Natalka Burian is the author of the new young adult novel Welcome to the Slipstream. She is the co-owner of two bars, Ramona and Elsa, and she lives in Brooklyn.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Welcome to the Slipstream and for your main character, Van?
A: Van, or at least a proto-Van, was actually a secondary character in another novel I was working on. I wanted to keep writing about her, and realized quickly she needed her own book. That first book never made it out into the world, but I’m glad Van has.
Q: The book is set in Las Vegas and the Southwest. How important is setting to you in your work, and do you think this could have been set elsewhere?
A: For me, the setting is like another character in every story I write. I love the contrast between Las Vegas and the desert, and found it to be kind of an irresistible location for Van’s family to end up.
Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?
A: I knew that I wanted to use the word “slipstream,” because it evokes movement and also Van Morrison! Beyond that, I wasn’t sure of much. When I was at the naming stage, I played around with a few titles, and bounced them off of all of my friends and family. Welcome to the Slipstream was the one that stuck!
Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing, or did you make many changes along the way?
A: Sort of – I knew I wanted Van to be on a new path of her own choosing, but I wasn’t entirely sure what that would be for her. It’s still kind of ambiguous, but I hope I got the sentiment right.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I have a book out on submission now. It's set in West Virginia, in an insular, psychoactive plant farming community. It follows the bizarre life of a foster family who mysteriously lose their youngest member. They appeal to ruthless business associates, suspicious neighbors, and even the ghostly, powerful earth beneath the battlefield at Antietam, for the child's return.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb