Wednesday, October 3, 2012

10 Questions with Historical Fiction Author Michelle Diener (@michellediener)


This Author Spotlight features historical fiction author Michelle Diener, author of KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS.



Michelle Diener writes historical fiction for Simon and Schuster's Gallery Books.

Her debut novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT



released in August, 2011, is set in the court of Henry VIII. It features the real historical figures of illuminator and painter, Susanna Horenbout, and Henry's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King's Robes, John Parker. A second book, also featuring Susanna and Parker, THE KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS, was published on April 3rd, 2012. 

Michelle is also the author of DANGEROUS SANCTUARY.

She was also featured in the anthology ENTANGLED.


THE EMPEROR'S CONSPIRACY, a historical novel set in London during the Napoleonic Wars, is set for a November 27th, 2012 release. Here is a sneak peek at the cover art:



1. How did you get into writing? 
I'm one of 'those' authors who've never not written. I'm the oldest of five children and if I wasn't writing stories, I was telling them to my brothers and sisters. Forget mounted DVD players, I was the in-car entertainment on long trips. My friends and I were captivated by the manga cartoons on TV as children, and I'd write spin-offs of those tales of high adventure in space for my friends as well. 

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing? 
I love the feeling at the very end of a book, where all you're doing is deepening, and layering and making it really pop. I hate everything that I have to do to get to that stage. Expect maybe writing the first three chapters. From then, it becomes a tortuous journey I wish would end. 

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc? 
I generally write a single page or maybe two pages at most as an outline. I then never look at it again, but at least I know there is a beginning, a middle and an end that holds together and makes sense. I sometimes try to keep to a page count, especially when I'm at the middle and I'm hating every word. Page counts force me to work. But if I'm in the swing and it's all coming easily, I don't worry about that. I couldn't even say how many pages I write on those days, but I don't care, because I'm having fun. 

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?” 
I really love Terry Pratchett, for his cleverness, and his dry wit, and his wonderfully real characters. I'm in awe of Iain M. Banks's talent. His books really come alive for me, and he's the one sci-fi author I auto-buy without question. I love Patricia Briggs for her wonderful world-building and amazing characterization, and Jayne Anne Krentz for her amazing mix of romance and suspense. In my time, I've also devoured Dick Francis (when his wife was still writing with him), Agatha Christie, PD James and Deborah Crombie, to name a few. 

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes? 
Outside. :) 

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma? 
Ah, the Oxford comma. That staple ice-breaker at cocktail parties everywhere. To quote Lynne Truss: “There are people who embrace the Oxford comma and people who don't, and I'll just say this: never get between these people when drink has been taken.” Being British myself, and having been brought up through a school system that did not believe in the Oxford comma, you would think I would eschew it totally. But again, to quote Lynne Truss (who is my favorite grammarian) commas 'tell the reader how to hum the tune', and so, if the Oxford comma facilitates a good tune, makes the song more easy to understand, I'll use it. If it doesn't, I won't. 

7. What is your book KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS about and how did it come to fruition? 
Keeper of the King's Secrets is my second book set in the court of Henry VIII featuring Susanna Horenbout, a Flemish artist who worked in his court, and John Parker, Henry's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster (the first book is In a Treacherous Court). Both Susanna and Parker existed and while the intricate plots I throw them into are made up by me, the history around them, and the catalysts that drive the plot are quite factual. I started writing the books because I was fascinated by Susanna Horenbout. I'd never heard about a woman artist working for Henry VIII, and there is very little information about her. The idea of a woman working in a completely male-dominated field for one of the most powerful monarchs of his time was something that sparked my imagination. 

8. What’s your current writing project? 
I'm just in that golden phase I mentioned above of putting the final touches on a novel set during the Napoleonic Wars, which is linked by a few characters to my upcoming November release The Emperor's Conspiracy

9. What book(s) are you currently reading? 
I'm reading Juliet Nicolson's The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War for research purposes. 

10. Who or what inspires your writing? 
Everything around me inspires me. Other books, films, life, people I meet, situations I see, history. It's all grist for the mill. 

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc. 
Thanks for inviting me over, Ryan. It's been fun. People can find out more about my books at michellediener.com.

You're welcome, Michelle. We shall speak soon for the release of THE EMPEROR'S CONSPIRACY.

Be sure to visit Michelle's website and follow her on Twitter: @MichelleDiener

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