Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Interview with Michelle Diener

I just loved Michelle Diner's 19th century historical novel set in South Africa, Daughter of the Sky. It was gripping and escapist and granted me some time away from the stress of last week, and for that, I'm grateful. I'm doubly so as Michelle Diener agreed to answer a few of my questions, so read on to learn more about her and her writing, and be sure to enter the giveaway for her wonderful book!

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

Oh, dear. Do I really have to? OK. If you go back in time to the 80s, when I was a child, my friends and I were addicted to a television cartoon from Japan. Manga-style, with girls with pink hair and boys with purple hair, who flew in space and were fighter pilots. Can't remember the series name, but I wrote extra episodes for my friends and myself, because we couldn't wait for the next week's episode to come around. But as an adult -- I had just completed my Masters' thesis in translation, which was on the translation of romance fiction, a surprisingly under-studied area given the massive amount of translation done on romance novels, particularly category romance novels. Having studied the structure of those novels as part of my thesis, I thought I'd give writing one a go. It was called Chequered Love. My heroine was a race engineer, just hired on to a Formula 1 team, and my hero was a Formula 1 racing driver. There was intrigue, disputes over car modifications, and ultimately, declarations of love. :) I submitted it, and received a very nice letter back saying while my writing was good, and I obviously had a flare for writing sensual love scenes, the plot would not appeal to their readership. But please to submit something else to them in the future. And that is probably more than you really wanted to know! :)

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I like quiet when I write. And I usually switch off my internet connection, so I'm not even tempted to look. But other than that, not really. I write all over the house. At my desk, on my bed, on the couch, and if it isn't too hot (I live in Western Australia), outside on the veranda.

Was Daughter of the Sky the original title of your book?

It was, although it took some time for me to think of it. I had planned the book for some time, done a lot of work in preparation, and still didn't have a title. It bothered me, but nothing I thought of worked, so it was called New Book or something like that until I was a couple of chapters in to actually writing it, and Elizabeth says she is a daughter of the sky, and it was like the heavens opened and the hallelujah chorus rang out, and I renamed the file Daughter of the Sky right then and there.

As you were writing Daughter of the Sky, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

The scene at the river, where Elizabeth goes to wash, and sees Lindani, and while they are talking, Jack arrives. That scene could have gone so many different ways, and I just let it come, without over-thinking it. I loved it because there were so many layers to it. Not one of them, Elizabeth, Jack or Lindani, knew the true motives of the others. Everyone is operating on incorrect assumptions and cultural misunderstanding.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

I love baking. I try to walk for about an hour every morning. I walk my kids to school, and then keep going. It clears my head, even if I don't think over my current work, although I often do. I also love reading. That probably goes without saying, but I read a lot.

Read any good books recently?

I've just finished the copy edits for a book that is coming out in October, Banquet of Lies, and while I'm in copy edit mode, I find it incredibly difficult to read uncritically. I've started and put aside three books in the last two days, but about a week ago, I read a book called Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was recommended to me when I was asking around for sci-fi recommendations, and it didn't disappoint.

Thanks for having me, Audra!

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My thanks to Ms. Diener for her time and thoughtful answers. Learn more about her and her books at her website and connect with her on Twitter.


I'm thrilled to offer one ready a copy of Daughter of the Sky (paperback or eBook, winner's choice). To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US and international readers, ends 5/3.


  1. This book looks really great, and its really interesting to learn about the writing process as experienced by different authors. I'd love to check it out. Escapists sounds perfect!

  2. I like that she was writing pilots of her favorite show for her friends when she was little, and though I am not a race car fan, I would have read the first book too! This is one that I want to read, so I am excited about it, and would love to see what I think. Excellent interview today! :)

    1. Heather, I have to confess I too was actually kind of intrigued by that race car book! This interview really tickled me -- she's as nice as her book is good!

  3. Great read, Audra. You have a skill for questions, the answers are always so interesting, it doesn't tend to matter whether there's a prior interest in the author or not. A pity about the romance novel, that sounds such a usual situation in publishing, and the premise sounded good.

    1. Charlie, thank you, I really appreciate that! It's always a treat to get to ask author's the things I'm curious about and I'm grateful others find this interesting, too!