Please welcome Dyane Forde, author of The Purple Morrow, available on Amazon.
Dyane’s love of writing began with an early interest in reading and of words in general. She was always amazed at how linking words together in different ways had unexpected and pleasing results on others.
She is a social worker by profession. Learning to see the world through other people’s eyes as well as sharing in their pain has influenced and enriched her as a person, as well as her writing. She is also a wife, and mother to two children, a cat named JackJack and a dog named Sparky.
Please welcome Dyane!
Let’s start at the beginning. Why did you become a writer?
Dyane: It’s the one thing I feel I am truly good at, and when I write I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m passionate about it, and if I could I would spend all day writing.
And your ideas–where do they come from?
Dyane: Usually when I start a story or a book, I think about themes first. What is it I want to say and why? What’s the conclusion I want to reach and why? What types of characters would best achieve these goals? Once I have those things figured out, then the plot points come into play (i.e. Getting the characters from point A to point B to point C and so on, as well as what conflicts are needed to challenge them along the way).
Do you experience writer’s block and how do you get through it?
Dyane: I actually wrote an essay about this on my blog where I discuss this. For various reasons, I couldn’t write for about 10 years, and not being able to express myself creatively was extremely difficult.
How did I get through it? Basically, I suffered through more than anything else. I tried to write poems, which were the fastest way to get that emotional release I needed, but I always stopped after a few lines. Then, one day I was at the park with my kids and as I sat on a bench watching them, out of nowhere, the entire story for The Eagle’s Gift dropped into my head. It’s an extension of a fairy tale my daughter and I had made up a few weeks before. I went home that evening and started writing. It wasn’t any good, and when I was done the whole thing was only seven chapters, but it felt great. I just kept on going after that.
I read The Eagle’s Gift, and while it was a longer version than seven chapters and still in draft form I remember it being very good!
Dyane: Aw, thanks. I meant the first draft wasn’t so good, as is often the case with first drafts. One day I hope to give it the attention it deserves and complete it.
Is there a particular author or book that is most influential to you in your writing?
Dyane: Lots! I always loved to read, and as a kid you couldn’t find me without a book in my hand or tucked away somewhere nearby. I even read when I walked, lol
I read Lord of the Rings when I was 12 and that book blew my mind. However, The Silmarillion is my all-time favorite and though I don’t write that kind of fantasy, the sense of wonder, magic, and drama are elements I hope to capture in my stories, whether fantasy or some other genre. Hemingway was another writer I loved for his minimalistic style. I emulated it for years, and though my style has changed over time, I still work hard to keep my work uncluttered, simple and focused. The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness, told in first-person point of view (POV) in present tense, also had a big impact on me. The sense of immediacy and intimacy created by the combination of the POV and the tense helped me figure out how to add a layer of depth and feeling to my own writing so that my characters ‘feel’ like real people. Lastly, Margaret Atwood, my fellow Canadian, is my role model. She’s a fantastic writer and she can and does write anything. She’s gripping, funny, sarcastic and witty and she has a writing legacy that spans generations and countries. Her book Surfacing just gutted me, and The Edible Woman was a wonderful commentary on society and gender roles.
If you could go back in time to when you started writing your first novel, what practical tips would you give your younger self?
Dyane: Never fall in love with your story! I mean in the sense that I realized that sometimes there are things about a story that have to be changed or completely eliminated in order for the whole to work. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but once you get the hang of not clinging too hard to things and seeing the bigger picture, it gets easier.
Also, be prepared for the possibility that your first published book won’t be the first one you write. First books are hard to do successfully. In them, we make every mistake possible and sometimes the story is not salvageable. But don’t be discouraged about that if that happens to you. My first book is completed but remains unpublished exactly for this reason. One day, I’ll figure out how to save it.
Dyane: Morrow is the introduction to the series, so it reveals the origins of the main characters and sets the ground for the rest of the series to unfold. Jeru, the main character, is the Everyman who begins his journey as the reluctant hero. Kelen, the Rover commander who is trying to destroy him, has secrets of his own. The Purple Morrow started off as a standalone book, but as the story kept growing and getting better, I felt I had no choice but to extend it into a series. Wolf’s Bane (Book Two) deals with themes of identity, self-awareness and sacrifice, as both Jeru and Kelen are challenged in significant ways. Their choices have unexpected and serious consequences which will be dealt with in book three, the conclusion of the series.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
Dyane: Simply put, I needed a break from The Eagle’s Gift. I was burned me out from trying to make that one work and decided to begin another project. When I conceived the story for Morrow I wanted to explore the themes of redemption and hope. They feature throughout the series.
Is there a character or aspects of a character that relate most to you?
Dyane: Each of the main and secondary characters is based off facets of my own personality. Some are taken to the extreme or scaled back, but I can easily recognize myself in them in one way or another. I suppose I best identify with Jeru. His needs are simple and he just wants to live a peaceful life, only he is often caught up in unsought responsibilities and difficulties. Still, he’s witty and smart and very deep. He laughs easily and is kind. Plus, he has the strength to push past his own fears and limits in order to do what is necessary, something I also relate to. These are some of the qualities I like most about myself and I suppose I just took things a few notches higher for him.
What are some underlying themes of TPM?
Dyane: As mentioned above, redemption and hope are major themes, but so are learning to live and to love again after tragedy, as well as discovering the ability to overcome our life circumstances. It’s a story about being transformed from one state of being to another, hence the reference to the butterfly and why it figures so strongly throughout the series.
You have a sequel in the works. Tell us a bit about it and when you project it to come out.
Dyane: Wolf’s Bane is complete and in the beta-reading stages. It’s a much more complex book than Morrow, involving more characters, locations and history, and the stakes are raised even higher. I hope it will be available later this year.
Are you working on any other projects?
Dyane: Lots! I have a WIP YA fantasy novella called The Dragon’s Egg, of which the first draft is about halfway done. I’m also working on a suspense/sci-fi serial featuring Burgundy–a man on the run—and his Magnum 500 called ‘Big Boy.’ I’m also writing short stories and poems, a few of which have appeared in online publications.
What was the toughest bit of criticism you ever received from a reader/reviewer—something valid, not from someone just trying to flame message boards?
Dyane: Ha! You should know since they mostly come from you! I seem to remember getting a note saying, ‘I hate this line.’ But I’ve received all sorts of things from (paraphrasing), ‘This is boring/too long/too slow’ to ‘I don’t get this’, etc. Sometimes the comments are correct and I have to fix the errors. Sometimes I have to trust my gut and move on. After all, especially when a person is reading an excerpt, they often have no idea how that piece fits into the whole, so I just try to keep that in mind.
What was the best compliment?
Dyane: I’m happy to say that I have received a lot of positive feedback on my work. Some of the best of late was in response to a chapter from The Dragon’s Egg I had posted on my blog. Someone wrote that it was ‘concise’ which I loved because it meant that my writing was clear and communicated exactly what it was supposed to. I don’t like reading pieces that are confusing because of sloppy writing so I try to avoid doing it at all costs. In addition, anytime someone says they were moved by a piece, or that they ‘got’ what I was trying to do, or that they could relate to it on a deeper level are the most meaningful words of feedback to me. I write to communicate, not just tell a story, so when people connect with a work I’ve done it’s extremely rewarding.
Anything you’d like to say to readers/fans?
Dyane: I just feel privileged and blessed to be able to do what I love and have met people who enjoy reading what I produce. Getting messages from readers is one of the most satisfying things ever, and I appreciate the time each person takes to write me about it on my blog, even if it’s just a line. In the end, the readers motivate and encourage me a lot. They drive me to work harder with each new project to create the best works I can. So really, I just want to say ‘Thanks’ to them, and let them know how important they are to me and what I do.
Any tips you’d like to offer to others attempting to write novels?
Dyane: I just wrote a guest blog post on this subject (link to follow). Don’t expect writing quality pieces to come easily– perseverance is the key. Achieving powerful writing takes time and lots of practice, so expect to rewrite over and over again. Editing is just as important as writing, so learn to accept that from the start. Find quality writers to support you and to give good feedback. And lastly, don’t give up. The temptation is always there to think something sucks and to throw it away but sometimes you have to let things settle for a while before you go back to fix it. So be patient and keep writing!
Check out her writing blog at www.droppedpebbles.wordpress.com, where her other writing projects, and information and samples of her upcoming books can be found. Please write! Dyane loves to hear from her readers.