Thanks, Diane, for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.
Thanks for hosting me. I’m originally from Northern California. I joined the navy at nineteen and was stationed in Greece. I met and married my husband there. We have two sons and now live in Western Pennsylvania near our granddaughters. We also have one naughty dachshund for a pet. Or rather, we’re her pets.
Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?
I’m definitely a coffee fiend in the mornings. My burgundy coffee cup is on my desk all morning, with my husband as barista. I’m a red wine fiend in the evenings. When we lived in Virginia, their wine industry was booming, and we traveled around tasting the many varieties. Pennsylvania is up and coming for wine, too, thank goodness. But we still visit Virginia once a year to see friends and drink wine. We prefer the dry reds.
Is your education relevant to your writing, or have you branched off in something entirely different to create? How would you best describe your books?
I was always proficient at creative writing in school, but I have no degree in that field. I love to research and write historical fiction. I’d call my books authentic historical fiction with strong female characters. Most of my early novels are set in the late eighteenth century, England, France, and America. Now I’m working on a WWII novel set in France.
Tell us about your most recent publication?
My most recent publication is a novella, To Entice a Spy. It’s set in England in 1794, during the French Revolution. A widowed countess returns from France to track an evil spy. But her childhood love complicates matters.
What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?
When traveling in England, I found a book on eighteenth century Truro, in Cornwall. It names streets, who lived in the homes, politics, and so on. I just had to set a novel there. And since I’d researched the French Revolution for my first novel, I wanted to put it to good use and throw in spies and an aristocratic woman (I usually write of more common people) who must seek out a spy, who is also after her.
I learned that a man named William Wickham started the espionage investigators in England at this same time, referred to as the Secret Services. I use him briefly as a character.
What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?
I loved being in the POV of a villain, a first for me. How nasty could I make him, and still make him believable? Even villains need plausible motivations for their actions. I had planned to visit Truro, the town where my story is set, but due to family issues, I had to cancel.
What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I like the research, getting my facts correct. I also enjoy creating quirky characters. The least? Promotion. You’re always pushing your books in people’s faces. Please buy! I need a cheap publicity firm.
I’ve always enjoyed writing. My first stories I illustrated at age five, then asked my mom to write the words I dictated. I wrote my first novel, set in ancient Egypt and Rome, at age ten. At this age major movies were my inspiration, such as Cleopatra and Mutiny on the Bounty.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?
I belong to the Historical Novel Society, and once belonged to the Napoleonic Historical Society. I’ve found the HNS conferences helpful and have made friends there. I’ve gotten to visit cities all over the U. S. for the conferences.
For me, Jack Lynch’s Eighteenth Century Studies website is the most useful.
Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?
I usually like it quiet, although I enjoy soft classic rock, and classical music; it puts me in a better mood. Now that my husband is retired, I hear the Today show from the other room.
Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?
I’ve been with an on-line critique group since 2005. People come and go, and we even had a mutiny that split the group in half. But we prevail. My partners are diverse, and bring many vital aspects to the writing experience. Some might be good on grammar, others on character motivation, plot themes.
I met one of my critique partners in England three years ago. We’ve written together since 2006, and finally met face-to-face. Wonderful. I’ve also been in face-to-face groups that were helpful. I miss the one I had in Virginia.
To encourage those still on the path, tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one? What do you think was the key to selling that first book?
My path was a long and winding road. I never have gotten an agent interested, and the Big Houses no longer accept un-agented queries. So my first publisher was a small on-line press. I’m now with two well-established medium presses, one on Canada and one in New York. I have thirteen published novels.
I stuck with my first book (I’m stubborn) constantly revising it. That was my first sale after ten years of on and off queries—and tons of re-writes. The key is revision, critique partners, and perseverance. Take workshops and go to conferences.
What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?
I’m working on a WWII novel set in Brittany France. I have an unusual love story in the midst of war. How can it possibly end happily? We’ll see.
My next appearance will be at the Oil City Book Festival, in Oil City, Pennsylvania; date not yet determined. I did it last year and had a great time.
Anything else you would like to add?
Just thanks again for hosting me, and your questions are thorough and thoughtful.
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Diane Parkinson (Diane Scott Lewis) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, joined the Navy at nineteen, married in Greece and raised two sons all over the world, including Puerto Rico and Guam. A member of the Historical Novel Society, she wrote book reviews for the Historical Novels Review. Diane worked from 2007 to 2010 as an on-line historical editor. She has had several historical and historical-romance novels published between 2010 and 2021.
Her first Time-travel, Beyond the Fall, was published by The Wild Rose Press in 2018. To Entice a Spy was published in 2021.
Diane lives with her husband in western Pennsylvania.
For more on her books visit her website: www.dianescottlewis.org