Rising Stars continues in 2021! Hooray! The goal of this series is to highlight my fellow kidlit creators who are working their tails off to birth their beautiful book babies into the world. These interviews will cast a light on the wonderful work of these pre-published authors and author-illustrators who are destined to be stars!
Meet Rising Star
Author Natalie Morales
Natalie Morales was born and raised in Southern California to two immigrant parents. Natalie is a storyteller and dual language writer. She holds a dual degree from Seattle University where she studied for two quarters at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Puebla, Mexico. Natalie also holds a J.D. from the University of San Francisco, School of Law where she served as a representative for the Family Law Society and the Youth Advocacy Association. Natalie now lives in Northern California with her husband and two dogs. Natalie is currently seeking agent representation.
Let’s start with a speed round…
NM: I have always enjoyed jotting down stories and poems in a notebook or on my phone. Writing has always felt like an escape. I took up writing seriously a little over a year ago and joined Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 challenge in January of this year where I met some wonderful writers by joining critique groups. In late March of this year, I was offered a book deal. It was through one of my critique group partners that I learned of my publisher, Young Dragons Press, a division of Oghma Creative Media. After submitting a manuscript for critique, a critique group partner suggested I query it to Young Dragons Press. I am one to believe that everything happens for a reason, all you need to do is believe in yourself.
AD: A fellow 12x12er! Hooray! Congrats on the recent book deal with Young Dragon press, too! I can't wait to learn more about the story!
AD: Did you always know you wanted to be an author? Have you explored other paths or had/have other jobs?
NM: I have worked in the legal field since graduating undergrad. I am now a law school graduate preparing for the California bar exam. I have always wanted to be a writer and aspired to be a published author. It wasn’t until the pandemic that life slowed enough for me to really consider taking it seriously. Now, I divide my time to both study and develop my craft. Writing is something I look forward to doing for the rest of my life.
AD: Good luck as you prepare for the California bar exam! Exciting stuff! And yes, a bright spot to this crazy pandemic has been time to pause and reflect often leading to unexpected and welcoming surprises.
AD: What topics or themes do you tend to focus on in your writing? Favorite genres you like to write in or favorite techniques?
NM: I enjoy writing dual language fiction. Spanish was my first language. I learned English predominantly in grade school. Growing up, I had the insecurity of reading aloud. When writing, I keep my younger self in mind. I aim to inspire children from any background to enjoy reading.
AD: Breaking into the publishing industry is not easy! What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced thus far? What have you done to persevere?
NM: The biggest challenge I’ve faced is my own self-doubt. I have learned that by leaning in and actively participating in workshops, webinars and critique groups I can gain perspective and enjoy the process.
AD: As creators (and humans), we tend to focus on the flaws of our creations or areas for improvement. This helps us grow and develop, but we need not forget the many things we are doing well. With this in mind, what has been your biggest accomplishment or something you are most proud of thus far on your writing journey?
NM: What I am most proud of thus far on my writing journey is my ability to stay creative. Creativity does not necessarily come easily, but I have learned what inspires me and believe that inspiration is everywhere.
AD: Yes, inspiration is all around! The challenge is to slow down and pay attention!
AD: In a similar vein, what do you feel are your strengths as an author? What makes your writing unique to you?
NM: I believe that my background and experience make my writing unique to me.
AD: What inspires your work?
NM: Most of my inspiration comes from people watching and nature. I am also inspired by my family and dogs.
AD: Always a good go-to for inspiration :)
AD: Tell us about your creative process and what you do to keep ideas flowing or what you do when feeling stuck?
NM: I keep a notebook where I jot down any and all ideas. Sometimes I can write out the whole story in one sitting. When I feel stuck, I can get inspired by a note I made in the past, but I am constantly thinking of my next story. If I hit a roadblock, I pivot to the next idea.
AD: What sorts of things have been most integral in your growth as an author?
NM: Being an active SCBWI and Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 challenge member has been integral to my growth as an author. I would also attribute by growth to my wonderful critique partners who make for wonderful teachers.
AD: Critique partners are the best!!
AD: What advice do you have for fellow kidlit creatives?
NM: The one piece of advice that I would give a fellow kidlit creative is to enjoy the process. The journey is almost sweeter than any result. Having the opportunity to be creative is a gift.
AD: Such great advice! It's easy to get caught up in the long game and get frustrated but we must continue to have fun and enjoy the process otherwise what's the point, right?!? :)
AD: Where can readers find out more about you and your work? Please include links to any social media, websites, blogs, etc.
AD: Thank you so much for stopping by the blog, Natalie, and congrats again on your book deal! Hopefully many more to come! I appreciate you sharing a bit about yourself and contributing to the Rising Stars in Kidlit series We can't wait to read your stories! Feel free to drop a comment below to support Natalie and her work, and be sure to subscribe so you don't miss out and follow along on Twitter at #RisingStarsinKidlit!
Who Am I?
Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator who uses her words and pictures to light up the world with kindness. Amanda is the author of the award-winning picture book, 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag, Moonlight Memories (summer, 2023) and a yet to be announced forthcoming title. She also has poetry and illustrations featured in The Writers’ Loft Anthology: Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children. Amanda has over ten years of experience as a classroom teacher and was selected as Massachusetts Secondary Art Educator of the Year. When she’s not busy creating, you can find her sipping tea, petting dogs, and exploring the natural wonders of The Bay State with her family and her rescue pup, Cora. You can learn more about Amanda at www.amandadavisart.com and on Twitter @amandadavisart and Instagram @amandadavis_art.