Natalie Blake

I am British-born writer, now living in Germany with my family. To date, I have been published online by Wyldblood Press, and in print with PureSlush publishing. I enjoy writing short stories and flash fiction that prioritise voices considered ‘other’. My work has also been shortlisted in various international competitions for short form fiction. I am currently in the final revisions of my debut novel, and I am particularly passionate about increasing LGBTQ+ content across the publishing scene.

What inspired you to write “Vicissitude”?

I was inspired to write this story because I like to use speculative or futuristic elements as a lens to examine our contemporary world. The character of Celeste is a human-animal hybrid, part human, part wolf. She would not belong in the human world, were she to be freed from the lab, nor would she be accepted by wild wolves. So while both the scientist and her mother (the wolf) have their own agendas for her future, and encourage her to follow their directions, she cannot reconcile herself to be in either box. For me, this was an allegory for gender, sexuality, and other contemporary issues, where we are often told to tick a box on a form, to describe ourselves. But sometimes, you can’t categorise yourself, like Celeste – she walks on two legs, with support, or sometimes on four, depending on how she’s feeling. She has to try things out, and find her own identity.

Can you give us an insight into your writing process?

I work full-time (in home office!) so my creative writing work is done either in the evenings, or very early in the morning! I’m more productive first thing in the morning, when I have had a full hit of caffeine. Also, I tend to mentally work on material during the night, when I should be sleeping, but my mind doesn’t want to. I have my best ideas at 3am. So come the morning, I’m raring to write. I have a small sausage dog who sits beside my chair, who is not very keen on going for walks. She is terminally ill though, so I forgive her desire to lie on a comfy fleece blanket all day. My writing process involves a lot of mental mapping, but very little actual planning on paper. I’m a pantser, for sure. I then select a playlist – usually symphonic rock, or 80’s rock – which helps zone out my conscious mind, so I can tap into my creative one.

What do you consider to be the most enjoyable or important aspect of science fiction or fantasy, and why? 

Personally, however sweeping the space saga, or however fantastical the universe, the characters must be relatable. I think this is the most important element to any story. Characters should feel real, be flawed, be like me. They should be diverse – not just in how they present, who they love, and what clothes they choose to wear, but who they are on the inside. Not everyone is a universe is the sword-swinging hero, or the shape-shifting alpha werewolf. There are also less-powerful, or overlooked characters, who can be just as compelling and complex to follow as readers – maybe more so. For this reason I prefer to read (and write) first or second person narrators, so the reader can be close to the character. I want to experience the world with my character. Through their eyes, the sci-fi or fantasy element of the story becomes believable, and real.  

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