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Dianna Hardy is the author of ten novels, of which the newest one, Blood Shadow, will be released on April 27! Read our BookLikes interview and get to know the author, who tells us all about her writing!
Dianna has been very generous to BookLikes readers and offered three SIGNED paperback copies of her new book - enter our giveaway contest to win!
Five years after her life changed forever, Jennifer Warren has put her past firmly behind her - at least, she's tried. A few sweaty nightmares here and there are a small price to pay for the freedom she won. No longer a werewolf, but human, she works as an office manager for a health and beauty spa in York, and keeps herself to herself. It's barely enough to pay the bills, but it's quiet and safe, and the clique of the staff means she's left well enough alone - no one asks her questions; no one wants to get to know her better. But Jennifer's just received another note - one of those that her mysterious, anonymous 'friend' likes to leave her every now and then; warnings of things to come, people not to trust... Her elusive friend has saved her more than once the past five years.
Only this note has left her breathless; her chest tight. A Supermoon is coming - the first in thirty years - and with it, a total lunar eclipse.
Jennifer's disowned her past, but it hasn't disowned her. As the earth shadows the full moon, her own shadows threaten to turn on her. Can you ever escape what you truly are? Blood never lies.
Tell us a few words about yourself - whatever you want to share about your personal and professional life, but also why you decided to become a writer.
Thanks so much for having me here. It feels more for me, in some ways, that I didn't decide to become a writer - it just sort of happened. I was an early reader, with a mother who loved fiction books and a grandmother who was an English teacher (her first language - and mine at the time - being Portuguese), so they both thrust me into the world of books. Luckily, I loved books, too, so never felt overwhelmed by them. They'd read me story after story - books in English as well as Portuguese, and I was reading words back to them by the age of three. As soon as I could, I was reading independently and I couldn't get enough of books! When I was six years old, I read A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and I was entranced by it. It made me laugh, cry, and feel like anything was possible. It was the first book I remember feeling emotional about to that extent, and that was the moment I knew I wanted to write something that would make others feel as much; that would make others laugh, cry, and feel like anything was possible.
But while I wrote a lot (for fun) throughout my childhood and my teens, I wouldn't become a "writer" until I had some time on my hands after giving birth to my daughter in 2009. I didn't know what to do with the tedious long nights of little sleep and constant feeding, so I began to research self-publishing on the internet, and discovered you could do it yourself online for very little outlay. Gone were the days I'd have to pay £2000 for 50 books and try to sell them door-to-door. So, one day, I sat down and compiled all the poems I'd ever written, and printed a paperback anthology of them. Then, I created an collection of brand new poems - vampire poetry - all about the theme of dark obsession and possession through the vampire myth. That was A Silver Kiss (Vampire Poetry) published in December, 2010. I tried my hand at erotica after that, partly to better understand the eBook market, which is when I wrote Happy Anniversary (an erotic short story about a marriage rekindled), but finally - after writing and publishing The Witching Pen in June 2011 - I understood that writing fantasy and romance (albeit often explicitly) was more my forte. I've always loved both genres anyway.
And suddenly, I realised I was a writer. I was doing it.
I currently live in the south coast of the UK with my fiance, our daughter, and our two black cats, Green and Indigo.
You call yourself a writer of "cross-genre fiction" - please tell us why, and what this is.
I've never been able to stick to writing one genre within any story, although I have tried. I'm not very good at writing 'formula'. For the most part, I let the characters do what they want, and the stories become this meld of fantasy, horror, and romance - perhaps with a hint of god punk or sci-fi - often told explicitly because I've always been drawn to the intimacy of sexual and violent expression in film and literature. The film Crash, by David Cronenberg is one of my favourites.
I also have a series which is cross-genre romance, magical realism and women's fiction, which is sort of the "light" to my other dark fantasy books.
Cross-genre fiction is really just that: fiction that mixes two or more genres, to create something different and hopefully exciting, that will in turn stimulate debate and conversation, or simply offer a thrilling new read that can't be pigeonholed into any one category.
When did you start writing and how many books have you written so far?
If we don't count Little Miss Rainbow which I wrote when I was eight, and the very few poems I got published by small press magazines in my teens, I began writing to self-publish in September 2010. I've so far written (not including out-of-print titles) ten novels, five novellas, one novelette, two short stories and one poetry compilation.
Your new book is due to be released very soon (April 27) - what are the emotions associated with a book launch when it is not your first title, once you are an experienced writer? Does it get "boring" with time?
No - never boring at all! Reaching the words "the end" once you've hit that last full stop remains a natural high, and at every new release I'm still very nervous of how readers will react to the book. Every book is different to write, so the feelings surrounding each launch are always a little different, too. With Blood Shadow (out on 27th April), I'm taking readers in a slightly new direction with my writing, with the book acting as both a companion novel to a completed series, and a prequel to a new series. I have no idea how it will be received, although feedback from early readers have so far been positive.
Your website lists a publishing plan where you list two books a year in 2018, 2019 and 2020! How impressive! Why did you build this "schedule" for yourself and what do you do to stick to it?
Thank you! I honestly don't know how impressive it is, LOL. My aim is to write at least 1000 words a day, which is how I stick to the schedule. That basically means I can write a 90,000 word novel in 3 months, which leaves two months to edit and format, and one month between each book to prepare for the next (and rest for a bit if I get the chance!). I found this was how I write best and most efficiently, so the schedule was really borne out of that. A lot of writers write faster than me, but I suffered burnout a few years ago which in turn took over a year to get over - I'll never let myself fall into that nightmare again, so I take care of myself better now and try not to get too stressed with word count and deadlines.
Please tell us about your day and your writing habits. Do you write every day, and for how long? Do you have a "day job", or is writing what you do for a living?
Yes, I write for a living, not that that's always easy - most of the time it's not, and the reward can't always be considered monetary. My work day usually starts at 9 a.m. I'll write at least 1000 words and edit what I've already written until about 1 p.m., then have lunch; then I'll get in about half an hour of marketing online before I stop. Sometimes, I do a bit more marketing / promo from about 4-5 p.m. Or I'll fit it in between 10 p.m. and midnight, or write even more between those last two hours. If I can let the day go, I'll be in bed by 1 a.m. latest. If the last scene I wrote is still in my head, I've been known to carry on writing until about three in the morning. I'll also be good to myself, though, and take a day off here and there to spend with my fiance, or go to the beach. All of that sounds very organised, doesn't it? LOL. In practice, it's really not! :)