UCLA Extension.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

A few more words of advice to writers: Keep at it. Sometimes it takes a long time to both perfect your craft and get noticed by publishers. I know it took me many years to finally publish my first book. And, don't ever shy away from major revisions. I think my most valuable lesson was learning that throwing my writing away sometimes leads to better writing. That old adage, “Writing is rewriting,” is so very true!

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

My website address is

1 comment:

  1. Very nice interview and I am pleased to be introduced to another good book.

    I agree with the importance of honing the writing skills and sticking with it until a book gets published. So many writers get discouraged and give up.