Thursday, March 08, 2007

Interview With DiAnn Mills

Today I’m devoting my blog space to an interview with a fellow Texan, writer DiAnn Mills. DiAnn and I first met in the coffee wagon line early one rainy morning at Mt. Hermon. Her latest novel in the Texas Legacy Series is Lightning and Lace. I appreciate DiAnn giving us a few minutes to share her insights in writing.

RM: How old were you when you began writing?

DM: Actually I was in the second grade. I wrote poetry and stories. Then I remember filling up a Big Chief pad with my first book - a western. I don’t remember what happened in the story except the hero always rode off into the west at the end of each chapter. I imagine it resembled Wagon Train, since that was my favorite TV show at the time. My goodness, I hope some of your readers know that classic!

RM: Well, I certainly remember it, although I’m surprised that you’re old enough to recall it, as well.
What is the most important aspect of your writing?

DM: Without a doubt, it is characterization. I’m a character-driven writer, and that means my goal is to write real “people” who react and respond to the events and happenings in their lives according to their traits. When you consider how long we have lived to develop our character, then you have an idea the formidable job a writer has in developing credible, colorful, and compelling characters. Characterization drives plot. Stop for a moment to consider your favorite books or movies. The plot may have intricate twists and turns, but it’s the characters who become unforgettable.

RM: As another writer of character-driven fiction, I agree.
Do you have a favorite genre?

DM: ☺ That’s like asking a mother which child is her favorite!
I enjoy writing historicals because of the romance of an older era. The obstacles that stood in the way of these people bred courage and strength into their lives. Their problems weren’t any different than the ones we face today, but how the characters solved them presents an intriguing writing project for me.

I enjoy writing a contemporary because it is who we are today. Our lives are fast-paced and stressful. We are courted by TV, movies, magazines, and newspapers. Every headline, every magazine article, every viewed program sparks ideas of how a character could handle a problem. I thrive on suspense and the challenges of a protagonist who lives his/her life from a Christian point of view.

I’ve never tackled sci-fi, fantasy, children, or speculative. But who knows?

RM: What part of the writing process is your favorite?

DM: I don’t think I have a favorite because the process all builds to a finished project: a novel that inspires and entertains.

I’ve already stated how I feel about characterization.

Plotting is an extension of characterization. The actual breakout of words on paper and seeing the story come to life thrills me.

Editing to make my novel the best.

Marketing and networking is an opportunity to promote the story God has given me and to make new friends.

RM: What part of the writing process is your least favorite?

DM: The scary part. When the book is released. I think of it like a mom who sends her precious child to the first day of school. She wants the child to behave and have everyone love him/her, but what if the child comes home with a note that says the child was naughty?

RM: We all know that it’s not enough just to get that first contract, although it’s the immediate goal of the fledgling writer.
What do you feel is the key to continuous publication?

DM: I’d say it is a mixture of things. Striving to always make the next project better than the previous. Bathing the project with prayer. Listening for the voice of God. And, for me, mentoring new writers. I love to help someone achieve their writing goals.

RM: I hear you and other writers use the word “passion” when you speak about writing. What does that mean to you?

DM: Passion in writing involves a number of aspects. At least it does for me. Passion for writing is like telling a pastor to preach his best sermon, a singer to sing his favorite song, a dancer to reenact the finest performance, or an artist to transfer a dream onto canvas. Many times a writer has this type of feeling or a passion for a topic or story idea. The writer cannot not write it.

RM: Excellent advice to those who are tempted to write to please an editor instead of writing their passion.
How do you feel about critique partners?

DM: Mine are fantastic. I like another set of eyes to read my work critically. I want to know if it works and what doesn’t. Are the characters real? Is the plot believable? Does the dialogue seem to lift off the page? And have I added the right amount of sensory perception.

RM: Where did you get your inspiration for The Texas Legacy Series?

DM: For years I had this idea about a lady outlaw who decides that she’s had enough and leaves the gang. Along the way, she finds the Lord, but the guilt and shame of her past plague her journey. That was Leather and Lace. In the writing of the first book, I realized the hero had a brother and sister. Each one had a story that begged to be told. Lanterns and Lace is about the younger brother, a doctor who adopts an infant from a dying prostitute. Lightning and Lace is about the sister who is forced to face life as a widow and runs head-on into a man who is attempting to live down a troubled past.

RM: What tips can you give new writers?

DM: Write everyday.
Establish a time and stick to it.
Read your genre and out of your genre.
Attend writing conferences
Be diligent to the craft.
What you learn, pass on to someone else
Be teachable – both mentally and spiritually

Thanks, DiAnn, for sharing. If you’d like to know more about DiAnn, including an opportunity to see a sample from Lightning and Lace, visit her web site.

Keep tuning in. In addition to my Random Jottings, I have some more author interviews lined up, and I think you’ll enjoy them. I’ll give you a hint. The interviews will be “all-redheads, all the time” for a while.


Kristy Dykes said...

Great interview, DiAnn. You gave some valuable advice. Thanks for bringing it to us, Dr. R.

Kristy Dykes said...

Great interview, DiAnn. You gave some valuable advice. Thanks for bringing it to us, Dr. R.