Today, Writing Wicket interviews Diane McGyver, who says:
I write stories, some long, some short. Regardless of genre, each story contains a bit of adventure, romance, survival and humour. I love writing stories with a fantastical theme, but my current release Northern Survival is all about surviving in the wilderness after a plane crash. I have been writing a long time, and the journey has taught me to not squander words. Each new story is more concise with less clutter than the previous.
I asked Diane:
Q: Do you try more to be original or deliver to readers what they want?
A: To be original. The readers who want what I have to offer will find me.
Q: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
A: I slip subtle hints throughout my story but if readers don’t catch them, they will still be satisfied with the ending of the story.
Q: What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
A: Nothing. A real person may inspire a character but by the time I’m finished with them, they are their own individual character.
Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
A: Too many to count. If I had to guess, there are about 50, and I’m working through them. The Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes is one of them. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo in 2015. It will be released later this year.
Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
A: Paying the way to the top. It’s why I give no attention to Best Seller Lists and books that claim they are best sellers. If I had the money and no ethics, I could easily put my book on the best sellers list at Amazon. Even New York’s Best Selling List is often skewed by the money publishing companies use to manipulate the status of their books.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I am editing The Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes and writing a dystopian novel with the working title Seed Keeper.
Q: As a child, what did you want to be?
A: I wanted to be everything I thought was fun. I didn’t want to settle for one job. I wanted to be a writer, archaeologist, explorer, forest ranger, sailor and an astronaut. Over my life time, I’ve had almost 30 different jobs, so I have lots of experience to share with my characters. PS: I’m not done yet.
Q: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
A: The most difficult thing about writing male characters is sometimes I make them too soft. If I notice, I toughen them up. While editing, I often trim the male dialogue to make it more to the point. The men I know don’t elaborate as much as women do. I grew up with a father home to raise me and seven brothers, a dozen uncles and a ton of male friends, so I have a lot of exposure to the opposite sex.
Q: What do you like least about writing?
A: That it’s a sitting activity. If it was a labour-intense job, it would be perfect.
Q: What’s your favourite part of writing?
A: Writing the first draft. I get so involved, the rest of the world disappears.
Q: How many hours a day do you write?
A: I try to write at least two hours a day. That’s on a new project. I also spend another two hours editing a completed story. I say at least because I’ve written for eight hours in the past because I was so wrapped up in writing the draft.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
A: Personally, I hope to have a large collection of books to read decades down the road, and to be able to share them with my kids and grandkids. Professionally, I hope my books find readers who are as excited to read them as I am to write them.
Q: What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
A: I don’t write about my life. However, the age of the characters are different in each book and range from newborn to 300 years old (that’s the eldest elf). In my books, the age groups represented the most are late teens, early 20s, mid-30s and early 50s. I think Northern Survival is different than the average survival/adventure/romance novel because the two main characters are in their early 50s.
Q: What’s the most you’ve ever edited out of a book? Did it bother you to do so?
A: My first published novel, Shadows in the Stone, was heavily revised. The finish product hardly resembles the draft. The biggest cut was the first two chapters of that draft. It bothered me at the time, but I grew to understand it made the story better.
Q: What motivates you (in writing or otherwise)?
A: I write free style (no outline), so for me, the journey of discovering the story motivates me.
Q: Are you ever upset when you’ve finished a story, that your characters have said all they’re going to say?
A: No. Never. I’m always excited to finish because I have the completed story down on paper where it won’t be lost in forgotten memories.
Q: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
A: Many times. Often each book makes me think a little differently about fiction. Currently, I’m reading Emma by F. W. Kenyon. It was published in 1955. I recently found it at a yard sale. I wanted to read it to see how different stories were written back then. It certainly is different and not always in a bad way. I like the clean, simple story-telling fashion.
Q: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A: I would choose a dragonfly. Actually, it chose me in one of my novels.
Q: What books have you published?
A; The books I’ve published are the first four books in the Castle Keepers fantasy series (Shadows in the Stone, Scattered Stones, Revelation Stones, Healing Stones), the first book in The Mystical fantasy series (Beyond the Myst), Fowl Summer Nights and, my most recent book, Northern Survival.
Readers can find me on the Internet at my Diane McGyver website (https://dianelynnmcgyver.com). All other web pages, including my Goodreads page and Amazon Author page, are recorded on the About page of my website. My most recent novel Northern Survival is at Amazon (https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08GL92CW5).