Who am I?
My name is Natasha Duncan-Drake and I'm a Brit living in a small village just outside Canterbury in the South East of England. As you may have guessed from the Duncan part of the surname, my family has Scottish roots. The Drake part is from my husband Rob who I have been happily married to since 1997. I have a twin sister, Sophie who is as insane as I am :).
What do I do?
I am a full time author, cover designer and publisher of eBooks for the company I run with my sister: Wittegen Press.
I love to write and spend a great deal of time doing so, but I also design most of the covers for Wittegen, as well as formatting many of the books. Sophie is our chief editor because she's really good at that kind of thing and we both handle publicity (which seems to take an inordinate amount of time).
What did I do before?
I used to be a techie. Before Soph and I started Wittegen Press I was a systems consultant and database designer. My background is mostly technology based. I have a degree in Computer Systems Engineering and a PhD in Pattern Recognition, but I have always loved to write. When my whole department was made redundant in 2010 I took my redundancy money and at first tried the traditional publishing route, before taking the plunge and setting up Wittegen with Sophie.
Why do I do it?
Ever since I was young I have delighted in creating stories and using my imagination. The first instance I really remember was when our teacher read us "The Hobbit" in primary school and it fired my imagination so much I had to write. I don't remember what I wrote now, but I do remember pouring words onto paper.
I write because I have to get the words out so I can share them with others. One of the things I have always delighted in is being able to create something that brings pleasure to someone else.
This desire to create did give us one of the big family jokes. I could only have been ten or so and I wrote a story about a woman who had been "rapped and stabed" (not that I really knew what that meant and as you can tell I couldn't even spell it). I have never been allowed to forget that and I don't even remember the rest of the story, just those three words. I think she might have been dumped over the side of a ship and been rescued by a handsome man, but I could be wrong and I was only ten so please forgive me the clichés.
I began reading high fantasy when I started senior school. I won a citizenship prize of a book token and I bought "The Wishsong of Shannara" and never looked back. I started writing original fantasy fiction and fanfiction in earnest when I was about twelve. I still have my notebooks in a drawer that are never going to see the light of day ever again :).
However, it was when I was doing my PhD and I ended up online that I discovered other people liked writing as well. I leapt feet first into Highlander fandom, writing fanfiction and have been writing in one fandom or another ever since. My original writing was mostly put on a back burner for a long time, but then, just before I was made redundant actually, Soph and I decided to start writing a book together. That was "Sacrifice of An Angel" and I have not stopped.
Currently I have four novels and numerous short stories, novelettes and novellas published.
Will I ever stop?
Hell no :)
Writing is one of my great passions, but I do love lots of other things as well:
- Reading - I don't have as much time to read as I'd like, but I read while I'm on the exercise bike every morning and I browse fanfic at lunch time online
- art - I love creating art and looking at it. Rob and I spent five and a half hours wandering around the National Gallery the other weekend with their audio tour - stunning.
- singing - my mother has sung to me since I can remember, so, of source, Soph and I turned out to be singers. Before my father retired as a CofE vicar I used to be choir mistress at the church.
- baking & cooking - my mother is a fantastic baker of cakes and I love having a go myself. As they say, baking is a science and cooking is an art, so I have a lot of fun cooking too. I only occasionally have complete disasters. If you would like to see some of my favourites check out the recipe tag on my blog.
- TV - I do like watching TV, murder mystery, police dramas, sci-fi, fantasy, documentaries, cookery programs. The only thing I avoid is reality TV and news.
- Films - Rob and I have a seven foot screen and projector as our TV and we love to watch movies on it. We also like a trip to the cinema, if only they would stop showing everything in 3D! Movies that take you away from reality are my favourite, but they can be set in the real world, just not too real. I'd rather see Welcome to the Punch than Lincoln and The Avengers rather than a war film, if you see what I mean.
- costume making - I used to do this a lot for conventions, but I am very much out of practice. I knocked up two full sets of Jedi robes in a week once :).
One thing I enjoy, but really suck at is sport. I have an ankle condition called Talipes, also called club foot, which means I can't run very fast, jump, walk long distances or stand for long periods. Bascially my ankle joints are virtually fixed in place and I cannot put my heels on the ground so anything athletic is kind of out. I remember in school not even making it in to the sandpit when doing the long jump - which I found hilarious (and let's not mention my attempt at hurdles - the only way I could get over something that high was to dive at it) :).
I used to be able to play sports when I was younger, badly, but I could still play :), these days, not so much. I take my exercise on a semi-recumbent exercise bike and with a set of weights so I don't have to stand up while doing it. I like my bike; it keeps my heart in shape, but lets me read at the same time - win/win :).
So that's me, do drop me a note and let me know about yourself; I love new friends.