Natalie Tilghman


Co-author of A 52 Hertz-Whale (with Bill Sommer), Natalie Tilghman, joins LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author! Natalie studied fiction at the University of Chicago Writers’ Workshop and received a MFA from Ranier Writing Workshop. After she graduated, Bill, who was a fellow student, started an e-mail correspondence about assuming character identities. From the email exchange that followed, A 52-Hertz Whale developed.

How did you get started writing?

My mom helped me make a little book out of construction paper when I was four-years-old, and I thought that I was a writer when we finished our project. I wrote from that time on, but I got more serious in college when I took a writing class while studying in Italy.

Who influenced you?

I also loved reading when I was young—L.M. Montgomery, Roald Dahl, Betty Smith, Madeleine L'Engle, C.S. Lewis. The person who has most influenced me as an adult is a wonderful writer, who I was fortune enough to have as a teacher, Suzanne Berne.

Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?


What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?

Read.  Your best teachers are the authors that you love. Look to see how they craft dialogue, approach setting, advance plot, sketch characters. You can learn by reading and copying the techniques you see being used by your favorite writers.

Where is your favorite place to write?

The coffee shop near my house in Glenview, IL with a dark roast cup of joe and a sprinkle donut.  But I don't eat the donut until I've written some pages! 

What else would you like to tell us?

Research is a great place to find inspiration.  My own interest in humpback whales led to a lot of reading, which prompted the inclusion of whales in this novel. Yay for whales! Yay for research!

Natalie, thank you for joining LitPick for six minutes. We love your incentive of a sprinkle donut for writing!

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