All the parts of me.

August, 2016. I’m in Bielefeld, central Germany, having found the perfect writing place – a gorgeous little cafe with amazing food, creamy coffee and plenty of sunshine streaming through the window. My mood is good, and I’ve got the entire day in front of me to do nothing but write. The words should be flowing through my fingers with ease but instead, I spend an entire day staring at a blank screen. I write an email to my agent, telling him I need to take a break. Get some distance from the storyline, potentially change it even.

They say you should write what you know. But I knew nothing about mental illness. I’d never experienced it, nor lived with anyone with any kind of mental illness to speak of and yet, I’d chosen to write a book about Bipolar disorder. At that time in my life, everything was golden. How could I possibly put myself in the shoes of someone dealing with a shift in their mental health? Call it life imitating art, or maybe art imitating life, but two months later, the languid ease of carefree nomadic life came to a screeching halt when my partner burnt out. Suddenly, days were no longer about exploring the world and cramming as much fun in as possible. They were about survival. Navigating panic attacks, depression and isolation. Feeling utterly helpless while still trying to hold a life together. Even in the midst of all he was going through, Simon had gifted me membership at our local yoga studio with the words, “you can’t break too”. Yoga became my lifeline, giving me time to reflect and process everything that was happening. I read all the books I could about burnout and the associated extras like depression and anxiety, and somewhere along came the thought:

‘Holy shit. Wasn’t this exactly what you’d been struggling to articulate in words just a few months ago?’

Three months later, the book was finished and sent off to my agent. At the same time, I’d decided to go back to India for another yoga teacher training. Something had shifted after realising just how important my practice was for me, and Simon was on the road to recovery. My book wasn’t contracted, so I decided to self-publish What Goes Down and after uploading it to Kindle, I felt nothing short of relief. It had been an incredibly tough book to write with all that was going on. To celebrate, Simon bought me a bottle of champagne and we gladly toasted the end of the chapter.

In my writing life…

To mark the end of that phase even more, I flew to India that very same week. It was time for the next phase of life…

Being back in India with 6 weeks stretched out ahead of me was pure tonic. Waking at 5:30am every day, practicing yoga, breath-work and meditation for 4 hours a day, immersing myself in philosophy and being in bed by 9pm replenished my soul. I was in daily contact with Simon, who’d just started a carpentry apprenticeship and while I wished he could’ve been there with me, I knew it was something I had to do by myself. I needed to be broken apart so I could put myself back together again. For the first time, I opened myself up to Kundalini and energy work, and something shifted. Being in a group of inspiring women every single day made me realise that I’d been craving female sisterhood. And, was capable of so much more than I gave myself credit for. In one class, I managed a drop-back (this is when you arch backwards from standing until your hands touch the floor behind you). I was utterly terrified, but I did it. And I realised that I was strong, not just physically but mentally and emotionally too. I went back to Germany feeling grounded and stable and ready to teach.

I’d already experienced during my first teacher training that doing so much inner and spiritual work had somehow heightened my senses when I’d had a vision of Simon who was in Nepal at the time. I’d had the feeling he was in trouble and it turned out he’d almost died while wandering around the in the mountainous forest (oh, how exciting we were back then). So when I came back from India this time, I felt open, like a walking antennae. It was a crisp November day and as I was walking home from work, I had the vision of Christmas being a few weeks away and how someone always died at Christmas time. My grandad came clearly into my mind and I pushed the thought away because he was the healthiest man I knew. A couple of weeks later, he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and my heart broke.

For the next two years, life was all about yoga and rooting myself in spirituality. There was just so much to learn and experience, that there was little time for anything else. I didn’t look at What Goes Down at all. No checking for stats on Amazon, or checking for reviews. It was as if the act of publishing it had pushed it from my being in a way that was so total, it barely existed for me. I read no fiction and had zero desire to write. Honestly, it all seemed a bit trivial to write about love. Summer 2019 saw me backwards and forwards to England. My grandad was getting worse and knew that the last time I saw him would be the last. He was in so much pain, barely able to speak. I laid on the bed with him, hugging him and letting him know he could go if he needed to. He died less than a week later and the next day, I was at a pre-planned yoga festival being surrounded by so much love. It didn’t feel so trivial then. It felt like the most important thing in the world. Within 6 weeks, I lost my other Grandad to prostate cancer and had to wonder if the universe was playing some kind of cosmic joke. What kept me stable, apart from Simon, was my practice of yoga and self-development. It helped so much to understand that it was okay to feel everything I was feeling, to use it to make my life really and truly count.

In my yoga life…

I’d gotten a job in the cafe where I used to sit and write, and lived the stereotypical life of yoga teacher and barista. And it was perfect. I love nothing more than providing space for my students to just let their shit go, to step out of their lives and whatever is going on, and give themselves uninterrupted time to be with themselves. To find their inner power. I started running workshops and retreats and when anyone asked what I did, I’d tell them I teach yoga. I might have sometimes mentioned that I used to write, but was on hiatus. For how long? Who knew. What I did know, was that yoga and self-development were enriching my life in ways I really never thought possible. I was meeting the most amazing people and doing something that helped people while helping me at the same time. I had no time to write.

And yet, my mind kept on returning to the story of two women, torn apart by a man, who never see each other again. In rare moments, I’d sit and think about them, creating Pinterest boards and playlists. My heart was starting to yearn for that creation of another world, to birth new people into being. But I couldn’t see how to marry my love of writing with my love of yoga and besides, What Goes Down hadn’t been picked up. It was a book that had taken so much for me to write but compared to my other two bestsellers, it was nowhere near as successful. I’d been scarred. And I was scared. 2020 was supposed to be a year full of yoga retreats and workshops, and then came Covid.

No more classes. No more cafe. And a whole lot of time.

The one copy of What Goes Down that I had in paperback stared at me from my bookshelf. I slid it out, ran my fingers across the cover, and opened the book. Was it any good? Could I really go back to writing? To pour my heart and soul into another project? I delved into Seph’s world again and realised, without any ego, that I am a good writer. Really good, in fact. And maybe What Goes Down was my equivalent of a dodgy third album as far as big publishers were concerned, but for me, it’s my best book. It’s the rawest, the deepest, the most real. I was bolstered by reading my writing. I could do it again and if my yoga and self-development journey had taught me anything – if losing my granddads had taught me anything – it was that love is as important a topic as any. Love is the thing – it’s what we’re here for. When asked for my opinion on the meaning of life, my response was and always will be, love. And so I sat down and tentatively started the story of Ivy and Jess, the two women torn apart by love.

We’re always taught to keep things separate. To fit in specified boxes according to gender, sexuality, career. But we’re multi-dimensional beings and constraining ourselves in this way leads to so much suffering. Being able to step back into my other life of writing makes my yoga teacher life feel so much more rooted. It’s empowering to finally be able to be, me. To embrace every faucet and passion and skill.

It’s good to be back.

Natalie Martin is a bestselling Women’s Fiction author with a passion for empowering women through story, embodied yoga and self-development and mindset coaching.

What Goes Down Release!

It’s been a long, long time coming, but I am super stoked to share the cover for What Goes Down AND even more so to announce that it’ll be out on 28th September! 🎉 You can PRE-ORDER your copy here:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0755ZZQTY…

I’m also sending out Advance Review Copies (ARC’s) in the next few days. If you’re a blogger and can leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, get in touch!

WhatGoesDown_Ebook-Amazon

Seph Powell has all she ever wanted: a close family, loving boyfriend and her dream career. A gifted artist with a highly anticipated exhibition just weeks away, her life seems to be perfect. Until a man she’s never met claims to be her real father.

Laurel and Tony Powell are devoted parents. Having worked hard to provide everything for their daughter, they’ve created an enviable, picture-perfect family. Until Laurel’s ex-boyfriend, Nico, comes back into their lives.

In the summer of 1987, Nico stole Laurel’s heart with promises of adventure and excitement. But when he disappeared without trace, he left her as a single, teenaged parent. Now, twenty-five years later, he’s back and keen to meet the daughter he left behind.

But Nico’s sudden reappearance shows that nothing is quite as it first seems. And as long hidden truths are exposed, everything Seph thought she knew about her life begins to unravel.

 

COMING 28TH SEPTEMBER 2017. Pre-order your copy now!

Introducing What Goes Down!

There are certain milestones in publishing, and this is one of them! I’m super stoked to share the blurb for Book Three: What Goes Down. I’m soon excited about this one and would love to hear what y’all think!

SEPH POWELL IS A GIFTED ARTIST WITH A LOVING BOYFRIEND AND SUPPORTIVE PARENTS. HER UPCOMING EXHIBITION IS JUST A FEW WEEKS AWAY AND PREDICTED TO BE A SELL-OUT. LIFE APPEARS TO BE PERFECT...PERFECT UNTIL A MAN SHE'S N.png

Still no info as to a release date just yet, but you’ll be the first to know when I do!

Nat 💜

*all info subject to change!

What Goes Down ~ Sneak Peek Preview!

Book Three is now officially off the powers that be and I’m anxiously waiting for feedback/news about comes next. You, however, don’t have to. Here’s a little sneak peek preview of What Goes Down (Working Title) – a story about family secrets, betrayal and mental illness.

Note: Everything is subject to change and also to copyright


*

Seph stared unblinkingly at the photo that had been attached to the email as her mum bustled into the dining room.

‘God knows where your dad’s got to,’ Laurel said, brushing her hair away from her face as she sat down. ‘The food will get cold if he doesn’t hurry up. He’s always late.’

Her jovial voice suggested that everything was acting completely normal. Like this was just an ordinary day with no surprise, shock or scandal waiting around the corner. Her face looked the same way it always had: warm and friendly, with an easy smile and kind, Hazel eyes. There was nothing about it to suggest it was the face of someone capable of lying for years on end.

‘Everything alright? You look a bit off,’ Laurel said, her voice coaxing and trustworthy.

It was a voice that had always made it easy for Seph to confide in her, forging a relationship where she felt open and able to speak to her mum about anything. There’d never been a need for secrets, at least, not from Seph’s end and especially nothing as huge as this. Maybe it was a hoax, or some kind of elaborate joke. It could even be a case of extremely sophisticated spam. Seph’s eyes flicked down to the phone in her hand and forced out a tiny laugh in an effort to make things seem less explosive than they were. Maybe it was like Hoodoo. If she didn’t believe in it, it couldn’t be real.

‘I just got an email from some guy…’ Seph tailed off, shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders as she shakily touched the screen of her phone to go back to the email. ‘It’s really stupid, but he says he’s my real dad?’

What was that look that just passed across her mum’s face? It had been so minuscule and so fleeting that, if she’d have blinked at that moment, she’d have missed it.

Laurel laughed lightly, trailing a hand down the plait hanging over her right shoulder. ‘Spammers these days.’

It was barely there, but Seph saw the slight tremble in her hand. She knew right then that any ideas of there being another explanation were quickly disappearing. Unease unfurled its way down her spine, vertebrae by vertebrae, as she handed the phone towards her mum. Laurel stared at the phone but didn’t reach out to take it.

‘Read the email, mum.’

‘Why?’ She laughed again, but it sounded even more hollow than it had the first time.

Seph held her gaze until Laurel took the phone with barely masked reluctance and put it down on the table in front of her. She watched her mum intently as she read, noting the rise and fall of her shoulders, the way her back remained rigid and upright in the chair, despite the odd angle she had to tilt her head at to read the screen. When she needed to scroll down the email, Laurel touched the screen light and quickly, as if it were something that might sting.

‘There’s an attachment, too,’ Seph said.

She breathed quietly as her mum pressed the attachment icon and the image of a baby in the arms of an unknown man filled the screen. Seph sat perfectly still and waited for her mum to look back up at her, still hoping against all hopes that there was a perfectly decent explanation.

‘Mum?’

Laurel’s shoulders slumped and Seph didn’t need to see her face to know the words written in that email were true. Her deafening silence said it all. Her breath hitched in her throat, sending what felt like a battalion of tears to the back of her eyes just waiting to fall like soldiers.

‘Mum? Is it true?’

Laurel put her hands over her face for a few seconds before dragging them down across her skin and bringing her palms together. She kept her eyes closed as she rested her fingers against her mouth and blew out a long, slow breath through pursed lips.

Laurel shook her head before slowly turning it into a nod. ‘Yes.’ She opened her eyes, nodded again and dropped her hands into her lap. ‘It’s true.’

Seph’s eyebrows knitted together as her mum’s words hung in an air where they didn’t belong. ‘You’re kidding, right?’

It wouldn’t be the first time practical jokes had been made on unsuspecting recipients in their house, but it was usually her dad who’d make them and it wasn’t April Fool’s Day. And, more importantly, this wasn’t in the slightest bit funny.

‘Right?’ Seph prompted with more urgency.

‘Seph, I…’ Laurel’s voice stopped at the sound of the front door opening and closing, and a second later, Tony burst through the archway to the dining room.

Seph looked at him all smart in his dark suit, white shirt and yellow tie, and wished she could stop everything right now. Why wasn’t there a big red button she could press to stop time, right this second, before everything fell apart? He was her dad, not some random guy called Nico who she’d never even heard of. Wasn’t he?

*


Introducing Seph (Persephone) Powell – the 27 year-old artist at the centre of What Goes Down. Come take a look at my Pinterest board to see what I had in my head while writing her character.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 13.30.30

 

How to become a writer. And stuff.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m some kind of spiritual seeker, and honestly believe that when you open yourself up to things, good stuff happens. This has been proven to me this morning when I got an Instagram message from a lovely girlie I met a couple of times in Goa. She was watching an interview between Cheryl Strayed and Marie Forleo (I’d never heard of them) and thought of me. Bizarre? Perhaps. But this is the same lady who’d drawn me to Light Is The New Black. a book that I never even knew I so desperately needed and has made huge changes in my life since.

The interview in question is mostly about how to become a writer. Cheryl talks about her struggles, including freeing herself from guilt about not writing everyday (I don’t write every day either but I do still feel guilty about it), and the reality of appearing successful but still having your rent cheque bounce (I haven’t had a cheque bounce, mainly because I don’t have a cheque book, but I did have just £1 in my account from the end of November until about two weeks ago). Yes, the life of a writer, artist, photographer or just about any other creative is hard, but it can also be so worth it. And the interview goes much deeper than that. It talks about life and how we motivate ourselves, how we can be happy in all weathers and spread the happiness to others. This spoke to me on so many levels. Hopefully, it will do the same with you and inspire/motivate you to keep on going!

Enjoy ❤