#LoveOzYA Author Q&A With Nattie Kate Mason
Nattie Kate Mason is a Perth-based YA fantasy author who delights in creating new and imaginative worlds for her readers. A Queen’s Fate, the second book in Nattie’s The Crowning series has just hit the shelves!
Welcome to the LoveOzYA blog, we’re so happy to have you here!
Let’s go back to the beginning…have you been telling stories since you were a kid or was writing something you fell in love with as an adult?
I loved writing as a teenager, but I fell out of the habit after I left school. As an adult, life has been a rollercoaster of a journey and I finally decided to make my passion and happiness a priority again. So, I started to write again. NaNoWriMo, the international novel writing competition was the catalyst that helped spur on my novel writing journey and now that I have started, I can’t stop myself. Ideas for new books are constantly flowing through my mind looking for a way out.
Tell us about your new book.
My latest book ‘A Queen’s Fate’ which released on September 30th, is the YA Fantasy sequel to ‘The Crowning’. In Book 1 – The Crowning, the royals battle it out to become the next Crowned Heir of the Kingdom of Alearia. In Book 2, a future ruler has been chosen and we follow their journey and struggles in their new leadership role. The future ruler must find a way to restore peace to their dark and twisted kingdom as civil unrest and riots break out in the city proper, led by the power-hungry High Priestess who wants the crown for herself.
It is hard to say much more without giving away spoilers but both books are full of plot twists after plot twists, elemental magic, sibling rivalry, hope, death and revenge.
Did you have a favourite OzYA book when you were growing up?
I don’t know if it counts as YA, but when I was growing up, I loved John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow When the War Began Series’. I would re-read that series over and over again.
Did you have anyone that encouraged your love of books, reading and writing when you were younger?
When I was younger, probably around 10 years old, I remember going on holidays to Cairns to visit extended family. Shortly into the trip I remember my dad taking me to Big W and letting me pick out as many books as I liked because I loved reading so much. I think I read about 10 new novels over a few days that trip. I was obsessed with anything by John Marsden, Paul Jennings, Roald Dahl & Morris Gleitzman. As a teenager I loved Harry Potter, The Hunger Games trilogy, and the Twilight series.
I also remember when I was much younger my dad taking me to secondhand markets and letting me buy a new Garfield comic every week. It was one of the highlights of my week! My mum used to take us to the public library all the time growing up. My mum and dad both loved to read and that’s probably where I got my love of books from. My love of writing was encouraged by a special friend of mine at school. Not many people knew that I loved to write so when I told everyone I had written a book as an adult most of my friends and family were completely surprised!
These days I have a young daughter of my own who I am proud to say is an avid reader. I am constantly buying her new books and taking her the library to keep fueling her love for reading. Reading is one of the most valuable skills and gifts we can give our kids. At the age of eight, she cannot get enough of re-reading Harry Potter. She’s not a keen writer… yet… but I’m working on it. 😉
What do you think sets Australian YA stories apart from those set internationally?
Australian YA stories have a uniquely relatable, authentic quality to them. Aussie YA Authors are usually very approachable and love to encourage the next generation of readers and writers. I think our friendliness and relatability is was sets us apart from others. Platforms like Instagram have helped bridge the gap between readers and writers and as Aussie YA Authors, we are in touch with what our local Aussie readers are interested in. We can write stories from a unique perspective that you just don’t get anywhere else. I love reading books that are set in an Australian setting, I find the characters and location so much more relatable. It just makes you feel like you are reading about a piece of home.
Do you have a favourite bookshop or library?
There is a library in the Perth Hills called Kalamunda Library and it my favourite spot to sit in and write. One of the walls is two stories high and is completely made of a stained-glass image of nature. I just love it so much. There is a cute little glass house like coffee shop next door which I frequent too.
As for bookshops, I love all the little independent book shops that you can find, like Elizabeth’s in Fremantle. I love exploring the shelves for unique reads that you might not be able to discover at bigger books shops. I love the adventure of exploring a bookshop and I love when the buildings are quirky and interesting. When I used to live in Canberra years ago, I loved Harry Hartog in Woden. There was a shop assistant there, who loves all the same types of books as I do. I would regular buy new books solely based on her book recommendations, often without even reading the blurb.
What was the last book you read and enjoyed?
Last night I finished re-reading ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’ by Sarah J Maas. I have re-read this series at least five or six times, it is my go-to comfort read when I just need a book to replenish my soul. For me, reading a book is like breathing in and writing a book is like breathing out. Both reading and writing make me so incredibly happy and content.
Aside from writing, what else do you like to do to explore your creativity?
I love painting, especially water colour painting. I’m not very good, but it’s a fun hobby that me and my daughter can do together that we both love. I also love bookstagramming on Instagram. Taking pretty pictures of books and pretty tea cups makes my happy.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve received?
The best little pieces of writing advice I have been told are: “Write the book that you want to read.” And “Just write, you can’t edit what you haven’t written.”
When I was younger, I was taught that you needed to plan and plot to write a story and I think that’s true to a point when you are learning. But, as an adult writer though, I hate plotting. It’s just not my writing style. I am what they call in NaNoWriMo, a ‘pantster’. I like to go with the creative flow. I come up with an idea and see where it takes me. Often, I will have an idea of where I think the plot may be going but my characters will have completely different plans and throw in a new plot-twist whenever they please.
With ‘A Queen’s Fate’ however, I had to vary my writing style a little. I got to one point in the book where my creative flow had written me into a plot hole that I didn’t know how to get out of because the plot had gotten so amazingly complicated. So… I had to plot. My mentor laughed with me when I told her I had been plotting, but at that point in the story it was what I needed to do to make sure that the plot flowed and made sense.
So, my advice to aspiring writers out there is write in whichever way works best for you. One day you might be going with the creative flow like me, the next day you might be plotting it out, and that’s ok. Do whatever works best for you. There is no right or wrong way to write.
What do you love about OzYA?
I love the sense of community amongst the readers and writers of OzYa. I love how the OzYA authors support each other no matter which way they are published, whether it be traditionally or independently. I love the vast range of OzYA themes and stories out now. I love the way OzYA is so versatile. My standout OzYA books for this year in no particular order have been Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman, Hive by AJ Betts, Vardaesia by Lynette Noni, War of Mist by Helen Scheurer and Vengeance Blooms by Chloe Hodge. There are also so many other exciting Australian Books being published in the coming weeks and months that I cannot wait to get my hands on.