Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Diana Anderson-Tyler Interview

First off, tell us a little bit about you....

Well, I’m a Texas girl, born and raised. I grew up on a farm and barrel raced (a mighty horseback sport down here in the south!) for fourteen years and played lots of sports. When I wasn’t outside, I was inside playing make-believe or scribbling down stories. I don’t play make-believe or barrel race anymore, but I’ve never stopped writing!

My husband and I live in San Antonio. We own a CrossFit gym called CrossFit 925 and love helping people reach their fitness goals. When I’m not writing, I can be found there lifting weights like a mad woman! Working out is like therapy for me, as well as a wonderful way for me to clear my head so new story ideas can take root.

Tell us about your books/What genre do you consider your books?

It’s common advice these days that writers should pick a genre or niche and stick to it for the sake of brand identity. I have nothing against that advice, it’s just not been easy for me to follow (not that I’ve really tried).
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been “genre hopping.” I have bins full of early stories, poems and plays, some about damsels and dragons, some about an ordinary Texas girl’s first love (semiautobiographical, of course…), and still others written in homage to whatever my favorite book or TV series was at the time (Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, Boy Meets World, Gilmore Girls, to name a few.) To put it simply, I write what I want to write, regardless of whether it’s well suited to a particular market or serves to build my “brand” or not. To me, writing is and always will be something I view and treat primarily as a passion, and secondarily as a career. 

It is that philosophy that’s led me to write straight from my heart, for better or worse. I began my publishing career with a series of nonfiction faith-based fiction books for women (how’s that for “niche”?), as well as an inspirational memoir chronicling my battle with an eating disorder, the sudden death of my father, falling in love, and finding my purpose. At the end of 2013, I decided it was time to get back to my storytelling roots (I majored in screenwriting at the University of Texas) and try my hand at penning a full-length novel. It was by far the most challenging writing endeavor I’d ever taken on, and also the most rewarding. Three years later, writing fiction is now a full-time career – though it is no less challenging than when I started!

Whether it’s writing motivational fitness books, Greek mythology-inspired novels, or women’s fiction hearkening back to my own heartbreaks, fears, and triumphs, my aim is to write words that ring true and resonate, on one level or another, with my readers. I believe we were all put on this earth to shine our unique, inimitable light with the world, and writing honestly and deeply about topics that move and have changed me is one of the ways I’m able to do that. 

When did you start writing? 
I honestly can’t remember a time when writing wasn’t my foremost passion. Sure, I claimed, as many children do, to want to be a thousand different things when I grew up, including archaeologist, marine biologist, and barrel racer (a horseback sport here in the south!), but I always maintained that I would “write on the side.”

I wish I knew what made me want to be a writer, but I’m convinced it was a proclivity I was born with. My grandpa was an actor, drama teacher, and playwright, so maybe it’s in the genes. I also wish there was a romantic story I could share, something about how I listened to a TED Talk that changed my life by encouraging me to pursue my dreams, or how I ran into Stephen King near his home in Maine and showed him a short story that he thought was fantastic and I’ve written ever since. But my story’s pretty boring, unfortunately. I’ve always loved writing more than anything else and, despite countless doubts, fears, and frustrations, I’ve kept at it.

Why do you write? 

Truthfully, I can’t help but write. It’s as essential to me as breathing, as cliché and dramatic as that may sound.

What would be your choice for a superpower?

It’s a three-way tie between flight, invisibility, and telekinesis.

Who is your favorite author? 

Gosh, how does anyone pick a favorite? I might just have to go with the two whom I remember really making an impact on me in high school: Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Crichton. Kingsolver’s lyrical, poetic style blows me away, as does Crichton’s mastery of tension, pacing, and big, satisfying pay-offs.

What are you reading now? 

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty. I always read in whatever genre I’m currently writing in, and right now I’m working on a Contemporary Women’s novel that’s a bit Chick Lit as well. I’m also catching up on my issues of Writer’s Digest.

Who is your favorite character to write? 

So far, I’ve most loved writing Hermes in my series The Petros Chronicles. He’s mischievous, charming, self-possessed, but extremely wounded as well. It was a blast to reveal his backstory little by little and also follow his arc from villainy to redemption.

Do you have a writing process? 

I majored in screenwriting, so thoroughly outlining is something that was hammered into me. When it came to writing screenplays, treatments, beat outlines, and such were necessities, but novel writing is a whole other animal, at least for me – I never have been able to stick to the game plan!

It’s much more fun for me to “discovery write,” as they say. I have a general story arc in mind, as well as major plot and pivot points, but I leave the specifics unknown. The characters take on a life of their own, thereby taking the story in surprising directions I never could have planned.

After I have a first draft, I will reverse outline by going through my manuscript and making sure all the turning points are in place and that each of the scenes has a valence shift.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author? 

I love this piece of advice I from Joanna Penn: Find a balance between creativity and consumption.

Don’t feel like you have to choose writing mode over read/research/learn mode or vice versa. I strongly believe that writers should be in the practice of writing as close to daily as possible, so letting other activities – even advantageous ones – get in the way of creating is detrimental. 

Even if you have a lot to learn about the publishing process, don’t wait to write until you’ve figured out your game plan. Even if you have to research The Revolutionary War for your next novel, don’t wait to start outlining until you’ve read your mountain of library books. Even if you want to write three novels in the next three months, don’t neglect your fiction-reading time, as reading fine work makes us finer artists.

I’ve found that balancing creating time with consuming time keeps me productive and allows me to learn and digest new info and material at a manageable rate.

What inspired you to pursue writing?

This sort of goes along with your question, “Why do you write?” Writing is what I’m most passionate about. Nothing else comes close. Sure, there are other occupations that are more lucrative and less discouraging, but none would be as spiritually, mentally, and emotionally rewarding to me as an artist who expresses herself best through the written word. 

What are your favorite TV shows/Movies to watch in between writing?

My husband and I are huge comic book nerds. We love watching Arrow and The Flash, as well as all the D.C. and Marvel films. We also love fantasy movies (The Lord of the Rings, The Princess Bride, etc.) and historical epics like Gladiator and Braveheart.

What are your current projects?

I’m editing book 2 of The Petros Chronicles and outlining book 4 of The Orchid Series.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?

If you’re a fan of Greek mythology, I’d love to have you join my newsletter as I’m always eager to hear your feedback and receive suggestions on what to write about next! You can sign up here: http://www.dianaandersontyler.com/signup/. I run fun giveaways every month! I typically share exclusive short stories, too.

Quick Fire:Cats or dogs? Dogs
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Favorite food? Burgers
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream? Vanilla
What are 3 things you never leave home without? Purse, cell phone, book (unless what I’m reading is on the Kindle app on my phone!)
Laptop or desktop? Laptop
Who are 3 famous people you would to hang out with? Steve Martin, Steven Pressfield, Margaret George
TV or Movies? Movies

Visit me on my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE to borrow any of my books for FREE!

Best-selling author of Wake the Dead! On Amazon Kindle here!

All Artwork and covers of my works by William J. Kenney & Carlos Cara

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios 2014 unless otherwise noted.

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