Interview with Rene Natan

Published 2013-11-16.
Why do you write?
So many reasons…but the most compelling is that a story often bubbles in my mind and that story wants to be told. But to whom, may you ask, to what kind of readers? To those who react to the events of life in a fashion similar to the way I do; in other words I write for people who vibrate at a frequency close to mine. Writing is a form of communication, a search for twin souls.
Then, there is the process of building—not much different from an architect’s job. What a writer creates has to stand up; single parts have to fit together; they have to relate to each other in one way or another.
I also love the excitement of creation, of forging characters with strong and often conflicting personalities so that action follows almost naturally.
Finally, writing is a way of expressing the real myself, of living my emotions—all of them—without worrying about being judged. The characters can be blamed for any wrongdoing or thinking—no penalty for the author.
How do you choose a theme or the background for your stories?
The theme comes from a particular event I’ve witnessed, seen on the news, or heard somewhere. Then I ask myself, what if the circumstances were different, or how would I have reacted had I been there?
For example, when our family house was destroyed and we moved to the country from the city, the change of environment hit me hard. I was an eight-year old, and I remembered the reaction I experienced. Different neighbors, different school, different playground…so, my first novel, Mountains of Dawn, recreated that setting. I chose as protagonist a little girl who is shuffled from foster home to foster home, and only after reaching majority age she finds out who she really is, why her parents were killed, and why her life is in danger.
In another novel, Operation Woman in Black, I portrayed the hardship experienced by one of my stepdaughters, whose third child was born severely brain-damaged. Her strength and courage inspired my novel. My protagonist, a man of the law, has to split his time between devising clever traps to catch dangerous criminals and looking after his mentally handicapped daughter who, unexpectedly and surreptitiously, becomes pregnant.
In The Jungfrau Watch I used as background the suffering of some of my old Italian acquaintances who fell victim to the Red Brigades’ kidnapping and blackmail. I chose as protagonist a member of the same, who, stranded in foreign land after the collapse of the Soviet Union, finds refuge in Canada, fights his former controller and, after much tribulation, redeems himself.
The Red Manor is a family saga; the Lord of a vast and ancient manor leaves his Italian home to go live with his Canadian son, hoping to escape the curse that seems to hang on his castle. But the troubles believed to be caused by the curse continue, as the unearthing of two precious cups, once Red Manor possessions, prompt the criminals to follow the Lord of the manor in the new country.
I used this novel to touch on the hardship older people face when they are uprooted from their motherland.
Do you have a philosophy of writing; a sort of canvas for your stories?
I think a person reads fiction because he/she is in need of an escape; of a few moments away from the monotony of the hassle and bustle of everyday life. The reader wants to be temporarily transported to a self-contained, exciting world where unusual events happen and people do exceptional things. At the same time, the reader, in general, prefers to reach this exciting world on familiar paths. This means introducing common emotions, like anger, fear, love, hatred, greed, sorrow… These feelings, which make the DNA of our emotional life, create passion—which, in turn, fuels a compelling desire to act.
I keep this mock-up in mind when I write a story.
Do you write a complete plot before starting a one-hundred-word story?
I did so in my first two stories, Mountains of Dawn and The Collage; for the others I jotted down the role of the protagonist, the impervious path he has to walk through to reach his goal, and the adversaries and friends he will meet on his way.
This is also the time I choose the background and theme for my novel. Soon after, I start research about the locations and events I’ll describe.
In general, when I am midway, the characters I created at the beginning point to the actions that fill the other half of my story—almost like magic.
You won a first prize for The Blackpox Threat in the 2012 Five Stars Royal Dragonfly Book Contest (fiction category) and the same book was a finalist in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Award. What’s special in that story?
Digging out the background for that story was an eye-opener and a learning experience.
On the advice of an editor at Harlequin, I used a female protagonist in a role normally played by a man. Tamara Smith is an athletic young woman who plays the role of a spy in a case of national emergency: a deadly virus is being imported into the country.
My goal was to utilize, as background, the procedures used by the Canadian intelligence community to detect and counteract the spying that happens in the country; unfortunately I didn’t get even the smallest support by the government agencies I contacted. CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) flatly refused to even letting me access the room they use for briefing the media in their Ottawa headquarters. So, I couldn’t provide that familiar environment that let citizens relate to their own country/system the way, for instance, David Baldacci does in his thrillers. However, since I had my mind made up (the plot was already bubbling up), I didn’t want to let go. How did I overcome the total lack of support by the PR personnel of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (the Canadian spying agency), the Communications Security Establishment Canada (closely related to the US NSA) and Public Safety Canada? I made Tamara, my protagonist, a person who is coaxed into helping the government because of her past (she is the daughter of two political refugees), and the special position she holds in the company suspected of importing the deadly virus. Tamara has to learn all the ropes, and the person in charge of teaching them feeds her the wrong information, since he’s one of the bad guys.
Introducing this particular bad guy was good for the story but essential to me, the author.
After that, I sent Tamara through all kinds of perils, from dangerous stake-outs to a plunge in the cold waters of the Atlantic to save a fellow worker. Available on Amazon.
What kind of readers are you looking for?
I write fiction, so I look for readers who want to be transported to an imaginary world, but on some conditions—that they can relate to the environment that unrolls before their eyes while mysterious facts occur. I try to balance fantasy with realism, so they get eager to know what happens next.
A common element often permeating my novels is hope; hope for the better, hope for justice, hope for love. I weave it in inconspicuously, to avoid boring the reader.
What guidelines do you follow to describe your characters? Do you “profile” them?
I don’t profile them in the sense that a law enforcement agency would, but I line up several traits that are consistent with their role. These include physical aspect, age, training and education; also what they drink; the car they drive, and how they drive. For the most important characters I also sketch their past: social environment at birth, education, critical happenings in their lives.
Where do you get your info? How do you check the accuracy of your info?
My sources are the TV, newspapers, WorldWideWeb pages, especially with its far-reaching links. I also benefit from personal contacts, since I know some professors at Western University (Ontario).
What are your favorite books, and why?
I like Michael Connelly with his Harry Bosch’s investigations, David Baldacci with his Hell Corner, and Mary Higgings Clark’s mysteries. One particular reason I am fond of her novels is that she instils positive feelings toward our society and life in general—and she doesn’t call revenge “justice.”
What are you working on next?
Years back, in one of our frequent trips to Mexico, my husband and I came in contact with a local travel agent who described the many concerns he had about the recruitment of very young girls for ill-identified jobs. These were minors placed by the parents in the hands of very unscrupulous people who would take them north of the border. “Some—actually many, I’m afraid—are caught in prostitution,” he confided to us with dismay, “and I often feel that the parents are aware of the situation.”
Minh Dang’s story, carried by NBC contributed to the choice of under-age prostitution as a realistic, actual background for my new fiction (Fleeting Visions), primarily set in London, Ontario, with excursions to Mexico. My protagonist, Lois Saura is a smart yet compassionate teenager, who outwits the people out to harm him. In spite of the subject (which I keep in the background), the novel does not need to be restricted to an adult audience.
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Books by This Author

The Jungfrau Watch
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 75,290. Language: English. Published: May 6, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
(5.00 from 1 review)
The collapse of the Soviet Union leaves two Red Brigades’ terrorists, Vladimir Karpiski and Johannes Volpieren, without funds, without job and without cause. The two comrades find asylum in Canada under false identities. Volpieren continues in his criminal activities, Karpiski wants to make a break from his past. Years later the two comrades entered in conflict: only one of them survives.
The Woman in Black
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 66,670. Language: English. Published: December 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Suspense, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
Compelled to be part of a police operation, Savina Thompson is projected into a lavish environment as she impersonates a high-class call girl. She has to help Chief Detective Conrad Tormez penetrate the criminal ring that has been plaguing Varlee with robberies, fraud and blackmail. And Conrad has his own problem: his teenage daughter has been living in the mountains with a baby and a wolf.
The Loves and Tribulations of Detective Stephen Carlton
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100,630. Language: English. Published: September 26, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Erotica » Contemporary
(5.00 from 1 review)
Detective Stephen Carlton of New Brunswick is first in love with model April and then with sweet Gillian, but these relationships aren’t in the cards. After years of tribulations Stephen falls in love with beautiful Livia—a woman who plays with high stakes: her own life. She’s being chased by the law for the hideous murder of lawyer Peter Bishop. Now Stephen has to choose between duty and love.
One Holiday, a Life-time Memory
Price: Free! Words: 7,830. Language: English. Published: February 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General, Fiction » Holiday » Adventure
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
Landed in Italy with the idea of spending the summer admiring the many masterpieces of Italian art, Larry Burton bumps into a girl on the run. She’s clearly in trouble, but she’s also awfully attractive. Against his best judgment, Larry decides to help her. He’s drawn into strange and potentially dangerous situations…but shouldn’t a vacation be also a bit of an adventure?
The Elf Hat
Price: Free! Words: 3,470. Language: English. Published: November 27, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Glenda Vaillot is at the local Christmas parade when her little boy is kidnapped. Hearing impaired, and counting only on Zufolo, her service dog, Glenda hunts down the kidnappers.
A Pair of Wings for Christmas
Price: Free! Words: 5,440. Language: English. Published: November 8, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
Kendrick Malloy is a bright, healthy young man who could achieve anything in life. Unfortunately he often prefers to take shortcuts and avoid working. But when the life of six-year-old Mateo is at stake, he hesitates no more. He jumps in front of a truck and saves the boy’s life.
The Ghost Detective
Price: Free! Words: 7,880. Language: English. Published: October 12, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
PI Denys Bellami is in his office when a quake shakes the earth. Within seconds Denys becomes a guest of the White Valley, where ghosts reside. But what about the investigation he was working on? He makes the case to the Great Light: well, Denys will be able to continue investigating but he won’t be allowed to participate in any physical actions. It’s a big challenge, but Denys accepts it.
The Collage
Price: Free! Words: 85,780. Language: English. Published: August 16, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Suspense, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
A clever plot entraps beautiful Allison Summer in a web of deceit and violence. Alone in her struggle, she doesn’t know whom to trust: not her father, not her husband, not even the handsome man who pledges his love to her. But when the life of the man she loves is at stake, Allison takes control of her destiny. And she will not stop until the innocent are free and the guilty secured behind bars.
Mountains of Dawn
Price: Free! Words: 96,580. Language: English. Published: July 15, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Suspense, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
(3.50 from 2 reviews)
‘Pack and Leave’ are the words that twenty-two Tanya Caldwell, orphaned at the age of six, heard many times as she wandered from foster home to foster home. After she narrowly escapes two murder attempts, she hides in the hills of the Italian Riviera. She has just found peace, inspiration for her paintings, and romance when those responsible for her parents’ death surface again.