Natasha Sapienza is a writer, actress, Christian, blogger and Youtuber. She is super passionate about relationships; when she isn’t helping her husband with his filmaking, or raising her two sons Arrow and Braven, she is encouraging women by teaching them confidence, self-respect, and relationship advice.
While she has three non-fiction e-books under her belt, Prodigy Prince is her first fictional novel. What’s it about, you ask?
At seventeen, all Prince Nuelle had ever known was safety and peace while living in the Supreme Palace of Zephoris.
But one night, his older brother, Tane, defies their father by traveling to a cursed land. Now Nuelle holds the signet-ring and carries more responsibility than even Tane bore. Thrust from the palace and sent to a knight-building academy, Nuelle must discover his purpose for the entire kingdom’s sake.
From his place of banishment, Prince Antikai has been exacting revenge through fear and rebellions. Nuelle has the potential to defeat him, but he needs the help of a powerful book called the Acumen, and six gifted youths.
Summoned by Antikai, shape-shifting beasts and other enemies hunt Nuelle and the Acumen. If either is destroyed, the faithful citizens in Zephoris will perish, and darkness will rule forever.
This is a YA Fantasy you do not want to miss.
What exactly inspired Natasha to write this novel? And how does she juggle her family and her work.
Let’s find out! Over to you, Natasha.
Your blog, Youtube, and e-books are all focused on helping women with their confidence, relationships, and faith. However, The Prodigy Prince is a high-fantasy YA novel – a totally different idea and tone! What inspired you to write your first novel in such a different genre?
Funny and randomly enough, I was actually sitting in a church and a title just crossed my mind, “The Seven.” And the moment it did, I just knew it was a fantasy series with seven main characters each representing the “seven spirits of God” spoken of in the book of Isaiah. I had a strong sense that I needed to write it, even though quite honestly, I was totally intimidated and put off starting for months.
I mean, I’d read the whole Harry Potter series as a kid, and devoured some YA in high school – having library aid as an elective meant I could rent as many books as I wanted and return them pretty much when I wanted. But I hadn’t touched fantasy in years, so to write a YA high fantasy was out of my comfort zone and still feels out of my league. But there’s no turning back now – especially with how I ended book one.
Tell us more about your protagonist, Nuelle. Where did your inspiration for him come from?
Originally, Nuelle was supposed to be a metaphor for Jesus Christ, kinda like Narnia’s Aslan. His name used to be Immanuel, which in Hebrew means “God with us.” But the story evolved so much over the nearly six years of working on it, that in the end, he became more of a “type” of Christ, like how Moses and Joseph’s lives and greatest feats—saving a nation—foreshadowed what Jesus would do on an entirely grander and more epic scope—save the world.
So Nuelle became more of a representation of Jesus’ character, like loving people, hating evil, obeying His Father and “doing His will.” Nuelle also has some of His abilities, like being able to heal people, loving others, hating evil, and then his purpose reflects what Christ’s ultimate purpose was: being the Savior of the world.
How did you tackle the challenge of building the world of your novel? How easy/difficult did you find it?
I’m what one of my writing mentors calls a “pantser”; someone who doesn’t outline, but just plops down at the computer and goes for it. Whatever ideas flowed are what I implemented.
I did know there was going to be a Creator. And I mean, I love knights and Lord of the Rings’ Middle Earth so I also knew it would have a charming medieval vibe, but the world wasn’t planned.
However, I did have a secret weapon that came in after I laid the groundwork: my husband. He’s far more original than I am, so he actually came up with most of the Sentinels’ powers and that they should tie into the environment of each kingdom, and he came up with the backstory of why Zephoris has multiple kings and other cool details.
As someone who has been happily married for 7 years, do you think having a partner influences your work? If so, how do you think it does? If not, then why don’t you think so?
Ha, like I said in the last question: Sir Jonathan is totally my now not-so-secret weapon. I honestly believe I’m married to the next George Lucas. He’s that great of a storyteller. He had so many wonderful and powerful ideas I just couldn’t resist implementing. Without a doubt, my book wouldn’t be getting the reviews it’s been getting without all of hubby’s input.
With so many creative projects, and two children, how do you manage to get so much done? What’s your secret?
I mentioned I’ve worked on this novel for almost six years. I started back in 2012 so it’s actually been a long time coming with this project.
The blog and YouTube channel started up before babies entered our lives and I’ve definitely not been able to produce as much content. I’m also a recently recovered workaholic. I went from working my family around my projects, to now working my projects around my family which mostly means I work during nap time and bedtime!
Okay, time for the hard question: Which two authors have inspired you the most and why?
Easy: Bryan Davis (Raising Dragons) and J.K. Rowling.
I met Bryan at the Florida Christian Writers Conference in 2012 right after I’d begun writing my YA fantasy. I showed him my then first chapter and he marked it with red all over the place. However, he told me he believed in me and from that day onward, he became my Obi-Wan Brynobi and I, his Skywalker.
His training was brutal at times because he is such a hard critic, but it pushed and grew me beyond what I ever could’ve achieved on my own. And more than that, his writer’s journey, or what he calls his journey through “the Hero Door”, when he left the security of his job and pursued a career in writing while having seven children and a wife to take care of, persevering through 200 rejections and seven or eight years until finally earning a living from writing brings me such strength and hope. No author has inspired or mentored me more than he has.
J.K. Rowling’s influence on generations and millions of youth was part of what fueled me to keep on writing this book. For me, it’s also about impacting youth in ways I’ve never dreamt possible.
Do you have any new projects on the horizon that you can tell us about?
I’m getting ready to launch into preproduction for hubby’s urban-fantasy style web series for teens and young adults which is flipping amazing. And of course, I’m working on book two of the Seven Covenant.
And finally, what is the one piece of advice you’d like to give to any aspiring writers out there?
If there’s anything I’ve learned from this experience, it’s come back to the love you had at first. Basically, write what you love, not what you think others will love. Let your passion for your own story steer you. Not everyone will understand or love your story, and you need to be brave and fight through that.
If you write for acceptance, you’ll soon give up. But if you write from love, you’ll see it through.