Saturday, December 5, 2015

An Interview With Dianne Gardner

Today I'd like to treat you to an interview with a marvelous artist and writer. I met Dianne Gardner about the time I began my first children's book. She was working on her first book series then, and we joined with several other writers to form a Children's Book Critique, meeting twice a month. I have been impressed from the beginning with her descriptive powers, the ability to use words like oil paints to construct a picture. She is also a gifted artist, so that should not surprise me. Dianne has written ten or more books in the time I've written half that. When she has a story idea, she is driven to completion. And there is always another idea waiting it's turn to find a place on paper, being sculpted into interesting characters committing daring deeds who save the world. That is an introduction to my friend and illustrator of my first book, Princess to the Rescue.

Carol: Dianne, you are a successful artist. What made you take on writing also?

Dianne: Well, I am a frustrated artist. (Most artist are.) Whereas a lot of people love my oil paintings, and some even "get" that they tell a story or capture the character of the person whose portrait I paint, I feel like after all these years of story telling through my art, the story hasn't been read.

Aside from wanting to write something to spark the interest of young readers who don't ordinarily read (I love a challenge) I also have always loved to write. And one day I decided I had plenty of paintings, but no stories. I used to write poetry when I was young.

Carol: What sparked the idea for Ian's Realm Saga?

Dianne: When I decided to begin telling stories I no longer felt inhibited in what I painted. I've ALWAYS want to paint a dragon, so I did. As I painted I thought, "I know a boy who is going to conquer this dragon?" And so I began to tell the story of Ian.

Carol: You drew from different cultures for names and elements in your stories. What countries did you research and why?

Dianne: I went by geographic elements that I created in the Realm. All of the peninsula from Alcove Forest to Menek is cold country so I chose to gather names and words from Denmark. The Kaemperns are a tribe that were exiled from Menek, so they speak the same language.

Carol: "Altered" and "Pouraka" are different from Ian's Realm. What sent you in other directions?

Dianne: I was waiting for the publisher to continue the Realm and while I waited I thought I'd branch out to other sub genres. Also, both "Altered" and "Pouraka" touch on subjects that I am passionate about. I spent time with the Hopis in Arizona and love their legends and the prophetic value of them. One of their sayings is "All I have is my planting stick and my corn. Come and live peacefully with me." I see in our future, and the future of our crops, a need to get back to the basics. "Altered" touches that need.

"Pouraka," along the same vein, touches on mankind's pollution and destruction of the humble and peaceful beings in this world.

Carol: How did you research mermaids living underwater? Did you incorporate existing fables?

Dianne: Not really. I sort of made it up. I incorporated the mermaid yes, but there are so many different stories of mermaids that nothing is set in stone. I likened the Pouraka mers more to sea creatures and their struggles and reference the dolphin hunts specifically. Those are real.

Carol: What is the favorite of your books and why?

Dianne: Oh that's a difficult question. It's always the one I'm working on or the next! We get better as we go.

Carol: Tell us about the Cassandra Project.

Dianne: Cassandra is Book 5 of the Ian's Realm Saga and we're in the process of negotiating filming. At this moment I can't really tell too much about it. We've been in pre-productions, have a cast and crew, but again, we're back on the negotiation table. I'll let you know more soon.

Carol: What advice would you give to someone just starting out writing?

Dianne: Educate yourself. Learn how to story tell and write. Read books, go to workshops, find mentors, editors, critique groups. Fill your life up with learning the skill and being around other writers, especially those whose work you admire.

Carol: Which do you prefer, traditional publishing, e-publishing, or self-publishing and why?

Dianne: Do you mean small press? I've never been traditionally published, so I can't say whether or not I prefer it. I think I would prefer to have at least one book traditionally published because it is very difficult to get your work read by any other means. Small publishers do not have the funds to market your work to get thousands of readers. And that's really what I would prefer, is to have people read my books.

Between the two small press and self-publishing, I think self-publishing is more beneficial as your profit will be greater so you may be able to break even with the money you use for marketing.

Carol: How important is social media (facebook, blogging, twitter, etc.) to a writer?

Dianne: I don't see how you can sell books without social media. I just doesn't seem possible these days.

Carol: Thank you very much for your time Dianne. If anyone else has questions for Dianne, click on the link above and it will take you to her blog.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Today I went to California. Bob and I drove to Silverdale, WA and back, but the beautiful sky, the comfortable air and breeze blowing with just a hint of a nip, all of that opened memories of my younger days growing up in southern California. My guess it was from the 1960s and the air in Inglewood wasn't so polluted. We could still breathe clean and fresh. It felt like a California winter, you know the kind when you go to the beach the day after Christmas.

In my mind we were either driving to Disneyland or San Diego. I closed my eyes and I was there, in the memory. I felt a comfort and an excitement of good things to come. It stayed with me the whole day.

Being able to reach a memory that evokes emotions is an important skill for writers. How can a writer describe what is going on inside of a character in a fit of ecstasy or of anger or of boredom, if the writer hasn't felt the same thing? A writer has to become one with the characters, be empathetic.

In my book Princess to the Rescue, I was inside the mind of Princess Claire as she looked down from her window and saw a boy waiting to see her father the King. Boys never came alone. They were always with their fathers. Why was he there? Wouldn't you be curious if you were Claire? Wouldn't you want to rush down and ask him, "What are you doing here?" Curiosity is the start of many adventures.