Author Spotlight with Eva Lesko Natiello

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Today I am excited to welcome Eva Natiello to the blog for an Author Spotlight. Eva is the author of The Memory Boxa dark, psychological thriller (think Gone Girl). Eva writes in a genre that I normally don't read, but I picked up her book because we share a copy editor. I couldn't put the book down, and I'm excited she is on the blog today.

Let's start with a brief introduction. Tell us a little about yourself your novel The Memory Box.

Let's see, I grew up in New York and went to school at SUNY Albany where I studied psychology. After I graduated from school I moved to the Bahamas for my first job as a singer. Eventually I moved back to New York and worked in the cosmetics industry as a communications and p.r. executive. It was never in my master plan to write a book. But some things just happen in life. When I had my second child and decided to stay at home with them, that's when I started writing.

The Memory Box is a story about a at-home mom of two (that sounds familiar!) who Googles her maiden name and discovers a past she doesn't remember. (By the way, that's where the similarities end...)

The Memory Box is a dark, twisty psychological thriller. Where does your desire to write this type of fiction originate?

Well, I'm fascinated by misconceptions. When things are not as they appear or seem. We make all sorts of judgments about people based on how they look, what they wear, how they talk, where they live, etc. And these assumptions in many cases can be wrong. I also am fascinated with the idea that bad people are not all bad and vice versa. I like to explore moral dilemmas. And I love to write suspense and thrillers because they are essentially literary puzzles. I guess I am a natural problem solver, so I do like to figure things out.

As I write this question, The Memory Box has 156 reviews with an average of 4.5 stars in a few short months since its June release. I also know The Memory Box was downloaded over 27,000 times during a free run on Kindle. Did you have a specific marketing strategy when you launched your book? Also, how did you encourage readers to review your book?

Before I released The Memory Box, when I was in the beta reader stage, much of the feedback was similar. My readers were saying that it was a very fast read. Many reviewers say this as well, and that it's hard to put down. I knew that it was the kind of book that would be great for book clubs. So one of my main marketing strategies was to try to get it read by as many book clubs as possible. I deliberately wrote a list of Discussion Questions and placed them in the back of the book, both the ebook and paperback. I also offered to attend book club meetings where my book was being discussed. Not only is that so much fun to do, you get to talk to people who want to help you succeed and one of the things you can ask them for are reviews. I have noticed that writing reviews is not everyone's cup of tea, even if they loved the book. It freaks them out to have to write something for a writer! They get uptight about this. The main thing I've tried to do, is to be grateful and thank my readers as much as I can. I tell them I appreciate them reading the book and spending time to write reviews or simply telling other people about it.

This question is out of pure curiosity since we both work with Candace Johnson of Change it Up Editing. How do you find Candace and decide to work with her?

Once I decided to self-publish, I knew I had to invest in certain aspects of the book so that it looked and read as professionally as possible. The first person I needed was a copy editor. I searched a great deal for the right copy editor and found Candace on Facebook, of all places! There were certain things I was looking for in a copy editor, obviously a lot of applicable experience on interesting projects, experience in a traditional publishing house, someone who was active on social media, availability in my time frame and the right chemistry. What I mean by that is, all the editors I was considering did a sample edit for me, and I really focused on how they edited and what they edited. This is a great way to see beforehand, if you think the relationship will work.

Usually writers like to read in the same genre that they write. What are some of your favorite books and genres to read?

Okay, this is going to sound very strange. I do not like to read in the genre I write. I get nightmares very easily and have trouble sleeping normally, so I can not read thrillers or watch those types of movies. I can only write them. I can't explain it. I think I know my characters so well, that I am never scared of them. As screwed up as they are, they do have redeeming qualities! One of my favorite books, and the one I credit to turning my writing around, is White Oleander. I think it's beautifully written, while tackling some dark subject matter. I also like to read historical fiction and humor (and I love to write humor, too!). Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a recent book I read where the quirky characters made me laugh out loud. A few other recent favorites are: Midnight Circus, Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Paris Wife, Then Kitchen House.

Finally, what is next for you?

I have started another dark twisty psychological read and hope to get back to spending some quality time writing it. But as you know, book marketing never sleeps!

Thanks again to Eva for taking the time to answer a few questions. You can learn more about her at her website or head over to Amazon to buy a copy of The Memory Box

July 2014 Book Reviews

It was a great month for reading, especially during the last week of July. I was at the beach and spent many hours reading on the balcony or on the beach with my kindle. I'm currently tackling Brandon Sanderson's fantasy epic, Words of Radiance, so I look forward to sharing about that amazing book next month. But for now, I read five very different books in July. Check them out! The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil GaimanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane is my first Neil Gaiman book. It won't be my last! First, his writing is stunning. He is able to create beautiful pictures with his words without bogging the page down with big words and long sentences. I could read it over and over simply for this reason. With its 7 year-old protagonist and shorter length, the book reads more like a kids' or YA book. (Think Narnia or A Wrinkle in Time) But I loved the imagination of the story and how it addressed themes of sacrifice, loss, and good vs. evil. 6 out of 7 stars

Matt Archer: Redemption by Kendra C. Highley - With Redemption, Kendra Highley did something great–she finishes a young adult series well. The storyline is tied up by the last chapter. Even though you want to see more from the characters, you don't need it. The story is complete.

If you have read the previous Matt Archer novels, Redemption follows the same pattern. It has plenty of action, but humor laced in the dialogue to ease the tension. By book five, you are rooting for the characters so it's tough to lose any of them, but it's an epic battle of good vs. evil, and Highley isn't afraid of characters making the ultimate sacrifice.

I loved this series, and will reread the series again in the future! 7 out of 7 stars

The Memory Box by Eva Lesko NatielloThe Memory Box is a dark psychological thriller with many twists and turns. The author does a fantastic job transporting you into the suburban world of Caroline Thompson. Her writing style is clean and crisp, not bogged down with big words or long sentences, yet her descriptions and details put you into Caroline's World. I did wonder the whole time how Carolina could forget this past life of hers. The author addresses it in a final twist, but that detail was a stumbling block through the book for me. (I may need to reread to make sure I didn't miss something) Finally, even though the plot kept me reading, I didn't enjoy it because I'm not a big fan of dark and twisted stories. But that's a reading preference, not a flaw of the book. If you read and enjoyed Gone Girl, this would be a great book for you. 6 out of 7 stars

Bound by Kate Sparkes - Bound is a fun young adult fantasy debut. I loved the world building in this book–the different lands and especially people. The novel is at many times more like a journey or quest story with an emphasis on the romantic angle. Sparke's character building is very good, and I think this series will get better as it goes forward. 5 out of 7 stars

If I Stay by Gayle Forman - Mia is in a deadly car crash and her life is in shambles. If I Stay is the story of her decision whether to stay in this life or to pass on to the next life. It's an interesting read. I like how the author switched from the present in one chapter to memories of the past in the next. It created a great flow to the story. At times, the story felt a little cheesy, but I'm okay with that, especially in young adult literature. I've heard the second book is better, so I look forward to reading that in the near future. 5 out of 7 stars

Rating System Guide

7 stars = Phenomenal book – one of the  best books I’ve read

6 stars = Great book – worth your time to read

5 stars = Solid book, if you like the genre pick it up

4 stars = Okay book, maybe lacking something in the way of language, character development, story

3 stars = I probably should have stopped reading this book.

1 or 2 stars = Serious issues with plot, structure, language, or not a book for me.