Career Inspiration is a new series here on Prettygreentea. I’ve spent the last few months interviewing an inspirational and hard-working bunch of people from the blogging world. The aim of these interviews is to help those of you looking for career inspiration or simply a kick of motivation.
It’s very hard to know what you want to do in life and I’ve always loved finding out what others do and the journey they took to get there. So, please enjoy my first interview with the inspirational Natasha Ngan – YA author and blogger over at Girl in the Lens.
Congratulations on the publication of your second book, The Memory Keepers. When did you realise you wanted to become an author?
I’ve wanted to be an author from young, since as long back as I can remember. Reading and writing has always been my biggest passion. I grew up surrounded by books, and as an only child they were like company, friends even, to me. Being an author is the one thing I never believed I could do, and yet the one thing I could never imagine not doing.
How did you go about finding a publisher?
I started with getting an agent first, which today is most writers’ first step to being published since the majority of publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. I was lucky to have a few offers of representation from agents, and ended up choosing the wonderful Nicola Barr from Greene & Heaton. Together, we revised my first novel, The Elites, before sending it out to publishers. Two days later, we had our first offer!
Did you go to university? If so, what did you study?
I went to Cambridge University and studied Geography, of all things! Everyone always thinks I must have studied English, but I chose Geography because I adore English enough already and spend so much of my free time reading and writing. Plus, we studied the most interesting things during my degree – I specialised in Cultural Geography – and many of them went on to inspire my stories.
What made you start your blog, Girl in the Lens and how has it played a part in your career?
I started GITL with my boyfriend Callum three years ago, when I was working at a social media agency in London. It seemed like a great way to learn more about social media, and something creative Callum and I could work on together (he does all the beautiful photography you see on the blog!). Back then, I had no idea how big a role it would play in my career. Now I’m half blogger, half author! It constantly surprises me how much my two worlds interact. I’m lucky that my blog readers are interested in my writing, and vice versa, and have even spoken on panels at literary events about blogging.
What is a typical work day like?
It’s usually pretty manic trying to balance writing and blogging, and every day is a working day – I don’t have weekends! There isn’t really a typical day, and it depends on whether I have either blog or author events. But every day I wake up and check my social media accounts and emails on my phone – which usually ends up taking at least half an hour and I still haven’t gotten out of bed! Then I’ll sit down properly to answer emails after breakfast and write a blog post or two. I usually work on blog-related things until mid-late afternoon, which is when I realise I probably should devote a bit of time to writing! In the evening I might pop into London for an event or two, and I always finish the day where I started it – in bed checking emails and notifications on my phone! I really must stop doing that.
What keeps you motivated?
Life! It sounds so cheesy, but for me I’m constantly amazed by the world, by the fact that I’m here at all, living and breathing. I don’t understand people when they say they’re bored – how can you be bored?! There’s so much to see and do! I think a big part of that though is my health. I have a genetic condition and a heart problem, which I’m actually having an operation for next month (fingers crossed!). These affect me constantly, every day. I guess I don’t have the privilege of taking life for granted because I’m so aware of my own mortality. So even though it’s a struggle to work so much, I want to keep pushing and challenging myself every day, to make the most of my time here and keep reaching for my dreams.
What direction would you like to take your career over the next few years?
With the blog, I’d love it to develop even more in terms of readership and content. Callum and I are always pushing ourselves to provide bigger and better content for our amazing readers, and we have a redesign to launch soon which will hopefully offer even more from our platform. With writing, I’d just love to be able to keep publishing more books. It’s a dream to make the bestseller list, but ultimately I just want to be able to keep on writing. Every time a reader gets in touch to tell me how much they loved my book, I think - this. This is what makes it all worthwhile.
Finally, do you have any tips for others aspiring to become an author?
Go for it! It’s such a hard industry – not only to break into, but to actually stay in, as there’s not a lot of money involved unless you’re one of the big names, and a lot of your success rests on luck. But if you love writing, you’ll be doing it anyway. I wrote my first novel while I was working full-time in London, and though it’s tough, I couldn’t not do it. The story was in me and I had to tell it. So go for it, you amazing people! Just keep at it, keep writing, keep finishing your work and putting it out there, and who knows what could happen?
Thank you so much for taking part in this series, Natasha. I wish you the best of luck with your future career and will continue to follow your daily updates and hopefully I can treat you to a coffee soon. You can find Natasha over on Girl in the Lens, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
If you would like to take part in my Career Inspiration series then just drop me a message on Twitter.