This is the first part of the magical interview with Diane M Robinson. You can see the rest of the magic on Friday with part two of the the interview.
Tell us a little about yourself for the readers.
I live in central Alberta, Canada where winters are torturous and summers are heavenly. I’m an avid outdoors person and like to garden, create massive flowerbeds, ride my horses, play with my dogs, sleep in a tent under the starlight (yeah, summertime only). I write on weekends when I’m not working at the dental office, I teach private art lessons in the evenings, and I am a part-time writing instructor at the Creative Writing Institute. Yep, busy.
What is (your book) about?
The first two books in The Pen Pieyu Adventures series were published in 2012 and 2013; book three is at the publisher’s where we are going through the editing stages, and will be published in the fall of 2015. This fantasy/adventure children’s chapter book series is about an unconventional nine-year-old princess who becomes a knight through perseverance and believing in herself. She befriends (after much chaos) a dragon, Snarls, who is also a chef and becomes her adventure companion; together they have zany adventures while hooking up with some seriously whacky characters. The books are humorous with subtle moral lessons incorporated into the stories: friendship, kindness, believing in yourself, acceptance of others, following your own path by listening to your heart.
Books one and two have won 5 book awards and, recently, book two was honored with the “Seal of Approval” from Children’s Literary Classics and is in the running for the 2015 CLC Book Awards.
I’m also nearing completion of my grammar book entitled, Grammar for Kids and Dragons. This book has my characters from The Pen Pieyu Adventures giving the grammar lessons in a humorous way.
What was the inspiration for (book)?
I’ve always been infatuated with the medieval time period and with fantasy books/storytelling: sassy princesses who fight battles with onions, midget knights who are always soggy, dragons who cook and often blow things up, bog witches who are afraid of frilly dresses, you know, regular fantasy stuff. I’ve been making up stories and plays of this nature since I was a kid and only really found the inspiration to write about them when I moved to a magical forest (ummm, yeah, long story). The forest that surrounds my house is a very inspiring place to be: walking through the forest, I can see images of characters etched in the trees and, sometimes, whole scenes come alive before my very eyes.
My inspiration for the grammar book was just the fact that trying to understand some of the grammar rules, the way they are written, seemed complicated to me. If it is complicated for me, how much more so it must be for kids. I decided if I broke down the complexity of some of these rules and presented it in a fun way, kids might actually want to learn grammar.
What genre do you like to write?
Pretty much just fantasy/adventure, although I have been hired as a co-writer a children’s story picture book series that isn’t fantasy, but it is a fun adventure series.
What genre do you like to read?
I read just about every genre except romance and erotica. I really enjoy the classics and have read many of them. I thoroughly enjoy a great fantasy series.
Who are some authors who have inspired you?
So many authors have inspired me in so many different ways. I think the most inspiration has come from C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, John Steinbeck, Emily Bronte, Dickens, Tolstoy—to me, these are the masters of storytelling.
If you could dine with a famous author alive or dead who would it be? Why?
Tolkien. I have so many questions.
What do you do to combat writer’s block?
When writer’s block settles in, it’s usually for a long spell. To me, writer’s block isn’t so much a phase of not creating, it’s a phase of actually not writing the words down. During the phase of no writing, I am still creating the story and playing it out in my head, like a movie. When the movie seems somewhat plausible, only then can I start writing. When I’m still in the movie making mode, I like to do artwork to let the creativity flow.
What advice to you have to aspiring authors?
The most important advice to aspiring authors is to learn your craft well, take courses, practice, learn how to edit, practice, take more courses, practice, read many authors in your genre to learn how exciting writing is done, and then learn how to quiet yourself enough to write from that place that is your pure creative energy. Oh, and also, don’t give up on yourself, this all takes a long time.
What is your next project?
To finish my grammar book, Grammar for Kids and Dragons, which is on a publishing deadline for summer 2015. I will also start a co-writing project with a local author—a children’s picture book series, Berry Bunny, who changes colors according to his moods and adventures. And when the snow flies in the fall of 2015, I hope to be working on the 4th book in my series of The Pen Pieyu Adventures.