Interview: Author ‘Natalie Zina Walschots’ Talks Her New Novel Hench

Natalie cultivates fandoms, builds new communities, develops character voices, leads interactive fiction workshops, designs alternate reality games, constructs branching narratives, and most mornings opens Tumblr before opening her eyes. Her client list includes scrappy indie game studios, critically acclaimed television shows, mixed martial artists, print magazines, talk shows, NGOs, and a few more that defy categorization.

Natalie’s work wins awards, grows audiences, and introduces people to the thing they often end up loving most in the world.

As a writer and journalist, you can find her work in the National Post, The Walrus, Quill & Quire, The Globe & Mail, and beyond. She’s the author of two books: DOOM: Love Poems for Supervillains, and Thumbscrews. She’s currently finishing up Hench, a novel dedicated to the plight of hench-people, the downtrodden and often expendable employees of supervillains.

Natalie has presented at Console-ing Passions, CGSA, Digital Odyssey, TCAF/CSSC, and more. She is an active member of Dames Making Games, and has previously worked with Pixelles, Concordia’s Technoculture, Art and Games Lab, and The Hand Eye Society. She can be found causing trouble at DMG or talking about heavy metal on Banger TV. She has often been in the newspaper for swearing.

Check out her website here and Twitter. The book is in stores now. You can listen below to the interview.

The Boys meets My Year of Rest and Relaxation in this smart, imaginative, and evocative novel of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption, told with razor-sharp wit and affection, in which a young woman discovers the greatest superpower—for good or ill—is a properly executed spreadsheet.

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?

As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured. And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.

So, of course, then she gets laid off.

With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.

Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing. And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.

It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.

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