Meet Natacha Guyot- A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation and Storytelling in Star Wars

InterviewPic1Natacha Guyot is a French author, scholar and public speaker. She is passionate about Science Fiction, Transmedia, Gender Studies, Children’s Media and Fan Studies.

She holds two Master’s degrees: Film and Media Studies (Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle) and Digital Culture and Technology (King’s College London). Since 2012, Natacha has been published in several countries and was a guest speaker at academic conferences and university lectures in both Europe and North America.

What is your current release and (without spoilers) tell us about the new book or series.

Galaxy - Revised CoverFall is quite busy! On September 9, I released the New Revised Edition of A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation and Storytelling in Star Wars. It is a collection of essays reflecting on different aspects of the franchise, from main characters to older video games.

On November 9, my first work of fiction (in English) will come out. It is a collection of (related) short-stories called Clairvoyance Chronicles: Volume One. It is the start of a series featuring Weres of all kinds (Were Cougars, Were Bears…), Fae, Shape Shifters and other creatures (though no vampire). An ancient enemy returns after a long time and his actions will have consequences on many people’ lives.

What is the usual process for your writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

When it comes to nonfiction (transmedia, gender studies, fan cultures), I am a 100% plotter. I need to have my detailed structure all ready before starting to write. I can’t properly function otherwise.

For fiction, I am mostly a plotter, but during the last year, I have had several projects take me down the pantser path, and I have enjoyed it. How much a plotter and a pantser I am for fiction is now a rather organic process and I never really know which road I’ll follow and for how long!

Guyot_Clairvoyance_BookcoverOnce you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?

I often start taking notes but I don’t use any exercises to establish world-building when I write fiction. I’ve created imaginary worlds for more than 15 years, so I often take notes a little randomly at first, and when I have enough, I divide the content between various Word documents (the only other writing software I use is Scrivener and only for eBook formatting). I also tend to think about the story and world when I try to get to sleep and if I’m lucky to get inspiring dreams, it makes for even more note taking once I am up.

Sometimes, I have very vivid ideas and need to start writing right away, in case I’m on pantser mode. Some of my recent novellas have come to life like this and they have turned out well. The only thing I always try to keep in mind is to have semi equal chapters or chapter sections for nonfiction, to keep things flowing better and more balanced.

For nonfiction, I start by researching and taking time to go through my shelves to go back to some books. I can also rewatch the TV shows or movies I am going to work on. If I am to write about video games, I can take notes while playing them. I work on the detailed structure in between research before starting writing.

Are you a full time writer? If so when did you make the decision and what factors led to the decision? If you are not a full time writer…Is your plan to one day become a full time writer?

I have been a full time writer for a little while now. It happened for personal reasons and circumstances. It has allowed me to gain professional experience and embrace the writer’s side of me which had been there for a long time, but without as much time to exist.

I hope to go back to being a part time writer in the near future, as I am planning to relocate to the UK next year, as soon as I find a paid full time work in the creative/cultural/media industries or the higher education sector.

Cover Mako Yoko - Small VersionWhat is your daily writing time like?

I don’t have a fixated routine when it comes to writing. I do something on my projects every day, even when suffering from a severe burnout like I have for the past couple of weeks. Even when I don’t actual writing, I make sure to get plotting, revision, formatting and/or book marketing done, so I keep things going.

When I write a project, I try to do like a chapter per day if fiction, or if it’s nonfiction, a section of a chapter. I am a rather slow writer but a steady one, so as long as I see progress, it is all right.

What does Transmedia mean to you and how can other authors start to move their work toward the future of storytelling?

I was introduced to the concept of Transmedia during my university classes. I like how the multiplicity of media (which has existed in several forms for decades though) and the recent easier access allows for such a versatile storytelling experience for reader/viewer/player.

At the moment, my stories are only book-based but I would love to see them have multiple lives down the road (an author can dream, right?) I think that being open to different formats, even in terms of books; can be a great way to embrace how different platforms can enhance the story.

While I like transmedia and the opportunities it present, the one thing that I dislike about it is when you are “forced” as a reader/watcher/player, to use all platforms available. I still like the idea of one or two main formats and have extra content that adds to the universe but need not be mandatory.

Can you tell us about your publishing experience? Are you Indie, Traditional, or do a bit of both?

Cover TalynI have had interest in indie publishing since the late 90s but didn’t embrace it until January 2015. My background is mostly in academic publishing, whether writing single chapters for collections or editing volumes. I took a ten-year break from fiction writing, so I focused on academic/nonfiction for the past few years.

While I have had some experience with traditional publishing, I made the decision to full go indie instead of remaining hybrid, this year. I haven’t regretted it at all. It fits my work better, between the creative control and also having the possibility to manage my publishing calendar on my own. I write both fiction and nonfiction, and different types of length/format, so having the possibility to organize things at my convenience, including for my cover designer and editor, is a blessing.

Everyone likes to know where an author gets their ideas from. What is the strangest thing to inspire one of your stories?

Now, I’ll have to pick one! I always have pencil and notebook on me because ideas strike me at the most random times. I am having a hard time finding something really strange to actually inspire me. I tend to remember the circumstances better, like how I always had ideas while on the bus ride through London during my second MA degree or how I often need to get back up at night, because the muses strike. A few months ago, I had my villain from Clairvoyance Chronicles sit on my desk for the whole night, finally willing to tell me what he had been up to since Stone Age!

Can you tell us about some of your other writing (fiction or nonfiction) and any appearances or signings that you have planned?

This Fall and upcoming Winter are very focused on A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation and Storytelling in Star Wars (New Revised Edition) and Clairvoyance Chronicles: Volume One. I hope to do something special for the nonfiction title around December prior to the release of the new Star Wars movie. As for Clairvoyance Chronicles, it will be at the center of my blogging from mid-October and mid-December, as I have been preparing a tour across multiple blogs and am very excited about it.

Besides these two projects, I am currently in revision stages for several titles, mostly novellas but also a nonfiction book about women characters in Science Fiction television.

As an author what inspiration or advice would you give to a writer who is working to make the transition to Author?

old repWrite about what you are passionate about. Educating yourself in the genres you are writing in, as well as general storytelling techniques, is very important too. There are many online resources and/or affordable books. (I have been answering some writing related questions in my Digital Quill Answers blog series as well).

Besides the craft, I also find it good to learn about the market, whether you want to be indie, traditionally published, or both. I have enjoyed meeting fellow authors/aspiring authors via WordPress and other social media. This has definitely helped me a lot!

Keep reading. A writer who doesn’t read isn’t good. At the same time, if other things give you inspiration, go for it! I find that playing some video games make my muses extremely happy, for example.

Who inspires your writing (at this moment)? Tell us what makes these people (or their work) stand out in your mind?

Since I have been mostly working on fiction works lately, Science Fiction and Fantasy, I would say that Joan D. Vinge, J. K. Rowling and C.J. Cherryh have been strong influences. I have always loved how they create such vivid settings and make the reader care for the characters whether in happy or difficult times. Some of their social and political thoughts via their storytelling are also quite impressive.

Which of your books would you recommend to a new reader? Why?

While my previously released titles were all nonfiction, save for a novella in French, I would really recommend my upcoming collection of Fantasy/Paranormal short stories. Returning to fiction, with Clairvoyance Chronicles: Volume One, has been a great experience. I have put a lot of themes important to me in it, from spirituality to diversity, family and friendship. The large cast of characters brings different points of view on life and its hardships, making the story compelling and I hope that readers will enjoy the universe and look forward to the rest of the series.

If you would like to learn more about Natacha Guyot or her books please check out the links below. Her full publication list can be view here.

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