Today’s guest is the lovely Diana Peach, whose blog, Myths of the Mirror, I highly recommend. Welcome to the Beauty of Words, Diana.
Thank you, Cathleen, for the opportunity to talk about writing on your blog. I can do that for hours but promise to keep this short.
It’s wonderful to have you. Let’s start at the beginning: when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote stories and poems in high school and college, but it never occurred to me for one second to be a writer. I was a theater girl, and that too went by the wayside as the demands of work and raising a family took precedence.
Then, in 2010, my husband took an 18-month job in another state. The kids were already living on their own, so we sold our house and moved. I flipped a house (once is enough, thank you), and with nothing pressing, my husband suggested I write a book. “Oh, okay,” I said, and just like that I became a writer.
I wonder what would have happened if he’d suggested I arrange flowers. Hmmm.
In that case, I imagine your garden would have been a sight to see. 🙂 What’s the craziest story idea you’ve ever had? And did you write it?
I like crazy ideas. The craziest one so far is based on the notion that our characters are real beings and live energetically outside our books. Characters move us emotionally, influence our choices, and stay with us throughout our lives, no different than real people.
So what if the created world and real world collided? I facilitated this idea by having a fantasy book that writes itself. The book pulls a real person into the fantasy story, and the fantasy story bleeds into the real world. To make matters more complicated, I also wanted to explore the idea that the “self” can also live energetically outside they body just like characters do. This crazy idea turned into my novel, The Sorcerer’s Garden.
Any basic writing philosophy or tips?
My main philosophy is Write What You Love. There are so many different kinds of readers with different tastes that no matter what we write, someone is going to love it and someone is going to pan it. On one book, I received a comment that my sentences were too long and a comment that my sentences were too short. Yes, the same book! I laughed and groaned, but it taught me to just enjoy this wonderful, creative vocation.
This is so true. By all means improve, but if you’re going to go down in flames, at least do it for what you are. What about structuring your stories? Do you use a particular structure, or do you pick and choose?
I balk at the idea of using a “standard” story structure. I was a stubborn mule of a kid, and apparently, I still am! For me, prescribed structure shuts down the creative flow. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn new things about this craft. I’m eager for ideas and tips, and when something resonates, I incorporate it, but my outlines are story-based not method-based. They come from the inside out.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
I love working with aspiring authors, both teens and adults. I get excited about their excitement! Advice? Here are the biggies:
- I was part of a writer’s critique group for 5 years, and I’m convinced that I would never have published without the constructive criticism of other authors. Positive feedback is nice, but we MUST learn our weaknesses in order to grow.
- If you can’t pay for a full professional edit, pay for as much as you can, even if it’s only for 3 chapters. You’ll learn tips and techniques that you can apply to your whole book.
- Be a sponge and learn everything you can about writing from books, blogs, and other writers. Take the time to incorporate what you learn into your work.
- Read your work aloud.
- No shortcuts! Writing is surprisingly hard work. Do the time, be meticulous, and produce the very best work you can. You owe it to your readers and yourself.
- Read, read, read.
I love living all these lives and stories in my head. They’re real for me.
Mine are very real to me, too. What is the single most important quality in a novel–what must an author do to win you over?
I’m a fan of rich characters, emotionally complex or conflicted, faced with challenges and choices that test them and force them to change. To me, the plot is secondary, a vehicle to reveal the human story and propel the characters forward. So, authenticity of thought, emotion, and action is vital. I have trouble sticking with a book if the characters feel flat or aren’t believable.
What is the best part about being an indie author for you?
I’m switching all my books from traditionally published to self-published and am thrilled with the choice. Above all, I like the control. Publishing my own books, I have control over content, covers, pricing. The quality is better because I can fix errors, and the sales are higher because I effectively promote. Success is 100% my responsibility, and the only one who can hold me back is me.
What about your most recently upcoming work?
I’m working on a 4-book fantasy/sci-fi serial called The Rose Shield that I plan to release in early 2017. That seems far away, but I’m only about 1/3 of the way through the project with a ton of writing yet ahead.
A quick (unpolished) blurb:
The members of an elite guild have discovered how to enhance their bodies so they can manipulate the emotions of others, and they do so to rule the world. A young girl, Catling, has a marked eye that grants her the power to disrupt their influence. Established methods of civil control disintegrate before her, and most of the guild wants her slain. One woman protects and trains her, plotting to use her shield, her eye, to further her imperial goals. No longer a helpless child, Catling has other plans. As chaos shakes the foundations of order and rule, will she become the realm’s savior? Or its executioner?
Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us today. 🙂
Thanks again, Cathleen for the fun on your blog. Happy Writing!
Diana is the author of: