Author Interview: Natasha Ngan

19 August 2013

Today I have the lovely Natasha come to answer a *few* questions about her lovely DEBUT, The Elites. And if you haven't already, make a note to buy the book when it comes out. (September 5th 2013). You can read my review here.
Hi Natasha! *hands plate of home-made cookies* Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your wonderful debut 'The Elites' that hits the stores in September?
Hi Hawwa! *Takes cookies and scoffs them in one* I'm a 23 year-old, half-Chinese, half-English girl from a little town just outside London, though I used to live in Malaysia, where my mum is originally from. I work as a social media freelancer, a fashion blogger (I run website Girl in the Lens with my boyfriend Callum), and a YA writer too now, which is obviously my favourite of all three.
The Elites is set in a futuristic city where no one ever enters, and no one leaves. The story follows Silver, a fifteen-year old girl who works for the city's leaders as an Elite, who ends up having to do the unthinkable and leave the city with her best friend Butterfly after her parents go missing, and what they discover outside the city's walls really make them question everything they've known about their lives up until then. The Elites is an YA adventure story with some romance, sci-fi, fantasy and social commentary elements mixed in!
Did The Elites ever have another name? Or was it always ''The Elites'' from the very beginning?
I actually used The Elites as a placeholder name, hoping my agent or publishers would come up with a better name! But everyone ended up liking it so it stayed. I've grown to love it. I think it hints at one of the key themes of the story - what does it mean to be 'an elite' and who really is one?
I know you are a fashion blogger, so at what point did you decide you wanted to write a book? Had you always wanted to?
Always. From as far back as I can remember. I love writing, hence my other jobs in social media and blogging, but novels have always been where my heart lies.
well i'm glad you decided to write it!
How did you come up with the characters names in The Elites? (j'adore by the way.)
Yay! So a lot of the names (eg. Akhezo, Tanaka, Taiyo) came from matching the names to a character's ethnicity. Then all the Elites also have meaningful names. Butterfly's name of course comes from the fact that he's got wings, and Allum's is inspired by aluminium, which reflects his strength. Cobe is a bit of a more abstract one - although it's pronounced as one syllable, it's based on the Japanese city Kobe, which is wedged in between two mountains. I just thought it reflected Cobe's conflicted position as Butterfly's friend (if you've read the book you'll know what I'm talking about).
yesyesyesyes perfect!
Who would play Butterfly, Silver, Ember and Cobe in the movie of The Elites? (which is TOTALLY going to happen if i get my way..)
Kristin Kreuk or Shay Mitchell's exotic looks would work well for Silver, I think. Butterfly I've always imagined as a cross between Adam Brody and a young Henry Cavill. For Ember, I think Olivia Wilde with dyed red hair would be perfect - she's got those intense green eyes and is super gorgeous too, of course, with a really sharp, sculpted face. Cobe's a difficult one. Maybe Aneurin Barnard? He's got the big eyes and slight awkwardness to his features that Cobe has, and is a fantastic actor too.
i looked up a young Kristin Kreuk and she would have been perfect! But where does that leave me?! 
If you could travel to any fictional world where would you go?
The Edge in Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell's the Edge Chronicles! Such an inventive, colourful world.
Are any of the characters in The Elites based on real people?
Only Butterfly - he was influenced by my boyfriend Callum. Callum is one of the strongest, most loyal people I know, and he's always there for me, even when I'm at my worst. Unfortunately, Callum doesn't have wings ...
*sigh* he could grow some?! ;)
Which fictional character reminds you the most of yourself?
Probably Roald Dahl's Matilda! I'm always reading and living in my imagination. I'd like to say Hermione too, but I don't think I'm as brave as her.
When you look back at The Elites do you ever find anything you would like to change?
Oh my gosh, so many things! I see little things on every page that I'd like to edit, and there are a few bigger picture things that, if I had unlimited time, I might have worked a bit more on. But I think every author feels like that. I am proud of the fact that The Elites is my first book, and hopefully I can only improve with each one!
What is one super-power you would love to have?
Flying - I would love to be able to just take off into the sky. Plus, I'm scared of airplanes, so it'd be a much more pleasant way for me to travel!
oh me too! and my younger brother wants to be a pilot.. O____O
Where is your favourite place to write and why?
I'm quite easy when it comes to writing. As long as I'm somewhere without music, I can write. But most of the time I write at my dining room table - there's plenty of food within arm's reach!
FOOD FTW!
What was the hardest challenge you faced while writing The Elites?
The same thing as it is when I write now - just sitting down and writing! It's weird really, as I'm always thinking about my stories when I'm not writing, and I mostly enjoy it once I've started. But that first bit of getting my bum into a chair ... it's tough. I think it's because I'm scared that I won't be able to do the ideas in my head justice.
Who inspired you to write your first book and how?
The Elites was a mix of my interest in cultures, things I was studying for my Geography degree, and a programme about DNA which showed just how many specific characteristics are coded into a person's genes. I've also always been fascinated by the nature versus nurture debate, so I wanted to explore it through a story. But though I had the idea for The Elites in my second year of university, I didn't actually start writing it until early last year (2012). I think, like my answer to the question above, I was scared to write. The Elites is the first novel I've ever written, so I had no idea whether I could actually write a whole book.
Who were your top ten authors/books when you were a teen and what is your current favourite YA book?
YA wasn't really a category when I was a teen (too long ago now, sigh!), so most of these are more on the children's side - The Edge Chronicles, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Noughts and Crosses, Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines series and Harry Potter. That's loads more than ten if you include all the books of each series. Current favourite - Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Beautiful, beautiful book.
ELEANOR AND PARK!!! Don't get me started on that book! *happy sigh*
If you could have a fictional best friend and why?
Butterfly (duh). Because - hot boy with wings. He's also fiercely loyal and grounded, and will always have your back.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAH. Zombies have taken over the world and are going to transport you to a foreign land. You only have time to grab five books. What are they?
AAAAAHHHHHHHH! Ok - The Book Thief, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. And then The Elites (because I gotta show off to those zombies) and a blank notepad - because helloooo exciting inspiration for more stories!
hahah good choices. those zombies may become your friends - because they love your book so much?!
Quick Questions:
Favourite book cover? My own. Because it's my book under there. My book! How crazy is that?!
Physical books or e-books? Physical for home, ebooks for travel.
Inside or Outside? Inside for writing, outside for writing breaks.
Typewriter//Laptop//Paper? Laptop, because I touch type quick enough to almost keep up with my thoughts.

6 comments:

  1. AHHH I HAVE SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS INTERVIEW! She is SUCH an awesome writer!! Plus she mentioned The Edge Chronicles which is basically a summary of my ENTIRE childhood (as well as Harry Potter of course)!

    Oooh and I love the books she's saving from the zombie apocalypse!!!

    GAHHHH AND BUTTERFLY! :0) I've just started The Elites and ALREADY love him!!

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  2. Great interview!!

    Natasha-- I used The Prophecy as a placeholder title too, but it ended up being well received. Sometimes simpler is better... ;)

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your cover!! ;)

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  3. GAHH HAWWA WHY MUST YOU CONTINOUSLY REMIND THAT I CAN'T READ THIS BOOK AND YOU CAN!! IT SOUNDS SO FREAKING AMAZING AND NATASHA SEEMS SO NICE!! I LOVE HOW SHE NAMED HER CHARACTERS AND WHY. LOOK NOW YOU'VE GOT ME IN CAP LOCK.

    Great Interview! :)

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  4. I love the thought that Natasha put into her characters' names. And yay for The Book Thief and Harry Potter! I'd definitely take both of those with me too. Great interview. :)

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  5. I NEED TO READ THE ELITES SOON. GAH, SO MUCH AWESOMENESS IN ONE INTERVIEW.

    *dies* *resurrects to finish the comment*

    Yeah, just a FEW questions, Hawwa ;) I love how Natasha came up with the names. Butterfly seemed like a strange name at first, but who am I to pass off a hot boy with wings? :D Thanks for sharing!

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  6. This is a great interview Hawwa! Natasha seems really awesome and I really want to read The Elites! All the reviews I've read comment on the unusual names, so this sounds awesome!

    Charli x

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+ thank you so much for commenting, I really appreciate it
+ recheck, I always try to reply [honest!]