Introducing Natasha Troop - Author of the Lakebridge Series
Natasha grew up in Southern California and received her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Comparative Literature. She also holds Masters’ Degrees in both Secondary Education and Creative Writing. Natasha currently lives in the Phoenix area with her spouse, son, daughter and menagerie of pets, including one very overprotective collie dog. Aside from writing and teaching high school students to love theatre, she is attempting to become a professional baker.
- Where are you from? Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I was born in Anaheim, CA, not to far from Disneyland and spent the majority of my youth living the sweet life out in Southern California's beautiful San Fernando Valley. I did spend a few years living in New Jersey or, as I prefer to call it, New York adjacent, which is a way in Los Angeles of trying to imply that you live someplace nicer than you actually live…such as calling West L.A. “Beverly Hills adjacent”…sorry, it’s not Beverly Hills. You don’t get money from the oil wells…people actually in Beverly Hills actually are paid profits from the city’s oil wells.
Okay, so after growing up, I went to UCLA for a while, and studied Theatre Arts there. I transferred to Loyola Marymount University and studied Theatre Arts there. Then I dropped out and worked professionally for a good long while as a stage manager and sometime designer. All the while, I was trying to find a way to make a living as a screenwriter. I actually made a decent living ghost writing scripts that never got made which supported my life in the theatre. I wrote a vampire script for Lions Gate that was really quite good and different, but they felt it was too pricey. Years later, I went back to UCLA and earned my B.A. in Comparative Literature because I thought it would be a much more effete degree than one in English. I was right! But it exposed me to a lot of different writers from a lot of different places, which has really influenced my writing a great deal. I got married, had a couple of kids. Moved to Phoenix for the free day care and supposedly cheaper cost of living and discovered why when the rest of the country is orange or yellow on the weather map, southern AZ is white with a purple tinge. It’s pretty on the map at least.
- Do you have a day job as well?
I do! I’m a public high school Theatre Arts teacher. They make me teach a section of English to Seniors because I have a lit degree and a writing degree and they had a shortage of English teachers. But mostly I teach kids to love the stage…or at least tolerate standing up in front of an audience without throwing up – an important life skill. And I get to direct and design plays. It’s a different artistic outlet and they pay me for it. I always wonder at that and worry that at some point, they’ll decide to stop.
- As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a forensic pathologist. There was this TV show with Jack Klugman called “Quincy” about a forensic pathologist who lived on a boat and I really liked the idea of living on a boat and solving crimes. Now I would never live on a boat or handle dead bodies. I was in A.P. Bio in high school and we went to the Gross Anatomy lab at UCLA and worked with cadavers for a day. It made me sad, really. Cadavers are very melancholy things. But by that time my dreams of detective work and boats were a thing of the past. I wanted to direct plays and write science fiction and or horror novels. Apparently, after a time, I seem to get what I want. I hope this trend continues. I also want to win the Powerball.
- What do you do when you are not writing?
I teach. I read. I watch the occasional trashy show on TV and the even more occasional not trashy show. I play with my kids and spend time with my spouse. Oh! I also have a cookie company called Woobie’s Cookies. People seem to like them, which is why we sell them. One thing seems to follow the other.
- Tell us your latest news.
On May 29th I’m undergoing genital reconstruction surgery to complete my physical transition from male to female. I’m very excited about this as I can finally put this stage of my life behind me and get on with things.
- When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing seriously in high school. I was a part of the literary magazine for a few years and, having been a great consumer of words for many years, I felt that I could do a good job of producing words in new and exciting combinations. Then people started telling me I was good at it, which was good for my ego, so I continued because I am never one to deny my ego sustenance. There are periods of time where it is so hungry, I often think it will die. Writing things does wonders for its health and well-being. Although I will say my superego has concerns about this writing thing and thinks I should focus more on the teaching, but my id really wants me to give up this whole teaching thing and just drink coffee and write. Balance is what is important.
- How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
I’ve lived in a lot of places and lived a somewhat less than boring life. I tend to draw from my life quite a bit as I build characters. Mostly, I think having come from a family that emphasized the importance of reading, I was exposed to a lot of books from a very young age and, as such, writers were “important people” because they made all those books. Also, my brothers liked to scare me when I was a child. I was the youngest and, as such, the innocent victim of their evil ministrations. As a result, I developed a penchant for things that were really scary, I think, to deflect some of the mundane horror of my experiences. It’s why I found Stephen King when I was 9 and then Lovecraft after him. I was looking for ways to escape into other people’s bad dreams.
- How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
The cycle of books I’m writing at the moment all center around a small covered bridge that traverses a lake that the people of the town call the Lakebridge. Each book is a day and a little bit after in each of the four seasons and each season flavors the story in its own way. I used to sweat titles for my works, trying to be clever or literary. In college, I wrote a play called “Storming the Wall of Dis,” which is ridiculous and extremely pretentious. Eventually that play was retitled, “Pretty Blue Gun,” which sounds like something a hipster would carry. I think I’m getting too old to try all that hard. My next books after I’m done with the Lakebridge cycle will be called “Pyramid” and “The Amazing Robot”. I’ve come a long way.
- Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. But if I say what it is, then I remove the mystery and I take away the ability of literary critics to completely misinterpret me and then chide others that what I meant when I wrote the books is irrelevant to how they interpret them. If I tell you what my intended message is, then I flavor your response to the text. If you discover what I meant and don’t feel I beat you over the head with it, then I have done my job well.
- Are your works based on someone you know or events in your life?
In part. My books happen in the present and, as such, it makes it easier for me to directly scavenge my life for interesting people and experiences to adapt.
- Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
When I was a young teenager, I read a lot of Piers Anthony. He would always have these Afterwords where he would go on about how he never got writer’s block and how there was no such thing and it was all in the heads of those who said they had it – as if there was an actual, physical block. And I remember reading this when I get blocked from time to time and I say, “Fuck you, Piers Anthony!” And then I write something…just a word or two and try to find my way back into a groove. Because if Piers Anthony can spin his pun-filled fluff out in his little writer shack in Florida, I can break down some pesky minor block.
- Who is your favorite author and why?
Not Piers Anthony. Grrr. Okay, it’s a toss up between a lot of folks because I’m not so single minded that I can land on one writer and say that writer is my favorite. I’m far too moody a reader and while I have an undying love for Virginia Woolf and Gabriel Garcia Marquez because they both taught me that writers can do things that I didn’t know they could do, were allowed to do in the case of Marquez, I’m not always in the mood for them. I love Dan Simmons because he’s smart and he’s unafraid to write books for people who know things. He’s like the James Joyce of genre fiction. I love Chuck Palahniuk because when I read him, I learn stuff…stuff I can use. I’m a longtime Larry Niven fan and H.P. Lovecraft is amazing and SO influential on my work.
How could I pick just one?
- How long does it take you to write a book?
It took me seven years to write my first book. It took me seven months to write my second. I’m hoping I can crank out the third in seven weeks. If I had the available time, I could, actually. Seven days is not achievable for me, though.
- What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Someone criticized me for writing long sentences without punctuation and paragraphs that go on for pages. I took it as a compliment. Sentences are as long as they need to be and punctuation is for rhythm. So if it is a long sentence without punctuation, I want it to be that way because I think sometimes prose should be breathless. I also love repetition. Again, it’s a rhythm thing. I feel prose should be musical.
- If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in any of your books?
Nah. If I wanted to change something, one of the glories of being an independent author is that I can sneak a revision in when no one is looking. The fact is, my first book was pushed quickly to print and as a result, the editing was not…good. So I spent the time to fix it and now, even though some reviews of it complain about the mistakes, those mistakes are no longer there. I don’t even know what they are talking about. What mistakes?
- Do you have any fun Halloween experiences you can tell us?
My spouse and I honeymooned in Salem, MA on Halloween. We actually started our trip in Vermont and it was the first time I had ever been there and certainly a big part of my experience in how I see Vermont in my head…how I created the town. But Salem was a blast. We didn’t have costumes so we went into a little store there. I bought a burglar mask and she bought a cheap cat costume. I was a cat burglar. It was an awesome party. We went to haunted houses, grave yards, impromptu performances and took a haunted tour of Salem at night. It was my favorite Halloween ever.
- What scares you?
The thought of something happening to my spouse or my kids. More than anything. I’m also petrified of being buried alive. Ever since I was a kid and read Poe’s story. Seriously, I can’t think of anything worse...aside from family tragedy. I think I would allow myself to be buried alive to protect them. I’m pretty sure I would…I think.
- Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?
Yes. And I rush to write it down before I lose it. It takes a lot to scare me and sometimes I laugh to myself when I come up with something and I say, “Holy shit!” and laugh some more. Laughter often defeats fear.
- Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?
I do. Not necessarily ideas, but sometimes I want historical events or mythologies to work with in my stories. In Summer I do this a number of times because of the nature of that book. My next book will explore a number of mythologies more directly, so I’ll have to brush up on some things. But I’m a knowledge junkie anyway, so if I know more things, it makes me happy. More ego food.
Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
One of the most important things about my work is that I am interested in the ways people think and access knowledge and memory. I think we all do this a little differently, but there is a process to it. A lot of how my work is structured reflects what I believe is the essential randomness of the human mind. Given then, everything is meaningful and helps to create a full picture of how we experience the world.
And when all else fails, there is always cheese.
Vermont, picturesque and lovely, attracts visitors from across the country in search for the perfect picture, the perfect fall foliage or perhaps a taste of maple syrup. Stansbury is best known for the odd covered bridge that spans Stansbury Lake and goes nowhere, connecting no roads and serving no known purpose. The locals call it the Lakebridge. Very few know of its mysterious origins and fewer care to know more.
Those visiting the town perhaps take a few snapshots and leave, their curiosity quelled by an uneasy feeling that they shouldn’t think on it anymore. The tourists will eventually leave Stansbury, but its residents strangely linger, seemingly held captive by a force they barely recognize. They also do not think about the town’s mysterious artifact much except in passing, all but Gil, his father, Ben, and a few others. They know of the bridge’s dark history and understand that it is responsible for every horror that ever befell the people of Stansbury: the people who fear the bridge but will not speak of it.
The bridge makes people do things – bad things – so that it can continue to love and care for them all. Some have tried to destroy the bridge, but as long as the bridge is fed with the lives of the innocents of Stansbury it will go on – loving the people of Stansbury. Lakebridge: Spring is the first of a four book cycle revolving around Stansbury and the Lakebridge.Lakebridge: Spring available at Amazon in ebook & paperback
In the aftermath of a tragic spring day, the people of Stansbury, Vermont, are unable to forget what happened, as they have all the tragedies of their past. After the media exploited their pain, they have become uneasy with the world beyond their town and with any outsiders. In the aftermath of the media deluge, latecomers straggle into Stansbury looking to pick up the scraps of stories left behind. What they find, however, is that the powerful forces that have guided the destinies of the people of the town for hundreds of years are now at war with one another and in need of pawns. In the aftermath of Spring, there is Summer. Lakebridge: Summer is the second of a four book cycle revolving around Stansbury and the Lakebridge
Lakebridge: Summer available at Amazon in ebook & paperback
Natasha can be found