Thank you so much to author, Diane Guntrip, for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We appreciate it, and we know that your readers will as well!
1. What inspired you to write this book?
Answer: This is the question I dread being asked. It is a difficult question for me to answer as I have no idea where the inspiration for ‘Dear H’ came from. There has never been a time when I have not been involved in some form of creativity. About 17 years ago, I began writing some short stories with no intention to publish any of them. The writing was spasmodic. Over the years, ‘Dear H’ graduated from being a short story to a fully fledged diary. On being encouraged by my neighbour’s granddaughters, it was published in 2014.
2. Can you tell me about the book?
Answer: ‘Dear H’ is for young people of aged 10 years+ although a lot of adults have read and enjoyed the book. Originally, it was written as just a book to be enjoyed. However, once the book was completed, I saw it in another light. I now use the book as a basis for workshops on bullying, self-esteem, depression, etc in schools. The diary details 12 year old Amanda’s battle with daily bullying. She should be the happiest girl in the world. She is the daughter of wealthy, successful parents, lives in a six bedroomed mansion and attends a prestigious private college. What more could she ask for? However, Amanda is besieged with problems. She is lonely, ‘fat and frumpy’, suffers from depression and has low self-esteem. BUT, her biggest fear is of Cassandra and her gang of bullies who torment her every waking hour. Follow Amanda’s journey from ‘poor little rich girl’ to realizing her dreams.
3. What is your writing process like?
Answer: I enjoy lots of other creative pursuits so my writing is spasmodic.
4. Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who?
5. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended?
Answer: You can read about what happened to Amanda in the sequel, ‘The Daisy Chain’.
6. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Answer: I think aspiring writers should go ahead and write. However, they need to be aware of the pitfalls of publishing and have an idea of how they plan to promote their book. They should ask themselves whether they have an adequate knowledge of grammar, editing and proof reading. Do they have the funds to self publish and is their subject matter going to appeal to an audience?
7. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Answer: I write from my heart but at the same time, I like to hope that my writing will reach the hearts of my readers.
8. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Answer: My second book, ‘The Daisy Chain’, is the sequel to my first book, ‘Dear H’. I did not originally plan to do this but felt that Amanda’s story needed a continuation as her story was incomplete. My third book, which is unfinished, tells the story of one of the characters outlined in the 2nd book. Again, I felt that her story needed to be told.
9. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Answer: Just one, ‘Tilly’s Story’.
10. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Answer: I did not do any research for my first two books. ‘Tilly’s Story’ requires some research but I will do this alongside writing the book.
11. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
Answer: Presently, I am focusing on upper primary/young adult fiction.
12. How do you select the names of your characters?
Answer: The names just present themselves to me.
13. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Answer: I am a retired teacher and write when I have the time.
14. What was your hardest scene to write?
Answer: The hardest scene is yet to come.
15. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Answer: My first book was spread out over many years. I think taking breaks from writing is good. During that time, new ideas can often present themselves to the writer.
16. Do you believe in writer’s block?
Answer: For my first 3 books, I have known how the story will pan out from start to finish. I don’t really suffer from writer’s block. However, I sometimes feel more in the mood to write than at other times.
17. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
Answer: I use my PC.
18. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
19. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
Answer: I have the whole plot in my head when I sit down to write.
20. Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors?
Answer: I enjoy books by Cathie Kelly, Fiona McIntosh, Amanda Prowse, Joanna Trollop – to name a few.
21. Who are your books mostly dedicated to?
Answer: I normally dedicate my books to my husband.
22. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
Answer: My husband.
23. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
Answer: I certainly don’t. I spend hours editing and proof reading.
24. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?
Answer: I sent ‘Dear H’ off to a few publishers with no success. I decided to self-publish as I wanted to reach my audience sooner than later as the subject of bullying is topical and needed to be addressed.
25. Is writing book series more challenging?
Answer: I do not have enough experience to answer this question.