1) What got you into writing?
Honestly, never in a million years did I think about writing as a choice. I didn’t even start reading for pleasure until I was 30. Sure, I read to my five children, but that was more like a game. I always added silly sound effects and goofy faces to make the kids listen to the story. Really, you should hear my live rendition/mutation of The Three Little Pigs. We dropped the book after the kids insisted mine was better.
But the kids began to do that thing kids do and grow beyond silly bedtime stories and I grew with them. We started doing summer novel reading. The first year I read several Harry Potter’s. I found it amazing that they would sit still for hours at a time, hanging on my every word. Moms with five kids would pay for these hours of silence. They were hooked and if I must admit it, I was too.
This too passed as my children began wanting to read the books themselves because I wasn’t fast enough for their sponge minds. I found myself doing the same until one day, I wrote my own. It wasn’t very good, but I did something I never imagined I would and completed a novel.
2) Why did you choose the genre you write in?
That would be from a lifetime of loving fantasy and an adulthood of having children.
3) Can you tell us about your novel I Am Ocilla?
Does a kid love candy? I Am Ocilla is dedicated to all the people I love. My children were the beginning inspiration. God is weaved in because He is a part of me. But it isn’t overt or preachy. The story is about a girl that wakes with no memories of her life before and only her name is the clue. You journey with Ocilla through five locked kingdoms filled with Fairies, Giants, Elves, Dwarves and Dragons to find out who she is and why it is so important. The parallel is what we all go through finding ourselves. The answer to that old question…Who am I?
4) Who do you want your work to reach?
The target audience is teen. I chose YA because my children read a lot and some of the stuff passing as YA is less than desirable for teens to read. Shoot, it is less than desirable for adults to read. When my daughter (12 at the time) came to me with disgust because the book she checked out of the library had an oral sex scene I wanting to cry. I don’t believe in censorship, but I do believe the only way to combat this is to write stuff we are proud to let our children read. The more the better. Good literature is universal and therefore should hit the target audience and spill over to every other audience.
5) You are with Splashdown Books. Would you rather be with a big house instead of an Indie publisher?
Big publishers are wonderful. Maybe someday I will be with one. But being with a small publisher to start was a calculated choice for me. I only submitted I Am Ocilla to three small presses, and two of those were contests and not actual submissions. Some might think a small press takes anyone and I opted for an easy road to publication. I would kindly tell them they are wrong. Small presses are the underdog. They must choose their titles very carefully because they only put out a few titles a year. A small press can’t afford a 95% fail rate like a big press can. They must make every title count.
The way I decided was to place my faith in the book. If it is good enough, it will make it no matter where it prints. Granted, marketing is more on the shoulders of the writer, but I don’t mind the work. It makes the reward all the sweeter.
Plus, I have benefits with my publisher that larger houses do not allow. I was there for every step to publication. I was given freedom in choosing who I had edit and do cover work. And I was not made to change vital things such as title or plot. I know larger houses sometimes do and with this book, I’m not sure I could have abided that.
6) Future plans? Sequels?
I Am Ocilla is a stand alone novel. Although, I did write it in such a way where a whole realm of possibilities are there for sequels. I think only time will tell if the thoughts bouncing around in my head produce fruit. Right now I am focusing on marketing. I do have a sci-fi novel I am about a third of the way through. Maybe that will be my next big push.
7) Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Dream big and never look back. Get your skin thick by strangers, because their criticism doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as the criticism of the people you love. When the world knocks you down, get up, kick it in the shins and then pick up the pace. You have to being doing something in the right direction or else why would anyone try to stop you?
For more information about Diane, or to purchase her work, you can go to:
Diane's Literary Website
Her Personal Blog
I Am Ocilla
The New Author's Fellowship