A little while ago we published “Landslide” by Diane Marina as a single short story. On this occasion, we interviewed Diane. So, here is the chance for all her readers to get to know her a bit better.
First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.
How many years have you been writing now and how did you come to it?
I began writing in the late 80s / early 90s. I was a voracious reader of lesbian fiction and had an idea for a story so I began writing it down. Somewhere along the line, I tucked it away but dug it out many years later to show my partner, and she loved it and encouraged me to finish it. I shopped the manuscript around, and it was published by a small women’s publisher in 2002. I think that everyone starts simply because they have a good idea for a plot, and they enjoy writing. Since then, I’ve written several short stories which have been published, but I’ve taken a long break from writing until now.
Why do you write? What does it mean to you?
There’s a huge sense of accomplishment that comes from writing. I write to get thoughts out of my cluttered brain. I write for the enjoyment of it and for the sense having completed a job well done. For the most part, I do it because it’s fun. Who doesn’t want to create a world where they can escape from the real world now and then?
What puts you in a bad mood?
I really dislike rude people and those who are unkind and refuse to take responsibility for their actions. I also hate dishonesty, whether someone is lying to me or to themselves. I can let most everything else roll off my back, except for these awful qualities. There’s absolutely no reason not to be kind, and where does lying get you? I feel that we’re all on this earth to look out for each other and do whatever we can to make life easier for each other—unfortunately, not everyone shares my philosophy, and there are some who are only in it for themselves.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
Unfortunately, I’m not as prolific as some other authors out there. As I mentioned, my first book was put on hold for awhile before it was finished, so this took quite awhile. My problem is not coming up with the idea or the will to write, but finding the time to do it. Writing is not a full-time job for me, and unfortunately, it fits in between all of my other responsibilities, which include a full-time job and being a part-time student. I do, however, consciously schedule time to write and set reminders for myself. Any tiny amount of progress made is still progress!
Coffee or tea?
Yes please! I’m primarily a coffee person (especially flavored coffees) but love tea and tend to drink more in the summer months.
When and where do you write the most?
I write the most during breaks from my job and from my studies, which are too few and far between. I set aside time to write every week, but most of it gets done when I don’t have other responsibilities taking precedence. I like to be comfortable when I write, so I’m usually just relaxing somewhere with my laptop on my lap.
How would you describe yourself?
The main word in my vocabulary is humor. Can’t live without it, and I’m always trying to make others laugh. I’m goofy and clumsy, but only those who are close to me get to see that side. Acquaintances and coworkers usually think I’m very serious and quiet (they’re wrong!). I do tend to think too much and will ponder things for a long time before I’ll share my opinion or feelings. I’m too sensitive, and I take people’s actions to heart way too much. I like to think I have a big heart and would do anything for someone I care about. Love is more important to me than any other possession in the world.
How much of yourself is in your characters?
There is a little of me in every main character I write. In “Landslide” I’ve given Rachel some of my insecurity, and Michelle has my work ethic and confidence about herself. In my book “How Still My Love” the main character tells the story of her life and relationship, and her humor is completely mine. The text is sarcastic through and through. She’s very self deprecating too, which comes from me.
What do you find the most challenging part of writing?
Without a doubt, edits and rewriting. I’m not very structured when it comes to refining what I’ve done, whether it be in writing or anything else I’m working on. I like to get it done and make sure it’s a good story, and then I want to be finished. It’s tough getting bogged down in the necessary details, but I find it extremely challenging to have to read the story countless times. I do understand the importance of it—it’s just not my favorite part.
What are you reading right now?
My “to be read” list literally consists of three-foot-high stacks next to my bed—and that’s not counting the books in my Kindle queue. I’m always reading at least three books at once. Right now I’m reading the new novel by Lynn Galli, “Life Rewired.” I love how she revisits characters from past stories in her books. I’m also reading Suzie Carr’s “Two Feet Off the Ground.” I can relate to the characters in her books, and I’m looking forward to her next book. I’m also reading a book about running and a fascinating book about lesbian sexuality. I’m very much looking forward to reading the newest books by SX Meagher and KG MacGregor as well. Those are two of my “don’t miss” authors, along with Karin Kallmaker.
What do you think makes a good romance novel?
Readers have to identify with the characters. They have to like them and want for them to be together. I love a story that has a bit of angst and tugs at my heart. I love a happy ending, but I like to see some heartbreak on the road to happiness first. I’m a sadist in a sense because I like to see the characters suffer before they live happily ever after.
What advice would you give new authors?
Just do it. Try to give your work to lots of people you trust and ask for honest feedback, whether positive or negative. Don’t settle for comments like “it was good” or “couldn’t put it down.” Ask for details and ask how it could be made better. Ask the reader what they didn’t like or what they wished there was more of. Treat it as an opportunity to make your work the best it can be. Read as much as you can too, not just for the enjoyment of the story, but pay attention to the flow of words and style of writing other authors are using.
What are you working on right now?
I am putting the finishing touches on another short story. In addition to that, I’m rewriting my original novel, which will be published later in 2013. Since the novel was published over 10 years ago, there are so many details that have to be updated to fit into today’s world. I’m also adding more details and writing new scenes as the original was a bit on the short side. I’ve been having fun revisiting the characters in the book and making their story better.
What future writing projects can we look forward to?
I love lesbian fiction based on Hollywood and actresses. That’s a sure thing for me when looking for books to buy. My next book will be about a big name in Hollywood who is closeted and who falls for someone she should NOT be falling for. Expect drama, heartbreak, and just maybe a happy ending.
It was a pleasure talking to you. Again, thank you very much.