Author Spotlight on Natalie Hibberd
Tell our readers briefly about yourself.
Hi! I’m Natalie. I’ve always wanted to be a writer – and the fact that I get to do that professionally now is something I have to pinch myself about. I live with my best friend Cleo in Petersfield, England. She also happens to be a dog!
What books do you have available?
I have two books out at the moment. Both are YA dystopian thrillers. Inside Out and Family Ties are both set in a world with two viciously divided factions. Both “sets” are desperate to wrestle control from the hated “others.” As we all know, desperate people do desperate things. Some of those desperate decisions form the basis for the plot.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
Family Ties picks up where Inside Out left off – so I’d advise anyone who wants to explore into the series to read both. In Family Ties, the tensions are escalating – with disastrous consequences on both the Inside and the Outside. Moreover, Family Ties introduces some new, exciting characters that I’ve been really looking forward to introducing.
Do you stay in one genre when you write or do you find yourself veering toward others?
What I love about the Inside Out series is that it contains elements from many different genres. It is a thriller, but also includes elements of romance, family sagas and dystopia. It keeps me on my toes when I write – I can only hope readers feel the same way.
Are you a panster, planner, or someone in between?
I work really hard at plotting and once I’m happy I jump in. Only problem is – as soon as I start – my ungrateful characters will form a mutiny! When they take over, I often don’t know where we’re going. Somehow, it works out in the end.
What is your writing routine like?
I read an article once that said “if you want to cause panic among a group of writers, line them all up and ask them about their writing routine.” To the honest, that’s how I feel about this question! I don’t really have a strict routine, but I will often decide that I’m going to write a particular scene in a day, or solve a particular plot issue. Then, I see where I end up!
Tell me about your favorite character that you’ve created?
That’s like asking me to chose between my children! The Inside Out series has a real ensemble cast. The main six Insider characters (Nerris, Lucy, Liam, Zack, Bliss and Sherona) were my imaginary friends when I was little. We “grew up” together, so to speak – so I’ll always have a soft spot for them.
Where do you get your ideas for world building?
The first question I asked myself when I started working on this series was “what’s the worst future I can imagine for society?” Sadly, in the twelve years since I started, it’s got ever closer to becoming reality.
Do you add romance to your writing?
I do! Although I’m a cynic in lots of ways, I am a hopeless romantic deep down. The most important thing for me when I’m writing romance is that I portray the romantic relationships between characters as respectful. That’s something that’s often overlooked in film and literature - but it’s my belief that respect is a prerequisite to love.
What was your favorite scene to create?
Another tough one! Without giving too much away; a character who is alluded to in Inside Out makes her first appearance in Family Ties. That was really exciting for me to get my teeth into – and I hope it gives the readers a surprise or two along the way!
Where do you get character inspiration?
I think there’s some truth in the belief that all a writer’s characters have a bit of the author inside them. That being said, some of my more villainous creations were harder for me to find a way into. I think the key is to find the humanity in every character, even if it’s very hard to spot!
What genre do you prefer to read?
All sorts! I love YA – of course – but there is some really brilliant fiction for younger children around too. I also really enjoy non-fiction – particularly the work of investigative journalists. It’s very good for my creativity, as truth is so often stranger than fiction.
Do you have any specific authors you follow and try to craft your work after?
There are loads of authors I admire (Cressida Cowell, Neil Gaiman and Juno Dawson spring to mind, among many others) but I never try to imitate them in my work. I’m sure a lot of their skill seeps in – we all learn from the masters where we can. However, I think that finding your own voice is very important as a writer. Only you can tell your story!
Do you have any recurring themes in your book?
In the world of Inside Out and Family Ties – people are brought up to hate each other based on arbitrary things. I’m a disabled woman, so prejudice and the damage it can cause has had a direct impact on my life. Even though it is fundamentally ridiculous to judge people without knowing them, it is a common feature of human nature. It can cause real, serious damage to people’s lives. That’s the main thing I wanted to explore.
What does your editing process look like?
I will go through the finished draft at least six times from beginning to end before sending it to my editor. I write the first drafts of my books longhand in notebooks, so by the time I type it up, I’ve already made a lot of changes.
When is your favorite time of day to write and why?
I love writing in the evening. There’s something about the quiet that really helps me think. Some kind of magic, I think.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
It would be a coin toss between Disneyland Paris (for obvious reasons) and the Cornish harbour town of Padstow. I write a lot there – it’s kind of my spiritual help.
Marvel or DC? Do you have a favorite character?