Q & A with Author Natalie Bymaster

Natalie Bymaster at John Steinbeck Museum in Salinas, CA
Natalie standing next to both the enlightening and controversial works of John Steinbeck.

If you know me, then this will be no surprise.  My favorite author is John Steinbeck.  I enjoy reading Steinbeck because his writing is so simple and clear, a style much like my own.  He was creative and bold.  He took on controversial topics.  He also took on some large philosophical topics as well.  I have read many of his works and I have even vacationed in some of the settings of his books.

A few years ago, my husband and I read East of Eden, and then we went on vacation to the Salinas Valley where the book is set.  Visiting the Salinas Valley after reading the book made it come to life.  It made me ponder the point of the book:  good and evil and whether humans have free will in the matter. 

Although we were in paradise on the ocean in California, the highlight of that trip was not what I expected.  I am usually one to enjoy the beach, sports, or an outdoor adventure.  Instead, the highlight of the trip was a visit to the John Steinbeck Museum. 

We started the museum tour by watching a short film.  It talked about Steinbeck’s life and background.  What struck me the most was how some of Steinbeck’s books were heavily criticized and rejected when he wrote them.  It was so difficult for him.  At one point, he vowed not to write another fiction book ever again.  That hit home for me.  As an author, you put your whole self into a book.  You put everything you are into your writing.  You can’t hide or hold anything back.  The book is a part of you.

When that short film was over, the credits came on the screen.  I waited until eventually, the screen went black.  With a black screen in front of me and an empty theater behind me, I sat there just thinking about how special it is to be an author.  I thought about how the pages I have written can help or even entertain a reader for so many years to come.  I know that Steinbeck’s books have both helped and entertained me.

Cheers to John Steinbeck, a man brave enough to directly tackle the most compelling of subjects and questions!