Both of these books are in Diane's American Heroes series. They are Civil War romances and I asked Diane to tell us a little about these books.
"Jenny's Passion and Lila's Vow tell the story of two friends from Rutgers University in 1862 who join up with the Union cavalry for excitement. But they get more than they bargained for when reality sets in," she said.
"Jenny's Passion tells the story of Captain David Reynolds and the Southern girl he encounters. Jenny is a typical plantation owner's daughter until she meets the enemy soldier and falls in love with him against all odds," she continued. "Lila's Vow is the story of Captain Jack Montgomery, David’s best friend. He falls hard for a dark-haired beauty named Lila the day the cavalry rides through Gettysburg and his life is never the same. Readers will be surprised at the turn that their lives take during the course of the story."
Diane is different from a lot of authors in that she didn't always want to write. "I actually wanted to be a member of Jacques Cousteau’s marine biologists for a long time," she confessed. "Then I went to college to be a veterinarian, but ended up a technical writer.
She got interested in writing fiction in what she calls "a kind of mid-life crisis therapy." She explained, "My kids were at the point where they were leading their own lives and no longer needed Mom to drive them all over the place. I started out devouring romances until I came across one that I felt was pretty bad. I thought I might be able to write at least that well so I decided to try my hand at writing the kind of story that I wanted to read, and so far it has worked well." This was about nine years ago and, since she still works full-time, each book takes her a year or more to write.
She writes her books out in long hand in a spiral notebook that she takes everywhere she goes. "My writing might take place on my sofa while the family is watching TV or on my front porch swing or in the car on the way to visit family," she said. "So my writing space is where I might be hit by inspiration."
Her favorite author is Diana Gabaldon. "I love her characters, Jamie and Clare, in her Outlander series," Diane explained. "She makes readers connect with her characters and tells a great story in the process. I try very hard to emulate this in my writing."
This carries over into Diane's answer to my question, "What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?"
"The most important thing is to make your characters human," she said. "If readers don't like or relate to your characters, you will lose them. You also need to spin a good tale that has a satisfying ending."
This ending is the hardest part of the book for Diane to write. "Although I know it will be a happy ending, I just hate to part with the characters that I usually come to know for a year or more," she admitted.
Diane shared with me some samples of letters she's received from readers:
Hi Diane,On a personal note... some things you may not know about Diane.
I finally found some time over the long 4th of July weekend to pick up your novel. Picking it up was easy...putting it down was impossible! It was wonderful! You really make us know and care about the characters from beginning to end. I haven't read a romance novel since I started with DuPont in the steno pool 30 years ago, but I think you've brought me back to them.
Can't wait to read your next novel! I'm very impressed.
I wanted to let you know that I read this book [JENNY’S PASSION] in one day. I couldn't put it down! When I was reading Jenny and David's story, I thought this would make a wonderful movie with Reese Witherspoon as the strong and beautiful Southern belle and Jake Gyllenhaal as David. I wish the networks would make more historic romances made for tv or the big screen.
Thanks again for a wonderful book and keep up the wonderful writing.
I met you a few weeks ago at Steppingstone and bought your book. I wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it! I can't wait to find and read your other books as well! I think I remember you telling me that I could find them at the bookstore on Washington St.?
Congratulations on a job well done!
Diane and her family had dogs for twenty-four years and don't want one right now. "It was sooooo hard to watch them grow old and then lose them," she explained. "It' is time for a break."
She was sleeping at midnight last night, because even though by nature she's a night person, she's forced to get up early for work.
The strangest thing she's ever eaten is moose meatballs, and otters are her favorite animal.
She definitely can multitask. She answered that particular question of mine with "Yes, I'm a mom!"
Finally, I asked Diane what advice she would give a new writer just starting out.
"Just keep trying and do not give up, no matter how many rejections you get," she replied. "It is all worth it!... and drink plenty of coffee."
You can keep up with Diane on her website, http://dianewylie.tripod.com