April 24, 2006

Three Questions with Natalie R. Collins

In the comments on my last entry about the GODS IN ALABAMA WORLD TOUR, where the book, but not the stinkin' author, got to be all international and smoke opium and make out with ex-pats that look like a young Jim Morrison, Edgy Mama notes, "Hurrah for gods international tour! How is it in Dublin and Nairobi, but NOT on the bookshelf in my local bookstore in Asheville, NC? Which I complained about."

Because! The Paperback comes out right at the front of June here in America, so fewer and fewer stores will still have copies of the hardback, as they won't reorder the hardback when they sell out. I humbly suggest you get your first editions NOW. In fact, get two, they are small, and they make great presents, or doorstoppers, or decorative shelf fillers because Anne Twomey's cover is SO DARN GORGEOUS, and I also humbly suggest that they are nice to read. You can click any of those bookstore links under the picture of the cover to your right to get your very own copy, OR there is always that YELLOW BUTTON that takes you the The Alabama Booksmith's telephone number if you want a signed copy, you know. I'M JUST SAYING.

MEANWHILE speaking of paperbacks that are already completely available everywhere from B&N to Walmart to your fave indie to BAM, Natalie R. Collins' smokin' hot suspense novel, Wives and Sisters has busted out in mass market paperback.

HELLO! For under 7 bucks, you ask, agog.

I assure that it is indeed so. What ELSE could you desire to be fulfilled here in your earthly life? I ask.

Why an interview with Natalie herself, you say, and you look so DARN CUTE when you say it that I rush right out and grill the heck out of Natalie:

JJ: HOLA PAPERBACK WRITER! GRATZ on the paperback release of a novel that I know did RAWWWWWWther well in hardback...I also know that while completely fictional, the idea for WIVES AND SISTERS grew out of an event from your own childhood. Can you tell that story?

NC: When I was six-years-old, I was playing with some good friends and my older sister on some remote property high in the hills of Farmington, Utah, where the book is set, when we heard a gunshot. We thought it was my friend's brother, messing around, but when we finally located where the shot came from, we knew we were in trouble. Hiding behind some trees was a man with a rifle pointed at us.

He told us to take off our clothes, and if we wouldn't, he was going to kill us. My sister stood up to him, and said we would not take our clothes off. He shot up in the air several times, to show us how serious he was. We stood our ground, and he finally told us to run, or he would kill us. As we ran, I lost my shoes, and he fired several shots and I remember thinking how angry my parents would be about the lost shoes. We had to run about a mile, and we went to my house and told my dad what had happened. He didn't really believe us, and rather than call the police, he loaded us in the car, no matter how terrified we were, and then made us go back up there. A guy was walking out of the woods just as we got there, and my dad confronted him. He claimed innocence, but was carrying a gun. At that point, my dad finally did call the police. They questioned us, and told us we would have to go to court.

Then my parents were pressured to drop the charges, by the neighbors and church authorities, because the man had just "put his life back together" after some problems and gotten married. Anyway, that event really affected me. I can remember parts of it like it happened yesterday. It really colored how I looked at life and the people around me in my community as I was growing up. And it played a big part in my writing this book, as I heard story after story about how pressures from local religious leaders swayed justice.


JJ: You self-pubbed a novel before selling Wives and Sisters, and yet still managed to break into tradtional publishing, so you've kinda become the poster child for self- publishing, even though you're now with St. Martin's. Would you recommend self-publishing to writers who are serious about having a career? Why or why not?

NC: I'm not thrilled with my POD Poster Child status, to be honest, because the book I first sold to St. Martin's was NOT the one I self-pubbed. I had people say, "Well, she did it, so we can, too. Yea, POD! This is a POD success story." But they weren't looking at the specifics. My book, SISTERWIFE, hit the market right before Elizabeth Smart was recovered. I first published it with Booklocker, and then sold the rights to Zumaya, so it was no longer self-pubbed, but it WAS with a small POD publisher. Both books were published using POD technology, and YES, POD groupies, I am aware it is JUST a technology. My editor saw a press release about SISTERWIFE, and its similarities to the Smart case, and she asked to read something else of mine. This book, WIVES AND SISTERS, was one I'd refused to let go to the POD market. I just knew it had bigger possibilities, and so I was not willing to do it. That's the book she bought, and to this day, NO ONE will touch SISTERWIFE. In fact, I just sold its sequel, TWISTED SISTER, to Five Star, but still no one wants the original. I think it's a good, if not great, book, but it's out of print. And that's not really all that big of a success story. HOWEVER, I do have to admit that having the book out gave me an in to a publisher who was interested in something set in the Mormon world. I can't say I regret it, but I wouldn't repeat it.

JJ: Tell us about your new book---I hear that BEHIND CLOSED DOORS is excerpted in the back of the paperback of WIVES AND SISTERS----what's it about and when is it due out?

NC: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS is excerpted in the back of WIVES AND SISTERS, and it's getting good responses from readers. It's a very different story than W&S, although still set in the Mormon arena. Jannie Fox has always been a little jealous of the regular, everyday, Mormon life her good friend Melissa leads, especially since Jannie has a secret that she is keeping from everyone around her. She is basically hiding from reality, because of something that happened to her years before, and yet she isn't hesitant to tilt at windmills for other people in her job as a domestic violence counselor. When Melissa disappears one sunny summer morning, everything changes for Jannie, as she, and a Salt Lake City police detective, unravel the few clues that are found regarding Melissa. Detective Colt Singer convinces Jannie it's time to live again, and face her demons, but she might not get the chance, because the real danger is lurking closer than she ever could have guessed.

And that's a brief summary.
Thanks for having me here, today, Joshilyn!

THANKS NAT for coming by to talk about the book. I should add that while Natalie's book got AWESOME reviews (I don't think she got a bad or even lukewarm review anywhere) I found several of them to be SPOILERY----very free with the plot points, some of these reviews. Yish! If i had read them BEFORE I read the book, I woudl have been TICKED. If you, like me, HATE even mild spoilers, I would stick to just the book itself until after you finish reading it. Here, I'll quote a non-spoiling bit of Kirkus here: "...it's a white-knuckles ride all the way. Expert depiction of a young woman's struggle with the oppressive "family values" of one kind of fundamentalism. Newcomer Collins is a talent to watch." All the reviews I have read have been WARM like that, except with a few spoilers. You have been warned!

OH Lastly I should tell you she got one of those MOVIE TRAILER book commercials done -- You can see it on her site but make sure you have the speakers on. The music makes it. Still TOYING with having one made or not. Not for Between, I fussed aroudn too long and blew my bankroll on foxes, but next book, maybe. What do you think of this one???

Posted by joshilyn at April 24, 2006 6:47 PM

Well, I know that we at SMB still have signed firsts of "gods" for those collectors out there. It's done very well for us, and we thank you! The orders for "Between" are coming along nicely, so limber up that signing hand, Peach.

I don't know if we have Natalie's book, but I promise I will check tomorrow, and if we don't, then we will! I can't wait to read it; it sounds fabulous! That promo trailer is really creepy and compelling, although I was sold on the book after the interview.

(studiously staying out of the POD discussion)

Posted by: Fran at April 24, 2006 9:10 PM

How soon can we put ourselves in line for signed copies of Between? (I mean I know it comes out in July, but I figure we can pre-order sometime before then, yes? Details, PrettyPlease with a Flaming Pineapple Cocktail on top?)

I love Natalie's movie trailer-esque book ad! Of the three you've asked us to look at, it's my favorite. I like reading the ad copy instead of having a narrator read it to me and I thought the music was creepily perfect - very intriguing. There was enough there to spark my interest, but it didn't go on so long that I got bored or impatient or distracted by something shiny.

Posted by: DebR at April 25, 2006 12:02 AM

Wives and Sisters is one of the very best books I have ever read. I mean that with all sincerity. It is compelling, gripping, and alive. Allison Jensen stays with you long, long after you close the back cover. She is one of those heroines that you love like Arlene.

I promise, Girl Scouts' Honor, you will love Wives and Sisters. But then I am really bias on this one.

Posted by: Cele at April 25, 2006 1:52 AM

Yea for the paperback! Thanks for clarifying, Joss.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at April 25, 2006 9:13 AM

Ooooh...creepy trailer. I like it! I already wanted to read the book after reading the interview, but that made me want to read it even more. Very effective.

Posted by: Aimee at April 25, 2006 10:40 AM

Just finished Wives & Sisters and I liked it! But I just have one question-- What the heck is FRY SAUCE?

Posted by: Laura L at April 25, 2006 10:46 AM

I, too, have had Wives & Sisters on my list for a long while. I will be purchasing it, for sure. :)

Posted by: el-e-e at April 25, 2006 12:40 PM

You and I are both nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year awards in different categories. I didn't know if you knew that. Here is the link:

Will you be at the award dinner?
Hope to see you there, I'll buy you a drink :)


Posted by: Tina at April 26, 2006 9:31 AM

I got a sneak peek at Natalie's NEXT book, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, which is truly stellar.

In other news, as of this morning I have succumbed to the blogging virus with four other mystery writers, if anyone's looking to procrastinate:


please wish me broken legs and stuff!

Posted by: Cornelia Read at April 26, 2006 2:27 PM

Hi Fran,

I hope you do have some copies of W&S on hand, and if you don't, I'd be happy to to arrange to get you some signed copies...

Cornelia, VERY cool blogness! I shall be a regular, and thanks for the wonderful words about W&S.

El, so glad you are going to buy the book! Hope you like it!
Deb, thanks for the kind words on the trailer! I was so impressed with it. My web guy did an awesome job!

Cele, you are just the bestest.

Laura, fry sauce is unique to Utah, a mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise, and "secret spices." I'm sticking a bottle in the gift basket of the winner of the W&S sighting contest, only running for a few more days, so you can go enter if you want a chance to win and taste!!

Posted by: Natalie R. Collins at April 27, 2006 9:13 PM