Written by JJ Barnes
I am excited to share my interview with Natasha Boydell about her book, The Missing Husband. I ask her about her book, her writing experiences, and what writing advice she can bring to other aspiring authors.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m a 40-year-old mum of two from North London. I trained and worked as a journalist before moving into copywriting and communications in the charity sector. I currently divide my time between looking after my two young daughters, writing fiction and working part-time as a communications consultant. My favourite things (other than my family and friends) are coffee, New Zealand wine, playing piano and my two Blue Cross rescue cats Flo and Ivy.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a little girl. I was always reading or writing stories. Back then, they mainly consisted of ponies and rabbits with the odd fairy thrown into the mix. My primary school teachers told my parents that I would be an author and they were right. But it took a little while to get there!
When did you take a step to start writing?
I built my entire career around writing. I worked as a journalist, copywriter, editor and communications manager. I wrote news stories, magazine articles, blog posts, annual reports, press releases – you name it. But when it came to fiction, I definitely had writer’s block. I had ideas over the years, but they never stuck. Life always got in the way.
Then a couple of years ago I had an idea for a novel. It popped into my head and I enthusiastically thrashed out a couple of thousand words before abandoning it for the best part of a year. But it was still there, lurking at the back of my mind. At the end of 2019, I saw a local course called Prioritise Your Writing advertised on social media. Before I had a chance to overthink it, I signed up and made it my new year’s resolution to write and finish a novel by the end of 2020.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write The Missing Husband?
I was reading a book by an author who I absolutely love. It was about a married couple who have difficulties and the husband goes away for a while to find himself. I kept wondering if he was coming back and if there was more to it than met the eye (there wasn’t on this occasion) and this inspired The Missing Husband.
What were your biggest challenges with writing The Missing Husband?
The usual fears and self-doubt that most authors can attest to. But on a practical level, I wrote most of the book during the first lockdown when I was also home schooling my eldest, looking after my toddler and working. Finding time to write as well was a huge challenge but I was so determined to do it, I found time that I didn’t even know I had. I’ve since learned that I work much better under pressure as I wrote the majority of my second novel during the second lockdown. It must be the ex-journalist in me. Now I have far more time and instead of working on my third, I am procrastinating wildly.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
I wrote The Missing Husband after becoming a mum myself and learning how overwhelming this time can be. It throws your entire life upside down and you can start to doubt everything about yourself. Many mums fear they are not good enough or that they are being judged by others. When I wrote Kate, the wife, I wanted to address and acknowledge those feelings. I also wanted her to be flawed – because we are none of us perfect.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
As a mum I’ve always considered parenting from a female point of view. Through Pete, the husband, I wanted to consider it from the dad’s point of view too. It can be a lonely time for new dads because everyone is too busy worrying about how the mother is. Pete is equally flawed and I was curious to see who the reader sided with during the course of this book.
What is the inciting incident of The Missing Husband?
Kate and Pete look like they have the perfect marriage. But one day, Pete leaves for work and never comes home. The book is about Kate’s journey to find out the truth about her husband’s disappearance.
What is the main conflict of The Missing Husband?
The conflict is between Kate and Pete and how they view their marriage from their own, different perspectives.
Did you plot your book in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I plotted it in advance and I already knew the ending before I started writing. I hardly deviated from this initial outline. However, with my next novel, The Woman Next Door, I had a completely different experience. I chopped and changed it constantly, changing everything from a character’s name to a fundamental part of the book. I wrote chapters then deleted them again. So, I learned that each novel is a different experience.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did The Missing Husband need?
Before I submitted my novel, I edited it myself. I was fortunate that I had experience of this from my career and I enjoy doing it. Most of this was going through it with a fine-toothed comb and tweaking small bits. I got feedback from my husband and sister who both read it before I did the final edit and this led to a few more changes. Once I had the publishing deal, my manuscript was professionally edited which was amazing and helped to polish it up.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
As Desmond Tutu said: “There is only one way to eat an elephant. A bite at a time.” The thought of writing a whole novel is extremely overwhelming, so tackle it bit by bit rather than looking at the bigger picture. Set yourself a goal – a few hundred or a few thousand words a week – and don’t look beyond that.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
My second novel, The Woman Next Door will be released in the autumn. It’s a bit different to my first one, more of a chick lit than a domestic noir, and I loved writing it. I’m currently working on my third book.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Sometimes I have to pinch myself that my dream has actually come true. It was 100% worth the effort.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
The Missing Husband, out now on Kindle, KU and paperback: https://geni.us/MissingHusband_BHB