“Don’t. Vomit. Parker.”
Those were the three words Natalie C. Parker thought to herself the first time her debut novel Beware the Wild was placed in the hands of an editor.
As a child, Parker grew up in a Navy family and had a lot of adventures, which included scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It was her first dive and it was equal parts terrifying and inspiring. And she didn’t die.
She survived handing in Beware the Wild as well.
Her love of stories came at a young age. Parker’s mother had a fondness for using stories as a teaching tool.
“Once when I fell down a flight of stone stairs, my mother told me about the Fool – a common archetype in mythology – who must leap or risk staying in one place her entire life. It didn’t make my bruises feel any better, but I’ve always seen life and stories as inseparable,” said Parker.
Though Beware the Wild is still several months away from publication, Parker said it feels ominous. Looming. And mostly like it’s going to happen.
“I’m saying it feels real. It feels very, very real.”
For Parker, the journey to publication began in 2010 when she first began writing Beware the Wild. She signed with her agent in 2011 and it wasn’t until a year later that she sold the book, which at that point had been “re-written from scratch.” And then, in 2013, Parker re-wrote it again for her editor.
“It looks like it took a long time… and it did. It did take a long time. But I had four offers of representation within six days of sending queries. Later, when my agent submitted the manuscript, my editor read it overnight,” said Parker.
The idea for Beware the Wild sprang from a lifetime of summers spent trying not to melt into the earth of southern Mississippi. Described as “Twin Peaks meets The Village,” it follows a girl trapped in a claustrophobic Louisiana town who must save her brother after he is swallowed up – and a mysterious girl tries to take over his life. As far as Parker is concerned, it’s an appropriate comparison.
“Beware the Wild is full of damn fine coffee, damn fine pie, and monsters,” said Parker.
Parker has already read several 2014 debuts and says she is excited to see Elle Cosimano’s Nearly Gone, Julie Murphy’s Side Effects May Vary, and Lindsay Smith’s Sekret hit the shelves.
With her release date so close to 2015, Parker’s advice to upcoming authors is to not try to do this in isolation.
“Find your community and keep it close.”