I have another great author to introduce you to this month, Natalie Monk, who has graciously provided an autographed copy of Of Rags and Riches to give away to one lucky commenter. I had the pleasure of meeting Natalie last year at the National ACFW Conference, just before she received the contract for her debuting novella, For Richer or Poorer. It is a privilege to know her and introduce you to her today.
Natalie Monk is an award-winning writer of historical romance. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. A preacher’s daughter from South Mississippi, Natalie loves porch swings, old movies, and meeting readers through her website: www.nataliemonk.com.
Thank you, Natalie, for agreeing to an interview and generously providing an autographed book!
Everyone has quirks in their life, whether it be collecting something unique or something you do to relax. What would you say are your quirks?
Oh, fun question! I collect unique tea cups and different kinds of tea to try. I like to crochet to relax, but only in the winter.
How did you become a part of the Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection?
Gabrielle Meyer and I met at the 2015 ACFW conference and later that fall, she emailed me about a Barbour Collection proposal she was putting together and invited me to submit an idea for the anthology (synopsis and first scene). A few months later, we got an email Barbour had accepted the proposal!
What was it like to work in a collection? Did you collaborate with the other authors? Or did you work mainly on your own?
Working in a collection was such a blessing for a debut author like me. I can’t say how helpful it was to have eight other ladies to field newbie questions, share the marketing load, and celebrate “the end.” We kept in communication through a private Facebook group. As far as the stories, we knew a bit about one another’s stories from reviewing the proposal, but we didn’t have to share a setting location or characters, so for the writing we worked on our own.
FOR RICHER OR POORER Blurb:
In order to bring her starving family to New Jersey, Polish immigrant and housemaid Marcella Lipski must marry wealth…so she dons her employer’s discarded ball gowns and goes husband hunting at Newark’s tourist spots. There’s just one problem. Ella can’t speak a speck of English. She considers herself blessed to secure free English lessons from a poor-but-mysterious cart driver—until she loses her heart in the process.
Your heroine speaks Polski. Why did you choose this background for your character? Did you know Polski or did you have to research it?
Ella’s Polish heritage was inspired by a lady I met in South Mississippi, whose Polish parents came to New Jersey during WWI, met in America, married, and had several children. Ella’s character and background took up a major part of my research for the novel. From historical Polish politics, to the immigrant journey, cultural prejudice and the language (including Youtube videos explaining the mechanics of the Polish-English accent), there was so much I didn’t have room to include in the novella. Fascinating to learn about, though! Maybe I can use the info in future novels. 🙂
How did the idea for your story come about?
Due to some internet kerfuffle on my part, I didn’t get into my email to see the invitation to submit to the collection until a week before the submission deadline, so to put it lightly, I needed a quick plot! To help with that, I decided to do a twist on the classic Cinderella story. Remembering the Polish lady I had recently met, I decided to make “Cinderella” a Polish immigrant come to America on a husband hunt to save her starving family. I had also recently read a few biographical writings about George Muller, a man of faith who started orphanages in the 1800s. Things developed from there.
How was God involved in your publication journey or the writing of this story?
Well, Gabrielle and I met because of a scheduling fluke at an editor pitching session, but I’ve come to think of it as a God moment since the novella came together after that. Also, I happened to receive word about the collection opportunity while I was at a Virginia mountaintop getaway—a perfect place to write, and plenty of time to do it. It hit me in the midst of the process, that God arranged for me to debut with Kathleen Y’Barbo, whose fiction I was reading when I had my first “I want to try to write Christian fiction” moment at fifteen years old. Several other of my writing heroes are in this collection as well. I’m so grateful God arranged things the way He did. As the true Dream Giver, I believe He delights in helping us reach our goals when they line up with what He’s called us, and placed within us a longing, to do.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse? What is it and why is it special to you?
Psalm 139:7-10 has always been dear to me. The truth that God is always with us means so much and influences the way we live if we practice it—something I need to do more of. Isaiah chapter 43 and Ephesians chapter 2 are also favorites.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter and GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. I’ll dig through my TBR pile for a historical romance next, then I’ll be reaching for a romantic suspense!
Some of my followers are authors or aspiring authors themselves. What would you say was the most surprising resource for you that you would encourage others to use?
Hmm. I’m not sure if it would be surprising, but one thing I credit with a major part of my craft knowledge is entering contests. I still put great stock in reading writing craft books, agent or writer blogs, and bestselling fiction in one’s genre, but the contest circuit taught me a lot in a short amount of time. Not always the most comfortable route for the ego, but quick for the essentials and invaluable in developing a thick skin and writer’s intuition about what advice to cull or keep.
The last question is just a fun question my husband uses when he interviews people. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Oh my, this is a hard one. Most superpowers seem to come with huge responsibility, but I think I would choose to be able to do hard things faster with energy left over to spend on family and friends and others in need of help. 🙂
What a fun interview, Crystal! Thank you for hosting me on your website. It’s been a pleasure.
What is your favorite kind of story to read? Do you have a favorite genre? Time period? Plot line?
Comment to be entered to win a copy of Of Rags and Riches. Natalie’s story is autographed! Click here for contest rules. Comments close on Monday, 9/18 at midnight (EST). Winner will be announced in next week’s post. Only one entry per commenter no matter how many comments they make.
Interested in knowing more about the collection. See below and check back next week for a review of the collection and Natalie’s story.
Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed.