Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Diane Merrill Wigginton and I am 55 years old or young depending on your mind set. Personally, I’m the glass is half full kind of person.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Riverside, California. I moved to San Diego when I was 7. Then in 2001 my husband and I moved our family to Sacramento, California. Then in February 2018 we decided that we needed an adventure so we pulled up stakes and moved the two of us and our dog, Bella to Kalispell, Montana.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I graduated High School from Mira Mesa High in 1981, then attended a trade school to become a Registered Dental Assistant in 1982. (Side not ─ I wanted to be a photo journalist and write articles for National Explorer and take pictures from around the world but my mother told me at the time that there wasn’t any money in that kind of pipe dream so I settled.)
I have taken some writing classes on line in my spare time, while working around my hectic schedule of raising a family and working full time. I never really thought that I would have the opportunity to do anything with my specific skill set, even though I dreamed of publishing books one day.
I’m just like everyone else in the fact that I was so full of all these hopes and dreams at one point in my life but had little faith in myself that the dreams would every come true.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I am preparing to release my 4th novel, a Young Adult Historical Fiction titled “Lara’s Story,” as well as continuing to market my “JewelledDagger Series.” I won two awards for the series, a fact that I am still very proud of.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Well, like I said before, I was always full of these hopes and dreams but I was way too busy to do anything about them. Then one day in January 2011, my brother David became very sick. I drove all night from Sacramento to San Diego with my mom and kids to be with him. Unfortunately, he died just shy of his 49th birthday. Then a few months later in October of that same year my father called to tell me that he had stomach cancer and he passed away in December. 2011 was a very rough year. I was three months shy of my 49th birthday and left completely devastated by the events of the year. In fact, it took me another year just to process everything and finish grieving.
Then just before my 50th birthday I was examining my life. I mean really examining it. I put my life under a microscope and dissected it. I was trying to decide what I truly wanted out of life when I grew up. It was then and there I decided that there were just some dreams too big to be shoved into a box and placed on a shelf. That was the beginning and I haven’t run out of crazy ideas since.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After I wrote my first story and gave a very rough copy of it to my best friend, Gigi to read. She loved it and asked me where the second book was.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I simply sat down at the diningroom table one day and began to write. I had this idea to write a grand love story where an unbreakable bond between the two characters was the main theme and no matter what their love would win out. Then I filled it with action, suspense, and romance. The entire story played out in my head like a movie. I just had to translate the entire thing into words.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title, “Angelina’s Secret,” came from the fact that the main character had a secret that she was forced to keep throughout the entire plot of the story.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I know that the proper way to write a book is to sit down and plot out an out the entire story line but… and this is a big but, I find that it is more exciting to be just as surprised by the twists and turns as the reader. I like to keep the story line moving and so I throw in a few unexpected plot twist here and there that keeps the reader on their toes. It’s just more fun that way.
The only thing that is particularly challenging for me is the editing. I am not an editor and will never profess to be an expert at editing. I can never identify my own mistakes and I prefer to let others handle that part. I love being involved with the design of the book cover and interior stuff but I will never be much good at editing.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In my first book, “Angelina’s Secret,” I pulled from my long-time friendship with my best friend, Gigi for the two characters. The way in which Angelina and Sarah relate to each other and their ease with one another as they interact is real. The rest of the story is completely fictional.
I have to say that in all three books of The Jewelled Dagger Series, I tried to add authenticity to the sibling’s relationships. The way in which they each interacted with one another; sometimes petty and at other times genuine and loyal was taken from my relationship with my brother. Which if you really think about it, is limited because I only really had the one brother. But other than that, the entire series is completely fabricated from my over active imagination.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No, because I have done some traveling in my other life. I love traveling and of course being aware of other cultures and places enriches the authenticity of any story line. But now days, one can simply google something or someplace as well as research a particular story line. So, in reality one can write an entire book from the comfort of their home and never step outside to come up with a convincing storyline.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Fine Design. When I was redesigning my covers, I looked around and found a wonderful company called “IzzardInk.”
Shameless plug for my friend Tim McConnehey of Izzard Ink, email@example.com. He took my covers from obscure to incredible with his design team.
Let me just say that people do judge your book by its cover. If your cover is not eye catching or spectacular, people will pass you over.
The best advice I can give to any aspiring author is this, make your book covers stand out. You won’t get a second chance to place your books in readers hands if you don’t make your book covers stand out in a sea of other books.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I try to add some kind of message in all of my novels. A little tidbit from everyday life. It just makes the story mean more to me and hopefully my reader. And each one is different so you will have to read the books to “glean” the message.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I love Diana Gabaldon and her Outland Series. I met her over 20 years ago at a Scottish Festival in San Diego and I bought 4 of her novels that she signed for me. Her success gives me hope that one day I will have my adventure series made into a T.V Series. Fingers crossed. I just hope it doesn’t take me 20 years.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I began doing small Barnes and Noble Bookstore, book signings early on and there was one particular Community Resource Manager by the name of Suzanne Stock who helped me and encouraged me to keep going. She was wonderful and I love you so much for her wonderful words of encouragement. I will always be grateful to her for he act of kindness.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I love writing and feel that I was born a natural story teller. I intend to continue doing this as long as I have a good story to tell. I have several ideas for children’s books as well and would love to make them happen. I feel that one day it will all come together and that I just need to be patient. All good things in their time. I have to sell books to make money to produce the next book. I retired from my full-time job in 2017 and so the only money generating endeavour I have is my books. So, will just plod along, steady as she goes and do what I can do.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I find that life is a journey that is best enjoyed if you allow yourself to slow down and enjoy the ride. We are all in such a rush to make it all happen at once. That is like skipping to the back of the book to see how it all ends, then turning to the first page reading from the beginning.
As a kid I enjoyed the element of surprise on Christmas morning. I never wanted to know ahead of time what Santa had brought me.
To make a long-winded answer shorter, the answer is no, I wouldn’t change anything about my journey or my book.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I always learn something about myself when I write and I always reveal something about myself as I write. Each book is like a love letter to my readers. So, if you want to learn something about me you have to read my books. I feel that they make me grow as a person every time I sit down to write one. It’s like reaching inside of myself and laying my heart out on each page as the words come out of me.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Well it all depends on which book we are talking about. We have Angelina’s Secret, Isabella’s Heart, Olivia’s Promise and now Lara’s Story. They are all so different and diverse individual in character. I would have to give that subject a lot more thought.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Hone your craft, believe in yourself and never give up on your dreams.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Just that if you found this interview interesting reading, that check out my books and give them a read. Then don’t forget to leave an honest review. People don’t think about the fact that leaving reviews, especially if you enjoyed the book and it caused you to stop and think or ponder for a while is like giving that author a “great big hug.” No really, I’m serious.
We all crave recognition and acknowledgment in some way. And the way you can give that acknowledgment is to leave a wonderful review and open your mouth and spread the word. How else do you think we will know that anyone enjoyed the book that took a year of our life to write and produce. That’s right, it usually takes a year to write, rewrite, edit, design and plan a launch of just 1 book. That is if the book is of any quality.
Sure, there are those who put out several books a year and they rush to release it and there are flaws and errors here and there. Some people don’t care, and they read past the mistakes. But if you want to put something out into the world that is as near to perfect as humanly possible and you don’t have a team working behind the scenes, it takes a year to get a book to market and a lot of capital as well.
So, before you rush through a book in a matter of one weekend and then move on to your next book, remember that it took that person about a year to get it to market and leave them a review. And I don’t mean a five-word review, that you really enjoyed the story and plot but leave a decent review and thank the author for their time and talent. It will mean a lot to the person.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The last book I read was “The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I found it interesting and not something that I would normally pick up to read. But I am part of a book club and that was the book that they chose to read. I found the story hard to read at times because of the raw but real perspective of a toxic and abusive relationships between the mother and father. Yet it was also heart-warming when told from the daughter’s younger perspective.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I can’t remember back that far.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Raw, honest perspectives that leave you wrung-out in the end.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Abraham Lincoln because he changed history with his courage to stand up for what was right, rather than going along with what was the standard at the time. I love people who do the right thing even if it is difficult or dangerous.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I am a grandma and love and enjoy that part of my life. I also love to travel and go on day trips with my husband. We both see it as a great adventure and love spending time with each other. Life is truly sweeter if you have someone you love to share it with.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Blacklist, Outlander Series, The Game of Thrones. I am sad that The Game of Thrones has ended, especially on such a juicy cliff-hanger. I hope they bring it back and finish the story. I was really hooked.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love food in general, especially really well-prepared comfort food. I love to cook and prepare wonderful meals for friends and family.
I love soothing colors in my home like creams, blues and greys but I love to wear reds, pinks and black. I think I wear far too much black but it makes me look thinner.
I grew up on Country music and love the fact that you can tell an entire story in a song. Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Carrie Underwood, Bradberry, Shelton, I love them all
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
With my family in my home. Home is my safe haven and I love the feeling I get when I walk in after a long trip. It’s like taking a deep breath or letting out a long sigh. It just feels good.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“Devoted wife andmother”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?