On a beautifully cloudy day, like you only find in the Pacific Northwest, I gathered up my notebook, bus pass and a copy of Dianne Lynn Gardner’s book Deception Peak, and took an hour-long ferry ride across Puget Sound to meet with this remarkable author and artist. We picked each other out at the Ferry Terminal without a problem and set off for a nearby Starbucks to talk about writing.
Welcome, thanks for meeting me today to talk about your work.
1. What was the inspiration for the Ian’s Realm Saga? I’ve just started reading the first book, Deception Peak, and am enjoying the adventure. As readers of my blog will know I have a weakness for dragons.
I really wanted to write a book for boys. I always loved the adventure books like Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland, and others like it. I wanted to write something in the fantasy genre, with adventure, troubles, etc. I have 9 grandsons and sadly they don’t read a lot of books as there just aren’t that many good YA books out there for boys.
I also wanted an excuse to paint a dragon. I painted a large panel of the dragon then added two more, one on either side. Each panel shows the cover of each book in the trilogy. The entire painting measure 9 ft by 4 ft.
While painting the dragon the story and Ian came into my head. The books grew from there.
2. You have an uncanny ability to get into the skin of a teenager. How do you do it?
Maybe I never grew up. I love teenagers and I have teenage grandchildren, 9 of them are boys.
I can get into boys heads. Some part of me is a tomboy. I feel a deep compassion for young boys. I can see that struggle in them of the boy wanting to be a man, but not being quite ready yet. Their task is to prove to themselves and to the world they’re learning. It’s a struggle.
3. You are also an accomplished and award-winning visual artist, how does one feed the other and vice versa?
I studied art longer than writing. Art taught me about ‘seeing’
daVinci said: Art is knowing how to see.
So in my writing I can explain things with an artist’s eye. It adds a layer of richness, I think.
4. Your books are available through a small independent publisher, Hydra Publications, what has your experience been working with them?
Hydra has been great. It’s almost impossible for a new author to get into a big publisher. Since I’m in my 60s I didn’t want to wait another 10 years to get a book published. I also didn’t want to self-publish as that does still have a bit of a stigma attached to it. With a publisher, and an editor, you get validation that someone is backing your work.
It’s been a very positive experience working with Hydra and they published 4 of my short stories and 3 of my books.
And now a few of my standard questions that are designed to help other writers and give an insight into the business.
5. ebooks vs. traditional publishing?
Ebook is the best way to start these days. If you wait to be picked up by a traditional publisher you’ll find it can take a long time. Epublishing offers a great way to hone your craft while building an audience.
6. Pen & paper or a computer?
Computer, but I always start with pen and paper to draw a map of the story or book since I’m a visual person. The only time I hand write is in the car if I have a thought I want to keep (obviously not while driving).
7. What do you think is the most important thing a writer can do, aside from write well, to increase their odds of a successful career?
Blog, use social media, get the word out. Have an online presence. I had a blog before I even began writing. On there I started blogging about wanting to write and how that process developed.
8. What secret talent do you have, which everyone reading this blog will keep secret, and does it help in your writing? Or what is the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of research for a book or artwork?
I’ll take the second part of that question:
- I learned all about yurts and blogged about it from my friends who do historical reenactments.
- Explored a mile-long lava tube near Mt. Saint Helens which would make a perfect dragon’s lair.
- Had the opportunity to sail on the Lady Washington which gave me a lot of information.
Thank you and happy writing! Now I’d better go catch my ferry back before the weather gets bad.
I've included one of Dianne's book trailers below. Enjoy!
Dragon Shield Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c2rm6mGBrM