Good afternoon folks and it is good to see you. Today Amazon best selling author Natasja Hellenthal has stopped by to chat with us all. Her books are about truth, determination, and progress wrapped up in an enriched and exciting plot. Let’s give Natasja a warm welcome.
‘Heartbreak happens when we want other people to love us in a way we imagine we want to be loved.’
‘Children of the Sun’
What is your book about?
My latest book, ‘Children of the Sun’ is a follow up to ‘Call of the Search’ (book 1 in the Comyenti series). The series is about the Comyenti: a kind, clairvoyant, telepathic, empathetic species that derive their powers from other animals. They are very skilled and basically super beings because of these powers, yet they’re also very sensitive and hunted and driven to near extinction by humans as they have one fatal weakness. Sula, the main character in both books; half human, half Comyenti, suspects she might be the last of her kind and has devoted her life to search for others like her. She promised her mother to have a child by a human if she didn’t. It would be a way to ensure the continuance of their kind. It’s a huge dilemma for her as she was raised with loathing in her heart for humans after all they’d done. She is a complicated private person and struggles with her feelings and emotions as she has no one to talk to about this. She is stuck between both worlds and is also bi-sexual, as is every Comyenti she later learns. But because the Comyentis are monogamous by nature she feels like she has to choose. But by doing so she will also hurt people; something she is trying to avoid at all costs.
It is also the story of Shazar, the other Comyenti, although he has a minor role and it focuses mainly on his view of things and how he tries to convince Sula to be with him to save their species. But her heart cannot be told. Subjects such as love, romance, identity, loyalty, duty, of trying to belong, unique species, gender and sexuality are all being explored here as well as racism, specieism, bigotry, veganism and the consequences of fanatics and abuse.
In ‘Children of the Sun’, Sula is trying to find her missing female lover and we also follow her offspring and how they fare. Shazar, is again trying to stir things up. More issues are being explored such as family life whereby some are gifted and others less so or not. Some are gay, others are not, expectations of parents towards their children, the burdens of a parent or entire species being passed onto a child, adoption versus birth children, and a new threat is being introduced in the form of another mysterious species. I have tried to create a bit more action and adventure, and include elements from both mythology and drama.
What or who inspired you to write your story?
My love for all animals and the clash between them and humans who share the same space; what people do to one species and how it impacts the entire circle of life. I wanted to write about environmental and animal right issues without being too preachy but wrapped into an entertaining gripping story. Since I didn’t want to use a wild animal for main character, but someone the reader could feel more related to I came up with a new humanoid species that looks very similar to us on the outside, but on the inside is closer to any intelligent wild animal with a natural life style. And just like many animals has a tragic history with the human race. I was interested in the psychological aspects of it all. I wanted to write about the consequences of what it would be like to be the last of ones kind and the questions it would raise in that individual but also the conflicts. I chose a female bi-sexual lead character to make it more interesting. What would you do? Would you continue to search for others like you or would you interbreed with humans? Would you continue to hide from them or try to blend in, learn more about your human side or would you use your powers to fight them? It is also a story of belonging, of acceptance and trying to fit in when you’re clearly different.
What was the deciding factor for your book title? Did it just come to you or did you try different ones?
It was easy actually as I already knew when I was writing book 1, ‘Call Off the Search’, what I was going to call book 2. Sula’s name means ‘Sun’ but also ‘hope’ in her language. And as book 2 is about the continuance of her species and how she saved it, it was double appropriate to call it ‘Children of the Sun’. Also I like to add, as you might have noticed, that the first letters of both books are the same. All the books in the series will follow suit. Hence I sometimes call it the ‘COTS’ series, besides ‘Comyenti Series’.
Can you describe what goes into creating a strong character?
First and foremost I like to stress that my characters may come across as strong, especially with all their mental and physical powers, but deep down they are really just like you and me. They struggle with the same things we do. They are vulnerable in their love and have difficult choices to make. What makes them strong comes from hardship. From life. Because of the things they stand for, the morals they believe in, and the courage in their hearts. By staying focused and knowing what is needed to be done in order to get somewhere. To stay true to themselves, their beliefs, and their hearts and not to budge.
Did you do any types of writing while you were in school? If so, did you receive any awards or recognition for your work?
Where I come from the schools mainly focus on the core subjects such as math, grammar, history, and chemistry. At least they did when I was younger. I do hope it has changed. We read books and discussed literature yet were never encouraged to write our own stories. It didn’t stop me though! If anything, I had to motivate and encourage myself to find the best books to read and to learn how to write well because a good imagination is certainly not enough! Hence it took me a while to publish and have enough confidence to believe in myself I could write.
Me: Check out Natasja’s Book Trailer video for this fine story. This is a must watch:
Your writing deals with a lot of themes. Can you elaborate on what you mean by “consequences of our actions?”
This is going to be a long answer as this subject is very dear to me! Everything we do in life has a consequence as does every action. I try to teach my young children the basics already. To always think before they act and if they don’t there will be a consequence. What happens when you cross the road without looking? They’re only very young so it will take some time before I let them out of my sight yet, but that’s how it starts. With ourselves. To learn to keep ourselves safe with our actions, before we start thinking about what our actions do to others in the short term or long term. What happens when you bite or slap someone? And why we shouldn’t be doing that? It might take my children a while to fully understand the whole concept, as it takes time. We should all teach our children this. It would be a start towards a better world.
Compassion is already naturally there from a young age. The feeling is there, not the thought. Maybe that’s how it should be. Because thoughts and feelings are two separate things. But ultimately what it means to me is not to cause harm; to feel and think before we do something. What certain words may mean to a certain person and a certain action towards them? What would happen, how would they feel? How would they react, what would the consequence of my action be? Not everyone thinks that way. Words and actions, even reactions, can do more damage than we like to think about. Some people act on impulse or simply copy behavior. We live in a crazy world whereby we have incorporated and accepted damaging actions towards our planet and life upon it for hundreds of years. The same for how we raise our children, treat minorities and the elderly.
We are facing the consequences. I write about and for mature people mainly. As adults we struggle greatly with finding a balance between our passions and our mind let alone the consequences of our actions. But without those problems us writers wouldn’t have a story at all! Empathy and to be able to relate to others. It’s all about that really and living consciously and not treating anybody any different than how you yourself want to be treated. There lies the problem because it’s not that easy because we are all different with different values and morals. So it’s not as simple as to say, “What impact does this have on you?”, because we really don’t know or understand sometimes. We can only guess, or speculate on how we ourselves would feel or react when we know ourselves, but that might be world apart from others.
That’s one of the reasons why I created the clairvoyant telepathic Comyenti, because I wanted to avoid all of these misunderstandings. I came up with the idea for people to connect instantly without having to reason, guess, or speculate. They would just know what the other meant, what to do, how to avoid the wrong action or reaction. But as I was writing the first book– when Sula met Shazar– that even though they were both Comyenti, I soon realized, despite their telepathic connection and empathy, even they were flawed. We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. It’s inevitable. It’s how you learn from those mistakes that counts.
Was there anyone, in your life who was an inspiration for you to write? If so, what did they do?
There have been some inspirational people and writers such as Etty Hillesum (a brave young woman who died in Auschwitz), Tanith Lee, Hermann Hesse and Kahlil Gibran who inspired me to write with their stories. Animals and nature, and subjects such as freedom and the loss of it, and injustice have driven me on. To make a difference. I can’t just write a story, I want to reach out to people.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Can you explain what has worked for you?
I’m just very honored I have any readers! That people are enjoying my books in itself is a very humbling and gratifying feeling. I’m always very pleased to read how they enjoyed my books and their opinions in the reviews they leave me. Reviews are very important for me. Please consider leaving one once you’re finished reading one of my books, thank you!
Me: I agree readers. Reviews represent a lot and are well appreciated. They don’t have to be very long but they show that you care and really do help others. Be sure to post on Amazon and Goodreads.
Before you go on, take a look at Ms. Hellenthal’s Five Star reviews.
How long have you been vegan? How the lifestyle has made you feel and why?
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was old enough and allowed to make that decision, which was about 12. But I only made the transition to vegan since a year or so. I’ve never been more sure about anything! I feel really good that I’m no longer part of the heavy impact on the environment cattle raising has, and the cruelty that goes on in the meat, egg and dairy industry. Since I started researching what really goes on behind the scenes I have been horrified about the harsh truth behind this billion dollar killer industry to say the least. Totally unnecessary and selfish as we people don’t need to consume any of it to stay healthy. Best not get me started here!
‘Earthlings’ staring Joaquin Phoenix is a very educational documentary to watch.
Tell us more about your interest in organic farming?
To me the idea of eating sprayed vegetables is appalling. It’s totally beyond me how people think it can still be good for you (and no, you can’t just wash off chemicals!), let alone the damage it causes on local wildlife and the soil. Bees are in serious decline because of chemicals. I’ve been interested in growing organic vegetables since I started living and working on an organic farm at age eighteen. A whole new world opened up to me! I also received some firsthand training when I moved to Wales and lived and worked as a volunteer on an organic Welsh farm. I’ve been growing my own vegetables and fruit as soon as I had my own garden and allotment. I find it very relaxing to work outside with my hands in the soil, watching plants grow from seed, helping them grow and stay healthy until they finally produce their fruit. For me it’s not the eating, but watching and growing them that gives me pleasure!
Have you ever done volunteer work for an animal rescue agency? If so how was the experience for you?
I have! When I was in between jobs and wanted to do something meaningful I went to my local rescue centre for cats and helped out. They mainly needed people to spend some quality time with them; stroke them, talk to them. I loved it! I have also done a 60 mile bike ride when they were facing to be closed down. I helped raise money towards what they needed so they wouldn’t have to shut down.
What has been your favorite part of being an author? The least fave?
The writing is definitely my favorite part, I think it has to be! From the moment of getting ideas, the gathering of information, making sense of it all, the first draft until the very last months, or years later, before I sent it to the editors and proofreaders. That is my least favorite bit; going through it all again and again with a fine tooth comb, making sure it is consistent and as flawless as we can accomplish. It never seems to end and I want to move on to another project. Punctuation, ugh! Definitely hate that one because it makes me analyze my sentences and I’m forced to use the other side of my brain!
Describe your ideal place to hike. Do you do journaling or artwork while you are out in nature?
Kinder Scout in the Peak District is one of my ideal places. It’s a five hour hike in the mountains with stunning views and I love it.
The Mourne Mountains in Ireland is pretty awesome too but I don’t live as close as I do to the Peak District. I always write in my head wherever I go and carry a notebook, but inspiration comes easiest there. Or any beach.
What is in the works next for you? If you can’t share, I totally understand and respect this.
‘Sky Whisperers.’ It’s a Dystopian Lesbian Fantasy about a girl who grows up in a dying hot world without wind. She leads a small miserable live, crippled and with one eye, in a mountain village where she is both tormented and shunned because they suspect her to be to cause of their misery. One day she meets a mysterious woman; a Sky Whisperer, and she follows her to where she lives. Nemsa’s path lies far above all she is familiar with. She soon learns of her heritage and destiny, but how can she ever hope to stand up against the supremacy of a vengeful, ambitious Sun Whisperer? Will the courage in her heart be enough?
I also have three LGBT stories coming out soon in various anthologies through publishers among other authors. Very exciting times!
I’d now like to share two excerpts from the book, Children of The Sun:
Sula still missed Feline immensely, for not only did her sister-in-law understand what she had been going through, she seemed, somehow, to have been a better match for her. Sula could only imagine what if would have been like if she had met Feline that day on the ice and not Felix. A flashback from many years before suddenly appeared in front of her inner eye. Something she hadn’t thought about in years:
‘You have many years to live,’ Sula’s mother whispered to her, squeezing her hand with her last strength. Sula sighed and bit her lip. She knew her mother must think her stubborn, more than she herself had ever been. The woman’s eyes were suddenly bright green as she pleaded for her to listen. Pearls of sweat lay on her knotted brow. Through their bond Sula felt her mother was in terrible pain, as if a fire consumed her from within. It tore them both apart. Sula dipped a cloth in a bowl with cold water, squeezed it and placed the cool material on her mother’s lips and forehead. The older woman closed her eyes for a moment. Please, darling, you are our last hope, her mother spoke in her mind.
Sula stared at her through her tears, dumbstruck. Her mother lay on her bed of straw in a cave they had found after she had been too feeble to travel on. Sula’s mother, who was never ill, had caught something mysterious; an illness that even she couldn’t seem to get rid of. None of Sula’s herbs, brews, cool cloths, nor tender, loving care had worked. Not even Sula’s Comyenti powers could save her.
The light of the lamp flickered on the walls and her mother’s beautiful face, even with the dark rings and hollow eyes, glistened with sweat and was red from fever; a fever that didn’t die down. But she spoke clearly for the first time in all those days. However, Sula knew that it was nothing to be hopeful about. They were her last words…
‘You’ve got a duty to fulfill; you are the last of our line. You can still continue the… search but promise me, Sula that you will find a human mate and bear a child.’
‘I…I promise, Mother,’ Sula cried.
Her mother had smiled and closed her eyes peacefully, her breathing becoming irregular and raspy.
Sula shook up from those painful memories. Yes, I know, Mother. I wouldn’t have had Fay, my first child. It was as if with the memory her mother had tried to remind her. Still, Sula couldn’t stop thinking what could have been…
Shape-shifting lizard men who know we are Comyenti? Why have they never returned since? Are we really safe, Mum? We need to prepare ourselves. I’ve made a start. I can do it again, I can use my powers to attack if needed, I know I can!
She saw her son swallow, his vivid eyes wide-open, not out of fright, but alive and fierce.
Don’t even go there, Aigle, don’t you ever!
Why not? If we practise-
Because we’re not like them! We are better than that. We are peaceful and don’t resort to violence. I’ll train you and your siblings to defend yourselves, to use any animal power to survive, thrive and be strong, but that’s all! We do not attack!
He shook his head, shrugging it off, nodding and knowing she didn’t mean it. His mother was strong and stubborn like him, and even though they were attacked and these creatures were both new and alien, she hadn’t taken the incident too seriously. She should have, he thought. She had become soft in her years, and feeble, like humans.
He kept rowing, looking at the pine trees they were passing by.
‘Don’t worry, Mum.’ But he thought, to himself, shielding his thoughts from her, What good are our powers, if we don’t use them; really use them for the greater good?
Thank you so much for stopping by, Natasja! I hope you all enjoyed her visit. Be sure to check out her links for new exciting news about her and her books. Also don’t forget to subscribe to her blog on WordPress and leave a comment.
Until Next Time,
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