Once upon a time, I was a writer. I never thought of being a writer as a particularly dangerous job, or one that made people want you to either do and write what they wanted, or make you disappear. I probably should have.
Today, I am seriously pissed. SERIOUS. DAMN SERIOUS, folks. I have a permanent criminal stalking injunction against one JOYCE MCKINNEY, because one day she found me on the Internet and decided I would be her soul sister. Because I wrote books from the “other” side of Mormonism, the one they call “YOU ANTI-MORMON-LEAVE-THE-CHURCH-BUT-CAN’T-LEAVE-THE-CHURCH-ALONE” side (in other words, it’s not pro LDS, but shows both sides) she saw my Website and blog and just KNEW I was the one that would tell her story to the world. The problem is, Joyce has a very wishy washy grasp on her story, and even her name on some days, because she is a FRUITCAKE and so if you tell her story the way it really happened, she will kidnap you, or sue you, or threaten you or call everybody that is ever mentioned on the Internet as associated with you and that’s where it all starts. My first inkling something was wrong was an email, sent through my contact page, proclaiming us soul sisters and asking me to give her my number, so she could call me from a safe line that wasn’t tapped by the Mormons, and she would use the code name “Sunshine.” Uh, no? I kindly declined.
She not so kindly persisted. I told her I was too busy working on my own books to work on hers, and besides I wrote fiction (which is actually what she wants written, because nothing that happened fits in her scenario of the events). She stopped for a minute. Then I got an email from the Trib, some guy I’d never met, because my bio said I worked there I DID work there–years ago. She must have been feeling slightly sane that day because she actually gave her real name, Joyce McKinney. The nice Tribune guy and I threw the name around for a minute and then memory clicked. She was the nutcase who followed the Mormon missionary to England, kidnapped him, raped him, and then was arrested. What came out of that was hilarious. The infamous, “You can’t put a marshmallow into a toaster” and “I loved Kirk so much that I would have skied down Mount Everest in the nude with a carnation up my nose.” She disappeared from England, apparently dressed as a nun (you never know with Joyce) and has spent the past years trying to get back in the spotlight. She would still ski nude down Mt. Everest for Kirk Anderson (HIDE KIRK, HIDE!!! OR at the least, change your name and get plastic surgery. And thank your lucky stars she didn’t get pregnant). She went rogue. She was hard to track down for a while. Apparently, too hard for the officers trying to serve her with my criminal stalking injunction. She started hounding my editor at St. Martin’s. She called my agent. And one day, she called me.
I’m still pissed about that. Not that she called me, but because i didn’t think fast enough on my feet, because Joyce, see, Joyce HATES Mormons. She blames them for everything that has happened to her and keeping her from her beloved Kirk. And since she read my blog, she knew my family was Mormon. When I got a call from a blocked number, I knew better. I never should have answered. But I did. And she asked for me, in this sweet Southern voice and I knew she had finally found me. After calling St. Martin’s Press, My New York agent, a small indie press I once published through, The Salt Lake Tribune, and god knows who else, she found me. And she asked for me. And coward that I am, I said, “She’s not here.” “Well, who is this?” she asked. “Uh, her… mother?” Now this was no quick thinking on my part, because my mother was a very nice person and she did not deserve the screaming, expletive-filled harangue that turned Joyce McKinney into a demon from one of those horror movies. I finally hung up. Then called the phone company and they immediately changed my number. (Thanks, Phone Company. At least someone cared.) And then I called the police. A bored officer took the second report. (My agent told me I needed to report the first encounter.) I never actually SAW a police officer. But NOW, Joyce McKinney knew where I lived. And when you didn’t do what Joyce wanted, she found a way to make it happen.
So the bored police officer encouraged me to go down to Safe Harbor and file a restraining order. I made an appointment, and sat down with the nicest girl who took all my information, half of it with her mouth hanging open (she was kinda naive) and then the next day or so they went before the judge with the requests for restraining orders and criminal stalking injunctions. One was awarded that day. It was mine, and it was a criminal stalking injunction against Joyce McKinney. Unserved. Because, you see, NO ONE KNEW WHERE SHE WAS. The police in her home state sent us an updated picture but had no idea where she was. WHERE’S JOYCE? Waiting around the corner to tie me to a bed and hobble me until I write her story the way she wants it written? This was the most not-funny thing to happen to me.
At the same time, my ex-husband decided to go on one of binge-drinking hate fests and so I moved out. I had to go to my kid’s schools and tell them NOT to let their father OR Joyce McKinney anywhere near my two kids. I had to explain this whole stupid damn scenario to at least four people, and THEN my daughter came home and told me that her dad knew we went to Sizzler to eat. In the middle of the day. So I had TWO stalkers, neither one with good intentions toward moi. One day, my ex-husband asked me to come down to the house because he wanted to talk to me about going to Idaho with him, on a job, so we could spend time and maybe work things out. I wasn’t playing. So he called the girls, and my oldest told me, Dad sounded funny. I went down to his house at that point, walked in, and found him almost incoherent on the couch. I couldn’t rouse him. He seemed extremely inebriated, which was strange even for him at that time of the day. So I walked toward the phone and accidentally kicked a duffle bag that hurt my foot. I opened it up and found a large gun and a lot of bullets. That was all. On the Entertainment Center, just inches away, I found a bottle of Xanax. I called 911. They came, and I tried to tell them what happened, but they were worried about getting him help, and they took the gun and bullets, and I don’t remember ONE of them asking me if he had ever threatened me. Not one.
It was several years later before I realized that I had walked ignorantly into two possible scenarios. A murder/suicide or a suicide that I got to witness. And no one ever asked me about it–including me. But shouldn’t the cops have known? Shouldn’t THEY have wondered? They later gave ME the gun back, and I had my family hide it.
And I wrote the whole experience with Joyce McKinney down on my blog. She called my editor and threatened to sue me. She called my editor a lot. Maybe they were friends by then. You see, Joyce’s reason for continually trying to contact me where that the Mormons were trying to keep us apart. Yes, I know. It’s really doesn’t make sense, but we are talking about Joyce McKinney. She was also determined they had my phone tapped and were watching me. Now, some of this could possible have been true, but we certainly didn’t want Joyce to know that.
I received a call one day from my editor, Jennifer Weis, asking me how the Mormon Church would know that I had sold a book and that St. Martin’s Press was publishing it. there was no catalog. There was no notice. I was not Mormon royalaty. This was WIVES AND SISTERS. (By the way, I called it OUTER DARKNESS. They changed the name. They did not care that i had a book already out that was called SISTER WIFE. And a planned sequel, already written, TWISTED SISTER. I think I’ll let the third planned book slide.)
I said, “I have no idea, well, except I am active on a group on the Internet that consists of ex-Mormons.” And apparently Mormon trolls. They knew. They were watching me. I didn’t like it. Take that “leave the church and leave the church alone” shit and shove it up your ass. If they will not leave ME alone, why should I leave them alone? And I’m writing FICTION. FICTION, people. It does not proclaim to be true. I MAKE THINGS UP. IT’S MY JOB. I have always considered my writing the inside view of Utah and Mormons that they do not want exposed. For years, the hierarchy have gathered up things that might make them look bad and hid them away. Rumor is they actually have the “peep stones” Joseph Smith used to “translate” the Book of Mormon. And a bunch of other stuff, including some forged stuff they bought from murderer Mark Hoffman. In fact, this was one of my complaints against President Gordon B. Hinckley. By buying Hoffman’s work, forged or not, he created a market that Hoffman did not want shut down. And he was willing to kill to keep that from happening. What this means is Hinckley KNEW some of these things would test the faith of his religious following, and also that Joseph Smith Jr. WAS involved in some shady dealings before he found the golden plates and ran with them, a long way, which was superhuman, by the way.
St. Martin’s agreed to send them a review copy, and they dismissed it as a trivial book by an unknown writer. Okay, sorry my name isn’t Marie Osmond. Or Martha Beck. It was FICTiON people. I write fiction. I tried to tell Joyce McKinney I WRITE FICTION. No one listens. NO ONE. The Mormon Church, Joyce McKinney and my soon to be ex-husband (who was either planning my murder or planning on leaving me eternally fucked up from watching his death) are all interested in what I am doing, and I have to tell the schools to watch out for my children and all of them had enough power in my life that I STOPPED COLD. That was enough. I stopped. I stopped writing. I hid. I couldn’t promote my books. I couldn’t finish my next book. I even went to a counselor who tried to help me understand why I was so fearful and couldn’t write. All she did was validate what I already knew. My own family told me to stop writing books. (They are mostly Mormon.) No one could tell me where Joyce McKinney was (but don’t come looking Joyce because I still have that injunction and I will serve you, bitch). And no one could tell me when the ex would strike next.
This numbing stop lasted at least two years. And then I met Birdman, and he read Wives and Sisters, and then he set me up at a table in his house, brought me dinner and wine and made me write. And Ties That Bind got finished that way. I owe him my sanity. My books. And my love. He saved me from the very real threats that had haunted me for years. And he is still here, despite my Pandora’s Box of ugliness. And then a very real demon, one I was born with, attacked me again and put me almost under. I have a disorder called CVID. My immune system just doesn’t work. I’m the Bubble Writer. I am constantly sick and require three doctors, once a week infusions of gammaglobulin that only keep me from getting killer bugs, and still, Birdman stayed at my side. (CVID is genetic, but tends to wane at times, and come back with a fury. It worked with me.)
Good thing I write. I can do that from bed. I also am graduating in a few months with my bachelor’s degree in graphic design.
I also wrote Angel of Destruction. It’s wasting away at St. Martin’s. If you like my books, write them a letter and complain.
I then finished two books that I ghostwrote, started a new series, which branched off of Lost Innocent and the main character, EDEN REIN. The first of these is titled Blood Rein. It is with a publisher, waiting for the hatchet or the acceptance letter. Either way, it will get published. In the style of Breaking Bad, this book explores why someone would “break bad.” What would drive you to that point? If you want to find out what drove Eden, check out the Lost Innocent Books.
I started writing my memoirs, in my own style, a few months ago. And this is where the Pandora’s Box came in. Mine was very full. I suggest you not only don’t open your personal Pandora’s Box, but burn it. Light it up. You don’t want to know what is in there. Realizations that came flying at me from the box?
*I had allowed myself to be destroyed by a man we’ll call David because he knew how to get into my mind and manipulate me. I did finally escape. Even after he met and married someone else, he kept me tied to him. Stupid on me.
*I spent the next 20 years running. Apparently in place, for I got nowhere.
*I walked unarmed and unescorted into the home of my ex-husband who, to this day, would like nothing more than to see me dead. I believe my murder was planned that day, but I didn’t cooperate so he got too zonked on his overdose of Xanax and had to be hospitalized.
“People do not change. Their bodies change, but their hearts and minds do not. What especially does not change is how they treat you.
*Joyce McKinney is not afraid of Mormons, which is what I always told myself. She WOULD come to Utah. She would kidnap me if she wanted to.
*I’m really glad I’m not Kirk Anderson
*People who tell you that if you leave the church you should leave it alone are full of shit, because the church will not leave you alone. I had my name removed. I got a letter. It told me of the dire “eternal consequences” of leaving. It stated I was no longer a Mormon. A year or so later I was back. There was two of me. One under my maiden name, and one under my married name. I had two daughters under the married name, and a daughter and a son named Robert under my married name. We are still looking for him. If you see him, tell him we’re sorry. We didn’t know he existed.
*My now-husband thought he had his name removed. I told him not to be so sure. I was right. One day after we moved into our new house in our new community, a nice couple came to the door and introduced themselves. They were the bishop and his wife. And they had our “records.” Wrong marriage date. Both of us members. All of his kids. So next time you tell an ex-Mormon to leave the church alone, give it a second thought. If a church can’t leave you alone, why should you leave it alone? And they are probably still ONE OF YOU, because as I have always said, “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” I now have an AWESOME book out, and no one ever guesses the ending, and it sold through it’s print run at St. Martin’s and NOBODY noticed but me. Then my “editor,” working on a rewrite of my fourth book QUIT mid-edit to become a writer. Lovely. Don’t plan on seeing that one soon. I LOVE EBOOKS. The book that sold through it’s print run is there, and you can read it.
It is called Ties That Bind. I’m not comparing it to the amazing Gone Girl, exactly, but as of yet, no one has guessed the ending. Since the Mormons are so worried about my fiction, don’t you think you should read it to find out what it’s about? I do. Especially after I disappeared and hid for three or four years while I watched my life disintegrate into a “somebody’s watching me…” It changed me. But…..
I’m back. I don’t care. I will speak. I will be heard. I know how to use a gun and have one close at hand. Joyce, you can kiss my ass. Ex, same thing. Mormon Church, get over it. Not everybody loves your teachings. If it’s true, it will stand up to the test. If you are trying to keep the masses from hearing the truth, something is really, really wrong. So what does all this mean to you? I have a LOT of book-selling and promotion to make up for. So buy my books dammit. Please? So here we go.
I have a good review from Kirkus, back in the days before you paid them even to get a snarky review. They called me a “talent to watch.” I also have several excellent reviews from PW and other outlets. WIVES AND SISTERS was lauded in too many reviews to count. My others might have done so as well, if I hadn’t gone into hiding. I’ve listed some of them below.
“Those who do not have time to read this in one sitting, you will be thinking about this book until you get back to It.”– Bennet Pomerantz
And check out the snazzy new cover by Renee Barratt at The Cover Counts.
Publisher’s Weekly said of TWISTED SISTER, “In this solid sequel to Sisterwife….Roberts pulls off a thought-provoking puzzler.”– Publishers Weekly
“Startling and compelling–I could not stop turning the pages. Natalie Collins weaves an absolutely riveting tale.” – Tess Gerritsen, author of The Sinner
“A dark, powerful debut novel. Natalie Collins pulls no emotional punches crafting this searing tale of one woman’s search for justice.” -Lisa Gardner, author of The Killing Hour
“Natalie Collins’ Wives and Sisters is a journey through heartbreak, tragedy, and self-discovery with a courageous woman who dares to think for herself in a dogmatic society. This is a story for anyone who has ever questioned what they’ve been taught all their life; anyone who has ever doubted their self-worth, and everyone who loves to cheer on the underdog and watch them triumph in the end. You’ll be glad you took this journey with her.” -Tina Wainscott, author of I’ll Be Watching You
“Dark, powerful…[a] searing tale of one woman’s search for justice.” –Lisa Gardner, author of The Killing Hour
“This is not a book that can be put down…I had to check the locks before I could go to sleep after finishing.” –Perri O’Shaughnessy, New York Times bestselling author of Unlucky in Law
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
“Intense… suspenseful,,,page turning.” Allison Brennan, New York Times bestselling author of The Kill
TIES THAT BIND
“The plot of this book is woven in and around the Mormon community, but in the end it’s not the Mormon religion that turns out to be the villain. It’s those who follow the religion without thought, and take it’s teachings too far. Don’t take my word for it. Read this one for yourself.”–Troy Lambert, author of Redemption
“A…glimpse into Mormon scandal. An accurate account of the mormon culture and lifestyle that all Mormons try to live. I couldn’t put the book down. Wonderfully written.”–Reader
LATTER DAY SECRETS
Sneak on over here to get a peek at what brought about the writing of this action adventure suspense novel.
“This was a great read that kept my interest the whole way through. Great writer with a deft hand. The twists and turns that took me through the odd, surprising and sometimes disturbing past and present of the Mormon church and Carly’s attempt to find the truth about her husband’s murder in all of it is one I highly recommend, in fact I have to three different people already.”–Peyton Connor
“In Killer Instincts, Natalie R. Collins takes her readers on a journey into both the physical and spiritual complexities of evil, and delivers a romantic suspense novel with a definite twist. Each of the main characters in the book are developed to the point where they go from being simply names on a page to living, breathing people that the reader comes to care about. She does a particularly good job with the character of Raymond Nez, a man who is caught between two worlds and finds himself struggling with his relationships in both of them.”–Thriller Fan
Then, because I need a lighter side, I wrote the very funny and kinda true Jenny T. Partridge Dance Mystery Series. If you watch Dance Moms, Dancing with the Stars, or SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, you will LOVE these books. Compared often to Janet Evanovich. And let’s start this off with a splash….
Still laughing. LOVE that gif. AND THEN, if you are a fan a Dance Moms or a hater, or just watch for the ridiculous fun of it, there are the Critically acclaimed Jenny T. Partridge Mystery Series books.
“Blending the humor of Janet Evanovich with chick-lit quirkiness, Roberts adds sassy prose and a spunky heroine to create a new series to watch.”–Library Journal “The author gives us a riveting read and a glimpse inside a culture I know so very little about. I’ll bet you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did.”–Reviewed by Kaye George, author of “Smoke” for Suspense Magazine
“When an obnoxious stage mom turns up dead from poisoned cookie dough, the laughs and the mystery start rolling. Roberts’ charming new series is a winner — a one-sitting read with laugh-out-loud moments, a wacky heroine and enough red herrings to populate a fish market.”–Romantic Times Magazine
“…Tutu Deadly is a book I can recommend — stage mothers might even enjoy being skewered a bit. Jenny is a great cozy heroine – with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a big heart.”–Cozy Library
“When a cookie-dough fundraiser goes awry, Jenny T. Partridge, dance studio owner and amateur sleuth, is on the case in this upbeat mystery….In a nutshell: A light caper with many familiar details of life in the dance studio world.–Dance Teacher Magazine
Anyone who has ever been a dance student as a child, or has a child taking dance classes will instantly recognize the reality of the dance and dance school scenes. This one is a fun, solid mystery, and I’ll be happy to follow Jenny’s progress in the future.”–CA Reviews