How long have you been writing?
I was being recognized for my writing as far back as third grade when a local author came and gave a writing class. I continued to write through college but stopped in my early twenties. I didn’t begin writing again until my mother died two years ago. Her death relit the writing flame, and it has yet to go out.
Has writing always been something you wanted to do?
No. It has always been something I enjoyed, and I remember my teachers telling me I should be a writer but it never occurred to me that I would actually do it.
What books or stories have you written? Published?
Out and Back: a novel about the loss of my mother. It is a mostly true story.
Newspaper Bundle: A collection of columns I wrote for my local newspaper.
The Running Suspense Series, which is actually a collection and not a series. The stories are stand-alone, short suspense stories.
- The Run
- Falcon Point
- The Other Way
- The Rescue
- Reservoir Run
- Merry Christmas Mr. Saunders (out in April)
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?
My novel, Out and Back, is about a woman who loses her mother. It causes her tight little life to come apart at the seams. It is a very emotional and funny story.
My suspense collection stories all feature a runner as the main character. In each story, the runner finds him or herself in a situation that you can only imagine in your worst nightmare. They are fun and most of them have unexpected endings, which are my favorite.
Newspaper Bundle: The columns are about crazy things that have happened to me while running or biking in the remote area where I live. Usually they involve an animal and quite frequently I am rescuing that animal.
How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?
Most of my books come to me while I am running. I run by an abandoned old house and think, “What if?” Or I see cliff and wonder how I could end up at the bottom of it half dead. I know it’s sick but it works.
Are the books based on personal experiences?
Out and Back is. It is taken directly from my life as a mother, daughter, sister and wife. The kids in that book do the same annoying things that my kids do. The lead character is basically me but with a little more edginess.
I have not personally experienced the things that happen to my Running Suspense characters…thank GOD!
Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?
Oh geez. Yes. But I think the most important thing to remember is to do what you love and not take the rest too seriously. Live your life, leave the earth better than you find it, and give back. Find writers who inspire you and learn from them.
What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published, and what are some of the benefits of having your work professionally edited?
I think a professional editor is worth their weight in gold. Unfortunately, I can only afford bronze. My editors have not been professional until recently. I wish I would have waited for the real deal on my first works. I have gone back and put new edited versions up now.
The promotion part of writing has been the most difficult. I just want to write, but I can’t. If I don’t go out and constantly update my knowledge to stay on top of the industry I fall behind. If no one knows about your books, they won’t sell. Someday I want to pay someone to do it for me. I hope that day is soon.
Well, I am a busy mother of two who also homeschools her kids. I really don’t have a lot of time. I know writers who set aside three hours a day to write, but I can’t. When a story comes to me I squeeze in writing time where ever I can. Sometimes I give the kids a snow day and will write for eight hours straight. Sometimes my story will sit finished but unpolished for weeks before I can get around to it. During the summer I get a lot done. This summer I am going to write my second novel. I’m very excited about it.
Oh sure. Writing is therapeutic any way you look at it. Whether you are doing it to examine your life or live a fantasy life, it takes the edge off of reality.
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?
Running is my therapy. I find writing more like disappearing from reality for long periods of time. When I return I feel good about what I’ve accomplished but wonder where in the world my kids are 🙂
Writing Out and Back was absolutely therapeutic. It helped me get through the grief of losing my mother.
Has writing made you a better person?
Um, no. A more dynamic person? Yes.
Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?
I love reading. I prefer non-fiction, though. I love true stories like Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?
They are very important for a couple of reasons. I initially wanted reviews because I knew a total stranger would be honest about what they thought. I can hand my stories to friends a family all day but I can’t trust their opinion because they love me and don’t want to hurt my feelings. I have gone back and revised by books in response to the reviewer’s comments. The reviewer’s make me a better writer.
The more reviews you have, the more reliable the rating is. If a reader sees I have five stars but only four ratings, they are leery. If I have fifty ratings and 4.5 stars, they can trust it.
Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?
Of course! Once you start getting a lot reviews you are bound to get a bad one. I’ve learned from the bad reviews that were helpful, but not all of them are. I have a one-star review that only said, “I think that this very very very very very very very short book, was to very very very very very very very very very very very very short.” In response I would say, “1. Is English your first language? and 2. That is why it is called a short story.” So this person is giving me one star because they thought they were reading a full-length book and didn’t take the time to read the description? That isn’t helpful to me.
It makes me feel sad to think they could affect my rating because they are lazy or just being rude. But it’s okay, the truth comes out in the averages. I am forever optimistic.
Diane Strong lives in Kentucky with her husband and their two children. She received a liberal arts degree at Itasca Community College, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Equine Studies from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana and a Master’s degree in Veterinary Science from the University of Kentucky.
She writes a small column for the Georgetown News Graphic and homeschools her children. In her spare time she competes in road races, triathlons and adventure races. She is the founder of the Georgetown Run Club and Intellectual Society. She loves what she does.