Hi there Misfit Booknerds!!! This is a monumental occasion! I got to interview Natalie Whipple, author of Transparent, Blindsided, House of Ivy & Sorrow and her newly released book, Relax, I'm A Ninja! And since I'm excited to read her new offering, let me share with you the talk I had with Natalie, here at The Misfit Interviews!!!
What is your favorite color?
As an artist, I really do love all the colors, but I've always had a soft spot for orange because it never gets enough love. It's a very important color! The one of sunsets and fall leaves and a cool glass of orange juice.
Who is your inspiration when writing stories?
Hm, I don't often think about this, but I suppose Hayao Miyazaki has inspired me hugely as a storyteller. His imagination is somewhere I could live forever, I believe. As far as writers, I grew up loving The Chronicles Of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. To this day, they are the only novels I've ever reread.
Do you listen to music when you do write? Who are they?
I do for the most part! It depends on the book. For TRANSPARENT and BLINDSIDED, I listened to a lot of Paramore and other music in that vein. For HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW, I listened to creepier music, eery tunes by Evanesence and Jem. For RELAX, I'M A NINJA (which I wrote five years ago) I actually listened to a lot of Hellogoodbye and Metro Station. Basically, I have a bunch of Pandora stations for different novels:)
Do you have a weird talent?
I'm not sure it's weird, but I think I'm pretty good at cooking. I really love making a good meal, and since it's hard to get good Asian food in Utah (where I live), I spend a lot of time learning how to make things I love to eat.
Wet paper. Bad chocolate. Being late. Vanilla cupcakes.
When did you start writing novels?
I started writing novels when I was a teenager. I was really into anime and drawing, so I wanted to make stories to go along with the characters I was sketching. Back then it was for fun and I never tried to pursue publication, but I did dream about trying to publish in the future. Then a friend told me my stories weren't very good, and I felt so insecure and bad about it I actually gave up for about five years. It wasn't until after college I started writing stories seriously again, but I haven't stopped since then!
A lot of Fiona's emotional arc comes from my own feelings of invisibility as a teen. I was quiet and shy, and I felt really out of place in my world. I often still feel like I don't quite belong, even now that I'm 30 years old. I wanted to explore that idea in a literal way—make a person who was actually permanently invisible.
On the less serious side, I've always loved The X-Men. It was my favorite cartoon growing up, and the idea of superpowers was always cool to me. I wanted to take my own stab at them, see what I could do. The invisible girl is always a side character, so I wanted to put her front and center.
House of Ivy and Sorrow just came out last April. What's the difference you've made in terms of your writing style while making this novel?
HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW definitely has a different voice than TRANSPARENT, mostly because the main characters are very different. Where Fiona is skeptical to a fault and comes from a broken home, Jo from IVY is confident and friendly and comes from a strong witching family. So they're very different people, and I think the books reflect that.
You are very much involved in pop culture references and even anime! I commend you for that, for I am a huge otaku as well! What has anime or any other pop-culture changes have anything to do with your style of writing? Or has it greatly influenced how you manipulate plots or generate ideas?
Yes! I love anime! Back when I was a teen, it was pretty hard to get anime in the US (this was pre-internet, guys, which might sound crazy to you). There were only a few shows on TV (Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z and Pokemon), and you could get a couple series from one single store chain. I'd have to save $25 dollars to buy one tape with three episodes on it! But my friends and I would save, and that how I got to see Evangelion, Escaflowne, Utena, Fushigi Yuugi, Tenchi Muyo, etc.
So I'm really grateful for legal ways to stream anime now. I still watch it on Hulu, Netflix, and Crunchyroll. It's definitely had a huge impact on the way I write, and I think if you read my work you can see that.
This new novel, which I am very excited to read is Relax, I'm A Ninja. And it seems to be doing well in terms of ratings. Can you describe the book to us? And also Tosh, who I am completely taken to, how would you describe him? Is he like the very typical ninja you watch on television or you've added a new spin into the stereotypical characters of ninjas?
RELAX, I'M A NINJA is a project very close to my heart! It was actually the novel I got my first agent with, but it never sold to publishers sadly. I decided to publish it myself because I just couldn't walk away from it.
Basically, it's the story of Tosh Ito, a guy who's grown up in a ninja Clan in San Francisco. He thinks he knows everything there is to know about ninjutsu, but when his friend is nearly murdered he learns that maybe he doesn't. As he searches for the truth, he learns about a paranormal world (based in Asian mythology) that he never knew existed.
Tosh is one of my favorite ever characters that I've written. He's a "nerd" by day, because that's his cover, but he also is pretty tough and a really awesome ninja. He likes video games and anime and is kind of a normal guy despite his extraordinary life. I think he's pretty funny and clever, too;)
Many thanks to Natalie Whipple for this wonderful opportunity to interview her! It was such an honor to interview a fellow booknerd, an OTAKU and author. *shimmy dance*
If you want to get updates from Natalie and the new books coming out, then check out her website, Twitter and Facebook. You may also become a fan on Goodreads. Add the books there as well!
Thanks for this Misfit Booknerds! This is another wonderful venture!