Author Interview "Natasha Turnquest"
Natasha Turnquest lives in The Bahamas with her precocious six year old son, Benjamin and their dog Spotty. Natasha is a proud graduate of the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill) where she studied English Literature.She is a member of a local Autism Advocacy Group called REACH and she believes in social inclusion for ALL children. She is currently working on Book III of the Adventures of Lenny Limbo Series.
The Adventures of Lenny Limbo Book II takes place on the beautiful island of The Bahamas. What influenced you to use the island, and is the story at all inspired by a real-life secret place on the island of The Bahamas? The Bahamas is made up of 700 islands and cays (most of them uninhabited). Cat Island is one of the larger islands in The Bahamas. I used Cat Island as the backdrop for this story because it has so much history, heritage and character. It is not so much a secret place but it is the historical sites on Cat Island that really inspired me to write Lenny and The Great Catastrophe. In Cat Island, there are many old Plantation houses that litter the landscape. When you are in Cat Island you feel as if you have stepped back in time. Can you tell us about your creative process from the book idea to the completed published book in your hands? I am a visual thinker. I will come up with the ideas for the illustrations first. Once this is done then I am able to craft the story based on my very rough sketch drawings. Completing a published book is a lot of hard work. It requires you to collaborate with a lot of really talented people in order to ensure a quality product. Once I complete the manuscript it is then sent to an editor and then to a graphic artist to complete the layout and then sent to the printer and uploaded on various e-platforms.
Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have a special hangout on the island? Any writing rituals?
I can be a bit of a homebody at times. So my favorite chair in my living room is where most my writing takes place. I love the beach! So often I park by the sea and just chill out for a bit and write. I always carry a diary around with me and I use it to jot down ideas that may come to me at any moment of the day (or night).
Your book features some great black and white illustrations. Can you tell us a bit about your illustrator and how you came up with the concepts for your illustrations?
The illustrator is a very talented Artist name Sayantika. We worked so well together on this project that I am hiring her to illustrate another project that I am working on. I really wanted to reflect the true nature of Cat Islanders. Every island in The Bahamas is different. Cat Islanders for example are known to be great dressers and possess a natural elegance. I made it a point to reflect their personalities in the illustrations.
You’re a member of an autism advocacy group called REACH. Can you tell us a bit about the organization. As an author, does being a part of an organization such as REACH have an impact on your writing style? If so, how?
REACH is an advocacy group that helps to promote social inclusion for persons who are on the Autism Spectrum. Lenny is different, I don’t make a point to say that he is Autistic but I put some subtle clues in the book that anyone with a child with Autism would be able to pick up on. Oftentimes when people discover that a child has a challenge all they do is focus on the challenge and not the child. We can only change people’s perceptions about Autism through engagement and education.
What do you find are the most rewarding aspects of being an author?
Before I begin to write the story I do a lot of research on the island where the story will take place. I have gained a deeper appreciation for the rich history and fascinating stories that make up the Bahamian experience. Also being an authour allows me to unleash my imagination and explore the world around me with unabashed curiosity.
What advice would you give to someone asking about self-publishing their first book?
Take a deep breath and dive in! It can be very challenging because all of the mechanics that go along with publishing a book rests with you. It can also be a very rewarding experience because you get to drive the entire process. Self-publishing allows you to ensure that your book is a true reflection of your vision and not a compromise between your artistic expression and commercial pressures.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about yourself, The Adventures of Lenny Limbo Book II , or any future books?
This Series, the Adventures Of Lenny Limbo is truly a labour of love. I have an enduring love affair with my country, The Bahamas. The Bahamas is not a cookie cutter paradise. We are more than just sun, sand and sea. The “true, true” Bahamas is rich tapestry of experiences. I want to reveal that first and foremost to Bahamian children and if I can reveal that to the wider world as well then that’s great too! I am currently working on Book No 3 of the Adventures of Lenny Limbo.
How can you be reached if someone is interested in your books?
About the book
Lenny And The Great Catastrophe is set on a mystical and mysterious Island in The Bahamas called Cat Island. Lenny makes a curious discovery in the middle of a Plantation ruin that sets him along a path that leads to adventure and danger.
The book is available on Amazon in paper back and ebook format.