Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Interview with Natalie McNeal, Author of The Frugalista Files

1. When and why did you begin writing?
When I was in elementary school, I used to do creative writing and win state awards. When I got to high school, I did a journalism workshop at a local college and knew I had found my calling. I've been doing the journalism thing ever since.

I'm not sure why I began writing. It's just something that I've always done. As a professional, I've identified myself more as a journalist. I haven't written fiction since childhood.

2. As a journalist, did you ever think you'd write a book or were your original plans to stay in that field?
Everyone assumes that journalists write books. A lot of people would encourage me to write a book, but for a long time, I didn't have a subject to write about.

3.What inspired you to write Frugalista?
I wrote the book after the blog took off.  A lot of the readers wanted more details than what was in my 300-word blog posts.  When you are building a brand, you are always looking for ways to connect with your people.

4.Were there any aspects of your story that you were afraid or embarrassed to share? Why or why not?
Oddly, I am a private person. I just had this story that people were asking to be told in a book, so I decided to tell it. I talk about a lot of things that happened in my life over the year. It's never easy to discuss love, life or money, but it wouldn't be a memoir if I didn't share with the reader.  I would say everything I shared had some type of emotion attached to it. Memoirs are not easy.

5.What was the hardest part of writing Frugalista?
It was hard to think of my life in a narrative arc. It's my life. It just happened.  Also as a journalist, I am used to telling and reporting stories about other people. It's very scary to turn the pen on yourself.

6. Did you learn anything from writing Frugalista and what was it?
I learned that you can't play it safe all the time. I learned that you have to take a risk and believe that even if you fail, you'll eventually get back up.

7. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Frugalista?
Writers always think there is something to fine tune... Is there ever a perfect manuscript in the author's eyes?

8. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I like Benilde Little's earlier works. She's great with nuance. I do not know her personally.

9. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I'm pretty random. I just read books that peak my interest. My book shelf is pretty diverse. I have everything from Gary Vaynerchuk to Zora Neale Hurston.

10. What book are you reading now?
I'm re-reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith. She's hilarious.

11. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Nowadays, I spend my time purchasing books of my friends. I just ordered Danielle Evans' book, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self.

12. What's next for you?
I'll be promoting the book hard for all of 2011. Also, I'm inviting your readers to join me in a No Buy Month, starting in February. I will be going a month without dining out or getting my nails or hair professionally done. I won't even pay to go to the movies. I always end up saving lots of money when I do it. Buy my book and follow along as we save big money! 

13. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for enjoying the ride with me! I cannot do this alone.

For more from the Frugalista, be sure to visit her at The Frugalista and follow her on Twitter @frugalista.  And be sure to stop back by on Friday for a Frugalista giveaway!

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