Thursday, May 24, 2007

Writers Wednesday with Natalie Anderson

This week the Pink Heart Society brings you the story of Natalie Anderson, Modern Extra and Sexy Sensation author!


Natalie wrote lots of stories as a kid - mainly Agatha Chrisie rip-offs - but found studying English lit at uni put her off writing her own stuff for some time. Instead she went on her OE and travelled about 'til she met her own real-life hero and came back home to New Zealand to 'settle down'. Then, finding herself with a baby who never slept, that she put fingers to keyboard...


My second child refused to sleep for more than two hours at a time and I desperately needed something to keep me sane. I discovered the Nanowrimo book in my local library in May 2005. Great! I thought. I'll write a novel... but what? Then I remembered all those fun days as a teen reading my Grandma's Mills & Boons. I still have her collection - it's fabulous. What's more fun than romance?

So I went to the local second hand bookstore and bought a stash, discovered eHarlequin and was soon addicted to the daily online reads (I still am, my writing day doesn't start until I've had the latest instalment). I saw there was a new line - Modern Extra - looking for twenty-something, glamourous, urbanite heroines. Hey - that's me isn't it?? (Yeah right, we're supposed to have good imaginations aren't we?). Anyway, I wrote one in June, then another and another - finding myself utterly addicted to the thrill of novelling. Eventually I bit the bullet and polished up the partial of one and sent it to Mills & Boon in London. I got the request for the full four months later. I was in the early stages of pregnancy again at this point and more than a little tired but fixed up the rest of the manuscript and sent it off and settled in for what I figured would be a long wait. Halfway through the pregnancy, at the 19 week scan, I found out the tiredness was for good reason. I wasn't having baby number three, but babies three and four. Needless to say, writing kind of went by the wayside at this point.

But then it happened.

When I was about 30 weeks an email appeared from M&B – "we like your style but…" – a five page revisions request! As I was pretty much on bed rest I thought this would be fun. I mean, it was an awesome opportunity and I was thrilled. After my preschoolers went to bed, I sat in the recliner chair, keyboard on lap, and went for it, deleting 20,000 words, rewriting them and whole swags of the remainder. Two weeks later I sent the revised book and tried to forget about it. A fortnight after that I stood up and my waters broke everywhere. I was very upset because I was only 34 weeks along and knew a stint in the neo-natal unit was inevitable. We went to hospital. A quick scan revealed the twins were transverse so we were straight into theatre for an emergency c-section. The girls were taken to intensive care – I didn’t see them until about five hours later.

My husband eventually went home about 3 in the morning and I was alone in a room a floor above the babies - and not thinking about the book at all funnily enough. But the next morning hubby came in with an email from M&B that had arrived pretty much the exact time I was on the operating table. They liked the revisions I'd done, but wanted more. They even mentioned a possible slot for publication but - and this bit was in the last line - I’d have to do the revisions in a WEEK to make that!

So there I was, hooked up to an IV, the twins in ICU, with the writing opportunity of a lifetime. My husband looked at me, and said ‘nothing is impossible’. He borrowed a laptop and said to get on with it. He felt it would stop me ‘mooning over the incubators’. And I had nothing to lose. I was up every two hours expressing, unable to truly do much for the babies for the first couple of days... why not give this a go? So I thought about it. And thought some more. And typed little bits.

After five days I was discharged from hospital but the girls were still in the unit. So at home, with my breastpump for company, I pulled two all-nighters and did my best with the book. During the day I took the printout to the hospital with me and read it over while the girls were sleeping. I sent the manuscript the following Friday - exactly a week later.

The next Monday evening I was tucked up in bed and the phone went. I answered right away, heard the English accent and I knew. That didn't stop the shakes though. And then - well you can never have a life-altering moment without some suitably atmospheric weather - it started hosing with rain and I could hardly hear her on the phone because the noise on our tin roof was so loud.

I remember feeling really stunned, and I still kind of am. It was such a crazy time. I think I shocked her a bit because I told her about the twins and doing the revisions in hospital. And then all I really latched on to was the fact they were offering a two book contract and OMG I was going to have to write another book and when would they want it by and how was I going to manage that with these two new precious babies??? I really didn't stop to savour the moment. All I could think about was what I was going to have to do next.

That's kind of the story of my life at the moment. It is very busy and I run from baby to baby and toddler to preschooler and think about my lovely twenty-something flirty heroes in between. Seven months have gone by since that fateful night and I still can't believe I now have two babies in my arms and a book that I wrote in the bookshop!

Life is pretty wonderful.

Natalie's first book, All Night with the Boss is a Mills & Boon Modern Extra out now!!! And how fabulous is that cover? Phwoa!!! You'll find it down under as a Sexy Sensation in September as well.

Natalie would love for you to visit her website at


  1. Don't anyone say that the time can't be found to write...

    Congratulations, Nat. Well done and a great story. Hope all your littlies are well.

  2. Congratulations, Natalie!

    Great to hear about the birth of a book and two babies all in one story. Very well done.


  3. Thanks Claire and Nicolette - it is pretty crazy isn't it? I need one of those time-turning thingummies that Hermione has in Harry Potter... getting two hours out of one would be MARVELLOUS!

    And the littlies are great - thank you :)

  4. Dear Natalie,
    a call story to take your breath away! Just imagine what you'll be able to achieve when you start getting some sleep eventually!
    Loved All Night With the Boss, Rory is divine.
    Can't wait for the next book-so keep bashing away at that keyboard.
    Best wishes,

  5. Thank you so much Rach - I'm really glad you enjoyed it :)
    Don't talk to me about the sleep thing... I worked out in THREE years from now I will get three afternoons a week to actually write during the day (3x 3 hours that is). In four years I'll get five mornings. Don't get me wrong, please, I love my children and I am very lucky to be a full time SAHM BUT I do look forward to the time when I can 'work' (as in write) during the day...
    Right now I'm just looking forward to the girls being able to sit up!

  6. Wow, that's commitment to getting it done!! Congratulations, Natalie, and I'm glad that the babies came home safely.

    Jess x

  7. Many congrats on the books and the babies!

  8. What an absolutely AMAZING call story, Natalie! I'm now feeling horribly guilty for grumbling about not having enough time to write-- my three are all at school now!

  9. Nat! You are truly a goddess and your hubby is one awesome supportive guy! How many men would've found their wife a computer at that stage? Obviously you were meant to be great, and you are!

    Yvonne (who is increasingly frustrated by blogger/google's inability to allow her to post using her login! grr!)

  10. Really terrific story! Thanks for sharing it. :)

    I related to the first paragraph, where you mention being in school and not writing -- I taught writing for 12 years at the college level, and of course was a student for years before that, and I never wrote anything until I stopped teaching. :)

    Best of luck,


  11. What a story! Very inspiring.


  12. Natalie, what a wonderful story! I'm struggling like mad to finish a book on deadline at the moment, and you've inspired me!

  13. Thanks again everyone.
    Sam - it was totally a case of 'over develped critical faculties' for me - I knew I was never going to write anything like the 'Greats' - and then I finally realised - so what? So I'm not going to write 'the Great New Zealand Novel' - frankly I don't have enough angst in my life! Give me a happy ending any day of the week :)
    Good luck with that deadline Abby!

  14. Natalie, what a truly amazing story. You can dine out on that forever (providing you get to dine out with having to look after the babies!). I just think you were fated to get published after I read that. Huge congratulations!

  15. No one could ever accuse you of not being dedicated to your writing, Natalie! :)

  16. Natalie as a mum and wannabee writer, your story is INSPRIRING!! Although I too have had two (still under 2 1.2) that don't sleep and it's so exhausting - I'm so impressed that you managed to summon at least one brain cell and write something that got accepted. Will be grabbing a copy as soon as it's down under!!

  17. Wow--I'm very, very impressed. That is a terrific call story. Looking forward to reading your book! I'm inspired that you find time to write with four very small children. I only have three and I struggle!

  18. Hi Natalie, your a wonderful inspiration to a budding writer. I'm now attending a write on class with Barbara at Canty Univerity and having a go at novelling and really loving it. Barbara read your e-mail to us and we all sat there absolutely stunned at what you've achieved. Well done and we all wish you well and we will keep watching your progress and loving the books!!!