Interview Sunday #6

Image of Diane Dickson

Today, I’d like to introduce storywriter Diane Dickson from Diane’s Story Site. Diane has written and published both children’s and adult fiction as well as featuring serial stories on her blog. 

Welcome, Diane! I’m glad you could join us. Would you please tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you so much for asking me, I have really enjoyed your interviews and was flattered that you thought of asking me. 

I was born in Yorkshire a long time ago! and grew up in Lancashire. I’ve been married for over forty years and have two wonderful children, a son and a daughter, a lovely son in law and daughter in law and two gorgeous grandsons.  I am very lucky.  
Ian and I spent over twenty years living and working in the Middle East and, although at times it was difficult, it was also wonderful and we don’t regret a moment of it, even though we had to make sacrifices with regard to family life and so on.  
We now spend much of the year in a house in the middle of a forest in South West France, which is beautiful, and the rest of the time in a flat near to my son’s house in UK and that’s about it.

Such an interesting life you’ve led! 🙂 
What prompted you to begin writing and how long have you been writing?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.  I was the only girl in my class at school who loved “composition”, which is what it was called in those days.  I still have a book of my poetry that I started when I was about seven and it has just always been there, part of life.

That poetry book sounds like a treasure! I think it’s great that you still have it.
With your children’s stories, do you have a moral in mind when you start?

3 Things That Might Have HappenedNot exactly a moral, I do believe that we need to uphold good values, honesty, fair play, kindness, all of that, but also I think that it is important that there is magic and wonder.  I think that introducing children to books and reading at the earliest possible opportunity is very important and so, especially with the books for very little ones, the main thing is that they can understand and enjoy the story.  A friend of mine had a little girl and the day that they came home from the hospital her husband sat down and started reading to this tiny baby.  She has grown into an outstanding scientist. I often think of that when I’m writing children’s stories.

How is your process different when you write for adults?

That is difficult to answer.  When I write my adult stories I like to think that I get inside the head of my characters. I do often find myself thinking and even behaving in the way that I think my book’s inhabitants would do, quite unconsciously I hasten to add, and it’s sometimes rather odd.  With the children’s stories it is simpler, just telling tales that I think would entertain young people.

You write mainly short stories and novellas. I usually have a problem keeping my stories contained within the shorter format. What techniques, if any, do you apply to contain your stories?

With the very short micro and flash fiction, I find it helps me to keep the length in mind all the time that I’m writing and so subconsciously I am winding down when I think I’m approaching the maximum word count.  With the novellas I don’t think about it much, they just seem to come with their length predetermined.  I write quite simple stories with very few characters and locations and so they are limited by that, to an extent.  Also, I’m not a very patient writer, I want to know how it’s all going to turn out.

How do you edit your stories in preparation for publication? Do you make use of critique partners or beta readers?

Product DetailsI read them over and over and over. Once I have the story very clear in my mind, I read the chapters randomly. That seems to help me to pick up typos and so on, as I’m not reading the story as much as the words.  The Harper Collins site Authonomy is great for feedback.  With Who Follows, my daughter in law very kindly proof read it for me but I try not to inflict my work on the family too much.  I have never lived the sort of life that has allowed me to join writing groups or anything so, although I would love to share and discuss, I am pretty much on my own.  I am sure that there are nits in some of my published work but I have come to realise that all I can do is my best and hope it gets near to being good enough.

I’m sure there are many people out there who would love to help you in this regard, should you need their help at any time, so you don’t have to ‘inflict’ your work on your family. 🙂
Please tell us a little about the stories you’re most proud of.
Product Details
There are some stories on Shortbread that move me. Sometimes a story will make me cry, either with sadness or simply because of the emotion in the words. I love that.  I have had one or two that have won competitions but strangely they are often the ones that I hadn’t really been that happy with – I’m a terrible judge of my own writing.   

You have some interesting book covers. Please tell us about them.

These were all designed by my daughter

They are lovely! 🙂 
When did you start your blog and what were some of your reasons for starting it?

It was about two years ago.  I did have a website, which I used simply to advertise my books.  The host was changing and I was looking around for a new platform and my daughter was blogging at the time and so I decided to give it a go.  Once I realised what a great resource it was, how very easy it is to do and that it’s possible to have feedback from readers, I was totally hooked.

You mentioned Shortbread, earlier. Would you please tell us what they do there?

I had a computer glitch a couple of years ago and couldn’t access Authonomy and came upon Shortbread almost by chance.  
Shortbread Stories was set up by Robin Pilcher after he attended a writer’s workshop and thought it was a shame that there were so many great stories hidden in drawers and cupboards with no hope of publication.  
They publish every story that is submitted to them.  This does mean that there is a great range of skill and every genre and type of short story that you may imagine.  It is a very friendly site, the members are very supportive of each other.  They run competitions, most usually the prize is simply a teeny little medal next to the story on the site and it is circulated as “The Friday Story” to over 6,000 members, so it is a great place to get some exposure. Now and then, they offer the prize of a book or something but mostly it’s just for fun.   
They choose what they judge to be the most suitable and have them made into audio stories. I have one or two of mine in that process at the moment and am really looking forward to hearing my work read aloud. 
They have published an anthology of work and are working on the next one and they also run writing workshops with Robin Pilcher and other highly experienced creative writing lecturers in attendance.  They are residential courses usually one at a beautiful villa in Spain and one in the flat where Rosamund Pilcher wrote many of her best sellers, so there must be inspiration seeped into the walls there, I think.  I haven’t been able to attend one yet but hope to one day.  I was voted Shortbreader of the Year 2011 and am a total fan of the site.

Wow! Congratulations! That sounds like a marvelous site. If anyone wants to check out Shortbread Stories, you can find it
When you’re not writing, are there any hobbies you like to indulge in?

Yes,when I’m not writing I love my garden. We have about three acres here in France, more than half is forest and I try to cultivate bits. It’s a struggle because the soil is very poor but I do usually manage some fruit and vegetables and a bit of colour.

Do you have any other social networks that you’d like to share, Diane?

I do have Twitter and Facebook accounts and my blog links with them automatically but I don’t seem to have enough time to get on there very often.  I could sit all day at my desk, I think, and still not get everything done that I would like to, so I have to try and be a little disciplined.

That sounds very familiar! lol

To visit Diane’s Story Site click here.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Diane. 🙂

Please take the time to check out her stories. Some will send shivers down your spine, others will make you laugh or cry. 🙂