Please welcome my special guest, Diana L. Wicker, the author of a young adult fantasy series called The Age of Awakenings. Please enjoy her insightful interview.
I have to say, before a few years ago I had no thoughts of being an author at all. I do think I have always been a storyteller though. I remember making up magical lands and grand adventures within those lands as a child, and sharing these stories with my younger cousins during sleep overs. As I got older I remember filling pages and pages with stories I created about my favorite books, television shows, movies, and role playing games. I guess I was a writer of fanfic long before I knew there was a word for such.
Now, what caused me to finally publish a story is a separate question. My daughter and her friends were participating in a very active interactive story telling role play group, and I wanted to create a little world where they could play and write new stories. After a lot of encouragement, I took a deep breath and self-published the first story.
2. What genre do you write for? Your favorite aspect? Your least favorite aspect?
I write Young Adult Fantasy. I love writing stories for youth who may not have had a lot of exposure to fantasy writings yet, and the young at heart that want to remember that sense of wonder they felt when they first discovered fantasy books. I have also found that smaller children seem to enjoy listening to the stories read aloud.
I’d say the most difficult aspect of writing Young Adult Fantasy for me seems to be the “age group” cunundrum. Younger readers do not necessarily have the money or ability to shop online to buy books. Older teens and adult readers may look at the story and think it is meant for “kids” and not pick it up.
3. What are your current/next projects?
Currently available works:
The Dreamweaver’s Journey: The Age of Awakenings Book 1
In this story the reader is introduced to Feyron, the realm of magic, and some of the clans living there. We meet the first Dreamweaver to come of age in three hundred years and follow her on an adventure across the four Realms of Light in search of missing friends and the lost Guardians of the realm of magic.
The Guardian Child’s Return: The Age of Awakenings Book 2
Old faces return and new ones are introduced in this tale that leads the youth Beyond the Realms of Light for the first time. Lord Grypos, the great golden griffin, Keeper of Knowledge, sends the youth on a quest to bring back that which he has lost. Along the way they find unexpected danger and adventure.
Works in Progress:
I do have a couple of projects in the works for Feyron currently. A third book is in process for the set of stories during The Age of Awakenings. An older era of Feyron’s history, The Age of Fading, has been outlined and lore is in development. A potential first story from that era is in process. I also have a short story set in the works that contains tales of lore such as the children of Feyron might learn of their own history. I plan to tie the different sets of stories together under the main series title, Tales from Feyron – The Ripples of Power.
4. What inspired you to write your latest book? What is the book about?
Now that is an interesting question. Let me see if I can explain how I ended up with so many works in progress at the same time. I have been creating background tales of lore from the very beginning, because every world needs tales of lore. As these tales gathered, and the historical ages of Feyron took shape, the Age of Fading began to poke at me. What caused the loss of magic? What happened to those Worlds Beyond where the gateway went dark?
As I worked on background lore for the Age of Fading, a story started to form around the magical item found in The Guardian Child’s Return: The Age of Awakenings Book 2. Story 3 will follow some familiar characters, as well as introducing a few new ones, as the youth visit a World Beyond for the first time. Visiting a World Beyond which fell during the fading turns out to be a different sort of adventure than in the previous two stories. The setting is a bit darker, but when the magic of light is lost, well, things are bound to be dark, at least until someone can find the light.
I found as I worked on story 3, that I really needed background lore for that specific World Beyond, because when you’re writing the ending story of a world, it sort of begs the question of, “How did we get here?” And thus was born the first story outline for another potential story set, The Age of Fading. This historical era has more of a feel of dark fantasy about it, but I intend for the stories to still be enjoyable to my original Young Adult audience.
5. Do you prefer to work alone or with critique partners/beta-readers?
I think beta-readers and story critiques are a very necessary part of the writing process when planning to publish. I find that I do so much prep work for my stories–outlines, character sketches, setting sketches, maps, background lore–that I forget what I have told the readers, and what I just know in my head. I depend upon my beta-readers, both the youth and adult participants, to call me out when I’ve missed key details and left them in the dark.
I also enjoy co-writing stories with writers that I know well. It is a wonderful experience to have a shared world and a set of characters that are known and loved by both writers and to just watch the stories unfold as you work together.
6. Do you write the beginning/opening first or do you tend to write out of order (with whatever scenes interest you the most)?
I suspect that I’m sort of an oddball in that I generally have multiple documents per story. First I have my outline for the story which tends to become more detailed as I write. Then I have my notes list which includes the who, what, where, when, why of the story–all the little details you don’t want to forget like hair color and eye color and descriptive passages for locations. I also usually have a map for the story as well.
Once I have all of my accessory writings together, I’m ready to start the actual story. I usually set up my three act play sections for the story and copy the outline into those sections. Generally I start from the beginning, but if there’s a specific scene that calls to me, I have learned to stop and write it down before it is lost, no matter what time of the night it might be. Sometimes I end up not using the scene at all, or by the time the story is finished the scene has changed so much it is hardly recognizable, but I have learned the hard way that those 2am great ideas will be gone by the time the alarm goes off in the morning, so it’s best to grab them while they are fresh and get them on paper.
7. While you were writing, did you ever feel like you were one of your characters?
Oh, definitely. I think there’s no doubt that I am the Storyteller. I do my best to put myself in my characters’ places as I write, to meditate on what they would think or feel as the story unfolds around them.
8. Which is the easiest for you–novel, novella, or short story? Why?
I’d have to say novella, as neither of my published works quite reach fifty thousand words. I find the short story range of five thousand words feels very constrained. I’m very much a leisurely storyteller. I like to build a world and set the mood and flow through my story until the tale feels like it is done.
9. Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Oh, to be certain, after I think I’ve finished a story, or if it has been set aside for some time waiting to be finished, when I pick it up to read straight through from the beginning, sometimes there are passages, or even entire chapters, that make me cringe. So I cut them out and start again anew until everything feels like it flows better.
10. Any blogs, websites, social media you’d like to share?