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Debut of the Month - Interview with Natasha Ngan

10 Sept 2013

This is the first month of Debut of the Month here at Bookish Treaures. This is a monthly feature that will focus on a debut author and their novel that is releasing that month through an interview, review etc. This month I have chosen Natasha Ngan and The Elites. I read an arc of The Elites back in July and so far it is the best book I have read this year. It has a great storyline and the writing is beautiful. There will be a review of The Elites up on the blog soon.

I am very excited to share an interview with Natasha today. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the launch party for The Elites last week and she is just as lovely as she seems.

If you are an author interested in being debut of the month for October or onwards please visit my author/publisher page.

The Elites by Natasha Ngan


‘There is a rumour that the Elites don’t bleed.’

Hundreds of years into the future, wars, riots, resource crises and rising sea-levels have destroyed the old civilisations. Only one city has survived: Neo-Babel, a city full of cultures – and racial tension.

Fifteen-year-old Silver is an Elite, a citizen of Neo-Babel chosen to guard the city due to her superior DNA. She’d never dream of leaving – but then she fails to prevent the assassination of Neo Babel’s president, setting off a chain of events more shocking and devastating than she could ever have imagined. Forced to flee the city with her best friend Butterfly (a boy with genetically-enhanced wings), Silver will have to fight to find her family, uncover the truth about Neo-Babel and come to terms with her complicated feelings for Butterfly.

Packed full of adventure, romance, exoticism and the power of friendship, The Elites is a highly compelling and beautifully written novel from a supremely talented debut author.

Try it for yourself (if you only read one book I recommend this year it should be this one)! Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository


Interview with Natasha Ngan

Why did you decide to become an author?

It wasn’t really ever a decision – it was just something I’ve always wanted. Writing is like a compulsion. I have to do it or I don’t feel happy! I see the world through words and stories, and being an author just felt natural. I never expected to actually get published though! The whole process has been a dream.

How do you balance writing with other things in your life?

I don’t sleep! Haha. While that isn’t quite right, it isn’t too far off the truth. I have three jobs – writing, social media consultancy and fashion blogging – and writing and blogging especially are the kind of jobs that never stop. I also have a health condition that means I lose quite a bit of time to illness, so that makes the time I am well even more busy as I rush to do everything I want to!

It all comes down to discipline and dedication. If you love something enough, you’ll make the time for it. I wrote most of my debut novel The Elites late at night after my day’s work was done. It was tiring but utterly worth it.

What is your favourite thing about being an author?

Readers! Just knowing that people are out there, holding my book in their hands, their eyes tracing words that once only existed on my laptop. It’s incredible. It’s even better of course when those readers love my book and get in touch to tell me! It is the best feeling in the world.

As a traditionally published author what did you like (or not like!) about the publishing process?

I love having a team behind me that are so passionate about the book and work hard alongside me for its success. Hot Key have been fantastic in that way. What’s not so great about traditional publishing though are deadlines! Even though I work quickly and know I can meet them, it’s still a bit daunting having them hanging over your head. It can feel a bit claustrophobic.

This might sound weird but sometimes I set my own deadlines sooner than my publisher’s official ones, just so I feel more like I’m working on my own terms. Yup, that does sound weird.

What are your favourite books?

I have so many I’d be here forever listing them all, but some of the books that have really nestled in my heart over the years are – The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, Harry Potter, The Edge Chronicles series by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Philip Reeve’s The Mortal Engines series, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, Atonement by Ian McEwan and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

Are there any books/authors that inspired you to write?

All the ones above! But almost every book and author inspires me to write in some way. If it’s a great book, it pushes me to better myself and make each book I write an improvement on the one before it, and if it isn’t such a great book, then it teaches me to understand what has made it unsuccessful and try and avoid those pitfalls in my own writing. 

Describe your book in one sentence.

In a city in the future where no one ever enters, and no one leaves, Silver, a fifteen-year old girl who works as an Elite to guard the city's leaders, is about to discover just what is outside the city's walls.

Where did you get the idea for The Elites, did anything inspire you to write it?

It all started from one single line that just dropped into my head fully formed one day – “There is a rumour that the Elites don’t bleed.” It’s still the book’s first line! I wanted to know who these Elites where, why there might be this rumour about them. And as I explored those questions, characters and settings and plot developments all started to arrive.

What made you decide to write a Young Adult dystopian novel?

I didn’t set out to write a dystopian novel in particular – it was just something that developed naturally. I've always been interested by dystopian fiction. I think there's something so raw and honest about it. Dystopian stories can really get to the heart of what it means to be human and how fragile - and strong - our societies really are, and it is especially great in YA when combined with themes of identity and self-discovery.

As for YA – I love the genre. We have absolutely everything adult fiction has, but combined with powerful themes of rebellion, the joys and pains of growing up, first love and self-discovery, our books offer a really intense journey through the eyes of teens.

What would you say makes your book unique and worth reading?

While The Elites has a dystopian narrative, I think it’s pretty different from most of the other dystopian novels out there. It has a really unique and immersive setting, with a strong multicultural aspect you don’t often see in YA fiction, and characters that are real and flawed – all with a few surprises thrown in!

Is there any specific message you wanted to convey in the book?

There’s a strong theme of identity and self-empowerment threaded through the book. It explores the nature vs nurture debate, and I like to think offers a hopeful outlook on the topic that shows how far we can all take ourselves with enough faith and self-belief.

What are you currently working on?

The Memory Keepers, my second book for Hot Key. It’s another futuristic YA standalone, this time set in London. Technology has progressed to the point where people are able to make recordings of their memories, and some of these memories are traded as commodities for people to 'surf' (experience them for themselves).

The story follows Seven, a boy who steals memories to trade on the black market, and a privileged but sheltered girl called Alba, who is from one of the most prominent families in London. Alba discovers Seven when he breaks into her home one night to steal a memory. But instead of giving him away, and for reasons he'll later learn, Alba promises to keep it a secret if Seven takes her back to his flat to memory surf. Together, they end up discovering a memory about Seven himself, and they try and uncover what his hidden past means before they are found by those that want his secret for themselves.

I can’t wait to share it with everyone! It’s been such a fun story to write so far, and I’m head over heels in love with my two main characters.

What are your plans for future books?

I’ve got so many stories ready to go that I’ll be fine for the next 20 years if I don’t get any more ideas! After The Memory Keepers, the next set of books I’m working on is a YA urban fantasy series, and then it’s back to standalones with a few sci-fi and fantasy stories.

Do you have any hobbies and Interests unrelated to books?

I love fashion and photography, which combine in the blog I run with my boyfriend, Girl in the Lens. Apart from that, I just try and live life to the full – travelling, eating, spending time with friends and family, reading, working hard on projects I love, exercising, learning new things every day.

Would you ever consider putting these (answer to above) into any of your books?

I think all my books incorporate the things I love most about life. So much of my studies at university (I did Geography at Cambridge) have fed into The Elites and other books I want to write, and travelling is a great way to let new ideas evolve. Sometimes a little too much of what I love goes into my writing though. The first draft of The Elites had food references on practically every page!


If you could meet any one author (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

J. K. Rowling. She seems like such an intelligent, grounded woman who’d be fascinating to talk to.

Tell us one interesting fact about yourself.

I have long, complex dreams every night, and I remember all of them. It’s like watching a move every time I go to sleep!

What is your favourite food?

I could be here a while. Let’s see. Some of my favourites include – burgers, blueberries, Milky Bar Giant Buttons, tempura prawns, my mum’s pork belly, popcorn, bread with butter, ice cream, bangers and mash, steamed fish … I could go on.

What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?

When I was younger I used to go on these things called hashes in Malaysia, which are basically runs through the jungle. We’d go through mountains, rainforest waterfalls, quicksand, rivers full of snakes … they were just the most amazing experiences.

If you could be any supernatural creature which would you choose?

A bird version of a werewolf – I’d love to be able to suddenly have wings and just lift off into the sky.


When I went to The Elites launch party I forgot to take my copy of The Elites to get signed so I bought another. Because of this and also because I love this book so much I want other people to read it, I am giving away my original copy (in good condition). Due to postage costs this is open only to people in the UK. My usual rules (on the giveaway page) apply.

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1 comment:

  1. Great interview! I know what she means about not sleeping - Seems like its becoming normal not to go to bed before 2:00 a.m. lately. This sounds like a good series.


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