Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Natalie Buske Thomas and her daughter Cassandra Thomas spoke about their writing and art at Booktoberfest

Author and artist Natalie Buske Thomas (left) and her daughter, artist Cassandra Thomas

Mother and daughter team Natalie Buske Thomas and Cassandra Thomas drove from Hudson to share their talents at the Augusta Public Library’s Booktoberfest celebration on Sep. 14. Mother Natalie spoke about her career as an author and artist, and then daughter Cassandra—an accomplished cartoonist—taught the audience her techniques for drawing human figures.

The two women have produced a diverse array of work both independently and collaboratively. Natalie, an author and artist, has written two trilogies featuring fictional private investigator Serena Wilcox. In addition, she’s a prolific painter; among other artistic projects, she’s currently working on two Dr. Who-themed oil paintings for a charity auction.

Natalie has been greatly aided in her writing by Cassandra, who edits the manuscripts. She’s uniquely qualified for this job; in addition to being Natalie’s daughter, she’s one of the few people to have aced the verbal section of the SAT. Natalie attributes Cassandra’s excellence with language to her prolific reading habits. “She would wipe out the library’s summer reading program of all their prizes,” Natalie remembered. “I think they had to re-write the rules for her.”

Although Natalie is now the author of two trilogies, her writing success didn’t come easily. After completing her first novel, she received rejection slips that were often so impersonal, they started with “Dear Blank” instead of her name. One company accepted her Serena Wilcox series but wanted her to commit to traveling to 50 book signings a year; unwilling to spend so much time away from her family, she decided to focus on other priorities.

Natalie devoted considerable energy to raising her 3 children: Cassandra, 20, an accomplished artist and editor; Nicholas, 16, a computer whiz and gifted musician; and Savannah, 11, a talented fashion designer and aspiring photographer.  As the children got older and more independent, though, she decided to re-visit her writing career.

When Natalie re-joined her former group of mystery writers, she was pleasantly surprised to discover that she still had many fans. Her readers especially liked Serena Wilcox, a character she’d serendipitously introduced to resolve a plotline in her first novel. They wanted more of Serena, and she obliged them by featuring the character in two trilogies; the first book of the third Serena Wilcox trilogy is already available on Kindle and will soon be coming out in paperback and audio book.

Like her mother, Cassandra also has a significant fan base. Her original on-line comic series, Ki La iLo, has gained considerable popularity. Her success isn’t surprising given her long history as an artist; she taught herself to draw when she was 11 years old and did so well that a Disney artist encouraged her to apply to their art school. She seriously considered the offer but decided to pursue a math major at UW-River Falls instead.

Natalie and Cassandra also collaborate on the Dramatic Mom comic strips. Natalie, who is on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media, had noted that she got the most “likes” and comments when she posted about her mishaps and pratfalls. She decided to oblige her fan base by creating the comic; Natalie provides the storylines based on real-life incidents, and Cassandra illustrates them. They intend to publish a Dramatic Mom book once they’ve created 100 strips; in the meantime, the comics are available on-line to interested readers.
Natalie and Cassandra have already produced a considerable body of work and have no intention of letting up. Anyone interested in Natalie’s artistic and literary productions can find links to Dramatic Mom, images of Natalie’s art, and a lot of other information at Cassandra’s work can be seen at

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