4 March, 2022

Friend biography the launchpad for writing career

A CONVERSATION to convince an old friend to tell their life story was the catalyst for launching Natalie Kile’s writing career.

Author Natalie Kile with her debut book 'Just Nat', a biography of her friend Natalie Lowndes
Author Natalie Kile with her debut book 'Just Nat', a biography of her friend Natalie Lowndes

“Growing up in Narangba, I was friends with  Natalie Lowndes, she actually worked for my parents in their electronics business, so we had known each other for years,” Natalie Kile said.

“We hadn’t seen each other for a number of years, and then we reconnected, and I realised she had a great story to tell, if I could have the chance.”

Ms Kile said she was captivated by her friend’s story, and this, coupled with a lifelong desire to write a book, saw her investigate self-publishing initially.

“I was going to self-publish, then I met Carolyn Martinez, and she became my publisher.

“She is great, she grew up in Redcliffe, she had an instant understanding of what the book was, and what it needed to be, and she was incredibly supportive of the process.”

Ms Kile, referred to as ‘Nat K’, said her friendship was both an advantage and an obstacle in the processs.

“I said to Nat L (Lowndes) I really wanted to tell the story of her around-Australia trip, and we had this back and forth for a while, she wasn’t interested, and then one day she said ‘yes’.

“So we did the story of her trip with her children Levi and Chilli, and I found her motivations interesting, I realised it was her story that was interesting, and I wanted to tell it all.”

Ms Kile said the following conversations were the hardest, as she worked to convince her friend to open up completely.

“Many conversations later, and Nat L finally agreed, and we are both in shock at the outcome, now I have to work out what to do next.”

Ms Kile said her personal connection stretched back to when Nat L would drive her younger brother to school.

“It was a small, family business, so it was nothing for my mother to ask her to drive my brother to school, that was just what happened, Nat and I stayed in touch, but we weren’t close for many years.”

After witnessing her friend fall victim to what she calls ‘click bait’ journalism, Ms Kile said she was determined the book would be a fair treatment of her friend’s story.

“I have always felt that ‘click bait’ denies the reader of the full story it is just a method of encouraging someone to follow a link, but not following through on the promise of a real story.” 

Although the biography is titled ‘Just Nat’, which is how she describes herself, Ms Kile said, the book includes many interviews with other people to provide a full picture of her friend’s life.

“I think Nat is what is called an ‘accidental celebrity’, she didn’t sign up for the celebrity life, it just happened to her, so I tried to speak to others in the same situation, and also to get their views on Nat’s life, because they also knew her.

“But as her friend, I also wanted to avoid allegations of favouritism, so I made sure I interviewed others to help tell the full story of her life.”

“I interviewed other motor racing wives, who had been in similar life situations, so they could give that perspective.”

Drawing on her background as a journalist, Ms Kile said she had a ‘duty of care’ not to be biased, and worked hard to achieve a book that could be enjoyed by all readers.

“It was on my mind a lot, I had to be credible, and not be biased, in any direction.”

Ms Kile said their shared history did present some challenges, when she had to make hard decisions on the content.

“The hardest part was going through her childhood traumas, as a friend, I had known about those, but then I had to decide, as an author, how much of that I had to use.

“Similarly, when it came to the emotional rollercoaster of her marriage break-up, there were definitely times when the lines were blurry.”

With ‘Just Nat’ now completed and ready for distribution, Ms Kile said she is not sure about her next step.

“I am not sure what happens next, this book was a three year process, and I have learned much along the way.

“My journalism background definitely was good for research, but then I had to learn a whole new writing style, my first pages looked like a giant newspaper article.”

Ms Kile said she wanted to write more books, but the next challenge was to settle on a theme.

“I have got the bug, I would love to do more ‘accidental celebrities’, Nat’s story showed me there are plenty of them out there, and they all have fascinating stories to tell.”

For a chance to learn more about the book, ‘Just Nat’, or to meet Natalie Kile, there will be an ‘author’s talk’ at the Caboolture library on Saturday, March 19.


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