I'd like to welcome Dianne Gardner to the desk today. I'm excited that she's joining us to share her fascinating story with my readers.
We've all met them, those people who seem to have lived several lifetimes in one. Dianne Gardner is one such person possessing many talents. She shares her creative side with the world through her painting - she's an accomplished artist - and storyteller. Though certainly not the limit to her creativity, we'll focus on these at the desk today. Let's get right to the questions, shall we?
Q & A with Dianne Gardner:
Life experiences mold us as human beings and it would seem moreso for the creatives among us. Your creativity seems to have many veins reaching out into the world around you, Dianne. Tell us, was there a particular life event or series of events that set you on your creative journey?
What I have learned from writing.
When I was young I wrote poetry in order to express my deepest thoughts, make sense of them, validate them, and understand them. Through the years, reflecting on those poems and the moods that inspired them taught me something about the creative process, and creative people
When I was a teenager I used to tell my friends that their (and my) mood swings and depression were the key to creativity. Instead of fighting them, I’d say, we should embrace them. See those dark moments for what they, that is, a time to soul search.
As a much older and hopefully wiser person, I still embrace my moods. They don’t have nearly the swing they used to probably because I have a brighter outlook on life than I did when I was a teenager. But they certainly come in handy during the writing and painting processes.
Having published my first work a year ago I have to say I’ve learned more about writing lately than this teenage tidbit I still hold on to. Though mood swings might be a catalyst to sitting down and writing my heart, I’m finding other avenues of inspiration as well, such as walking in the woods, music, and brainstorming with friends.
I’ve also learned that patience is a top priority to good writing.
I’m on my fourth book now. Each book has been a product of more and more patience than the one before. Not just with editing, but with developing. I’ve found that resting after a scene, taking a walk in the woods, really thinking about the story and the possibilities, can prove to be extremely fruitful.
I have a portfolio now. I’m happy with it, especially since the last of the trilogy is finished. Now I can spend more time developing the craft of writing and story telling than I did when the excitement of being a newly published author was way too overwhelming to contain.
What is one of the most unusual things you have done in your life?
I lived in a Hogan in the southwest desert. A house made from cedar poles and adobe, we built them ourselves and the Navajos thought ours were so much better than theirs, several of them had us travel (by wagon) to their homes and build a Hogan for them! In trade they would feed us a steady diet of fried bread and mutton stew. While the men were building, I helped herd sheep. Back on our 80 acres of land in an area known as “desolation flats’ we kept 25 horse. Our property was adjacent to BLM land, so it’s like we had the whole blast red-coated dirt laden country to call ours. We herded cattle for the rancher who lived a few miles away.
Do you write a specific genre? Do you have a targeted age group in mind when you write your stories?
I write fantasy, but a lot of it has my own crazy experiences in it. I target teens (especially boys for the Ian’s Realm trilogy) 9 to 90 fantasy.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Study!!! Hone your craft. Join a critique group. Get beta readers. Learn and don’t think you are the best author in the world.
Are there other tips you could give that you learned on your sojourn to your first published novel?
You can’t ever learn too much. Really! You can always get better at your craft so don’t stop learning! Go to conferences, workshops, find people who write that you admire and learn from them. Read. Read books on writing too.
Another tip is research. I'm a hands on kind of person. In the Ian's Realm trilogy Ian travels to a mountain and eventually has to enter some dark and loathsome caves. My husband and I took a trip to Ape Cave, a lava tube under Mt. St. Helens where you walk a mile in pitch black. What an experience! And it helped to write that part of the story! You see the photographs I took in The Dragon Shield trailer nicely animated by my videographer Alex Chandler.
Another research project I did was help construct a yurt with some SCA reenactor friends.
They made this yurt, the walls and everything
and were excited to set it up for me.
I put the step by step raising of it on my blog for you to see. In the short story Meneka, the native people are shown how to erect a yurt for the first time in their lives by the young wizard. The Realm habitants live in yurts.
I was excited to have my granddaughter invite me to chaperone a field trip on The Hawaiian Chieftan, a tall ship that berths in our waters alongside The Lady Washington (the Intercepter in the Pirates of the Caribbean). That was so much fun and so educational. And it was also so timely because I was in the process of writing about Ian's tall ship adventures with the pirates in Rubies and Robbers!
I love making my books my story.
Dianne Gardner's Bio:
She's been a painter all her life having started at the age of 12 under her mother's supervision. Her first private art lesson was with a sculptress in California. Excelling in art in school and on to college, her portfolio includes portraits, inspirational works, and plein air landscapes. She was the portrait painter for the Washington Renaissance Fantasy Fair for several years painting 20 minute oil paintings during the fair. She has just recently started illustrating books, beginning this endeavor with a 9' triptych of Stenhjaert the Dragon, the antagonist in Ian's Realm.
Dianne is an active member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and the National League of American Pen Women. Besides the Ian's Realm Saga (Deception Peak, The Dragon Shield, and Rubies and Robbers which will be released in 2013) she boasts authorship to four short stories titled A Tale of the Four Wizards Series which interweaves with the Saga.
She writes for middle grade and young adults targeting boys and adventure loving girls, but adults are some of her most zealous fans of all. Her writing definitely falls under the 'family friendly' category!
You'll find Deception Peak, Book I in The Ian's Realm Saga here.
If you'd like to connect with Dianne, please click on the links provided below.
Official book blog:
Dragon Shield Trailer:
Finally, to see the book trailer for book 2 in The Ian's Realm Series, "The Dragon Shield" that Dianne mentioned above, check out the video below.
It's been a real pleasure having you here at the desk today, Dianne. Thank you for coming by and sharing your experiences and work with us. It's been informative, enlightening and fun, fun, fun!
*Please note that the photos on todays blog are copyrighted by Dianne Gardner and may not be taken from this blog without her express written permission. Thank you for your integrity.