Interview with Natasha Charles, Author of The Extreme Dating Diaries of Isabelle Monroe!


I have to admit, one of my favourite aspects of interviewing writers is that I never know what I am going to receive in terms of answers. As a scribe, the reader is invited into worlds created with the presence of a thought bubble that quickly fuels the inertia to transform into a book of let\’s say 334 pages, like Natasha Charles\’s debut novel; The Extreme Dating Diaries of Isabelle Monroe.  I genuinely find it refreshing to read clever works, I can\’t comment on the entirety of The Extreme Dating Diaries of Isabelle Monroe as of yet.  I\’ve only read a few chapters however, I can tell you on my Christmas break there will be a review posted on CCIQ Press. From what I\’ve read so far, I find Natasha\’s writing style to be whimsical — especially as she gives the men in the novel idiosyncratic nicknames that honestly had me cackling upon the first read.  Let\’s put it this way, my family tells me I laugh like a maniacal squirrel when I find something really funny and honestly Natasha\’s references are HILLARIOUS! So the bonkers laughter made such an appearance. If you want to get a headstart on me you can pick up The Extreme Dating Diaries of Isabelle Monroe right here and follow on socials: Facebook & Instagram.  Happy reading! Oh, and do comment once you\’ve read the book below which is your favourite male nickname — get the book and you\’ll comprehend my reference. 

RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?

NC: I like to approach my writing like a job almost, I don\’t do it in pj\’s, for example. I take my shower, put on my make up and sit myself down properly. And that, I realise, is a bit of a ritual. 

RMMW: We all must deal with our inner critic, how do you contend with yours?

NC: Ooh, dealing with the \’inner critique\’ great question. First I just write and don\’t think about the edit. I\’m also prepared not to be perfect or it would drive me potty and I\’d never get going. I also have to just draw a line under my work at a certain point and say, ok, that\’s finished. It is actually hard though when for example I look back at published work and think \’Ahh, that could have been better\’ and know-how and where it could have been better. But I just let it go and move on to the next project. Some of the inner critique is also trying to please your audience, which you can never please all of the people all of the time. I accept that too. 

RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it? 

NC: Creative blocks – my husband (a writer and creative writing professor) says there\’s no such thing. And in fact, if you don\’t overthink before you start, just write, edit later, he may be right. I don\’t get blocked when I\’m actually writing, but not opening the laptop in the first place- that happens a lot. Damn that procrastination.

Jacqueline Wilson once said that a great way to keep away from writer\’s block is to stop writing in the middle of a great sentence when it\’s all flowing well, then when you pick it up again the next day, you go straight back into flow mode again. I\’ve remembered and used that ever since.

Just start writing anything, just start. It just comes, edit later. 

RMMW: Please tell us a little bit about the origin story that lead to the inception of The Extreme Dating Diaries of Isabelle Monroe.

NC: I was contacted by a literary agent about writing a different book. It wasn\’t a book I wanted to write, but I met up with him anyway. I mentioned all the internet dating I\’d done and had written diaries. 

\”You\’ve got to write about that,\” he said. So I did. 

RMMW: The Extreme Dating Diaries of Isabelle Monroe houses many whimsical character names, Mr. Posh-Poor, Mr. Littleboy, Mr. Polo to name a few.  What was the inspiration behind using labels instead of names?  

NC: I used \’Mr.\’ names for all the characters to give it an ongoing theme and easily definable character type as well as simply for fun. I was probably inspired from Mr. Big from the TV show Sex in the City as well. 

RMMW: What do you think is the most annoying aspect of contemporary dating with the aid of apps such as Tinder? 

NC: Without a doubt, the most annoying things about modern dating, apps and online interactions are people tendency to:

1- Lie. They lie about their age, height, weight, hoping that when we actually meet, we\’ll be so enamoured that we won\’t notice that they are actually several inches shorter than they said, or their picture is 15 years out of date.

2- Ghosting, one minute they\’re there having a chat, the next, poof, they\’re gone. Just disappeared without so much as \”well it was nice chatting\”. After 10 years of dating, I\’m sorry to say, I too have been guilty of this. 

3- You become immune. You can\’t see the wood for the trees, people don\’t look real after a while, you see so many faces flashing in front of you, you can\’t see and you don\’t especially care anymore. 

4- There is a tendency to sit online and never actually meet up. I can\’t bear that, I wanted to get on with it, and actually meet in person. But people seem happy to just stay online and not get out there. 

My advice would be not to over-share before actually meeting. Imagine, you\’ve invested into this online relationship, then boom, you get ghosted before you\’ve even met. 

5- How many times can a person see \’hey\’ in their inbox? Yup, hundreds. Hundreds of the same boring message. You need a good opening message. 

I have to say though, to counter the annoying bits of online dating, there are upsides too. You know people are all there for the same reason, it takes the \’are they single and looking\’ tension out of it. You can browse without offending anyone. You can look from home, great if you have kids or if you\’re past the bar-hopping stage of life, for example. You can also very quickly see someone\’s psychological state from their profile and from the odd message. 

RMMW: Is there a part two in the works of The Extreme Dating Diaries of Isabelle Monroe?

NC: Although there isn\’t a part 2 just yet, I am working on the \’The Extreme Dating Diaries of Isabelle Monroe\’ script for TV. I\’m working on a book of short stories. And also another all-female lead TV series script. 

RMMW: What do you want your readers to know most about Isabelle? 

NC: What do I want my readers to know most about Isabelle Monroe? Great question. Despite all the years spent, and the unsuitable dates she met, she always carried on with an upbeat, good spirit, and humour, and was never a victim. 

RMMW: What is the one thing that annoyed you most about dating while creating The Extreme Dating Diaries of Isabelle Monroe?

NC: Nothing annoyed me about dating while I was writing the book. I loved all the dates including the bad ones. I once annoyed myself by telling a pretty nice date I was on, that I had been on squillions of dates and was writing a book on it. What a stupid thing to say on a first date! I\’m pretty sure that put him off. Surprise. 

I also had to change people\’s identity when writing, while keeping their essence. That wasn\’t that easy. 

RMMW: What is the best advice you have to offer with regard to women who are finding love in all the wrong places with endless dead-end dates?

NC: My best advice to daters out there is not to over-invest (in your actual exchanges/or in your mind) before you have even met the person. 

Keep an open mind. Look at your meeting as simply a fun meet up, make an effort, but don\’t overthink it. If you have built up a picture in your mind of someone fulfilling all your dreams, you will surely be disappointed.  Don\’t have those expectations in the first place. 

Women – keep away from those damn snap chap filters, bunny ears etc. You are grown up. Men do not like it. 

Women – a man wants to meet you, he may be fine with you having kids, but he wants to know you first. Don\’t talk endlessly about them. 

And for men, turn up clean and on time. 

For men and women. Don\’t slag off your ex. No one wants a bitter new date. We all have a past- leave it there. 

Everyone – stop talking and listen instead. 

RMMW: Is there anything in The Extreme Dating Diaries of Isabelle Monroe that you did not include, which you wanted to? What was it? 

NC: I had over 100,000 words in the book originally. 30,000 words were cut ruthlessly by the editor. (Who happens to be my husband) (Brave man). There are a couple of scenes that I would have rather liked to have remained. One was a scene in Mr. Trophy hunter where Isabelle found herself posing on the giant staircase imagining she was a lady of the manor. That image amused me. 

And another was in Mr. Polo, Isabelle had actually met him before a few years earlier and found that in her diaries, she realised she had just fallen for exactly the same charms she had done the first time round. She had not learned. That was quite interesting and noteworthy I thought. Still, you have to stop somewhere and that section was cut.  

RMMW: Please tell me how you came to appreciate and love horses so much. 

NC: Ahh, my love of horses. I grew up in the country and I spent all my time with my pony. The first time I sat on a pony, I was six years old and immediately knew that it was for me. It was an obsession. I was that teenage girl, working on yards in exchange for the odd ride. I cleaned cars in my village for two years until I finally saved up enough to buy my own pony. I\’ve had horses most of my life and still love it. 

RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be? 

NC: Hmm, a superpower – I realise with this question that I\’m quite happy not to have one or really want one. I guess if I had to have one, it would be to turn back time and then show myself the future. I could have let myself know it was all gonna turn out ok, no need to worry. I could have saved myself a lot of stress. In fact, I should remind myself of that now too shouldn\’t I?  

Would fearlessness be a superpower? I\’d happily take that one. 

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