Whew, we are rolling right along through the month of December. Can you believe it is already the 10th? Time sure does fly!
Despite being super busy with writing and the upcoming holidays, Diane Scott Lewis is with us today to answer some of my challenging questions.
If you have a questions for her that she doesn't answer here, simply leave it in the comments field.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was five. I illustrated my story and told my mother what to write (since I hadn’t yet learned how to write). I wrote my first full-length novel at age ten, a novel of ancient Egypt and Rome. The movie Cleopatra might have had an influence on me. I’ve written poems, short-stories and novels ever since. I wrote my first serious novel in the 90’s, set in Cornwall, England during the French Revolution.
How long does it take you (on average) to write a book?
The first book took me over ten years. I’d forgotten everything I learned in high school about grammar and structure, and had to re-teach those skills to myself to enhance the book. My friends call me the Grammar Witch. I used to write huge, epics. Now I keep my novels at reasonable lengths, under a hundred thousand words. Since I do so much research, as I mainly write historicals, it usually takes me at least a year to finish a novel. I’ve also been fortunate enough to travel to the places I write about: England and France.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
My characters always hijack my stories. I’m a ‘pantser’, in that I write by ‘the seat of my pants’ with only a vague outline in mind. I envy people that can outline and stick to it. As my story grows, I come to know the characters better, as they insist on, and I go back to the beginning and make changes to suit their personalities and desires.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Since I write historical novels, I spend time reading research books and scouring the internet for information. In the old days, pre-internet ‘gasp’, I visited The Library of Congress and their vast collection to access research books. I was in writer’s nirvana there. I was able to read one book that was published in 1817, the very year I was writing in on one book. I also read for pleasure, love to travel, design with graphics, and play with my beautiful granddaughters. Oh, and I stick now-retired-hubby in there, somewhere, lol.
What is a favorite childhood memory you can share with us?
Is age thirteen still considered a child? Yesterday I spoke to an old friend via phone and I remembered when we were both thirteen, she lived across the street from me. On summer nights we’d lie on the still-warm pavement and stare up at the sky, at the stars, and talk about the likeliness of life on other planets, and other matters important to girls who are barely teenagers. The cars coming up the street weren’t happy having to drive around us. You’re fearless at thirteen! What a great friendship.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
I love Branek Pentreath, my brooding hero from The Apothecary’s Widow. He’s cynical, blunt, with a dry sense of humor, but he’s also honest and caring. He had a terrible marriage and thought he’d never find love…however, when he does it’s with a most unsuitable woman. I enjoyed writing his character arc, his struggles with a murder suspicion hanging over his head, his trials to keep his estate solvent and his growing affection for the apothecary’s widow.
If you could go anywhere, be anyone, do anything for 24 hours, what would it be?
I’d like to go back to the eighteenth century in England. Then I could experience all that my characters experience in their everyday lives. I like to make my stories as authentic as possible. However, I’d be grateful for the 24 hours. With the sanitary conditions—or lack thereof—in that era, I would soon insist on modern times. The women wore no underwear, a fact that flabbergasted me. I’d also never fit into those ‘stays’ (corsets).
I tell you, these historical authors and their going back to the past. :) Diane did bring up a wonderful point though, thankfully it would only be for 24 hours. No indoor plumbing? Back before washing hands before surgery? No idea of the germ theory if disease? No thank you. It might be nice for 24 hours though, to see some of the wonderful things we can only read about in history books.