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Norfolk native finds success as science fiction author

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NORFOLK - Natalie Jenner Blais was exercising on her treadmill and enjoying a good read 12 years ago when she became inspired to go on a journey - a trek toward publishing her first book.

Mrs. Blais, a Norfolk native, now lives in Bloomington, Ind., with her husband, Scott and their two children Jaicee, and Tommy.

She recently finished writing the third book in a science fiction trilogy titled “Prey for Reign: Kingdom Come,” which is expected to be released this spring.

The 1990 Norwood-Norfolk graduate said that her inspiration for completing the series happened in a fairly simple way.

“I was getting ready to go on a cruise with my husband and two other couples. I was reading a trilogy and working out on the treadmill and thought, ‘I could do this.’ So I went downstairs and started writing,” Mrs. Blais said.

“Prey for Reign: The Arrival of One” was made available for purchase on amazon.com in August 2013, while its sequel, “Prey for Reign: The Wrath of Surgin,” has been listed on the web site since early December.

Mrs. Blais is the daughter of Phil Jenner and the late Peggy Jenner. “(My father) grew up in Norwood and worked at General Motors, and my mother grew up in Norfolk and was a teacher at Madrid-Waddington,” Mrs. Blais explained. “For college, I went to Indiana University and studied business administration.”

According to amazon.com, the “Prey for Reign” trilogy focuses on “the tale of eight birthright possibles and their struggle to claim the ultimate galactic title from a man who has brought only decay and misery to his peoples.”

Mrs. Blais, who works full-time as the Bloomington Fire District manager, said that she enjoys some books and movies in the sci-fi genre, but would not call herself a typical fan.

She also noted that she enjoys incorporating personal experiences and relationships into her stories, going as far as naming her characters by jumbling around the letters in family member’s names.

“I don’t read (sci-fi books), but I have always been a fan of Star Wars. It started there, and I wanted to write about something unknown,” she said. “I try to make it interesting for people who know me. I like to have people think, ‘Hey is this (character) me?’ It’s fun to familiarize it.”

Kim Stewart, a Trinity Catholic School staff member and a relative of Ms. Blais, said that despite her usual lack on interest in this type of novel, she thoroughly enjoyed the first book and is currently reading the second.

“I am not a big science fiction fan, but I really got into the books. She is good at what she does,” Ms. Stewart said. “She isn’t a big sci-fi person either, so this is really a gift that she has come up with all of this stuff.”

The author utilized Print on Demand, a business process in which new copies of a book are not printed until an order has been received. The specific program she used to publish her novels is through Amazon, called createspace.com.

“I started writing them about 12 years, and I just didn’t do anything with them. My husband and I would be riding in the car and I would read and edit them with him. Today, now that you can do Print on Demand, anyone can write a book. I was able to take something I’ve been working on for 10 to 12 years and put it to use,” Mrs. Blais said.

“I work full time all day and I just (wrote) in my down time. It was a long 12 years.”

Mrs. Blais said that her book sales have been higher than she anticipated, and Ms. Stewart said she hasn’t been surprised with her dedication to completing the trilogy.

“She is very persistent,” Ms. Stewart said. “We knew that she was dabbling in a story, but we never knew she was doing a trilogy. We are very proud of her and pleasantly surprised that it is being so well received. She just made an overseas sale, so she is now technically international.”

Both the first and second book of the trilogy can be purchased on amazon.com and through a Kindle device.

Mrs. Blais pointed out that she has always taken to writing, but has found the process of writing novels to be a different animal.

“English and writing was always something I was very good at in school. Writing a novel is a different experience. When you read something out loud, you realize your mistakes. That part of writing I didn’t know, but writing itself, I always excelled at that,” she said.

Despite calling her series a trilogy, Mrs. Blais is leaving the door open for a possibility of additional books.

“There are enough unanswered questions to at least do one more, if not more. But for now I am enjoying having a little bit of free time for myself,” she said.

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