Monday, May 27, 2019

Author Interview with Diane Magras


The DMS was lucky enough to interview Diane Magras. Lizzy reviewed her book The Mad Wolf's Daughter, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We're excited to learn a little more about her story. So, without further ado... take it away, Diane!


What inspired you to write The Mad Wolf’s Daughter?

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter began with a very different novel in mind. I don’t remember what it was about, but Drest was a secondary character, and I found her distracting me from my original concept. As I began to think about her more, a scene arose in my mind: of a rough-looking girl sitting by a bonfire with her very rough-looking father, having a difficult conversation about his past. Once I decided to work with this story instead, I knew that I wanted it to star a girl who had grown up learning to fight like any man. As I revised the book, I realized the opportunity I had to depict typical medieval men supporting a woman in every way. And I wanted to tell a fast-paced action adventure from a perspective from which it’s rarely told: an utterly confident girl who has good reason to believe in herself, faced with impossible odds, and barely flinching in danger. (But flinching sometimes, because otherwise that wouldn't feel real.)



How long did it take you to write The Mad Wolf’s Daughter? When you wrote The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter did you find a difference in how long it took you to write it?



The first book went through three or four major drafts, and took me about a year to write and start querying. (It takes me a month to write a first draft, but all that extra time to rewrite and revise—and wait for readers of those drafts to share feedback!) I’d begun writing the second book even before I had a publishing contract, but I ended up completely rewriting it once I’d signed with my editor. From that point, things went very quickly: I didn’t have the luxury of a full year. Fortunately, I’d spent a lot of time thinking about the story and I knew the characters well, so it was easier, in a way, though more rushed.

What was your research process like for The Mad Wolf’s Daughter? Was there any aspect of your research that was the most interesting?


My research process is a bit like throwing out a net, drawing it in, and sifting through what I’ve caught to find what I need. To research these books, I read quite a bit, starting with histories of the time (written by the people of the time as well as by historians today), then going into medieval daily life in a broad sense, then going into very specific details—horses, swords, armor, herbal remedies, plants, geology, and of course castles. I ended up using only a tiny fraction of what I’d researched, but all that research helped me clearly see the world I was writing. (And I find all of that fascinating, so it was fun!) But one of the best parts of my research was visiting castles in Scotland, where I tried out a battle scene near the end of the first book on a set of spiral stairs. The medieval period has a bad reputation as being, as Thomas Hobbes called it, “nasty, brutish, and short.” Yet I found what I read about it often incredibly beautiful, rich with ideas and inventions, with people trying very hard to live comfortably and treat others kindly. There was a lot of dirt, manure, and stink (especially in castles)—but there were castles. And I’ll always see the fortresses that I love best as tremendous feats of engineering and art.

What is your writing process like? Do you listen to music? Write in a special place? Edit as you go or write and then edit?

I have a full-time job, so I need to keep to my writing sessions (morning and night and on weekends) pretty rigidly. I usually don’t listen to music to get me in any mood; I need to get into the piece I’m working on quickly to make best use of that time. My writing nook is in the corner of my bedroom beside a window that looks out on a garden and the woods, and I usually sit there. But honestly, I can write anywhere; on business trips for my day job, I just bring my laptop and write in the evening as if I were at  home. I’m a plotting pantser, so I know what my story is going to be like when I start it, but I don’t always know how I’ll get to each plot point. And because there’s some uncertainty, some aspects where my story is leading me along, I write the whole thing before I edit. It saves time!


What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?


I have always loved to read and was a voracious reader as a kid. I enjoyed Judy Bloom’s books, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and everything I picked up from Scholastic Book Fairs (a longtime favorite was Betty Brock’s No Flying in the House). But the book that made me want to be a writer was Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising. I’d always told stories, but that book made me want to write a story, and it hooked me on ancient British lore.

If you could live during any time period in history, when would it be? Why?

This question is hard because as a woman in my own culture, I’d be at a major disadvantage in every time period! I love reading about history, but from the safety and distance of today (even when some things today remind me too much of the past).

If you could befriend a character from your book, who would you befriend? Why?

I would befriend Emerick. He’s had a tough early childhood, but has managed to come out of it with a keen moral sense and kindness at his core. He cares deeply about his friends, and will quietly (and sometimes not-so-quietly) sacrifice a lot for them. He’s also someone who is quite taken with castle architecture, and I suspect we’d have some wonderful nerdy conversations.

Is there anything you’ve learned along your path to publication that you would like to share with new writers?

Enjoy every moment. It doesn’t get easier, so be sure to celebrate all the small and large triumphs you get. If you’re not published yet, keep trying. It truly only takes one. But no matter where you are in the process—finishing that first book, trying to find an agent, waiting to hear back from editors, celebrating a book deal, worrying about marketing—never lose sight of the pleasure you take in writing, which I hope is why you’re doing this in the first place. As long as you remember to relish the action of creating, you’ll be fine. And also, don’t rush yourself. Every writer has their own path and no one path is the “right” one.

Can you tell us what you are working on now?

I’m waiting to hear back from agent with her thoughts on my third book, so I’m working on my fourth (I’m always working on something!). I can’t say much because these things change, but I can say that I’m really enjoying writing some of this dialogue between a certain pair of characters!

Where can we purchase your books?

The best place to purchase my books is your local indie, if you have one.

You can also find my books on Barnes & NobleIndigo in Canada, and Amazon.

I also want to mention that I have audiobooks of both The Mad Wolf’s Daughter and The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter, performed by the incredible Scottish actor Joshua Manning. If you’ve heard me read aloud and think do voices, wait until you hear his!

Hear Diane read the first chapter of The Mad Wolf's Daughter on Author First Chapter Read Alouds


GIVEAWAY: 
Diane has generously offered a hardcover copy of The Hunt for the Mad Wolf's Daughter to one lucky reader. To enter please comment on the interview below or on the review. If you are not a follower of the blog, please also leave your email address so we can contact you if you win. *US Residents Only*

36 comments:

  1. I'm so looking forward to reading The Hunt for the Mad Wolf's Daughter and such a fun interview. I'm always in awe of the amount of research that goes into making sure the story is as historically accurate as possible. And being able to visit the site of one of your battle scenes sounds super fun! Congrats to Diane.

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    1. Brenda- I am looking forward to the second book too. So glad you enjoyed the interview. :) ~L

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  2. Thank you so much for this interview. Congratulations to Diane.
    A big yes to The Dark is Rising. I still reread that series from time to time.
    And a big hooray to all authors. You enrich my world.

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    1. EC- Now I have to read The Dark is Rising. Sounds like a book and series that shouldn't be missed. :) ~L

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  3. Sounds like a delightful story. I like how the research included going to visit castles in Scotland; how fantastic would that be!

    betty

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    1. Betty- Doesn't that research sound fun! :) ~L

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  4. Wonderful interview. Scottish castles sound like a great place to do research. This is a book I would like to read. Good luck to Diane. We have lots of places from the middle ages here where I live- including a castle ruin - and I often think about how life must have been back then. Hugs, Valerie

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    1. Valeries- So happy you enjoyed the interview. I always like visiting castles and ruins and I love the pictures of the ones you share near you. :) ~L

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  5. Hi DMS, Lizzy and Diane - lovely post to read ... and interesting to see how Diane grasped her story. Thomas Hobbes is one strong philosophical author ... so much knowledge to impart about life in Europe. While I'd never heard of Susan Cooper - but am glad I've noted some of her backstory ... she sounds an interesting author and perhaps I should check one of her books out in the library.

    What a fun series ... and I'm glad the books are available in audio too - essential in this day and age. Thanks for this interview - good luck with the books ... it's been fascinating - cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary- I have to read some Susan Cooper too. It sounds like I am missing out. I also love audio books. :) ~L

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  6. Congratulations, Diane. Wonderful interview. Castles are so fascinating. Looking forward to learning more about your characters and their adventures. More books to add to my reading list. Thanks.

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    1. Beverly- You will really enjoy this one! :) ~L

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  7. Visiting castles in Scotland is on my bucket list. I bet that was fun.

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  8. Great questions and answers. I always enjoy reading these author 'interviews' not only to learn about the person behind the book but as to what makes them tick.

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    1. Tracy- So happy our interviews are a hit with you. We love learning more about authors. :)

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  9. Thanks for this interview. Congratulations on this thrilling new book!

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    1. Romance Read- Glad you enjoyed it. :) ~L

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  10. Sounds like a fabulous book! Love the unique twists - and Drest sounds like a terrific character.
    So many treasures in those Scholastic Book Fairs!!
    (not entering - Canadian :))

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    1. Jemi- You never know what you will find in a book far. :) I think this is a book you will really enjoy. ~L

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  11. Many thanks for the interview, interesting to read.
    (not entering - from the UK)

    All the best Jan

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  12. Nice to learn about Diane and the book sounds good

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  13. I'm not surprised at your (Diane) favorite childhood book. I didn't read LWW until I was older and still found it quite inspirational.

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    1. Jacqui- I have to read LWW! I am so intrigued by so many people saying how much they liked it. :) ~L

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  14. Isn't it fascinating when a secondary character insists on shoving his/her way up to the main character?
    Wishing you much success with a wonderful story.
    Hi Jess. Hi Steph.

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    1. Sandra- Secondary characters can have a mind of their own. :)

      Hello back! ~Stephanie and Jess

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  15. This is so interesting! I love hearing other author's processes :) Also, love the thought of a Medieval group supporting a female so well!

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    1. Mrs. Which- I love the support too. :) ~L

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  16. Congratulations to Diane! I think the storyline and story premise sounds promising!

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    1. Nas- Book one is great and I can't wait to read book 2. :) ~L

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  17. It's always so interesting to go behind the scenes with an author to get all the deets. Kudos on your creative books! Hugs...RO

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  18. I'm way behind in my visits here. I've major computer issues, then a vacation, then a book. On and on it goes, but I'm here and catching up. I enjoyed reading about Diane's research, especially the part about the stinky castles. I visited a few of those in France and tried to imagine how people coped with those "moats." Nosegays was one answer. Congratulations to Diane on her writing success.

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    1. Sorry to hear about your computer problems, Lee! It sounds like you have been busy!

      Glad you enjoyed the interview. I am sure visiting castles makes you think more about their stink. :) I am sure it was a pretty putrid smell.

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