Who is Alex Natalian, and what the hell is she doing here?
(And if this is Natalian’s website, why are we talking about her in third person?)
The short version.
Alex Natalian is my “writer” alter-ego – and she takes up a lot of time. I spend half of my waking life writing stories for her: mainstream, horror, humor, erotica, narrative nonfiction, even medical nonfiction, though my day-to-day obsession and identity is science fiction. So far Alex and I have a dozen novels/novellas and more than a hundred short stories to our name. We’ve even published a few.
When not writing for Alex, I practice life as a physician. I’m a psychiatrist. It’s a voyeuristic calling, I’ll admit, gives me the chance to live vicariously through other people’s eyes, see lots of worlds, hear lots of stories, live lots of experiences — and all that without getting off the couch.
Until recently I worked as a travelling doc covering vacant positions. My background includes general inpatient psychiatry, forensic inpatient, inpatient detoxification units, substance abuse residential programs, day hospital and outpatient clinics (medication management, individual and group therapy), ACT teams, emergency psychiatry, telemedicine, and geropsychiatry. My current project is seeing home-bound patients in their homes.
I live in northern California with my husband.
Want a real answer to the question? What is the meaning of life? What dark secrets led me to think I have something worth sharing? Here’s the drawn-out, over-inclusive, maddened “confession-about-stuff-no-one-should-know” version.
I write to live. I mean, I need to make stuff up. I have my reasons.
Much of my childhood was spent alone with my parents: no friends, no family. My parents moved a lot. By the time I was seven, we’d lived in three separate countries. That left me lots of time to myself, making up dream worlds, and boy were they terrific places to visit: civilizations stuck in buildings, knights with cool callings and even cooler names, schools run by computers, ships sailing across seas filled with fruit and wine, and even universities where I was a crazy old professor teaching left-handed writing to right-handed students.
Not that I was bereft of stimuli around me. We jumped back and forth between South Africa and Europe four times before settling on a permanent move to the United States.
Africa is a special place. My parents and I spent a couple years in back-country South Africa, where elephants chased cars and monkeys stole stuff from the kitchen when my mum didn’t tie everything down well enough. I played with the black kids who squatted on my family’s farm. We ran around half-naked, painting our faces with chalk and acting like superheroes, and yeah, well, we hypnotized chickens too.
Europe was shocking. Stunning, too. My elephants and African friends were replaced by kindergarten and latch-key friends. I discovered clocks that were so noisy that people came from all over the world to hear them make noise. In Germany I learned a new language. In Luxembourg I discovered my cousins already spoke FOUR languages. In England I heard a funny song, something about a London bridge falling down; no one could tell me why it kept falling down, so I made up lots of bridge-falling stories to keep myself happy. Then my parents decided to move to Australia. Australia didn’t work out, so we moved to America instead, to a curious little town called of El Paso, where the word “embarasada” means pregnant, not embarrassed, and where nuns don’t like you chewing gum in class.
No doubt all this bled into my fantasy worlds, which grew exponentially and never stopped growing.
My worlds have become oh-so elaborate — and downright bizarre. Now we have gods who banish men to two-sunned worlds (for sins they can’t remember), predators that prefer philosophy and interesting math equations over stalking their prey, lands where slugs are used for currency… Most of my novels are about distant life forms and civilizations, a blending of science, psychology, alien sociology, the bizarre, and, every now and then, the magical.
It’s always the same question: if it doesn’t have to be this way, what other ways are there? The question is beautiful. You never run out of answers.