I am so excited! I got to interview Natalia Jaster who is the author of Touch and Trick. This interview is mainly aimed at Trick since that was only book I read at the time of the interview.
About the Author
Natalia Jaster is an American author of young adult fiction. Her debut novel, Touch, is a re-imagination of the story of Eros featuring the female goodness Love who is forced to pair up a mortal boy with whom she has fallen in love. Her second novel, Trick, was published in 2015. It is the story of the court jester Poet and the princess Briar.
Natalia Jaster received a master’s degree in Creative Writing from California State University, Northridge in 2008. She has also been published in the Northridge Review, Sucker Literary Magazine,YARN, and Mammut Magazine.
- You have mentioned in other interviews that you have always been a day dreamer but did you ever think you would become a writer? Actually, no! When I was little, I thought that I’d to grow up to be Rainbow Brite (it was the 80s). But storytelling was a part of my childhood. My brother used to entertain me with tales, and from there, I found myself imagining stories of my own. It wasn’t until college that I had my moment of realization.
- What made you decide to self-publish your books? I’d already been querying literary agents for many years, so by the time I finished Touch, I was ready to try a different route. I’d been researching self-publishing and decided that if this book didn’t get an agent, I’d publish it myself. It was a scary but exciting choice.
- Do you still stand by your decision to self-publish or if you could do it again would you try to seek out a publisher? Happily, no regrets. The beauty about publishing these days is that writers don’t have to choose one or the other for their whole career. An author can be self-published with some novels and traditionally published with other novels, if they’re fortunate to have that opportunity. My first step was to seek literary agents for Touch and Trick, and with each upcoming book I write, I’ll do the same thing. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll keep self-publishing.
- What are the benefits to self-publishing? It’s very welcoming to all kinds of writers and novels. If you want to share your story with the world, you can. And you can make all the choices: the cover, the title, the editing, the publication date. It can be a fast process to publish your books, and the royalties can be quite good. However, that also means you’re doing everything yourself. From being an editor to a publisher to a marketer, from creating a publication calendar, to formatting your novel, to querying book reviewers. You can hire people to help with things like the cover design and editing—I certainly do—but that costs money, and you’re still wearing a lot of hats. That’s something to consider. Drawbacks? Among other things, getting your book out there for readers to see is a lot tougher. Not all platforms open to traditionally published authors are open to self-published ones, so building an audience and getting reviews is a challenge. Thus, selling your book is challenge.
- I love that you blur the line between Young Adult and New Adult! Is there a reason you do this? Well, intimacy has a big role in my novels. The characters question what it means to be in a relationship, who they are as intimate people, what they’re ready for. It’s a major part of coming-of-age, so I don’t believe in glazing over that. Not if it’s appropriate to the story, the characters, and the relationship arc. So my books tend to be too steamy for YA, but not graphic like NA can be, which means I kind of live somewhere in between. What can we call it? New YA? In any case, it just happens naturally, I suppose.
- For the people who haven’t read Trick, how would you describe the story? A rakish court jester meets a righteous princess and forbidden shenanigans ensue. Also, there’s a ferret sidekick.
- What inspired you to write about a court jester? The minute I decided to write about a kingdom, I nixed the obvious hero choices: no princes, no noblemen, no knights, no blacksmiths, no assassins, no spies, no guards, etc. What did that leave me with? Perhaps the least sexy, least likely option of all—and I loved that! I loved the idea of subverting the archetype into someone alluring, while illuminating the historical facts that already made him intriguing and admirable.
- Which character was your favorite to create and why? My jester, of course! I’d never created a character like Poet before. He tends to speak and think in verse. He’s flamboyant and vain and seductive—and he’s got a stellar wardrobe—but he also has the noblest of hearts. And he’s a young father who loves his son more than anything. That alone made me adore him.
- I love the LGBT representation in your book and that it isn’t weird but something normal! Did you have a special reason? Poet played a role in that. When I realized he was bisexual (pretty much at the beginning), I thought about a medieval world where he’d have such freedom. Where neither sexual orientation nor gender suffered from inequality. A kingdom where two queens can rule together, where women can be intellectuals and knights and mothers all at the same time. I was hooked on that idea. That said, the social landscape is a major conflict. It seems like a diverse utopia until readers turn the page and discover its glaring flaw: prejudice against mental illness
- What gave you the idea for each Kingdom to ‘hate’ or use people with mental illness? Since lots of people are scared or make fun of people with these illnesses is this your way to say we need to help and understand them instead of judging with fear and misunderstandings? It’s an important topic for me personally, but also, it came out of my research about jesters and those whom medieval society deemed “fools.” Sometimes they were considered divine, other times not. The treatment of “simpletons” and the mad varied, and it wasn’t always kind or just. And there is somewhat of a parallel to how mental illness is viewed today; it’s a necessary discourse, so compassion and understanding, and our responsibilities toward that, are things I wanted the story to address.
- What do you want your readers to learn from this story? Honestly, I’d rather that readers have their own interpretations of my books. One of my grad professors once said that writing is a conversation. It’s sharing ideas and thoughts through storytelling, and that’s what I hope to do without being preachy or didactic. I like to think my stories don’t give answers but simply ask questions.
- I heard that you are writing another book set in this world! What can you tell us about that? Hmm…there’s a villainous prince and his maddened prisoner. There’s a shipwreck and a rainforest island. There’s a fight for survival. And there might be some love stuff happening, too.
Where to Buy ⇢ Amazon