today, I have the pleasure to have Diana Strenka here with me to learn a bit more about Blakbeard’s Daughter’s author.
Here we go.
Vivi – Hi Diana, and thank you for spending some time with me today. Do you have quirky writing habits?
Diana – I become one with the story. I have to literally put myself in the place of my character, gauge what my own reactions would be to the circumstances. It helps with the authenticity of the piece.
V – Has your environment /upbringing colored your writing?
D – My teachers have always encouraged me to write. In fact, my third grade teacher loved my original story The Missing Diamond Necklace. It was based off of Carmen Sandiego, which was huge when I was a child. All of the students had the books bound in hardcover, and we designed all our own covers. It was one of my favorite memories of school, growing up.
My parents have always been very supportive of my writing. My mom used to write articles in the New York Times. She would get so excited when they would be published. She has often told me I should write textbooks because of my ability. I do have an interest in nonfiction, but I love the creativity and flexibility that fiction offers as well.
V- The strangest thing you ever researched for your book.
D – For my sequel of Blackbeard’s Daughter, I had to research medical practices in the early 1700s. It was so difficult to find anything from that time period. It was then I learned about the leeches. They put leeches on the skin! They were so brave back then. I don’t think I could have tolerated that!
V- Hidden or uncommon talent that helps or makes it harder to write the story?
When I was in high school, I was an actress. I loved the idea of playing a role and getting the opportunity to be someone else. With writing, it’s a little bit different. Rather than being someone else, I am myself. However, I am placed into a very unusual situation and I need to respond accordingly. All the while, I can see the images playing in my mind for me to follow. It makes writing a slower process for me, as sometimes there is an emotional scene that I am recreating. However, it’s all worth it in the end.
V- The biggest surprise you had after becoming a writer.
D – I thought that all I had to do was write the book, and it would become sold. I figured that the story was so amazing, it would just sell itself! However, it takes far more than a quality manuscript to sell a story. You need to market, design the cover, format, and everything else that is involved in the process. Up until now, I have been a DIY-author. I figured out how to make books, format them, and market my book. However, in the future, I think that will change.
V – I completely agree. One might think the hardest part is writing the book. It everything else that come after! So, while we’re on the topic, what was a fun fact about writing your book?
D – A few years ago, before my real writing journey began, I broke my foot along the metatarsal bone. I was bound to crutches and a stiff walking boot for a while. It was during this time that I decided to go visit Bath, North Carolina. I had heard that Blackbeard had once visited, and I wanted to see the city first-hand. So here I was, hobbling along on crutches, and visiting these historical houses. After the tours, I explored along the water and tried to see any indicators of exactly where he landed. I never found anything that I can recall, except one of those historical markers indicating he’d once visited the area. The energy there is so magical. You can’t go and not feel Blackbeard’s soul still lingering. And the view of the water is particularly enchanting. I encourage everyone to visit this charming little community should you get the opportunity!
V – Seeing the places your characters visited during their story is amazing. It gives you a whole another perspective, and it make you feel so close to them. Now, let’s go through some of the bads. What do you struggle the most with when you write the story? Research, plotting, keeping the people in it at bay?
D – The hardest part of my book was the emotional toil of some of the scenes, but that was also its greatest joy. Writing is art in word form, much like paintings are art in visual form. Art enriches, inspires, motivates, fulfills. The page is every writer’s medium, and our words are our paintbrush.
V -Which kind of scenes are the hardest for you to write? Action, dialogue, sex?
D – The hardest scenes to write are those in which the character is no longer in control, because then I feel I am no longer in control, either. And as people, we naturally want to feel in control. The vulnerability of being captured, or cornered, can be the hardest scenes to do.
V – Did you always have the reins of the story or the people in it try to take over?
D – A bit of both, actually! I know generally where I want the story to go, but then I have this magical moment where the characters guide me in another direction. It’s a special exchange, to be sure.
V – I understand, it’s the same for me. I plot the biggest happenings, then let them free to take me places I haven’t thought about. And what is your least favorite part of writing a story?
D – My least favorite part of writing a story is the formatting and other technical aspects of writing that are needed.
V – How do you keep from resenting your duties and every human’s need, like sleeping or eating properly, when you have to stop writing to take care of them?
D – Well, at a certain point, when my eyes start to cross and/or twitch, I know it’s time to put the writing away. Because at that point, there’s simply no more that I can do. So to answer your question, I have no room to resent it because my body has taken over in its need for sleep. 🙂
V – What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
D – I love Netflix, and watching historical shows like the Tudors. But I also enjoy House Hunters and Parking Wars, which are some of my guilty pleasures! Oh, yes, and I have a one-year-old cat named Moe who likes to take my attention from time to time.
V – Your writing style in ten words or less.
D – My writing style is fun, elegant, thrilling, and active.
V -The toughest critique that’s ever been given to you as an author.
D – The hardest critique was that I needed to hire an editor, but ultimately it’s advice I’ve learned from. No one is immune to making mistakes in writing, and it can help to have a fresh pair of eyes on your book.
V – Favorite book.
D – My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It was so emotionally gripping, so powerful. Atticus Finch is my favorite of all heroes in literature. The movie adaptation was very loyal to the book and, I feel, an excellent portrayal of the text.
V – Favorite author.
D – My favorite author is Carolyn Meyer. I adore her historical novels about the Tudor royals, as Tudor history is a passion of mine. She tells the stories in such a way that it keeps you compelled to keep reading. And that’s a gift!
V – Which other writers you consider mentors?
D – It’s hard to pick just one. Everyone that I interact with has taught me something new.
V – Do you have a day job? If you do, what is it?
D – Yes! I am a special education teacher, and I love it!
V – If you didn’t write, what would your job be?
D – If I didn’t write, or teach, I’d probably be in Hollywood auditioning for roles in commercials, movies, and film. Or, I’d be a singer, as I love to sing!
V – What do your friend and family think about your being a writer?
D – Everyone is extremely supportive. I am very blessed.
V – If you could cast Hollywood actors for the adaptation of your latest story, who would they be?
D – Blackbeard—Colin Farrell
V – How long does it take to write a story?
D – It usually takes me around three months to write a story.
V – Pen or computer
D – Is it bad if I say computer?
V – Music or silence
D – Silence. I can’t write with too many distractions.
V – Alone or in public
D – Alone. I am an introvert by nature.
V – Routine or when inspiration struck
D – Both!
V – Outline or just write.
D – Just write, unless it’s a science-fiction piece. The one I am doing currently required me to do an outline to help organize my thinking. But otherwise, I’d say, give in to the creative flow of writing on the fly.
V – What is your work schedule like when you write a story?
D – Typically, I work on Saturdays and Sundays.
V – If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only 2 people, a person from your book and a person from any other book, with you, which would they be?
D – Robert Fox, as he has a strong awareness of medicine and that would be extremely useful in a situation like that. And Dickon from A Secret Garden, as he can enchant the animals so they can work with us (and not against us).
V – What is your biggest failure?
D – There’s no such thing as failure, only new opportunities to grow and learn!
V – I envy your positivity, and I’ll remember your words. How about the biggest lie you’ve ever told.
D – I am generally an honest person, except when it comes to writing. When I create a fictional piece, I am literally lying on every single page!
V – Biggest fear.
D – Death, which is the root of all fears.
V – Have you ever been in trouble with the police for your books?
D – I can’t say I have. 😉
V – Have you ever gotten in a bar fight?
D – Negative.
V – If you were a superhero, which would your superpower be? And your name?
D – My superpower would be the ability to fly. I have always wanted to fly, and I always have dreams of flying! My name would be my own name. I like my name a great deal, as I was named after the late Princess. She was an amazing woman, and someone who I am proud shares my name.
V – Have you ever found someone in a story who’s exactly like you?
D – Growing up, I was a spitting image of Molly McIntire, right down to the brown hair, bangs, and glasses! So in appearance, she mirrored me exactly. However, I always felt more of a personal resonance with Samantha Parkington, as I love to help other people, and Felicity Merriman because of my adoration of horses and anything colonial! These characters, by the way, stem from the American Girl YA series.
V – If you were an animal, which one would you be?
D – I would be a cat, because I love cats and their ability to sleep all day long. That, and they’re just so cute!
V – If your story had a soundtrack, which song would it be?
D – My soundtrack would be the song Book of Days by Enya. Enya’s voice has always captivated me, as it’s so enchanting and surreal. The song is very uplifting, positive, and adventurous. It’s exactly the song I’d want to hear playing in the background of a pirate ship!
V – If you could have any accent from anywhere in the world, which would it be?
D – I would love an English accent, because it’s so sophisticated! I actually had the opportunity to visit England when I was 18. It was an incredible experience, one that I would love to replicate!
V – Do you have any scars? What are they from?
D – I have a faded scar above my right eye from an accident when I was 18. I was hit by a drunk driver.
Here’s Diana’s story:
Colonial dreams have become piratical nightmares. Margaret takes one disastrous turn after the other as she confronts the perils of murder, war, and revenge. When her father decides to pursue criminal mischief aboard a pirate’s vessel, Margaret joins him in an effort to save his life. Will she weather the storms ahead, or will they destroy her?
You can find the story on Amazon.
I hope you enjoyed this interview,
I’ll see you next week,