Hi everyone! I have a special blog guest today.
A warm welcome for Harlequin/Silhouette author Diana Duncan. Diana was kind enough to agree to be interviewed on my blog and I hope you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I did!
1. Diana, welcome! Let's get to my first question, which I am always excited to hear the answer to! Who were some of the authors that have inspired you on your writing journey?
The first was Mary Stewart. I discovered her books in the library when I was 12 years old and got instantly hooked. Her book: THE MOONSPINNERS is one of my all-time favorites. Her combination of action, romance and humor is the style that my own voice popped out with when I wrote my debut book, BULLETPROOF BRIDE, which was based on a true-life incident after I was robbed while working for a bank! (That misadventure is blogged on my website.)
I have pretty eclectic reading tastes. Other authors who influenced me along the way are Erma Bombeck (adored that woman’s sense of humor!), Danielle Steele (she was the first author I wrote to, and she sent me back a lovely, handwritten letter.) I actually named my daughter after her. Of course, Kathleen Woodiwiss (the founding matriarch of romance). More currently, there’s Suzanne Brockmann, Virginia Kantra, Fiona Brand, Kylie Brandt, Karen Marie Moning, J.R. Ward, Debrah Morrison (who wrote for Silhouette Romance as Debrah Morris), Susan Gable, Janet Evanovich, and the incomparable Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb. I’d read La Nora’s grocery list if she published it!
Those are just a few out of hundreds. I have an insatiable reading habit.
2. Your books combine action with romance. What research do you do when starting a new book?
Oh, I love research! (It’s so much easier than actually writing the book.)
Among others, I’ve conversed with snipers, airplane and helo pilots, K-9 officers, bomb techs, FBI agents, DEA agents, smoke-jumpers, and guys in every branch of the military. I’m positive my scary Googling and library check-out habits have landed me on an FBI watch list somewhere.
The hands-on research is the most fun, though. I’ve done some pretty outrageous things. I’ve traveled to Scotland on a moment’s notice with a gal I’d known only online (that story is also on my website), had my husband tie me up with duct tape and lock me in the car trunk (had the neighbors talking, for sure!), climbed into the display window of a department store and undressed one of their mannequins (my teenage daughter who was with me at the time nearly croaked of embarrassment), choreographed and videotaped a male strip dance routine, and after chatting up a police officer in a really long line at Starbucks, asked him to take me out and handcuff me in the back of his patrol car so I could see exactly what it was like. Teenage daughter was with me then, too. Funny, she will hardly go anywhere with me anymore.
3. Wow, Diana! Talk about throwing yourself into your research! Now for a fun question : I noticed on your website that you have a section on Men in Kilts. Why do you think women are so drawn to a man in a kilt?
Sexy strong, muscled legs (and the mysteries underneath that plaid
As you can tell, I’m fascinated by Celtic heritage. One of my grannies was Scottish and the other ½ Scots, ½ Irish, so Celtic blood runs strongly in my lineage.
4. What are your current works in progress?
Interesting you should ask, given the above discussion. I’ve recently found myself in a place where I’m writing a book I started years ago, but didn’t have the writing chops to do it justice. It’s a single-title paranormal series that involves hunky kilted warriors, ancient Celtic legends, lots of suspense and a wee bit o’ snark tossed into the mix, because I simply can’t write anything without being cheeky. And nope, it’s not a time-travel.
5. Where can readers find you on the web?
You can find me playing around – um…networking – almost every day on Faceboook at: http://www.facebook.com/dianaduncan1 (where you should definitely check out my “Visual Aids” photo album!)
My website is at: http://www.dianaduncan.com/ Links to all my web contacts, including my newsletter, are on my website.
6. You have had much success with your books: RITA Award Nominations and Romantic Times Book of the Year Nominations. Do you have any advice for writers striving for their first sale?
Educate yourself as much as possible. Join RWA and your local chapter. Take classes. KOD (Kiss of Death chapter) offers dozens of affordable online classes about both non-suspense general writing craft, and suspense topics, taught by knowledgeable professionals.
Hone your writing/plotting skills. Read, read, read, read. Inside your genre and out. It’s the most important thing you can do to learn what you like and what you don’t, what works for you and what doesn’t and how good (and sometimes not-so-good) stories are built.
But most of all, never say die. Take constructive criticism and apply it to make your writing better, then ignore the nay-sayers. It took me eight completed manuscripts and five years to sell my first book. I was told by agents, editors and literally over 100 contest judges that I’d never publish it. (“You can’t have a bank robber hero!”) Bull. You can do anything you want, as long as you do it well!
After that first sale, I went through an 18 month dry spell, where none of those eight completes sold. I had to develop something completely new, and my 24 hour, Forever In A Day series was born.
Now, after five years in publishing and six very successful books for Silhouette Romantic Suspense, two RITA nominations and an RT nomination for Best Book of The Year, I’ve hit a wall. I've sent in 11 proposals that were all rejected. It’s been 16 months since my last sale and none look to be forthcoming anytime soon. So I’m picking myself up, dusting myself off and starting a new adventure...with my Celtic warriors. Whoo hoo! I can’t wait.
Don’t ever give up. Not matter what anyone else tells you, believe in yourself and your stories.
GREAT advice, Diana! Thanks again for visiting my blog!
Thank you for having me, Rachel! This has been great fun!
Diana will be answering all questions and comments, so feel free to comment below.