At the end of May, I had the pleasure to meet Australian author Natasha Lester at an event at the Australian Writers’ Centre in Sydney. A few weeks before, I had won a copy of her latest book A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald on Goodreads, which turned out to be a page-turner and prompted me to write a recommendation on my blog. It was a pleasure to get to know her personally and listen to her story and how her best-selling novel came together.
Natasha is such a lovely, down-to-earth person that I decided to ask her for a short interview for my blog. I was delighted when – only a few days later – she replied with her answers.
Please enjoy and let us know if you have read the book and how you found it in the comment section below.
What is your background? How did you become a writer?
When I left school, I did a commerce degree, and I worked in marketing for companies like L’Oreal for many years. When my husband and I had to come back to Perth for his work, and I had to quit my lipstick-fuelled job, I decided to go back to university to do a Creative Writing degree. It was one of those moments where you can see two pathways ahead of you: I could either stick to marketing or explore a dream of mine. Luckily I chose the latter; I’d always wanted to be a writer and had written books and poems since I was young. I thought university might help me find out if I did really enjoy writing as much as I thought I would, and if I was any good at it. I loved it and was very blessed when the book I wrote for my Master’s degree won the TAG Hungerford Award and was picked up by a publisher.
How does a typical day for you look like?
My kids are now 6, 8 and 10 so the last year and a half has been wonderful, as I’ve been able to work during school hours. Before that, I wrote when the kids had their afternoon nap times, which meant I fitted it into about 2 hours a day. Now, I drop the kids at school and am at my desk by nine. After I check emails and social media, I try to write in half hour sprints for the rest of the day. When I do this, I aim for 1,000 words in 30 minutes, which I can do if I’m on a roll. Between each sprint, I have a 15-minute break for tea, food, stretching and answering emails.
I always exercise each day too because I find I get so many ideas when I am away from my desk and start moving my body. I do yoga, swim laps or go for a walk. Each evening, I work for at least another hour, usually on admin: invoices, planning courses I’m teaching, social media, and blogging.
What are your most important sources of inspiration?
Both reading, and the arts. I often get ideas from reading books or newspaper articles. I’m also regularly inspired by film, ballet, music and other performances. And history podcasts have been a source of inspiration for me too.
Three websites/blogs you love?
I love Brain Pickings. Literature Hub often has interesting articles on all aspects of books and writing. And I adore Instagram—so much gorgeous visual inspiration!
Which other authors, artists, creative people do you admire?
I love Joan Didion’s writing; I think she writes perfect sentences. Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte are also hugely inspiring. Having recently finished Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, I am blown away by her talent and have huge admiration for her as a writer.
I’m looking at a lot of fashion designers’ work at the moment and am completely inspired by Jeanne Lanvin’s work through the early twentieth century.
What project are you really proud of?
Always the project I’m currently working on! So it’s a toss up between A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald, because I’m still “working” on that in a marketing sense, and next year’s book, which is yet to have a title, but which is written and at the copyeditor.
What would be a dream project in the future?
I’m living the dream! Writing books has always been my dream life, and that’s what I’m doing. So I just want to keep doing more of the same, always stretching myself as a writer each time.
You live in Perth: How does this city inspire you?
Perth inspires me because the weather is usually gorgeous and I can get outside and walk. If I’m ever stuck with an idea or a scene, a half hour walk shakes something loose in my brain, and I find the ideas flooding in.
What is your favourite Perth suburb and why?
I live in Nedlands, and it’s my favourite because the blocks are big enough to have a huge garden for the kids to escape into, and to have a big veggie garden so we can grow our own food. All the streets are lined with trees, we can cycle to the river in just five minutes, and we’re allowed to have chickens in our backyard, and their fresh eggs are just divine!
Where do you like to go for dinner?
My favourite restaurant was called Pata Negra, and it was just around the corner and served the most delicious food but it’s just changed it’s name and offering so I’m on the look out for a new favourite right now!
What should writers not miss when visiting the city?
Writers should make sure they get out and about and walk around. Perth is a city made for walking. The river is lovely, as are the beaches, and there are some excellent walking paths beside each. Walking is the best fuel for writers!
Where would you take a visitor on a Saturday morning?
I’d cycle down to the river in Mosman Park, which has beautiful views, and have a picnic on the water’s edge.
Perth’s best kept secret?
I’m going to go a bit further afield than Perth and head down to WA’s South-West, to an area called Siesta Park. We holiday there every year and the beach there is the calmest, quietest and most wonderful place. Great for swimming, walking, fishing, relaxing—and there’s hardly anyone on it! Almost like a private beach—I hope it stays that way!