Natalie Wright, H.A.L.F, and Ditching Romeo & Juliet

Natalie and I have known each other since around the time Dead and Buryd was in the run to being released. We’ve swapped guest posts a couple of times over the last year, and I’m so thrilled that we were able to do it again… on the same day in fact.

Yes, today, whilst I have taken over Natalie’s blog with Teeth, Natalie has jumped onto mine to talk about her new book, H.A.L.F. I’m currently reading H.A.L.F, and it’s such a fun, easy read that I accidentally hit 15% on a single commute. I’ll be posting a review before the week is out, but for now I’m going to leave you in Natalie’s capable hands to talk about the romance aspect of a YA Science Fiction.


HALFTheDeepBeneath_cover_finalH.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers, hidden from humans and sedated. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.

Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement gives way to shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll escape the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?

The two may need to forget their rules and training if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.


Ditching Romeo and Juliet

“Romeo and Juliet?” asked the beta reader as she yawned.

I’m paraphrasing (only slightly). This was the reaction I got to my first draft of the manuscript that would become H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath.

Early readers and editors liked the big picture concept: a teenage girl helps an alien-human hybrid escape from the government lab where he has lived his whole life. But my attempt at creating a romance sub-plot? They were like this:

Bad Smell

I initially conceived of Erika Holt (the female lead character) as a “wrong side of the tracks” girl who falls for a “right side of the tracks” guy named Kyle. It was all so West Side Story (which of course harkens back to Romeo and Juliet).

It was …

“So done before,” said the editor.

Back to the drawing board. Or more precisely, to the back burner where the story simmered for nearly two years while I worked on other things.

When I pulled H.A.L.F. back out and dusted it off, Kyle got the boot. Instead of an “opposites attract” approach, I decided to make my new love interest – Jack Wilson – more of a “regular” guy. Instead of a football player, Jack is a musician and poet. Instead of Mr. Suave, Jack is a flip-flop wearing, rumpled T-shirt sort of guy with just-out-of-bed tousled hair. Jack is carefree and laid back, a great counter-point to Erika’s more assertive and rigid personality.

Jack WilsonBut more than just changing the character, I altered the relationship sub-plot. Now as the story begins, their relationship is falling apart (as opposed to meeting and falling for each other over the course of the story). The reader drops into a senior-year relationship that was fun over the summer but is now at risk of crumbling entirely.

And just when it looks like they may find some equilibrium in the “friends zone,” their nightmare in the desert begins when they meet the strange, fascinating and dangerous H.A.L.F. 9.

As a writer, it is so much more fun to explore where all of this is going. What will happen with Jack and Erika? Will Erika’s fascination with the alien-human hybrid push her relationship with Jack off of the tracks? Or will the dangers they face pull them back together?

I hope that readers enjoy Kyle’s replacement – Jack Wilson – as much as I enjoyed creating a worthy (and more intriguing) love interest for Erika.



Natalie Head Shot CroppedNatalie is the author of H.A.L.F., a young adult science fiction series, and The Akasha Chronicles, a young adult fantasy trilogy. She lives in the high desert of Tucson, Arizona with her husband, tween daughter, and two young cats.

Natalie spends her time writing, reading, gaming, geeking out over nerd culture and cool science, hanging out on social media, and meeting readers and fans at festivals and comic cons throughout the western United States. She likes to walk in the desert, snorkel in warm waters, travel, and share excellent food and conversation with awesome people. Natalie supports the rights of both humans and non-humans to live a life free of suffering caused by people. She was raised an Ohio farm girl, lives in the desert Southwest, and dreams of living in a big city high rise.

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About chelecooke

Self-Published author of the Out of Orbit series and the Teeth series. UCL Residence Assistant, obsessive cross stitcher, avid reader and TV show watcher.
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