Saturday, 22 April 2017

Diana talks to ... (wait for it!) ... herself!!

Hi Diana! What are you doing talking to yourself like this?
It is the best way I know to get an intelligent answer every time!!
I am indulging myself as it is fair to say that today is the birthday of one of the best loved and extraordinary people of all time.

((Sings Happy birthday to herself in off key contralto...))
It is also Shakespeare’s birthday!
Seriously, so many people have said, Di, you are everywhere around literary groups, but who are you? - some have not put quite it so politely! – so here is my attempt to let you all get to know me a bit better.
(Well. Not *all*. You know who you are! You know me quite well enough!)
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!
Not so much a question as an explanation of sorts. So many people query why I do not write, when I obviously love it and occasionally show an aptitude for putting words together and forming a series of sentences.
Many years ago I was young. This was not a unique experience as I find this is a stage of life that has happened to everyone.

Except possibly my Uncle Derrick.  But let us not talk about him ...
My first ambition when I was about three was to be a mummy ‘because the daddies had to go out and do work and I didn’t want to ever do work; I wanted to stay at home and drink tea all day and have fun messing around.’
Hmm. I wonder how that would have worked out for me???
Anyway, by the age of seven I had discovered reading and I mean discovered it big time. Every hour I was able, I buried myself in a book. It is fair to say that my childhood was mostly spent living vicariously on Kirren Island and in the Five Find Outers Shed! Ultimately, being a diffident and lonely child, I wanted to write my own adventure stories and, with ruthless efficiency, and a yellow plastic pen I loved, I created villains and heroes, buried treasure and lost dogs...
At last I felt I was living!I had friends. I had a life!
Then the time came for the careers talk with the headmistress. The other girls were going in and stammering, ‘Well, Miss, I s’pose I could work in Woolworth’s’ or ‘Can I cut hair, Miss?’ or, ‘I’m gonna get married and have lots of babbies like me mam...’
I knew what I wanted to do! My ambition was great! I was going to be an author!
I strode in and announced my dream to the formidable, black robe clad  figure.
She glared at me over her half moon glasses. ‘Don’t be silly, Diana. Authors are ladies of means who live in cottages in Cornwall. If you want to do something with the English Language, TEACH IT!’
Needless to say, I never wrote and I never, ever taught!
My ambition was extinguished with those words and only this past two years has it gradually reawaken.
Completely by accident about a month ago, following a chance humorous remark by author Paula Lofting, I began to write what was to be a one off excerpt... but it grew! It will probably never turn into a novel, but I am enjoying every second of this writing process.  So. Maybe one day!
If your series of excerpts (ahem) with the working title ‘Monkey Mating in the Andes’ was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
This lady is not an actress, but an exceptional writer. Manda Scott would play Helen so perfectly.
What made you choose this genre? How do you get ideas for plots and characters?
Um...I had to fit a plot around Paula Lofting’s comment about Monkey Mating! The rest just grew. I was very surprised when the whole thing got highjacked by an Ecuadorian drug cartel. I didn’t intend them being in the story!
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?
A vague idea. Prehistoric Cornwall; iron age trading routes between the continent and the Cornish tin mines.
Marmite? Love it or hate it?
Mmmmm. Love Marmite, but totally absolutely adore Bovril (though it is not quite so nice now the ingredients have been changed)
Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
I’m too new to this to have developed any routine. When I am making research notes or writing notes for a review, I always use a pencil - may be because I can never find a pen! It is just a shame that I don’t keep all my notes in just one note book. They are spread between odd scraps of paper, the backs of receipts, about five notebooks (depending on which room I am in, the programme from the play I saw last February and (occasionally) on tissues and train tickets.
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?
I live alone. Maybe the reason I live alone is that work to me is generally the most important driving force to me!
Hmm. I just realised! It could, however, be argued that if I did not live alone, I would not need the driving force of work!
Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
I do it! I run a business selling vintage printing equipment, mainly from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. I have done this full time for ten years now. I love it. Click here to find out more about my business, 'd.arcadian'.

Coffee or tea? Red or white?
Preferably the strongest possible coffee, all day every day, but as it no long seems to suit me I have about one cup every six weeks....So tea it is. I don’t drink alcohol, but I drink litres and litres of sparkling water with fresh lime juice.
If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose? As my main job is as a Letterpress Seller (extraordinaire), one would think I would have an amazing idea up my sleeve. I have, but it is nothing to do with printing!
Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
My father’s will. Long story. Nuff said. ((Sad face))
How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips? I am too new to writing to have gone on a research trip yet, but a year or so ago, I did begin to adopt the habit of a journalist friend of mine, who was doing a Creative Writing course. The idea was to make copious notes of every experience and trip so that when you needed to write a scene about *There* you had the back up notes already done.
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?
No. I hate finding factual errors in a fiction book. It demeans the whole book and makes me view it all with suspicion.
Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred? In my life or in my writing? In my life, yes. All the time. In writing, no. I keep a very clear line between the two.
What do you enjoy reading for pleasure? Books, mainly. Condiment labels. Menus... Road signs.
Favourite living author?
CW Lovatt. His command of the English language and his mastery of primary, secondary and tertiary plots are exceptional. I am genuinely unsure whether MJ Logue comes joint first or a very close second with her extraordinary story telling ability and vivid characters

Now I have some questions sent to me by Review readers.

What do y’all look for in non fiction history/biography that make it a good one for you?
The author has to be able to make me care about the subject. Dr Ian Mortimer’s 1415: Henry V's Year of Glory, grabbed me on page one and kept me page turning right until the end. The book awoke a passion for discovering more about Henry V and this era that still exists.

Now a question from Angela: I would like to ask what makes you laugh, but your reply would be too long. lol x
It is easier to tell you what does ‘not’ make me laugh. Comedy! Comedic films. Sit com. Almost all stand up. Panel shows that are meant to be humorous and just seem to me banal.
Oh. One more. Mrs Brown.
I did, however, laugh like a drain at one of Aristophanes' plays when I read it in the original language. It was hilarious and totally untranslatable.
Perhaps I am a bit strange!

Jayne asked: what made you join the Review and take on this task?

I was in hospital at the time with a badly broken leg. I think maybe the morphine warped my thinking a little!
Strangely I decided voluntarily to start *Diana talks* and I love every second of it. It began by me deciding to go to HNS16 in Oxford. I wondered what I could do, that would be of value to the Review, with all these authors in one place at the same time. After I had ruled out the idea of the Bacchanalia on the grounds that it may not be of use to the Review, I decided to talk at them...

From Liz: Looking back from where you are now, what would you say to yourself when you didn’t think it was possible? Generally something like FFS. Get a grip woman!  Strangely, I was the last person to know what a strong woman I am.

Which fictional character have you liked the least.
Seargent Bell, in Josiah Stubb; The Siege of Louisbourg by C.W Lovatt. Most characters have redeeming features. Bell has no redeeming quality whatsoever.

Trust Paula to come up with this one!
Who lights your fire and who puts it out?
I have an open fireplace and a beautiful dog grate set into the hearth.
At the moment, my fire needs kindling and a nice, big stick. No further comment!

© Diana Milne April 2017









  1. Oh Lady Di, I do love how your brain works ( just as well cos if it didn't...) -
    and you r sense of humour. I'm absolutely honoured to have been the inspiration behind your latest WIP and I really want to go back and punch your head Mistress! I mean who was she talking about? Was there actually anyone living in Cornwall back then? Hadn't they all migrated to France or something? Well anyway, keep up the superb drug cartel story, I mean monkeys who run a drug cartel has got to make for a fascinating story!

    1. Does my brain work? Really? I'll get it to clean the windows when I get home!!

      Seriously that HM had a terrible effect on me. I drifted for years never finding anything I wanted to do long term ...

      Until suddenly there were some coke hyped monkeys gallivanting across my computer and living in the studio...


    2. Happy (belated) Birthday! I hope it was full of joy and fun!

  2. Happy birthday Diana. Have a fabulous day. Xxx

  3. Happy happy birthday to you Diana. I always look forward to your posts and I'm with Paula - that headmistress should have been shot!

    1. Thank you Pam!
      I tend to agree. Of course at that age all I could do was whimper and hide in a corner...
      But now! Bang! Dead HM.

  4. Happy birthday Diana, and agree about the headmistress

    1. Kill...kill. ...

      Oh. Sorry. I get these attacks at the mention of her


  5. Splendid fun Diana, and a treat to read. And it was a good decision of yours to come to the HNS16, incapacitated or not- you came across as quite indomitable despite a lot of pain I guess that I'm not the only one who found meeting you there a delight. I hope that the limb (delicate Victorian usage here) is now fully repaired. Keep tapping the keys!

    1. It was a truly memorable experience and in many ways, changed my life.
      I discovered that batter could be made with cider!
      The leg is whole - thank you - and may this year remain cast less!

  6. A bit disappointed im not your favourite author, you must be stalking me for other reasond

  7. Replies
    1. Dammit all Rob. If you haven't realised by now it's your body I'm after...
      Sigh ...

  8. First of all, I wish you an enormously happy birthday.
    You are one of the few rare people that can make me laugh like a drain. I've had a particularly hard year or so, health wise,as I know you have, too, and I could totally rely on your posts to make me smile, think, and be grateful for my friends.
    I loved reading this, my grin is still in place. Long may you brighten my day, Diana!!! xxx

    1. Louise that is so wonderful to know. Thank you. If I can keep my sense of humour I will always feel rich.

  9. A thoroughly enjoyable read! And thank you for the...well, you know. I'm honoured.

    1. Sssshhhhhhhh. Don't tell them about ...
      Oh. You meant the mention. Phew. That's OK.
      (The cheque is in the bank....)

  10. I so enjoyed reading this, Diana. Long may the tribulations of the Mating Monkeys Team delight us on Sundays.

    1. Sigh. Those **** minkeys. The are their way through my shoe abs two microscopes. Matt is going ape*hit

  11. excellent interview...debs