- Name Natalie Fordham
- Place and date of birth Fordham 12/26/1994
- Role Editorial Assistant
- Tell us about yourself in 100 words or less
Trying to sum yourself up is always inherently difficult, like trying to describe why you love a book. Books aren’t just a possession to me but something that helped form who I was: ambitious, feminist and creative. I’m a fantasy lover, not just the genre but the very nature of imagining blending into my passion for theatre, books, steamy romances and the possibility of exploring a human experience that isn’t one’s own. Books are something that bridge boundaries we often don’t see and allow us to explore possibilities we couldn’t have dreamt. So I guess that makes me a dreamer.
- Twitter address @Tillynat94
- Facebook address https://www.facebook.com/natalie.fordham/
- What was your first ever job? Sales assistant at New Look in Chichester
- Have you always wanted to be in publishing? If not, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
When I was 10 years old I very determinedly announced to my family I was going to grow up to be Prime Minister one day. It certainly hasn’t happened yet but I’m still politically active. After falling love with literature in school due to a particular teacher I went on to study it at university. After dabbling In journalism I loved the creative outlet of writing but felt that it still wasn’t quite my place. Being granted the ability to work with HarperCollins and their authors has truly been amazing. Seeing an idea or submission transition to a published book feels like a true privilege. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll try to be on the other side and wield the pen one again but for now I’m relishing reading and working with other people’s stories.
- What inspired you to work in publishing? After interning with various news outlets and magazines I felt like I needed to try something different before holding myself down to a career path. After applying on the of chance and somehow being accepted a two week placement at Penguin Random House gave me a thirst for working with authors and on new submissions. There’s nothing more satisfying reading a submission and suggesting it for acquisition.
- When did you realise your potential in publishing? When the publisher followed up on my feedback on a submission and tried to acquire the book. I felt like I was finally deciphering what makes a good read and understanding my own reading habits.
- If you wrote a novel what would it be about? It’d probably be about my family, they’ve all lived quite different but dramatic lives. I’d like to think that somewhere in the gossips we all have that there’s a good story and I’d hope that maybe someone who’d experienced something similar could find comfort in that. Or a good steamy historic romance, because sometimes life is hard and you just need to escape.
- What is the best advice anyone has given you about writing? That it’s hard but it’s worth it. I still write little blog posts that I never post on my laptop. Sometimes it’s good just to write something solidly for a good hour and exercise that muscle, whether its political assessments, theatre reviews, a small story excerpt or just ramblings.
- Aside from reading, what is your favourite thing to do? I adore theatre in all kinds. I treated myself to go see John Malkovich’s directorial outing for Good Canary at the Rose Theatre in Kingston and was quickly in tears. The nature of mental health and addiction was handled perfectly and hit a personal nerve with me because of family. I love anything that has the ability to reach people on an emotional level.
- What are your top ten favourite books?
Angela Carter’s Heroes & Villains – This was a book I only delved into once I’d reached my dissertation and it truly opened my eyes to the different layers in Carter’s work. One of her earlier texts it also conveyed to me that you don’t have to like characters in novels. In fact, sometimes we don’t even have to understand them but the emotions and sentiments evoked and social parameters that are played with shows true skill. It’s also fabulously feminist.
Daniel Defoe’s Roxana – It might be a shocker for this to be a favourite and it’s certainly not light reading. However, this was the first novel that I ripped apart at university and suddenly I discovered multiple possibilities for an author. Rather than really likely readings this text showed me that an author can play with you more than you know. Is Defoe a chauvinist who punishes Roxana for her ways? Or is he displaying the lengths women have to go to in society to survive when the men they are tied to are useless. Or is she a ground-breaking icon who took charge of her life before we knew what ‘feminism’ was? Who knows, but the point is I realise it didn’t matter which one purpose the book had, all the possibilities were worth acknowledging.
Jon Berkeley’s The Palace of Laughter – While this is a children’s book it was the first book to make me imagine a scene rather than just read it. Wonderfully cinematic and detailed this book is filled with fantasy, magic and a circus. What more could you want in a book?
Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus – I seem to have a thing about running away with the circus. But this is a beautiful novel that really plays with mystery and imagery. At first it may seem a simple story of two magicians battling it out but it soon melts into a somewhat tragic but beautiful love story. A book I picked up on the off-chance it brought me into a narrative I never expected to love.
Philippa Gregory’s The Kingmaker’s Daughter – Since I was a little girl I have been obsessed with the Tudors. When taking History at A-Level I got to delve into their creation and the family before – The Plantagenets. This period in history has all the plot lines for a good novel. Feuding families, wars, royal marriages and scandals. When my mum thrust this book at me after listening to me talk endlessly about my course I was quickly in love. Gregory sensationalises and already exciting period without losing key historic details and exploits the perfect backdrop for a novel. I loved that Gregory granted a voice to the women who are often merely footnotes in this period. The focus on Anne Neville just happened to pick the one I was most interested in.
Toni Morrison’s Jazz – The novel is fabulously written and mirrors the musical nature of its title. It was also the first novel I’d studied in depth that was written by an American Black Woman. This was the point where literature opened up and suddenly the canon of ‘classic literature’ became far more interesting. It was also my first outing with unreliable narrators and even perspectives from inanimate objects and concepts. It was the first piece of literature that truly tested me as a writer and an analyst and this is why I inevitably fell in love with Jazz and its author.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s The River Between – A novel that encapsulates an entirely different world than my own. Colonised Kenya. The first novel I had read that didn’t glorify white settlers and revealed the reality and importance of tradition within different societies. This book was filled with passion, written with skill and conveys that human emotion is something that is universal. It also completely destroys the typical idea of what a ‘tribe’ often appears to be in the western world and reveals a stark reality. The River Between deals with the fraught territory of circumcision, particularly for women. Here rather than it being just a terrible act it is recognised for its historic place within various societies and also its nature as a rite of passage rather than violence. If you’re interested in truly getting to know the variances of Africa this is a novel that you must read. It is also crafted by an author who now publishes first in his native Gikuyu and then into English in order to support disappearing languages.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper – Beautifully surreal and dealing with the historic oppression of women and misunderstanding of post-natal depression The Yellow Wallpaper is hard not to love for any feminist. It depicts one women’s slow descent into madness after she is bound to her room and removed from her normal work and social life. An important work that resonated within my young mind and allowed me to open the door to the notion of patriarchal control.
Judy Blume’s Forever – This was the first novel I read that depicted sex. Awkward, imperfect teenage loss of virginity and it was also my first ‘romance’ novel though in many ways it’s much more of a coming of age tale with romance helping to define the book’s protagonist Kat. In many ways this novel allowed the notion of romance into my life, that I would grow up and possibly fall in love, have sex, desire someone else’s presence in my life in a different way to family or friends. It also, unlike other romances I would read, allowed the idea that love isn’t always forever, ironically. And that’s ok.
Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman – A Times columnist who talked about periods, cystitis and Lady Gaga. Moran is hard not to love and although I don’t necessarily agree with everything she says this was a step outside the novel format for me that encouraged me to roar: I AM A WOMAN! It also seemed to mark a wave in publishing, or maybe it was just because I finally noticed, of women all of walks of life, famous and infamous, writing about what it meant to be a woman in today’s society: how hard it was, how easy, why anyone actually cares or not. It allowed me to take stock of all the amazing women around me as well as in books, novel or otherwise, that I could and should learn from.
- What are your top three romantic books and why?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Don’t judge me for this but it’s a book that many people get swept up in the romance even though it’s about much more than that. However, it’s a romance that isn’t easy, isn’t perfect and its female is a strong woman who loves to read. Of course it’s one of my favourites.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I picked up this book and promptly spent the next week laughing and crying to myself to the point my family were worried. It was incredibly hard to explain to them how amazing Lou and her positivity was for me or that her love story with Will was beautiful and I hoped that she would convince him to change his mind. *SPOILER!* He doesn’t and though I understood I was devastated. If a romance can make you invest in the characters to the point of sobbing I’d say you’ve got yourself a hell of a story.
Outlander (Formerly known as Cross Stitch) by Diana Gabaldon. It has sex, Scottish heroes and an odd love story that transcends time, literally. What’s not to love?
- What are your top three romantic movie/TV kisses and why?
Tim and Mary finally getting together in About Time. The novel is sickeningly sweet and it’s a delight to watch. Tim was an unconventional romantic hero that I desperately wanted to get the girl. He does and it’s relief when they finally kiss after his failed attempts and repeated trips to change the past. Did I also mention that Mary works in publishing? I can’t not invest in that!
Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII in the Tudors. Read: Natalie Dormer and Jonathan Rhys Meyers aka one of TV’s hottest pairings ever. This was arguably one of the first historic TV dramas I became invested in and though a bit of a doomed romance this steamy affair became the highlight of all the series. It’s sexy, salacious and it’d been teased for several episodes. Well worth the wait.
Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy in the snow. It takes them forever to get together, then they part, then they get back together again and so the story goes on. But that sweet satisfaction of seeing two ridiculous people who often get themselves into embarrassing situations finally make it happen is glorious. It also makes me feel better about a future, turns out you don’t have to be married by thirty with children
- If you could ride off into the sunset with a fictional character, who would you choose and why? Jon Snow. He’s beautiful, manly and loyal to a fault. He also has a wolf and I’ve always wanted a dog.