Hello! Happy to welcome you here to Diana talks 😍
First things first I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!
One question people ask me is why I am so allergic to happy endings. People have a very narrow understanding of what happy endings entail. Sometimes it’s not about a boy and a girl ending up together. Sometimes it’s about a nation shedding a tyrannical ruler, even if many boys and girls die in the process. I am a very spiritual person, and I believe that we already can have a happy ending with our Creator.
If your latest book ‘The Gate of Dawn’ was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
If I could not get an obscure European actress, I’d have to stick with (gasp) Dakota Fanning, or her sister Elle. But honestly, the New York based dancer who modelled for the cover would’ve done a marvellous job. Her name is Logan Devlin, and she dances and models in NYC.
What made you choose this genre?
I’ve already been writing hard core historical fiction for a number of years, so it was a matter of choosing the topic versus the genre.
How do you get ideas for plots and characters?
I get plot twists from real life and just embellish them. If you write historical fiction, you get to work around concrete historical events. In the case of “The Gate of Dawn”, I worked with a folk legend / family history.
If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!) you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
I am already writing in every genre that comes to me naturally: historical, political satire, cyber punk. I could never write romance or a straight-up mystery.
Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.
I’ve always had a very cinematic imagination, so writing came very naturally. However, I encountered a lot of discouragement from my family, for some weird reason. I did not start writing commercially until my late 20s. By then I had a portfolio of short stories and novel drafts. The first publishing contract is very encouraging, so you start working on your backlog.
Marmite? Love it or hate it?
Never tried it. The substance looks nefarious.
Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
My only “ritual” is ignoring the needs of my family and my cats.
I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?
As a working mom, I’ve mastered the art of multitasking and listening to multiple voices at the same time. One time, my Siberian cat Rory walked into a burning candle and sat his tail on fire. Of course, I had to take a break from writing to make sure he did not burn down the whole house.
Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
I already have a number of dream jobs. I work for a foreign exchange company and have a side business in cat breeding. My little boy Rory has fathered three litters in 2016.
Coffee or tea? Red or white?
All of the above. That’s why I have acid reflux.
How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?
If the novel is based heavily on a particular historical event, and we know how the story ends, I don’t need to do as much plotting.
If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
Something that’s easy on the eyes. I am not a pretentious diva.
Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
Hah! Bulmer Hobson’s marital separation agreement. For those who don’t know, Hobson was the protagonist of my two Irish novels “Martyrs and Traitors” and “Never Be at Peace”. He was an Irish revolutionary of Anglo-Scottish stock and Protestant faith. His marriage to Claire Gregan ended in a separation, though nobody knew the circumstances. I used my dirty imagination to fill the gaps.
Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?
I totally let them! I am not some control freak. I believe that my characters exist in another dimension and have their own egos and wills, so I listen to them.
How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?
Given my professional and parenting responsibilities, I don’t have the luxury to go on trips, but I have worked with international libraries and befriended scholars.
Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?
I would rather make a character suffer than kill him/her off. Killing someone off is too easy.
Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
Any fact is open to interpretation. If you feel like you need to twist history too much, then you are better off labeling and marking your work as alternative history.
Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?
I don’t fall in love with characters. It’s the other way around. First I fall in love (or grow to hate someone) and then use those emotions as a fuel to build a character.
What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
I normally do not read commercial bestsellers. I gravitate towards other authors published by small presses. It’s not just an act of solidarity. I truly think that small presses take chances, and you are more likely to find something surprising.
What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
There is a brand of beer called Baltika. Definitely try that. It will make you feel like you’re in rural Lithuania.
"Find the pic you find is the hottest" said Marina, " I just want to be hot, that's all!."
I will leave it to the male readers to determine if I have complied with the author's request (wink)
© Diana Milne January 2017 © Marina J. Neary May 2017