Diana has the talent to draw you in with every word and her loyal fans are never disappointed.
Now a bit about my guest from her website while I pray for snow:
I have a fascination for the Victorians, weather, geology, horses, plants and mythology, I like spicy food, chocolate and cheesecake, and I have an odd sense of humor. (Or so I’ve been told. Often.) Incidentally, the Pharaoh is in fact my real name, and oddly enough, is of British origin.”
I’m pleased to welcome Bestselling author Diana Pharaoh Francis to The Novel Road…
|Diana Pharaoh Francis|
In the end, I have to manage my time and write whenever I have a chance. I don’t have a lot of hobbies because of that, and I definitely don’t get to read as often as I’d like. Over the years, I’ve made an effort to prioritize family time so that I don’t become ghost mom. It also keeps me sane and healthy. Relatively sane, anyhow.
Me: You have a love of history in literature. History appears low on the priority list of today’s youth. What can we do to change this?
Diana: History tends to be dry when it comes to classes. It becomes real when kids visit real sites and see where history happened. I know my son is excited about reading fiction set in important historical situations. I think fiction has the ability to get kids interested in all kinds of things, and it helps them get interested in reading non-fiction.
For me, I know that reading Dickens and Austen and Thackeray and Browning really helped make the Regency/Victorian periods more real. It shows the texture and reality of people in their cultures.
But in the end, any way you can, expose kids to history. I especially like living history museums and interactive displays of any kind.
On the other hand, in The Black Ship, my characters sail on a square rigged clipper ship. It’s the setting for pretty much the entire book. I’d never been sailing at all. So I went to Seattle and went sailing on The Lady Washington to see how the sails were actually raised and lowered and what it was like to be on a ship. Then I did a lot of research. But I needed that first hand experience to get it right.
There’s a scene in Crimson Wind where someone shoots a gun and the recoil sends it over their head. I had that experience shooting a .454 Cassul. It’s a cannon of a handgun. A friend let me shoot it and the recoil really does send it over your head.
Graham Greene said that every writer has to have a splinter of ice in his or her heart. What he meant was that writers, even in the middle of a horrific accident or a dreadful loss or something, keeps one analytical eye open to watch and record. Writers keep track of experiences and put them away to use in their books.
There are so many textures, smells, sounds, events and different scraps of life that make it into my books. Without them, I think the books would be plastic and boring.
Other than that, the economy and the changes in publishing are still causing issues and I’m still waiting to see what will happen. Unfortunately, Borders may go bankrupt or close, and it’s never good to see stores go away. Ebooks are becoming more and more popular and it isn’t yet clear how they will be priced or how authors will get paid. There are a lot of different models for that. The major issue for me as a writer is that people continue to buy books so that publishers will continue to sign me on to write them.
Me: Lunch with you and any author you choose, from throughout history or today, and why.
Here’s a little bit of it:
"Indeed that day ’twas Acted first, there comes me into the Pit, a long, lither, phlegmatick, white, ill-favour’d, wretched Fop, an Officer in Masquerade newly transported with a Scarf & Feather out of France, a sorry Animal that has nought else to shield it from the uttermost contempt of all mankind, but that respect which we afford to Rats and Toads, which though we do not well allow to live, yet when considered as a part of God’s Creation, we make honourable mention of them. A thing, Reader—but no more of such a Smelt: This thing, I tell ye, opening that which serves it for a mouth, out issued such a noise as this to those that sate about it, that 224 they were to expect a woful Play, God damn him, for it was a woman’s. Now how this came about I am not sure, but I suppose he brought it piping hot from some who had with him the reputation of a villanous Wit: for Creatures of his size of sense talk without all imagination, such scraps as they pick up from other folks."
Isn’t she wonderful? I would love to have written this.
My other choice would be Charles Dickens, and you know? Largely for the same reasons. He was also scathing and witty and with such a good sense of human nature and the world. I adore him and would love to have a few beers with him and listen to him tell stories.
Me: You wake up one day and decide to write a Historical non-Fiction book. Give me the subject and overview of this dream book.
Diana: Oh that’s easy. I’d write about Emily Eden in India. She was the sister of the Governor General of India (pretty much the king of India for all intents and purposes) in the 1830s and 40s. During that time, a lot of things happened, including Queen Victoria taking the English throne. In India, Eden was a sharp and critical observer and at one point, she and her brother and sister and a huge number of people went “up the country.” A two year journey through India. I’d want to write about her and the politics of the period. It’s fascinating. She was also a novelist, and upon returning to England, she published The Semi-attached Couple and The Semi-detached House, both in a similar vein to Jane Austen.
Diana: When the book is good. The trouble is, how do you know if it’s good? Part of me thinks that it’s volume that tells you. The more words you read and produce, the more skills you have and a better barometer for understanding what makes a good story. Applying that to yourself can be painful, but oh so necessary. Feedback from a quality source is also good. Someone to tell you when things are or aren’t working.
But there’s a point where you have to stop and submit and start the next process. You move on because every project teaches you more and you become a better writer.
Me: Social Media. Talk about its importance to the modern author’s success.
Diana: I think that social media is only worthwhile if you like to do it because you like to do it. I think it’s obvious when someone hates twittering or facebooking or what have you. It’s not that fun to read when that happens and so doesn’t do anything for you as an author. I like to twitter and I like to keep a blog. I don’t know how interesting they are, but I do like them. It’s nice to have the chance in the various networking situations to talk to fans and fellow writers. Being a writer, especially in Montana, can be an isolating thing. So social networking can help keep me sane.
I’d like to thank Diana for her time, for her talent, and for a reason to throw another log on the fire, close the blinds and fade into another of her fantastic stories.