Name: Diane Mae Robinson
Age: Young at heart
Where are you from: I live in a forest in central Alberta, Canada with my family and several dogs and horses. I’m a children’s fantasy author, artists, art teacher, writing instructor, part-time editor, and a judge in a yearly international short story competition.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Recently, my children’s fantasy chapter book series, The Pen Pieyu Adventures, won its tenth international book award. Previous to these awards, book one in the series won the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artists Award (literary arts), which is a provincial award.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
My love of book began as soon as I could read. I knew then that books would be a big part of my life. Oh, the adventures we can go on in books! From a young age, I’ve loved making up stories and plays. I began to take writing seriously as a career twenty years ago when I enrolled in journalism and writing courses.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I wrote my first short play, at age eight, and directed the neighborhood kids to act in the play.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The first book, Sir Princess Petra, which is now a series of three and growing in The Pen Pieyu Adventures series, came about because of my love of fantasy. I wanted to write about a girl heroine, so girls could relate to the stories about being brave, honor and nobleness, acceptance of others, and believing in oneself. The inspiration came from mixing fantasy with my own moral values.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Quirky, with humor that’s a little out of the box—or so I’m told.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title of the first book didn’t come to me until I was nearly finished the book. Petra is a princess who becomes the first knight ever in a zany kingdom. The kingdom didn’t know what to call her. Hence, she became known as Sir Princess Petra. The title just made sense after the story was written.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That one can achieve their dreams through kindness, acceptance of others, and believing in oneself.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I didn’t intentionally set out to model the main character after myself, but people who know me say she has many of my characteristics. Although, Petra is much braver and feistier than I am.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
So many great authors have influenced me throughout my life, but I’d have to give the most credit to the first book I even read by myself when I first learned to read, Black Beauty. I was captivated by the adventure.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite authors are the writers of the classics: Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, and a more recent member of the classics, J.R.R. Tolkien. These writers write in such a way that every word matters, every scene is absolutely necessary, every character has a vastly important roll, their writing is sheer perfection.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I have a higher spiritual entity that helps me create and know when the writing is good or needs to be changed. For me, it’s just a matter of getting in touch with my higher creative self.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. Writing isn’t my full-time job, but it is definitely my career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
In fact, I’m doing that right now. I’ve recently attained rights to my series (from a traditional contract) and I’m re-designing the books and will self-publish them soon.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
From reading at an early age, being captivated by the adventures a writer could create.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My next book The Dragon Grammar Book is based on the characters of The Pen Pieyu series. It’s an easy-to-understand grammar book for middle grades through adults with a sense of fun as The Pen Pieyu Adventures gang are featured in the example sentences. Forthcoming summer, 2017.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Editing my own work before I send to the editor.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I do many author visits at elementary schools and libraries, so I travel throughout Alberta.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My 3 currently published books were designed by artists who worked for the publisher at the time. The Dragon Grammar Book, which I’m self-publishing, will include cover and illustrations by Samantha Kickingbird, the artist who worked on my first two books in my series.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The Dragon Grammar Book was very hard to write. I decided a grammar book needed to be more understandable, so I broke down the complication of each rule and made it easier to understand and included example sentences that are fun.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I now have a lot of grammar rules pounded in my head.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Learn the craft of writing. Write with passion and from the heart. Don’t give up on yourself. Edit relentlessly.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m usually reading two or three books at the same time, alternating them. Right now, I’m reading Tales From The Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Black Beauty. It was incredible when I first learned to read, as it is now.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Off-the-wall humor makes me laugh. Animals or children getting hurt makes me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Jesus. He was the most intelligent and kindest man.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I want my ashes scattered in nature, no headstone required.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Artwork, riding horses, star gazing, reading, camping.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch T.V. My favorite films are Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Harry Porter, Wuthering Heights.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music?
Shrimp. Black. Alternative music such as Damian Rice.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Worked for a publishing company, possibly editing or illustrating.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?