Our Easter Sunday Interview is with Natalie Fuhr-Salvatore, author of ‘Fairy Godmother: Embracing God’s Plan For Your Life’ and publisher of CAST Magazine
TB: We are joined this week by Canadian Natalie Fuhr-Salvatore—Christian author, poet, musician and publisher.
Welcome, Natalie. I’m going to jump right in here . . . do you feel like you were born to be a writer?
NFS: Yes. I started writing at a young age. I remember having to write poetry for an elementary school project when I was about nine years old. I loved doing it, and I received an excellent grade!
TB: What has been your best experience as a writer?
NFS: My best experiences have been seeing my work in print. This signifies that you’ve completed a project; it’s been accepted by an editor; and then comes a feeling of pure elation.
TB: And, how about your worst experience?
NFS: My worst experience has to be when I decided to do a piece on spec. The editors hated it and told me it read like an infomercial for the DVD series I was writing about. The creators of the DVD series loved my piece, but posted it on their site without my permission. I really try to concentrate on the positives, however, and warn writers not to do work on spec.
TB: Were you able to rectify the situation?
NFS: I find that sometimes, you have to let go of a bad experience and focus on the day at hand, and future work. It’s great if you can rectify things, but in this case, what was done, was done. These experiences are great teachers.
TB: How have those particular experiences prepared you for being an author?
NFS: Good and bad experiences make up your character, just as these positive and negative experiences refine and redefine your personal written word.
TB: So, could you introduce us to your latest work?
NFS: Fairy Godmother: Embracing God’s Plan For Your Life is my latest novel. It is a non-fiction work about my spiritual journey that started as a result of me becoming a mother. Click here to download Sample Chapters of Fairy Godmother.
TB: Why, or how, did becoming a mother open a spiritual door for you?
NFS: First of all, I realized that my life was not all about me. There are so many sacrifices necessary, and I had a really difficult time with this. I called out to God, and through Scripture and prayer, I completely depended on Him. Sleep deprivation for an extended period of time can play weird tricks on the mind, and I was spiraling into a pre postpartum depression. I really feel God helped me through a very tenuous transitory time, and I was able to embrace motherhood and not become depressed.
I think the partnership with God (bringing new life into the world) is so powerful and transformational that it needs to be documented. It’s personal yet universal – I love this dichotomy.
TB: Besides motherhood, were there any other reasons influencing your choice to write this non-fiction?
NFS: In the Christian self-help genre, I found out that there was nothing like it. I’ve read a lot of books by pastors and leaders in ministry, but I was looking for a book written by someone like me. And, I wanted to document my story in the hopes that other people would find it useful and a good read.
TB: I’m curious about the title, why did you use a mythical character to describe a Christian non-fiction?
NFS: I think we all know the Cinderella story, and every woman dreams of this helpmate that will transform a dull existence into something extraordinary. Unfortunately, many people do not know of God’s power. They may have heard other people’s lives being changed, but cannot believe that it could happen to them. And, they may even view God as a mythical character. I used a mythical character, because readers would be familiar with ‘Fairy Godmother.’ I want people to understand that sometimes the process is gradual, but change can happen instantaneously, as well.
TB: Do you also write fiction?
NFS: Yes. My Master’s Thesis was a collection of fictional short stories.
TB: To what degree are your fictional characters based in reality?
NFS: My fictional characters are very true to real people. Friends reading my first novel could easily identify themselves. I didn’t intentionally set out to do this, but as the old adage goes, you tend to write what and who you know.
TB: Would you ever consider writing outside your current genres?
NFS: I am dying to do a sci fi book. I’ve always loved this genre, and there’s such freedom in it.
TB: Can you tell us a bit about your next project?
NFS: Currently, I am launching a Christian quarterly entitled CAST Magazine in Victoria, BC, Canada under my publishing company, Elation Press. Once I get a few issues out, I want to concentrate on a work of fiction and I’d love to publish a book of poetry.
TB: Although publishing a magazine is a daunting task, your approach has been one of an enthusiastic visionary. What motivated you to take on such an extraordinary project?
NFS: When I found out that there is a very small population of Christians in Victoria, (it is estimated that one out of 20 attends church), I wanted to change that. My background is writing and publishing, and I wanted to put something in the hands of readers who are interested in Christianity. The magazine’s intention is to share our faith, but to also get believers off of their couches and inspire them to be active in their community. I felt that there was a need for a Christian voice on Vancouver Island, that didn’t just compartmentalize us in news articles. We also print poetry and fiction. Each quarter, we feature a Christian artist. CAST Magazine is for believers and seekers everywhere. We accept submissions from across the globe. Our first issue included pieces from all over North America!
TB: With all your experience as a writer and publisher, what advice can you share with first-time writers?
NFS: I encourage writers to keep writing, despite setbacks such as being rejected by a traditional publisher, for example. Enter writing contests; create a website; get your work out there; use social media to promote it; share it with your friends; and self-publish.
TB: Would you briefly share your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. indie.
NFS: With the acceleration of technology in publishing, I am leaning towards the indie model. Writers need control of their work, and marketing of books has gotten a lot easier with the use of such tools as social media. I think a writer can become extremely successful by venturing out on his or her own.
TB: That’s a very encouraging perspective. So, Natalie . . . let’s talk about your creative process. What would be your perfect writing environment?
NFS: A solitary experience in a log cabin overlooking the ocean. Unfortunately, this is an ideal, not a reality. I find pockets of time to write, immersed in noise and a busy household. Although it’s not ideal, it’s my life right now.
TB: Do your dreams ever influence your writing?
NFS: I think they will for future writing. I have very vivid dreams that have a cast of characters and a distinct plot; I’ve started a dream journal to record them. I am sure that they will crop up in fiction down the road.
TB: Would you describe yourself as being a spontaneous or regimented writer?
NFS: I’m a “blank-pager” for the most part. I think that outlines can be very helpful, especially for fiction. That being said, I did use an outline for my latest novel!
TB: Have you ever co-authored a piece?
NFS: I haven’t co-authored a written piece, but I have co-written songs. This is a wonderful, collaborative experience and if you can find the right partnership, it can be very fruitful.
TB: Fantastic! Was this collaboration with lyrics or music, or both?
NFS: Both. But, it’s pretty hard for me to change lyrics, once I’ve settled on them. But, you have to be willing to share!
TB: So, as a writer, do you consider yourself to be an artist?
NFS: Writing is an art. But, I think there is a distinction. When we think of ‘artist’ it’s usually visual, unless you put ‘recording’ in front of it. I try to paint pictures with words. I would let a reader be the judge of whether I am worthy to be called ‘artist.’
TB: Would you share with us an idiosyncrasy that influences your writing?
NFS: I have many quirks – I think too many to list, here. I am a pen to paper kinda writer, and this can be a very slow, laborious process. I also have multiple journals that are designated for a specific genre.
TB: Finally, is there any little-known fact about you which others might find interesting or entertaining.
NFS: I am a huge Leonard Cohen fan, and he allowed a magazine I used to work on the right to print a previously unpublished poem of his.
TB: Natalie, thank you for joining us. You’ve given me, and our readers, valuable insight into your experiences as an author and publisher. I wish you the best of success in both ventures.
NFS: Thank you so much, Terre.
Natalie holds a Master of Arts degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Alberta. She has been published in several magazines and newspapers; she is currently the publisher of Elation Press and has recently launched a Christian magazine entitled CAST Magazine.