Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My real name is Natalie Rodriguez. I’m originally from Southern California, but I have been living in the Las Vegas region for the past five years. I went back to school to get my bachelor’s in business management about four years ago, and I still have a long way to go ( *le sigh*). I currently work as a waitress and a sales consultant in a tattoo shop. Weird, I know. I’m a fairly average person, but I’ve done a lot of interesting things in my time. I’ve been playing guitar since I was sixteen, have been in numerous punk rock bands, have played the (in)famous CBGBs in New York City, and I’ve been a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. I spent most of my downtime either reading, writing, or taking photos of my Boston Terrier. I collect comic books (I have a HUGE X-Men collection, and I love Alan Moore), I like tattoos, skateboarding, I used to surf when I lived in California, and I love to laugh.
When and how did you discover that you love reading fiction?
I’ve always loved to read. I was sort of the oddball in my family because no one else liked to read. It was just me, my parents, and my older brother, but everyone thought it curious that I found pleasure in reading. When I was bored, I’d read, and I read fast. There was always a huge collection of books in the house, and I would read anything I could get my hands on. I had a very active imagination, and I didn’t have a lot of toys, so I found myself entertained by stories, able to develop these lucid pictures in my mind, brought into the scenes. I remember when I was little, my mom took me to get a library card, and I went nuts. I wanted to read everything.
What are some of your favorite books and who are some of your favorite authors?
When I say that I wanted to read everything, I was serious. I haven’t read a ton of books in the last few years, but what I have read, we’ll just call my tastes eclectic. I discovered in junior high that I have a taste for science fiction. I love Michael Crichton, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and George Orwell. I think that my favorite books from these authors are Door into Summer by Heinlein and Animal Farm by Orwell.
Then things get a little strange. I love Kurt Vonnegut, Henry Miller, Hemingway, Anne Rice . . . I even read Danielle Steel. Then when you throw in the fact that I collect comic books, it’s like, wow, this girl reads a hodge-podge of stuff. Let’s not forget Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and Kafka. Oh, and Charles Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson. My tastes vary immensely!
What is your favorite thing about reading fiction?
My favorite thing about reading fiction is the fact that it’s someone’s imagination that has created this world, story, characters, feelings. The idea that I can pick up a book and feel emotion for fictitious characters is a pretty powerful tool that a writer can use. That takes talent. Movies are easy. We’re told what to see, where our eye is supposed to go, what the character is supposed to look like. But when you pick up a book and a writer can paint that picture clearly, or clear enough for a reader to use their imagination, that to me is really admirable and respectable. Sure, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, but the fiction part is more creative and more difficult, I think. I read a few “thrillers” this year, and I’m in awe that a writer can be so clever to deliver so many twists and turns. I couldn’t do that, and I really respect and envy that.
Do you have any “pet peeves” about authors, something they do that really annoys you?
Hmmm, that’s a tough question. I get annoyed when I spot grammar errors. Sure, I’m no expert, but when I see that someone doesn’t use passed and past correctly, it really irks me. There was one book in particular that I read recently (I won’t mention what it was), but the author would go from saying me either to me neither. I’m beginning to think that I might have grammar OCD, because I couldn’t concentrate on the story after that. Perhaps it’s not really the author’s fault so much as the editor.
Oh. Bukowski. It annoys me that he doesn’t capitalize anything, but I think that’s just Bukowski being Bukowski.
Do you write fiction yourself?
I do. I write romance novels, which everyone finds funny since I read such an eclectic mix. I’ve been writing off and on for the last 17 years. I won awards and stuff like that when I was in middle and high school, but I just recently started writing again after 6 or 7 years of not doing anything. That’s why I read so much; not so much to get ideas or inspiration, but to look at technique. I don’t want to sound like a Steel or a Wells or a Tolstoy when I write, and I have no delusions of being such. I want to sound like me. But I do find myself struggling with flow. I use a lot of dialog, and I would love to be able to tell a story that is chronological and flows fluidly without having to go day by day. It’s a challenge.
What do you think about ebooks vs. paper books?
I like eBooks for the purpose that when something pops in my head, I can download it right then and there and have it instantly. I also like the fact that I have a small library on my iPad, and all that’s taking up space is the iPad. I’m very strange about reading. There are so many books that I want to read, that I suffer from severe anxiety when I’m reading a book because I just want to be done and move on to the next one. I like eBooks because I can’t physically feel how far along I am, and I tend to not suffer from that anxiety. I know, I’m so weird!
But then . . . I do like paper books. I love the smell, the artwork. I have a very old copy of War and Peace and also some WWI prints of Tarzan. There’s something really satisfying and beautiful about those old books. I guess it’s kind of like MP3s vs. CDs. I like CDs for the artwork and the booklet. It’s what makes the music interesting. So if I have to take a stance . . . I’m going to go with paper books. I’m old school. Unless I’m reading one of my guilty pleasures, then I’m going with eBooks.
What is your favorite Mike Wells book and why?
I recently discovered Mike Wells via Twitter. I followed him and received a free copy of Lust, Money, Murder Part I. I read that one in about an hour, bought the next two, and devoured those within a few hours of each other. I really enjoyed the story. I won’t give away too many spoilers, but I found the book to be very well researched, the plot itself was unique, and it didn’t take me where I thought it was going to go. I thought it was going to be all about the character’s quest for revenge, and well . . . read it! It was fast, short, and it wasn’t muddled with too much extra story that could get stagnant. When they say you can’t put this book down, they were right! I’m looking forward to the next installments in that series, and I’m going to be trolling Mr. Wells’ blog to find more stories that will strike my fancy, seeing as I like to read anything!
I’m always taking requests for stuff I have to read! There’s so much good stuff out there!
Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @NattyReckless and check out my blog where I post my own fiction: www.nattyreckless.blogspot.com