Natasha Carthew: All my books are stories of discovery and exploration, both in the physical and spiritual sense.

Contributor Josh got to chat to Natasha Carthew following the release of her novel The Light That Gets Lost. 

Congratulations on the publication of The
Light That Gets Lost! How does it feel knowing it’s out there?

It feels
great. A lot of people might not realise how long it takes from the point where
you actually finish writing the book to when it’s published. You forget about
it but when you receive great reviews you get to remember why you wrote it and
you finally get to connect with your readers.

What were your inspirations with this book?
Where did the idea come from?
 

Society –
it’s a bit of a mess but nobody is really addressing the main problems of
poverty, disaffection and crime among young people, I don’t think you guys are
listened to enough, not where it matters. I don’t think we are far from the
kind of world where young criminals are locked away and forgotten about,
because it’s easier to do that. I was thinking about young offender
institutions when I wrote The Light That
Gets Lost
. I don’t think these institutions work because they are so
overcrowded and they are not focused on rehabilitation. These units need to be
smaller and more compassionate. No one at these institutions has the time to
get to the crux of the problems of the young people who have been incarcerated
there.

The book begins with Trey witnessing the
murder of his parents, which is an incredibly dark start to a story. Why this?

I wanted to
start the book with something that readers could appreciate as something so
horrific that they could almost forgive anything Trey did thereafter. We’re
more likely to root for him in his quest for peace and we know how hard it must
be to attempt forgiveness and move on.

Where did the idea for the camp come from?
Was there any real life inspiration behind this camp?

Yes but I’ve
been sworn to secrecy (really!)

Where did the idea for this plotline come from? 

All my books are stories of discovery and
exploration, both in the physical and spiritual sense. I’m a writer of journeys
and the plotline comes from a kind of pattern, a full circle.

The characters in this book talk in a slang
way and have their own dialogue. When you read the book it almost feels like
you’re reading a different language with missing letters and mispronounced
words. Why do the characters talk this way?

Because they
are Cornish and this is how those of us with the broadest accents speak. It’s
basically local dialect, there’s a rhythm to it that once you get used to it,
flows quickly. Also, Cornish is actually a completely different language to
English so well-spotted!

This isn’t your first book; Winter Damage
was your first novel, and The Light That Gets Lost is your second. But in the
past you’ve written poetry. What’s different between novels and poetry? Is one
easier than the other?

I find writing novels easier than poetry. As a
poet I was always trying to connect one poem to the next and then I realised, I
was a storyteller. I am putting a new book of poetry together at the moment but
can’t stop plotting like it was fiction.

How do you write your novels? Do you have a
specific process or do you write when you please?

Writing is my
job and I approach it as such; I write 3,000 words per day Monday to Friday
which takes roughly 7 hours per day. This is the best job in the world so it’s
worth working hard for.

How did you get into writing? Did you
always want to become a writer, or was it less planned out?

I used to
tell stories to my Mum at bedtime to keep from going to bed, this before I
could read or write. It’s all I ever wanted to do but not in a conscious way, I
always wrote and made up stories and poems and songs, it was inevitable.

What tips do you have for any aspiring
writers who want to start writing but have no idea where to start?

If you
aspire to be a writer you just as well call yourself a writer. That’s your
starting point and once that is out the way write whatever you want and don’t
be too concerned with convention, convention is merely a starting point from
where you hope to get lost.   A piece of
advice I learnt from an early age was to find a story you were compelled to
write and write it well, a story YOU want to read. More than anything, have
fun, the rest will follow.

The Light That Gets Lost is Natasha’s second novel, and is out now. Thank you to Natasha for answering our questions for the blog!

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