- GUEST AUTHOR -
Today, I interview a very talented woman from Western Australia.
Welcome, Diane ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I have had a long and varied career in education, teaching and coaching students at all levels. However, along the way, I have delved into many other creative pursuits such as textiles, jewellery designing and designer cushion manufacture. It was during one of my many creative phases that I had the urge to write some short stories.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
It is a long story so I will aim to make it as brief as possible. When I began to write short stories over fifteen years ago, I had no intention of taking the project seriously nor did I have any aspirations to publish my stories. On completion, they were stored on my computer and forgotten. A few years later, I thought I’d have another look at them. One in particular, ‘Dear H’ stood out and I had the idea to expand the story and write it as a diary. Again, on completion it was put aside. Further down the track I asked a neighbour’s granddaughters to read the manuscript. They encouraged me to have the manuscript published. As the subject was and remains topical, I decided to self-publish the book as I felt it imperative to reach as many young people as quickly I could.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
My first book, ‘Dear H’ was a progressive creative pursuit. The sequel, ‘The Daisy Chain’ was planned ‘in my head’ before I began to write. I knew exactly what was going to happen from start to finish. My third book, which I am presently writing, has also been planned from start to finish.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
In my writing I aim to bring awareness to the issues that are relevant to young people of today. I enjoy immersing myself into characters who are dealing with emotional issues and hope that my young readers can identify with the characters and find solutions to their own situations.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
It is not the writing that poses the problems but reaching the target audience.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I began my teaching career in the UK as a specialist teacher of Textiles. On arrival in Australia, this subject was not taught as a specialist subject so I focussed on primary education. Alongside this, I studied for a Diploma in Counselling and ran a tuition business for eight years. Throughout my teaching career, I have always been creative and have followed pursuits in speech training, singing, piano, jewellery design and spoken French to name a few.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
‘Dear H’ is my greatest writing achievement so far. When I wrote the story, I was unaware how powerful the book was. Initially, I considered it a book to be read and enjoyed. However, after it was pointed out to me that it contained such a powerful message, I began to view the book in a completely different light. Since then I have been instrumental in presenting workshops in schools in Western Australia and in the UK based on the book and the topic of bullying. I have also presented workshops to adult groups. I am open to invitations to present workshops both in Australia and in the UK.
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
At the present time, I am working on the story of Tilly, a character who was mentioned briefly in ‘The Daisy Chain’. Again, I have chosen topics that are often difficult to openly discuss, such as grief and a teen pregnancy which has devastating effects for the character’s future plans.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I am deeply interested in people and their emotions and what makes them tick.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I suppose you would call my books human interest but this doesn’t really describe them. ‘Dear H’ was written for an audience of girls from age ten+. However, my presentations are to boys and girls and both are reading and buying the book. Many adults have also purchased the book and enjoyed it. ‘The Daisy Chain’ is the sequel and is aimed at a female audience of 13 years+.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
If you have the urge to write, then follow it.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Not in general.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
No I don’t.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I always sit in my study to write.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
My greatest joy is not in my writing but sharing my books with young people.
16. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
‘Being bullied – openly or covertly, is something that psychologically scars a child and/or adult for life. It changes the way they walk, talk, breathe and think from the moment of impact. This is a truly moving and beautiful exploration of one girl’s experience of bullying and her resilient way of coping. She draws on her internal and external resources and with guts, determination and grit she overcomes.’ Claire Orange Children’s Mental Health Specialist and Author. February, 2017
17. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
I haven’t received a poor review yet!
18. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Perhaps a little of me creeps into my books. In ‘Dear H’ I did yearn to be a singer at one stage. However, I have not experienced bullying.
19. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Travelling would be top of the list at the moment. I would like to incorporate book presentations in with this,
20. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Yes. It is so hard to have a book published and the process is so slow.
21. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
I would like to think that my readers identified with my characters and felt empowered and motivated to face the future with the resources and determination they have within themselves.
22. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
This has been suggested to me by some of my readers, one of them being a journalist. I told them that it would be wonderful. However, it is not quite so simple a process.
HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
I try to involve student input when making decisions on my book covers.
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
My ultimate dream would be to see my books read by a much wider audience. The topics are universal and are so important. ‘The Daisy Chain’ contains Amanda’s ideas on how to implement an anti bullying strategy. More than anything, I would like to see similar strategies trialed.
23. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
Yes, my books are self published.
24. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Perfectionist. Determined. Strong. Focused. Humanitarian.
Clancy's comment: Well done, Diane. Thank you. Keep up the good work, and may you sell heaps of books.