I recently had the pleasure of interviewing an up-and-coming prose writer from the Netherlands, Chantal Noordeloos. Chantal started off her career as a professional writer with the publication of several riveting tales for various horror themed anthologies, and in 2012 she won an award for ‘Best Original Story’ for her short ‘the Deal’. Since then she’s tackled a variety of different genres and subject matter besides just horror, including a Steampunk novel ‘Coyote’ as well as several works set in a fantasy setting.
First off, tell me a little about yourself. What would you say initially got you interested in writing?
Chantal Noordeloos: As you can see, my name is Chantal Noordeloos, which leads to some very hilarious misconceptions about my name. My friends call me Chanti, and I’m often called Noodles by people who can’t pronounce my name right. I’ve learned to go with it. I’ve been a storyteller all my life, but my interest in writing only blossomed when I was 15, thanks to a very good English teacher, who prodded me with a cattle rod (… mentally stimulated me to write stories more like). I knew I wanted to be a writer then, but it took me about 21 years to finally take the step and become a full-time writer.
So, you were always a storyteller, it just took time to develop your ability to weave your stories onto the written page for regular publication. Do you remember the first story where you felt you had made the leap to full-time writer?
Chantal Noordeloos: Yes, it was the first story I had published called ‘Only Forgotten’ in June 2012. It’s still lurking around in some anthology somewhere, though I have reworked since and it has become a new story that belongs in my ‘Even Hell Has Standards’ series called Pride. I have to admit, it took me quite a while to accept I was a professional writer, and there are still times where I am absolutely baffled by the fact that my dream came true.
I would have to agree with you about that last part. Some days I’m more surprised I get to do this for a living than others. Especially on Mondays.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Chantal Noordeloos: My first instinct is to cry out: ‘Editing.’ Of course I can’t do so without a fair bit of hair pulling, lip biting and putting on my mask of despair. Yet, if I’m truly honest…the editing is rough, but getting your work noticed is far more difficult. These days the market is rather saturated with writers, and a lot of the promotion has to come from us (though I have my suspicions it gets easier once you have written the elusive bestseller). It’s important to be seen. How else are people going to find your work? Part of me wishes my books would spontaneously blow fairy-dust into the air that would attract readers, but unfortunately they do no such thing. So it’s up to me to make my books as alluring as I can make them, show some proverbial leg, so to speak. Writing alone isn’t enough. I really wish it would be, but there are many things to consider. I wouldn’t mind just focusing on honing my craft, and having the magical pixies sell my books.
Very true. Sometimes getting the word out about the things you have written and encouraging others interest in your writing can be the toughest part of being a full-time writer.
Chantal Noordeloos: I used to joke with one of my editors that I would dress up in a chicken suit and wave my books around to get some attention. For the record, I haven’t done that… yet.
Not yet, but if the opportunity presented itself and there was a clear possibility of an immediate bestseller, we would all be putting on chicken suits.
How would you say the process for writing your Steam punk novel Coyote differed from one of your horror short stories.
Chantal Noordeloos: Yes, it’s very different. I tend to be in a different mood when I write different things as well. Coyote is some of my lighter work, though I would like to think it still has some layers. I have a lot more fun writing Coyote, because the character is witty and lighthearted. When I write horror I tap into my inner fears. I have been laughed at by several peers, since I’m very easy to scare, yet some of the horror I write is rather intense. I guess that doesn’t make a lot of sense to some people. I write about the things that make me want to curl up in a little ball and suck my thumb, while weeping softly. All I can do is hope that it’ll have the same effect on my readers (because I’m cruel like that).
Having said that, sometimes I also get led by just an interesting story concept, and I don’t always focus on the horror element. At times gruesome things just happen all by themselves.
The thing that is similar between all my different writing styles (I also write different types of fantasy) is that I always try to imagine myself there. I try to be connected to my characters as much as I can be. Needless to say, it’s nicer to be connected to a Female gunslinger than to the victim of some monster or other. 😉
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
Chantal Noordeloos: Ooh, that question is a triksy hobbit! I guess I want to take the reader on a journey. For me it’s very important that my writing can be a form of escape from reality. The best thing is when someone tells me that my book has had an impact on them emotionally, or that what I said in my story made them think. I like to write stories that on occasion (not always) have a bit of depth to them, that show the world from a different perspective. Nothing makes me more happy than having someone read my book and living in the world I’ve created for them, even if it’s just a little while.
I hope that each book will give the readers something different to take away. With Coyote I hope that having a strong female character will be a good role model for young women, and that women can identify themselves with a much needed female heroine. With my horror stories I like to scare people, or even touch their hearts at times. With the Even Hell Has Standards series I’m hoping to shock people a little (not too much) and get them to think about the darkness in humanity. So… I guess it really depends on my work to what I want people to take away. But I like to think all my stories have something that will provoke some sort of thought or feeling.
Okay, one last question. What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
Chantal Noordeloos: Well, I always joke that Facebook is my ‘office’. I have a writer’s page there, which is probably the most personal way to connect with me: https://www.facebook.com/ChantalNoordeloosStoryteller?ref_type=bookmark
I try to use twitter as well (C_Noordeloos) but to be honest, I haven’t mastered the art of Twitter-Fu yet. I still feel like a little lost girl in a room full of strangers, trying to be heard over a lot of shouting voices.
There is of course my Amazon page, that has all my own books and the anthologies some of my stories are featured in: http://www.amazon.com/Chantal-Noordeloos/e/B009XUB50W/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
I have a website that I really need to update: www.chantalnoordeloos.info, which has a link to my authorgraph page (if you buy any of my ebooks, feel free to hit me up for an autograph, I will be glad to do it)
And of course there is my second screen website (which is for the Coyote books) www.coyotethebooks.com
Great stuff. For me the whole 140 character limitation tends to be my biggest issue with Twitter. Never seems to be enough words available for what I’m wanting to say.