Spotlight on: Nathalia Scacciotto Harri, Author
Updated: Dec 5, 2020
Interview and photo by Mez Lie
'Fear not the unknown. It is a sea of possibilities.’ – Tom Althouse
Nathalia Scacciotto Harri has dived into this sea, not once but twice. First, she moved across the world to start a new life in Finland. Then, she sent the manuscript for her novel to a publishing house…
Fantasy realms steeped in magic and folklore, where intrepid adventurers face their fears to brave new worlds, have defined Nathalia’s life. When she started playing Drakensang, an online role-playing game (RPG), she had no idea it would shape her future. In the heat of battle, she encountered a foe who soon became friend as they chatted online and bonded over their love of gaming. However, her new love lived far across the seas in the land of a thousand lakes, Finland.
Six years later, Nathalia began her own journey to this mysterious new place, vastly different to the bustling metropolis of São Paulo she called home. Nathalia was excited to finish university and start the next chapter of her life, but it wasn’t easy to leave everyone and everything she had ever known. She reminisces, ‘A month before, you’re excited, a week before, you start thinking, “What am I doing?”!’
Tell us about your life in Finland.
Finland is a place where I can improve my life and ensure a better future for myself and the next generation. Building a life if you’re not born into wealth in Brazil is difficult. Finland gives me the opportunity to grow in a way that Brazil couldn’t. Living in Brazil, everything is so rushed. Here I work regular hours and have time to enjoy life. Learning Finnish has been difficult, but I’m fighting to learn it so that I can eventually work in my profession as an architect.
How do you maintain connections to your home country?
The hardest part of living in Finland is being apart from my family, so I’m thankful for all the technology that allows me to see and chat to them in Brazil. I speak to them regularly, especially my mum who I’m very close to.
When I have children, I want them to be bilingual. It’s important to me that they can communicate with all my family in Brazil as most of them only speak Portuguese. Language will be an important bridge to help them stay connected to their heritage.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
The story idea came to me while I was playing a tabletop RPG game, set in a fantasy world. I was playing with my friends, having fun with my character, when a story began to take shape in my head. Firstly, these ideas involved my character in the game, but then I realised that this story belonged to a character completely different to the one I was playing.
After the game, the story continued to evolve and grow with more and more detail. I even dreamt of the characters as if I were watching them in a movie! The story was so real to me that I decided I had to write it.
Describe your writing process.
The ideas for stories and characters often come to me as I am doing other things. I carry my tablet wherever I go so that when that happens, I’m ready to write. Sometimes it feels like the words are given to me and I’m just a conduit, passing on a tale for others to read. For example, in ‘Ottoiccact’, there’s a point where I needed one of the characters to be separated from the group. The resolution to that dilemma just came to my mind, I didn’t have to force the story. So I find writing a very natural process.
However, there are times that I also conduct research to ensure I describe places and things accurately. As an example, ‘Ottoiccact’ is set in medieval times so I researched things like where archers would stand and how they would attack.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your book?
How good it makes me feel! It can look like I’m just sitting and writing, but the feeling inside is therapy for my soul. Writing has taught me patience and allowed me to inhabit experiences and events that I may not have considered in my day to day life. For example, I have to consider complex emotions and how they are dealt with when I am writing about characters and their relationships.
I have always loved how fantasy worlds allow me to escape the routine of ordinary life and live a fantastic one instead.
What was the process to get your book published?
I contacted Chiado Books, Portuguese editors who are always looking for new authors. After I sent my manuscript to them, they replied with interest. I cried so much, I couldn’t believe it was happening. After a month of discussions, we agreed on all the details and my book was published approximately four months later.
As a first time author, I had to invest a small amount to publish my book with them, but also received physical copies of my book in return. The feeling of holding my book and seeing the words on a printed page was wonderful!
Do you have any writing buddies?
Yes, I have a friend who is also a writer and is about to publish his first book. We talk a lot about writing, sharing experiences and help each other edit. We read each other’s books and I also have some special friends who I call ‘Beta Readers’. They give me critical advice and are unafraid to voice their opinions!
Do you have any advice to readers who want to follow a dream?
Don’t give up! I was 15 when I first started writing this book. It was a growth process and many parts have changed as I matured as a writer. There was even a point where I stopped writing. The encouragement of my husband and friends helped motivate me to continue.
I would also say trust yourself, because if you don’t trust yourself, then others won’t trust you. Focus on the result you want. You can get there!
Nathalia’s first novel ‘Ottoiccact, The Book of Power’, a fantasy novel in Portuguese is available to purchase here.
She is currently working on her second book, a romance that combines traditional fantasy characters like elves and dwarves, with vampires. She is hoping to release this book soon in both Portuguese and English.