Natalina wrote her first romance in collaboration with her best friend at the age of 13. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes.
After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she has taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.
Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.
What’s the one thing that has really surprised you since you started writing?
I was very surprised how some people think a $3.99 book that took months of hard work to write and publish is too expensive, but they are willing to pay more for a coffee that, however delicious, took a few seconds to prepare. What’s up with that?
Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers grasp?
Yes, my general message in any of my books is a simple one: we are all members of the human family and we all want one thing: to love and be loved. My secondary message is that we never know what someone’s life is like so we shouldn’t judge the book by its cover. Nobody has the perfect life except on social media, lol.
Would you describe your humor as hilariously funny, oddly quirky, diabolically macabre, or non-existent?
Tough question. All my books have some level of humor because that’s how I am—humor is my way of coping with life in general. I guess I would call it more like oddly quirky and sometimes hilariously funny. But since humor is very subjective, my readers would possibly disagree.
Are there misconceptions people have about your genre?
Many, but the two that make me really mad is the idea that romance is all about sex and that it’s bad writing. I have had people come to me at events and say in the most condescending tone possible, “You romance writers are so prolific” (translation: romance sucks). I also had people literally avoiding my table at book festivals as if I had contracted bubonic plague, lol. Romance is like all other genres; there is good and there is bad.
What are some jobs you’ve held? Have any of them impacted your writing? How?
My first job was as an executive secretary in a Japanese firm in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but I have worked at a vacation club similar to the Club Med, at an airline, I was a museum guide for an European art exhibition, I worked for QVC (shopping channel), I was a tour guide before I moved to the US, and volunteered as an art docent for schools in Washington state. All these jobs widened my horizons since I worked with people from all over the world, from every economic, cultural, religious, or linguistic background and gave me perspective. When you wear that many “shoes” you get to be a little more tolerant and understanding of differences, I guess.
Have you ever gone to a convention? If so, how was it? If not, do you think it’s something you’d like to do in the future?
I’ve been very fortunate and attended one of the last conferences hosted by Romantic Times in Atlanta and a few other smaller ones. This year I’m super excited to attend the Romance Writers of America con in NYC. I recommend conferences to anyone who writes. You learn a lot, get to meet and interact with other writers and readers, and come home fired up about your writing. It’s like getting a shot of creative energy.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing totally energizes me. I work as a teacher during the day and I carry my laptop with me so I can go sit somewhere after school and write for an hour or so. I’m tired, I’m dragging, but as soon as I start writing I forget everything else. I’m in the story with my characters and the rest just fades into the background. I often say that writing is my therapy and I mean it. When life gets complicated, my writing keeps me sane and grounded.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to be original but it doesn’t always pay. I don’t claim to be the most original writer, but I often try to deviate from the norm which normally gets me in trouble, lol. Readers seem to enjoy the safety of a story that follows along familiar lines (think Hallmark movies, we all know what’s going to happen but we still watch it). It’s kind of a residual trait from childhood. Children love to hear the same stories over and over again because it makes them feel safe. When we read something a bit different it rubs us the wrong way. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I have a tendency to get bored so I have to write something a bit different.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m not friends with any big names. I recently met some heavy hitters from the world of political and thriller writing but most of my friends are great writers who have not yet been discovered. I have some local friends who are writers and I have my online friends who I have never met in person but with whom I have forged good relationships. We cheer each other on, we discuss ideas, we ask for opinions. Often we ask each other for help when writing blurbs, or we may need help with research, sometimes we beta read each others’ books. It’s a constant learning process. I can honestly say I become a better writer with each book I write in great part because of what I learn from other writers.
What does literary success look like to you?
The moment when a reader comes to you at a book event or sends you a message and begins discussing your characters as if they are real people. I’m still waiting for that moment. I think I’m getting closer but I’m not quite there yet, lol.
How many hours a day do you write?
Like I said before, I have a day job. I often say I have two fulltime jobs, because as soon as I leave school, I head to a coffeeshop to write for an hour or so, then I go home and write more and take care of the business side of writing until bedtime. I had to sacrifice a lot of TV and movie watching and other R&R activities to have time for writing.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I love this question. Yes, I do sometimes. Because I’m a linguist by profession I tend to “hide” things in words. For example, the villain in one of my books had an Italian last name that meant “ugly hag” to reflect her very ugly soul (outside she was a beauty). One of the editors caught on to that but to my knowledge she was the only one. In a book coming out in May, the MC manages a bookstore and in one scene she tries to sell one of my own titles to a customer.
Infinite Blue is my second published MM romance. Infinite Blue started as a contemporary flash fiction piece where I was supposed to create a blind date type of scene. I immediately fell in love with the two main characters and wanted to write their love story. I can’t remember exactly why, but some time later I decided to turn it into a shifter fated mates romance. Cai became the very regular, down to earth guy and Shahin became the wild, rule-breaker shifter who rocks his world. I love writing villains so you can expect a rather virulent “bad guy” in this story.
This story is set in a real town a few miles from where I live and I did a lot of research into restaurants and coffeeshops there. Needless to say, I have gained a bit of weight because of that.
Give us a little insight into your main characters
Cai is the frustrated artist who has given up on his dream to support his younger sister after their mother died and their father took off. He doesn’t think much of himself, something that stems from when his hair began turning white while still in high school.
Shahin is the wild middle child who goes out of his way to piss off his family. He drives a fast motorcycle, has tattoos, wears ear studs and a snake bite, all of which he acquired as part of his plan to go against the rules established by his conservative shifter family.
Being fated mates should have made things easier for them, but instead makes it all terribly complicated.
The book blurb
When a shifter and a human are bound by fate, neither man knows if their connection will be enough to save not only their growing love, but their lives.
Shahin Halcón has been taught that if and when he meets his soul mate, he’ll know immediately. Always the rebel, he doesn’t believe it until the day he crosses paths with Cai, a full-human.
Plagued by unsuccessful relationships and heartache, Cai Banes’s life is quiet and unexciting. When he meets young and wild Shahin, his life is turned upside down, and he’s not sure he likes it.
But neither can deny the powerful pull that draws them together.
Old secrets and ancient myths about cross-species relationships plague their romance and threaten to put their happiness and life at risk. Will their love for each other be strong enough to survive?
The Halcóns had a saying, “Once you meet him, you’ll know.” Shahin had never really believed it, choosing to do everything in his power to prove the absurdity of such belief. Even as he watched the other man maneuvering the blue car smoothly out of the tight space and driving away, his mind rebelled against such a notion.
Cai followed the same routine every day. He woke up at dawn and sat at the bay window, coffee in one hand, tablet in the other. By eight, his well-dressed, tall figure left the house, a woolen scarf wrapped casually around his neck, and walked down the street a couple blocks to the local Starbucks for his second cup of the morning. His car, a sensible, no-frills Corolla was always parked on the assigned parallel parking line along the sidewalk, a few doors down from his house.
From above, Shahin followed Cai’s long trench coat as he entered the car, an impressive figure even from that high. The metallic blue of his car was easy to track and Shahin flew after it, a little guilt gnawing on his conscience, but curiosity and fascination for the orderly life of the man who had caught his eye had won. Who was he kidding? Cai had caught more than just his eye. The six-foot-five man with the silver hair had grabbed his heart and held it with an iron fist. Even if he wasn’t aware of it at all.
Deep inside he knew. Despite a lifetime of fighting against it, believing it to be a simple old wives’ tale, he knew. Cai was his soul mate.
The irony was not lost on him as he hovered over the car at a distance, the strength of the pull urging him on. The fact that they hadn’t even met yet was a bit of a problem too. Stalking the man from the skies did not qualify as courtship even among Shahin’s people. But was it really stalking if he didn’t invade Cai’s privacy, never watching him within walls? God, he hoped not, because that would brand him as a seriously creepy individual.
Cai didn’t have far to go to his destination, a small building in old town Manassas. He always parked in the street and walked the few extra yards to the door of his office, a graphic artists’ studio above a restaurant. Before crossing the threshold, the tall man took a last long sip of his coffee, threw the cup in the trash can by the door, and pointing his keys toward the car, locked it.
Shahin circled over the building, the need to follow Cai inside burning in his chest. Not even the cold wind, buffeting his face and body, distracted him from the larger-than-life attraction—the magnetic pull of a soul mate. He circled around a few more times, a strange, longing sound escaping his throat, before spiraling upwards and away. It was time he met his mate.
Buy Links for Infinite Blue
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2v92Hpt
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2OaqtIT
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2ve2VLU
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2n6oyt9
And add it to your TBR https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39700967-infinite-blue
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