We’re often told to write what we know and find great teachers. Natasha Rocca Devine took both pieces of advice before publishing her first novel, The Industry.
Here she talks about finding inspiration in life and writing classes, and more.
I grew up in the media surrounded by artists, models, singers, writers, designers, entrepreneurs and footballers — so many creative people, each with successful careers — and inevitably this inspired me to follow my own creative dreams.
First I studied journalism, following a BA with a master’s in journalism, then I completed a master’s in Interior Architecture (specialising in lighting design) in London, studied fashion in Milan, and taught myself graphic and web design.
My company NRD Productions allows me to use all these skills to pursue varied creative projects, including my debut novel The Industry.
But perhaps most importantly, my upbringing taught me to work as hard as my creative role models did, and to look past any limitations in order to find my own path.
I always recommend to writers that they attempt a variety of writing options in order to explore their skills and find their own niche.
One of my favourite quotes is from Oprah Winfrey, who says, “you have to find what sparks a light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world.”
My advice is to build your career around your passion in life and then work out the practicalities. With passion, faith, hard work and the right team, everything will fall into place and you will always be happy and create work.
The Faber Writing a Novel gave me the confidence to take the right steps towards creating a strong piece of fiction.
– Natasha Rocco Devine
So how did I come to write books? My first book, Awareness: Creating Your Own Balance in Life, was a hybrid non-fiction book of images and quotes sparked by my recovery from a coma.
As a creative project, this was very therapeutic for me and easier than a novel as a first book project. Because it is structured as an A–Z, I was able to create the book in sections.
This was a challenging and exciting project, but writing fiction was a completely different process.
Why was it so different? Fiction requires a plot, and every scene, piece of action and dialogue needs to be inextricably and innately linked – from the beginning to the end of the story.
And once the plot is in place, a novel requires detailed editing, both grammatically and structurally. It takes persistence to constantly check for consistency and make sure everything is flowing.
The theme of my novel — the music and media industry — grew out of my fascination with people’s perception of the media, its ‘image’, and having lifelong experience of ‘The Industry’, I felt I had enough information to write a story that reflected its reality from the inside.
Yet, even so, this is definitely a work of fiction; it stems from my imagination.
I worked hard on my characters and plot, and on researching the area, to ensure that this novel remained the story of these fictional people and places, far removed from my own life experience.
Studying journalism and my experience working and growing up in the media helped me immensely in the writing process, but I felt that I needed to sharpen my skills. So, while I was writing the book, I took an online course in Writing a Novel at the remarkable Faber Academy.
This gave me the confidence to take the right steps towards creating a strong piece of fiction. It truly helped my craft skills, and I don’t think I could have completed The Industry without taking this course.
It was during the online course — when I was halfway through the story — that I realised that this book was actually just part one in a trilogy of novels. At the end of the first novel, the story felt incomplete.
I am already working on its sequel, The Industry — After Party, alongside some exciting magazine projects as Interiors Editor of Social & Personal Magazine. I’m also busy taking The Industry to the US.
Watch this space!