Author Interview: Natasha Sinel
Author Interview: Natasha Sinel
Today I’m pleased to share an interview I did with Natasha Sinel, author of The Fix, which came out this fall and was named as a finalist for YA Fiction in the USA Best Book Awards. I read The Fix early on and was really caught by its honesty in the difficult topics of sexual abuse, family dysfunction and addiction. The Fix takes an in-depth look at how we identify ourselves with respect to what was done to us, and what that means about who we are. I highly recommend.
Tell us a little about how The Fix came to be.
I took one meaningful moment from my high school experience—a girl and a guy have an intense conversation in which he unlocks something in her she didn’t fully realize was there, then he disappears the next day—and then I built a new story from there. I knew that Macy, the main character, was angry, and as I dug into her backstory, I discovered why. Ultimately, the reason for her anger and her struggle to come to terms with her past became what the book was about.
Had you done any other writing before The Fix?
Yes! After short stories and bad beginnings of novels throughout high school, college, and my 20s, I completed my first manuscript (also YA realistic contemporary) in 2008. It struggled to find a home, so I put it aside to write The Fix. I view the manuscript’s current state as “taking a nice long break.” I haven’t lost hope for its future.
Talk a little bit about the non-writing aspects of your life.
So much of my life has become focused on the writing aspects of my life—writing, reading, and the business of publishing—that this question is surprisingly hard to answer! I think about writing all the time. My non-writing life involves mostly keeping my three sons, who are 10, 9, and 7, alive and generally on the happier side of surviving. They are very close in age but each of them is completely unique, which makes life interesting for us, and also very physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. But we all have fun together—we go on ski trips in the winter, and beach trips in the summer. And, since our extended families are spread out along the east coast, midwest, and Florida, we do a lot of traveling and hosting.
The Fix deals with some pretty intense issues: addiction, trauma, sexual abuse. What was the experience of writing about these topics like?
It was intense! I hadn’t planned on writing a novel about so many tough issues, but they turned up in my characters’ backstories, and once they were there, they were there to stay, along with the fixes they used to cope.
I believe that everyone hides pain from others. Often it’s denial used for self-preservation, but sometimes it’s because we believe our pain isn’t important enough to share. This seems particularly true for girls. Through Macy, I learned how a girl can go through the process of accepting not only that her pain is real but also important enough to share. That she’s important enough to speak up and to be heard. I felt a lot of pressure to do this right. I did plenty of research for this book—on sexual abuse, addiction, psychiatric hospitals, depression—to make sure I got the details right, but most of what my characters felt, I could imagine. That’s what writers do. And that was pretty intense!
I have to ask the Obligatory question about writing YA: what do you think of our genre?
I’m a YA fiction reader—mostly contemporary realistic—so I love our genre. I know I should expand my reading to include other types of fiction, as well as non-fiction, but my reading time is limited, and I’ve decided I should just read what I want! What I love about reading and writing YA is exploring the very real feelings that happen to us during high school. Things matter. Teenagers are just beginning their journey toward independence, figuring out who they are, what’s important to them, how they feel about themselves. And they’re seeing that adults are actually just people—and that’s a precarious and exciting place to be.
What other kinds of books or media do you enjoy?
I love reading picture books and middle grade books with my three young boys, particularly picture books. I’m always interested to see which my children have loved and wanted to read over and over (and over and over) again, and whether, as an adult, I feel the same way. At the opposite end, I also like to read racy new adult fiction.
I worked on the business side at Showtime for years, so being a TV junkie was pretty much a requirement for the water cooler. Lately, though, I’ve been finding that reading is the only activity that stops my often-involuntary multi-tasking behaviors, so I’ve been doing a lot more reading than watching. I’m hoping to start leaving my house and going to the movies again—we have an amazing non-profit theater nearby that shows the best indie films.
What’s on tap next for you in terms of book stuff?
I have two manuscripts (both YA realistic standalones) in the almost-done stage and ready to send to my agent. But the almost-done stage is taking longer than I’d hoped!
Thanks for the chat, Natasha!
Visit Natasha Sinel online: