Essence by Natalie Jones
I just finished reading Essence, a fantasy novel written by Natalie Jones. They say you should never choose a book by its cover but the cover is so stunning, it definitely sparked my interest. It is a beautiful book, inside and out. Essence is Jones’s debut novel and I absolutely loved it. I devoured it in 2 days! I met Natalie through Instagram and I am so happy I did! Not only is she a talented author but she routinely posts fun facts and spreads positivity and encouragement through the writing community.
Before we start the interview, let’s read the synopsis for Essence:
Jayde, a reclusive teenage artist, had tried desperately to tell the world that angels are real. She had even painted the angels she saw, just to convince them all. But nothing worked.
Her friends shunned her. Her family shamed her. She was broken and hopeless in a world where she felt she didn’t belong. Until the night Rory, an angel, appeared in her room to take her. Through Rory, Jayde learns not only about a secret magic she holds inside but also that the angels need her.
In fact, they can’t live without her.
But will a life with the angels be better than the one she has or will it kill her even quicker? Jayde was part of a war she didn’t even know existed. Angels are real, but it’s not what you think. Do you believe in magic?
J.C. - Welcome Natalie! Thank you for agreeing to do this interview! It is a pleasure having you here. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
N.J. - Hi! Thank you for inviting me. I’m honored!
Well, I’ll start with what’s most important. I am a mother of two and a writer. I live in a rural community in Utah with some animals (chickens, rabbits, and cats), a small piece of land, and beautiful scenery.
I’ve lived in Utah all of my life, was educated at the Universities here, and there are many things I enjoy about this state. However, travel has also been a big part of my life. Visiting, exploring, and learning about different areas throughout the country (and sometimes the world) is important to me.
I’ve been a dedicated reader since I was a child. For me, reading has been a method of understanding the world and people. Books have played a large role in my life, and there are many books that impacted me as a younger person that I still have to this day.
J.C. - Where did you come up with the idea to write Essence?
N.J. - That is a funny story actually. Several years ago I sketched an angel watching over a girl. He was in a tree and she was at her window. I showed the drawing to my kids. They were quite young then, so trying to make things fun, I asked them what they thought the angel might be doing? We threw out ideas, and I suggested this angel was protecting the girl. But from what? And that is really how it started. I gave the two individuals in the picture names and elaborated on the story, often when we were driving, just for fun. Eventually, the story became complicated, and I had to start writing things down. When I first started this storytelling game, I had no intention of making a book. I had no idea I would end up publishing it someday.
J.C. - This makes your book extra special!
J.C. - I love the concept of bad angels. Not the typical halo wearing saints you would assume angels to be. You have created two groups of angels, the Mirus and the Defectors. They are strong warriors and guardians. What is your favorite thing about the angels in this book?
N.J. - I love these angels. And you’re right. They are not based on the common religious perception that we are used to. I’ve mentioned in another post on Instagram these angels are even in some ways similar to vampires. So, they definitely don’t fit the mold. That is really what I love about them. They are free to be complex and face morally uncertain situations. They have strengths and weaknesses. Just like us. I hope that is what makes at least some of them relatable.
J.C. - Jayde is a reclusive teen who has lived a very sheltered life that has quite possibly made her a bit of an introvert. She puts a lot of emotion into her artwork and tries to communicate with others through her paintings. Do you have any artistic abilities like Jayde?
N.J. - I would say I have an interest in art that is similar to Jayde’s, but I don’t have her abilities. I wish I did! But Jayde was educated and trained in art in a way that I am not. I am still learning; although, it is a very strong interest of mine.
J.C. - Do you believe in the concept of soulmates and love at first sight?
N.J. - Personally, no; I wouldn’t say I do. But I would say there are certain concepts, and I think these are two, that many people are very drawn to.
J.C. - Some of the angels are high society. There are lavish parties, elegant attire and jewels. It made me think of The Capital in The Hunger Games. Would you rather dress up for a night on the town or jump into sweats and stay home?
N.J. - Well, I take my introversion very seriously, so I very often choose to stay at home in sweats. I do, however, enjoy traveling as I mentioned, so there are times when I may be out and about. Probably not too dressed up though.
J.C. - same here.
J.C. - Who has been your biggest support system while on this writing adventure?
N.J. - My kids have definitely been my support. Although they were very young when I started making up the story of Essence, they are teens now. Essence was an idea I slowly developed and wrote over about five years. My daughter in particular is an avid reader and has a very keen eye for editing and storytelling. So, she has been very involved. Both of my kids read Essence, provided extremely insightful feedback, and have spent countless hours listening to me making up the story. There definitely would never have been a story without them.
J.C. - Finish the sentence. In ten years I’d like to…
N.J. - Be happy. That’s it.
J.C. - That is the best answer!
J.C. - Essence is part of a trilogy. Book two, Essence of the Phoenix, is already available. When can we expect to see book three?
N.J. - The third book, which I’ll tell you is called Essence of Queens, should be available in about a year. It is underway, and I’m very excited about it. My characters have become very real to me, and seeing and knowing their journeys ahead is quite exciting.
J.C. - Lastly, where can readers find you and your work?
N.J. - My books are on Amazon, and they are available on Kindle Unlimited for anyone who is a part of that program. Although I admire everyone who maintains a blog, and other extensive presence in our virtual world, I don’t have the emotional energy for that. I do have Facebook and Twitter, however, I do not have much of a presence on those sites. I use Instagram the most to connect with other writers. My account on Instagram is public, and I welcome direct messages.
Thanks for having me. I’ve enjoyed this!
J.C. - It was my pleasure. I can't wait to read the second book in this series.