Interview with Anma Natsu

When did you first start writing?
I first began writing in late elementary/early middle school, but that was mostly bad poetry (hideously angst-ridden bad) and a few meager semi-starts of novels that never went anywhere. I began writing more seriously and with greater dedication/determination in 2006, when I started participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I finally finishing my first full novel draft in 2008.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had vaguely considered going traditional not long after I finished my second full-length novel, but after studying up on the publishing process for years, it was such a turn off that I never could bring myself to even try to do the whole querying thing. I just couldn't see myself giving up total control of my stories, dealing with the months and years of querying and rejection cycle, and ending up with pennies on the dollar for my work.

Around 2010 or 2011, the indie author movement had really kicked in and I'd heard enough about it that I felt I could actually achieve my growing desire to publish and do it my way. It wasn't easy, and still isn't, and it took me awhile to get to the point of actually pulling the trigger, so to speak, but I finally got there.
Are you a “pantser” (i.e. just make it up as you go) or a “planner” (outline and plan out before writing) or a blend of the two?
I consider myself to be a pantser though I’m not a hardcore pantser who starts with nothing but a blank page. Generally, when I’m ready to write a new story, I’ll have some scenes vaguely pictured in my head, sometimes just one, and a vague idea of the characters and story. I rarely do any sort of pre-writing or the like, other than maybe quickly jotting down a basic blurb or notes if I have enough stuff in my head to make them. I will sometimes do pre-research, if I know areas I’ll need to, but otherwise for the most part I just sit and start writing and see what comes out.
Do you do a lot of research for your writing?
Yes, probably far more than I really need to. I’m mildly obsessive about having factual elements correct or at least grounded enough in fact that my creative license is acceptable to me. Particularly for my stories set in other countries, I’ll spend hours upon hours on Google Maps going street by street for locations to be sure I’m describing the areas accurately, and in researching the various cultural, legal, political, etc. elements in those areas that might affect my story.
What are you working on next?
I’m currently working on two projects. The first is revising Girl in the Forest, which will be the third novel in the Hakodate Hearts series. It is the story of a reporter who goes to the Aokigahara Forest and meets a girl who agrees to put off her suicide for one week if he’ll stay there in the forest with her. During their time together, she shares the story of her life as an enjo kōsai girl (compensated dating).

The second is a non-fiction work to help fellow super new authors looking at going indie that covers a lot of the really basic stuff that many other guides gloss over. I decided on the idea after seeing so many repeated, very basic questions in writing forums and groups that I realized were not being covered by the standard recommended go-tos, and in wanting to help my fellow local young writers get going on the write foot.
What makes your newest novel, Deviations, stand out from the crowd?
There are a few elements in Deviations that make it significantly different from a most YA romance I've seen. First, is in its handling of mental illness and teenage child abuse. It is hard to find YA that looks at teenagers with mental illnesses like depression from the actual perspective of said teen, versus someone who is being affected by it. Most also tend to focus on a suicidal act rather than the illness on a more holistic level.

Second, in the majority of YA stories, Deviations’ set up would be one leading to a love triangle. But my trio never even really think of them as being in a him vs him scenario. A depiction of a polygamous relationship that is consensual, healthy, and, hopefully, authentic, is rare if not unique among YA stories, and even most adult stories outside of the erotica arena.
Are there misconceptions that people had or have about Deviations?
In the early stages, my attempts to describe the book’s overall plot would result in people seeming to get this idea that it was some sort of YA erotica or all about sex. I’d get eyebrow wriggling and follow up with questions about the amount of sex in it and how explicit it would be. To be honest, it was kind of annoying at the time, though I was just as annoyed at myself that I seemed to be doing such a bad job describing it! It wasn't until closer to release time that I finally managed to find the words to describe in a way that better conveyed its heavy, weighty subject as being primary, not the sex.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, of course, playing video games--I have the Sony PSOne through PS4, and a Wii, plus I play some mobile and PC games, photography, planticide (I mean gardening), starting craft projects that I usually don’t finish, working on my 60+ year old house (not always by choice), and once in a blue moon, oil painting.
What do you read for pleasure?
I primarily read manga…lots and lots of manga. It easily makes up 80-90% of my reading in a year. I lean towards read shōjo romances though I also enjoy good drama, some josei, and even a few shōnen titles as well. Outside of manga, I read a few Japanese light novels, contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels, bits of YA and animal stories, and a little of this and that too.
Where can we find you online?
You can find me at my official website: AnmaNatsu.com. I’m also active on Facebook, Google+, and on Goodreads as AnmaNatsu. If anyone is interested in knowing more about the writing side of things and being an indie author, my podcast The Lackadaisical Writer is available via iTunes, on iHeartRadio, and via your favorite podcast app.
Published 2017-02-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.