Recently, I caught up with the main character in my book Sometime Yesterday. If you recall, Natalie had a hell of a time when she purchased a haunted Victorian house a little over a year ago in Bayside, California.
Interviewer’s note: If you haven’t read Sometime Yesterday, there might be a *spoiler* or two.
Natalie Chambers is an artist that hails from the West Coast and is best known for her paintings of Cleopatra and Helen of Troy. While she won’t release the details, both were rumored to be sold for an amount upward of six figures. She caught the eye of the LGBT community last year when she appeared at a prestigious art gallery on the arm of her beautiful new wife, Van Easton. Although she says she is currently “out of her mind busy” with preparations to open her own gallery, she agreed to do this interview at the Bayside Café in her home town of – yes – Bayside, California.
I arrive at the restaurant early to best remember the local flavor. It is a month before the official tourist season and the streets are quiet. I chose an outside table and then ordered an ice tea while I waited. The pace of life seems slower than in the cities and the locals don’t walk as if in they’re in a hurry. They take the time to say ‘hey’ to the people they pass on the street. Across the street is Bayside hardware where Stan and several of his poker buddies are sitting outside and playing cards. I feel as if I’ve just stepped back into a Norman Rockwell painting.
Five minutes before our appointed time, Ms. Chambers walked into the restaurant wearing paint splattered 501’s and t-shirt. She has clearly come straight from her gallery that is under renovation. The very first thing that still strikes me – is her more than passing resemblance to Gillian Anderson in her X-Files hey-day. She heads to the table where I’m sitting and plops down in the chair. She has beautiful hands, her long artist’s fingers gracefully move down the menu, as she searches for her menu choice. Her green eyes are animated and her long red hair hangs in a French braid halfway down her back. She flashes a dimple while we catch up. I am still completely charmed by her musical voice.
NC: It feels like forever since we’ve talked. My first interview with you! What do you want to know?
YH: Well, I’m honored to be your first! (Wink.) It’s rumored that you turned down all interview requests since we last saw you, what changed?
NC: (Blushes then smiles.) I guess the better question here would be what hasn’t?
YH: (Laughs.) Okay, we’ll get to that, how about some background for our new readers?”
NC: Oh, you mean the mini-biography? (Puts down her fork and takes a deep breath.) Um, okay. I was born thirty-three years ago in San Francisco. We moved to the Pacific Northwest when I was about three. I started painting when I was six and I’m sure my mother still has those masterpieces hanging in the family room. (Laughs.) I never wanted to be anything but a famous painter, I was kind of a nerd, you know? I dressed differently, and went through my “I never wear anything but black” period. I loved to read, and creative writing was my favorite subject. I wasn’t very popular, and I got teased a lot for my red hair and freckles. My favorite color is blue. I eat anything but love steak the best. Um… Oh, and I didn’t go to the prom because no one asked me. (Flashes big smile.)
YH: I find that hard to believe. Did you date at all?
NC: Nope, I thought boys were icky. Of course, now I know why.
YH: Yet, you were married to Jason Chambers for ten years.
NC: (Nods.) I just did what was expected of me, you know? The husband, the house in the ‘burbs, and the little career? I’m not going to go into personal details in an interview. Suffice to say, we divorced.
YH: (Checks notes.) The critics hailed you as this century’s – John William Waterhouse.
NC: Well, he was certainly an influence. But, I want to be known as Natalie Chambers, not the new Waterhouse. (Leans forward and rests her chin on her hand.) I think I’m able to paint the women from the past so well because I read everything I can find that was written about them. I have a vivid imagination and painting is my passion.
YH: So, you moved to here to Bayside after your divorce?
NC: Yes. I wrote a check for the house the first time the real estate lady walked me through it! I’ve always had an impulsive nature, and it used to get me in big trouble. Now I just consider it part of my charm. Life isn’t boring today.
YH: You said ‘life isn’t boring today.’ What do you mean by that? Does it have anything to do with your coming out last year?
NC: Aaaand we get to the meat of the interview! (Laughs)
YH: Well, It IS a lesbian website Natalie. We want to know the details.
NC: It has everything to do with my wife, Van. How can I put this? Um… unlike my paintings, my life before her seems like it was black and white, you know? She brought the vivid colors to my life. What was that line? “She’s everything I never knew I always wanted.”
YH: Fools Rush In, Matthew Perry. Yes, I do know. It says here that you only knew each other less than six months when you married?
YH: (Nods.) I have seen pictures. Congratulations on your wedding.
NC: Thank you.
YH: Any more ghosts or visits from the Dark man?
NC: Not yet. (Looks thoughtful) But, I’ll be sure and let you know when I do.
YH: That would be awesome. I know an excellent ghost hunting crew, Sisters of Spirits, have you heard of them?
NC: Didn’t I tell you? My mother is friends with Aura Skye. Aren’t the women of SOS featured in your new books Yvonne?
YH: (Nods shyly) Yes. The Awakening: Book One and the upcoming second book in the series – The Quickening.
NC: I loved Sunny’s and Jordan’s story in the first book and I’m looking forward to reading Tiffany’s.
YH: (Smiles) Thank you Natalie. Okay, let’s move on, this is your interview. What’s your favorite movie, and what’s your DVD collection full of?
NC: Hmmm. My favorite of all time is Braveheart. I could do without all the over the top blood and violence, but the love story in that film just blew me away. My DVD collection? Mostly romantic comedies, but it also has more action films now that Van has added hers. Her favorites are the end of the world ones, you know – like Armageddon and The Day After Tomorrow?
YH: Interesting. Last song downloaded on your IPOD?
NC: I don’t even own an IPOD – If you’re asking what my favorite music is – I’m kind of stuck on rock and roll from the eighties. If I’m painting, I like Santana’s musical pieces. Van usually has country music playing in the house, or outside when she’s working in the gardens.
YH: What do you want most in life?
NC: (Deadpans.) World peace Yvonne. (Laughter.) Seriously, I want what most people want, to love and be loved. I want to make a difference and I want to be remembered fondly. You know? (Checks watch.)
YH: I know. We’re winding down now. Tell me a fact about you that people wouldn’t ordinarily know.
NC: I’m pretty open, so there isn’t anything hiding in the closet so-to-speak. Anymore. (Laughs.) Um, that’s hard. I guess it would have to be that I’m addicted to reality shows.
YH: Are you going to tell me which ones?
NC: Not today. (Gets up from table, kisses my cheek) Sorry, I gotta run. The gallery opening is right around the corner and I have a ton of stuff still to do.
YH: Two more questions please. Is it just going to be your art featured at the studio? And, can I come?
NC: The gallery? There will be local artists featured as well. My wife does beautiful sculptural fountains, so of course, she’ll be included. We’re pretty open to having any new artists come in. Would you like an invitation? I’ll be sure and send you one. (Flashes dimple, bounces out of the restaurant.)
YH: Man, I wish I had her energy.