Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Octopi, Disney, and What I Wrote In High School

I got a little chatty with some of these, but you asked for it, right? Thanks for all the fun questions!

Angela said: What did you write about when you were in high school?
HA. High school writing. Thank goodness I knew I wasn’t good enough to get published, because it was pretty silly stuff.

Along with a lot of angsty free poetry, I wrote one story about a girl with blue hair from another planet. She ended up on Earth, and she had to find her seven guardians in order to return home and save her planet from invasion. Oh, and she had wings, because wings are pretty.

Basically, it was every anime I’d seen at that point smashed together into one. Embarrassingly enough, this was my first “serious” project when I decided to start writing again. This kind of makes me want to crawl in a hole and die.

The other project I started in high school was kind of a smash between fantasy and dystopian. It was about a world where everyone is tattooed at birth with the symbol of their profession chosen by the government. My main character cuts his mark off and goes on that whole quest thing to free people.

I had a friend read the first 100 pages, and she (very nicely) said it sucked. I was devastated, and that’s when I stopped writing creatively (probably the beginning of my junior year). (Note to friend if she ever reads this: You were right—it did suck. It’s okay. I’m over it.)

Larissa said: If you did draw a background like this one, what would you put in it?
Ninjas, of course. And probably some more specific things that I like, such as Code Red, books, art supplies, food, inside jokes, etc. The funny thing about line art like that is it’s deceptively simple. Creating such clean lines without it looking cluttered is hard.

CKHB said: Question: octopus, dolphin, or turtle?
I love how you left context completely up to me.

To eat: Octopus
To be: Turtle
To draw: Dolphin
To save: Dolphin
To have as a pet: Turtle
To ride: Dolphin
To be my arch nemesis: Octopus
To shoot at people in a go-kart race: Turtle (preferably red-shelled ones)

inthewritemind said: I'm on a Disney movie kick and I'm curious—what’s your favorite animated Disney film?
As a girl with strong feminist tendencies, I have this weird relationship with Disney. When I was younger, I loved all the princesses. Sleeping Beauty was my absolute favorite—my mom can attest to how many times I watched it. I went as Snow White one Halloween, Jasmine for another. I waited for Disney movies to come out with extreme excitement.

And then I got a little jaded when I realized life isn’t so fairy tale as the princesses made it seem. That boys weren’t knights in shining armor—they were people with their own problems. (This, curiously enough, was also when I started watching more anime.) I stopped believing in the pretty world Disney has an incredible knack for creating.

Ah, disillusionment, I know you well.

That said, I do appreciate Disney, and I know that the older princess films are reflections of the time in which they were created. I don’t blame Disney for feeding me lies and turning me into some helpless drone. Obviously, that didn’t happen at all.

Looking back at all the films, I would have to say that I appreciate Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast the most.

While I still worry about Belle being so determined to change the sometimes violent Beast, she sticks up for herself and she is just cool and independent and all that. The story and characters are fabulous in general—it didn’t get nominated for Best Picture for nothing.

I loved Jasmine even when I was little, how she doesn’t let Aladdin get away with lying. And she’s smart—she sees right through all the guys’ motives. She’s always fighting for what she wants, even when things look hopeless. I love that Aladdin is “a diamond in the rough.” He’s not at all perfect, but he’s got a good heart and ninja-like cleverness.

Caroline Starr Rose said: What childhood book made the biggest impression on you?
Like I can pick just one!

Picture Book: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. That is the one I remember reading over and over again. I loved it so much. It was one of many that instilled a love of reading and drawing in me.

Middle Grade Book: Bridge to Terebithia. I don’t remember all the details of it, but I remember it had a SAD ending. I remember crying—it was the first time a book made me cry. And having lost my grandmother at 8, I could really identify.

Tween Books: Catherine, Called Birdy. Read it in 7th grade for class, LOVED it intensely. I loved how real real was—she said “piss”! I remember laughing out loud about how she liked to sit in the outhouse over the stream because it was airy and didn’t stink. I STILL remember her talking about the boy (her brother?) who’d “piss on ant hills.” She might have been a made up 14th century girl, but I felt like I understood her.

The Giver. Oh man, The Giver just blew me away as a kid. I think it was the first dystopian thing I read, and it really made me think about the world in a new way.

Candice said: If you could make a wish and the perfect pair of shoes appeared out of thin air, what would they look like?
Oh, silly Candice, there’s no one perfect pair of shoes! There are different shoes for every occasion! Thus, I would wish for shoes that would transform into whatever I wanted based on the outfit. That would be awesome, except then I’d never have to shoe shop again. That would be sad.

Amanda J. said: You want to do an interview for me sometime? Huh, huh, do ya? do ya? lol...we'll talk later haha.
I would love to! I think it’s so funny that anyone would want to interview me, but I’m flattered all the same. Shoot me an email.

Umm, When you're writing and you get a Shiny New Idea, what do you do? Do you play with it? Write it down and come back later? How do you handle all the characters? :)
It really depends on how much I like it. Usually I don’t write anything down when I first think of something. If it’s a good, strong idea, it’ll come back. It won’t leave me alone. It’ll force me to write. Then I’ll start messing around with a few basic notes or an experimental writing session.

As for characters, oy. I have so many characters it’s getting ridiculous. I’m running out names I like! But I treat them like I treat that new idea. I don’t write things down. If they stick in my head, talk to me a lot, then I know they’re someone worth pursuing.

Also, favorite kind of pasta and/or rice?
Pasta: Thin spaghetti or linguine.
Rice: Short grain sticky white rice. Mmm.

Anita Saxena said: If you became a famous author, and they asked you to compete on Dancing with the Stars, would you do it?
Maybe. While I’ve always liked to dance, I’m extremely self-conscious about it. Like, I dance in my living room all the time and took a few semesters of standard ballroom and Polynesian dance in college, but performing scares the pants off me. And at school dances I’d rarely dance (if I went at all).

I think it would be really fun, though. My brother was in ballroom dance for a few years and I loved watching him. He was so good!


  1. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Mulan are my favorite Disney movies too. I never realized (until I focused seriously on writing) that it was because all the girls were strong and independent.

    Great answers!!

  2. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, and THE LION KING (which also featured strong female characters in Sarabi and Nala) are my fav Disney movies. My husband and I are major Disney-lovers, though. We went there for our honeymoond. :P

    And CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY! I've loved that since I was young and still read it every couple years! She was so smart and sarcastic. I loved how she blacked her teeth out to turn off a horrid suitor!

  3. I like the concept of the tattoed at birth story. :)

    I love what you did with the turtle, the dolphin and the ocotpus, especially the last response!

    The Little Mermaid is my favourite of the Old Guard. I also love Lilo and Stitch (I know, I'm weird), Aladdin and Mulan. I'm really into music, and they had my fave songs.

    I really loved the Princess and The Frog. The concept was fantastic. I haven't seen it English, but I love the Japanese voices and songs so much, I'm not sure I ever want to...

  4. Abby, Megan, and Claire, I really liked Mulan, too! The only reason I didn't mention was because I already rambled a lot. Lion King was also great. And Claire, I adored Lilo and Stitch (of course, my Grandma was Polynesian so it sold me there fast, hehe).

  5. :D I'll get some questions rounded up, but I'll give you sometime to recover from this Q&A sessions first haha.

    And I have to agree that the tattooed at birth story could definitely be revisited. Sounds intriguing to say the least.

    Interesting and great answers, Natalie. Thanks for sharing! :)

  6. "I wrote one story about a girl with blue hair from another planet. She ended up on Earth, and she had to find her seven guardians in order to return home and save her planet from invasion. Oh, and she had wings, because wings are pretty."

    Dude, that idea actually sounds pretty awesome!!

    Fun set of questions & answers! :)

  7. I love reading these Q&A's. I agree with you on the Giver. That was such a moving book. I also loved Number the Stars. That book started a decades long love of history (especially European WWII.)

  8. What a fun interview :0

    I've always loved Beauty and the Beast. And Aladdin.

  9. I loved Sleeping Beauty when I was younger. My mom used to say that I would act it out because I had it memorized. :P

    Beauty and the Beast is another favorite that I was obsessed over. I identified with Belle and her love of books when I was little.

    And I love Mulan too--because she's a strong and independent girl that kicks butt. Of course I'm not entirely sure how historically accurate the movie is, assuming it would have to be the whole footbinding thing. But then again it's a Disney movie and it's probably not going to be too historically accurate (I mean Pocahontas is SO off on the history front, it's not even funny :P)

    Thanks for answering my question!

  10. Natalie, I would have never guessed you liked the princesses. I loved Cinderella when I was little. Not because she got the prince or had a cool fairy godmother, but because she was a hard worker. For some reason, I just love that. =)

  11. THE GIVER! one of my favorite books when i was younger... actually, still one of my favorite books.

  12. You guys are so kind to humor my high school ideas! Poor blue hair girl is firmly in the vault, and I never considered resurrecting tattoo boy. Of course, now my head is spinning with dystopian possibilities, dang it.

    Carolyn, I am quite the walking ball of contradictions. I mean, I'm a feminist who got married at 21 and almost immediately had kids. I love both action and romance—especially when they're smashed together (hmm, like most of my books). And even though I've always wanted to take karate, I totally wore a tiara to my senior prom. For reals.

  13. Most embarrassing HS moment: when the object of my affections intercepted a poem of my unrequited love for him -- and read it out loud to the class. In his most sardonic voice.

    Ah, high school. So glad you're in the past where you belong. :-)

  14. I'm with you on the wimpy girls in Disney - while I can enjoy the animation and the music - I want to scream at some of the plots.

    Also loved the Giver - one of the best books ever!

  15. Okay, so as I'm reading this, here's how it went down.

    You: To shoot at others in a go-kart race: Turtle (Me: Psh, as long as it's red--greens are like a total waste) You: preferably a red shelled one. (Me: Dang I like that Natalie.)

  16. I've got to put my vote in for Mulan. She's the kickingist-ass kick-ass Disney girl out there. And not princess!
    Great post, thanks!

  17. You are so right! There is no one perfect pair of shoes. Thanks for saving me from my own absurdity! :)

  18. I never watched much disney as a kid, I grew up watching star wars and Ernest! I find star wars so awesome, and the disney-thrown-in-for-humor characters so unappealing. However, I must admit to finding Enchanted very good.

  19. Natalie, I don't think being a feminist and getting married/having kids at 21 is contradictory. As I understand feminism, it is about women have the choice to follow their heart, whether that leads them home, to the workforce, or both. :-)

  20. I prefer the blue shell myself.

    Nick, I totally agree with you on the thrown-in-for-humor characters. A lot of Disney's movies would be better without them (and the plot wouldn't even need to be changed! Example: Mushu).

  21. I so want to be famous enough to be on Dancing with the Stars!!

    I love all things Disney....nothing wrong with being whisked away from reality once in a while...isn't that what we do as writers??? Give people a world to dive into when they need to escape??? Regardless of the "knight in shining armor" stuff...all the princesses are kind and sweet and treat people with respect and care or them. I think those are great lessons! And have you seen The Princess and the Frog yet?? Tiana is a great princess to emulate!! She has a dream and she works hard to get it.

  22. Oooh, Catherine Called Birdy, I went through a phase of thinking I'd imagined that because no one else seemed to have read it or even heard of it, I loved that, although I couldn't understand why she hated sewing and was trying to avoid it when I was always trying to find more time to do mine.
    And Disney, all good, but no mention of Robin Hood, everyone forgets that which is sad because it's an absolute classic!
    And dystopian is always good, go with it!