Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Q&A with Natalka Burian




Natalka Burian is the author of the new novel The Night Shift. Her other books include the YA novel Welcome to the Slipstream. She is the cofounder of The Freya Project, a nonprofit reading series, and is the co-owner of two bars in Brooklyn.


Q: What inspired you to write The Night Shift, and how did you create your character Jean?


A: I celebrated my 20th anniversary of living in NYC when I first began The Night Shift. I was doing a lot of reflecting on what the city meant to me and all of the wonderful people I've known in my time here.


I kept thinking about how a lot of people come to the city for fame, and to "make it," and how their stories are everywhere. Then I thought about people like Jean, who come to the city for escape and anonymity. I think it's important to tell their stories, too.


Q: The writer Amy Jo Burns said of the book, "This novel is a triple threat: a time-traveling rhapsody, an homage to found family, and an anthem for the night owl. In short, a total treat from beginning to end." What do you think of that description?


A: First of all, I'm such a huge fan of Amy Jo's! I was so honored that she made time to read The Night Shift, and I was even more delighted that she got it so fully. I think she very much identified and highlighted what I hoped to achieve with this project in her blurb.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: What a great question! I had some idea about how everything would end--you have to have a clear path forward when working with altered time and space--but there were many, many tweaks.


My editor (and the proofer!) caught a lot of loose ends that needed tying up. I was extremely grateful to have several pairs of eyes on this timeline!


Q: The novel takes place in New York City--how important is setting to you in your writing?


A: For me, setting is the most important thing. I almost always begin with a setting, even before a protagonist. It's crucial in forming the rest of the story--it's the primordial stew from which all of the characters, plot, and themes arise.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I'm working on a very fun, very top secret new project! What I can say is that if you like The Night Shift, you're going to love this next one...


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Please check out the events page on my website; I'm doing all kinds of fun cocktail classes in honor of the early 2000s where we'll be preparing some of the drinks in The Night Shift!


(My day job is in hospitality. My husband and I own two bars in Brooklyn, so this is such a nice way to share an intersection of my skills and interests!)


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Natalka Burian.

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