Natasha Bland is a member of our lovely short story judging team this year. Originally from Devon, Natasha is now based in Kapiti, New Zealand. Her short stories are published in various anthologies and have been shortlisted in competitions, including the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, Early Works Press Short Story Competition, and NZ Writers College Short Story Competition.
Which writers or poets inspire you and why?
I always feel inspired after reading Sylvia Plath’s work – both her poetry and prose. I love her playfulness with language and the stark quality of her writing. I also have to mention the Brontë sisters for their passion and the wonderful landscapes that fill their work; and Kate Atkinson for her wit and humour.
If you are a writer or poet, how did you get started?
I was constantly reading and writing my own little stories as a child. I only started writing seriously when I became a mother to my three children, mainly to give myself a separate occupation from motherhood after choosing to give up work. It was a real joy to rediscover how much I love to write, but it took me a few years to work up the courage to send anything out. When my two first short stories were shortlisted in competitions, I decided to stick with writing for a bit.
Where and when do you do most of your reading?
Wherever and whenever I can! Usually when the kids are in bed or watching TV, and I can have a moment to myself.
Do you have a ‘must read’ list?
It changes all the time, but a few of my favourites are: The Magus, by John Fowles, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, and Behind the Scenes at the Museum, by Kate Atkinson.
What are you reading currently?
I have just finished reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler – a very funny book, but also rather disturbing. I loved the narrator’s engaging voice, and the perceptive way the book explores the relationships between parent and child, and between siblings.