Hello Diana Groe aka Mia Marlow,
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I'm a bit of a jack of all trades. I've been (hold on!) a professional opera singer, teacher, realtor, banker, homeschooling mom, choir director and now I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up---a writer. My hubby and I have lived in 8 different states, from Washington to North Carolina. Travel and history are my passions and I'm ashamed to admit that I've lost track of how many times I've been to Europe (husband in the travel industry). I love art and music and my family.
If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?
Wow, that's tough. I suppose in one sense I am all of them since they came from some part of me, which is kind of bad since I've created a few nasty characters. I am Rika, the Nordic skald (bard) in MAIDENSONG. I am Brenna, singing sad Irish songs in ERINSONG. I am Valdis, abandoned and friendless in a strange land in SILK DREAMS. In writing their stories, I've lived their lives and hope my readers feel they have too.
What's your favorite genre to read?
Definitely historical romance. I know there are some wonderful contemporary writers out there, but when I read, I want to get as far from the ordinary as possible. I want to be swept to another time and place and try on someone else's skin for awhile. And if I have a wild adventure and fall in love in the process, so much the better.
Who or what influences you when you write?
I am moved by music. Before I start a new story, I pick some theme music, typically a movie soundtrack (no words). I write with headphones on, letting the music take me to the world of my story. It's also a good signal to my family that I'm not to be interrupted unless the house is on fire or there's blood. Lots of blood.
What do you do on a typical writing day?
Since I don't yet have the luxury of writing full time, my writing day starts after supper. My goal is 2 pages a day through the week, 10 pages on Saturday (when my dear husband does the laundry & household chores so I can devote a whole day to writing), and 5 on Sunday. In this way, I'm able to complete a 400 page manuscript in 4 months.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
I don't believe in writer's block. I don't have the time for it. I just write ?the? and then follow it up with something else. Because of my writing schedule, I do a pretty detailed synopsis before I write the first chapter. When I get stuck, I check back to the blueprint to see if I'm still on course, or if the story has taken a turn. If it has, that's ok. I just have to know where it's going. How I get there is part of the adventure.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
SILK DREAMS will be available July 3, 2007. It's a tale of love and deception in 10 th century Constantinople. I really love all the characters in this story. Valdis, my brave heroine, is sold into slavery by her family because they believe her ?witched.? Actually, she's an epileptic whose new master plans to use her seizures to convince people she is in communication with the spirit realm and can foretell events. Valdis does have prescient dreams, but she fears them because she sees the death of the one man who can free her?a disgraced Northman in the Varangian Guard who braves the wrath of a kingdom to waken Valdis to love. SILK DREAMS made me cry as I was writing it more than once.
Please tell us what you have planned next?
I'm working on something entirely different for my next Dorchester release February 2008. It's a sexy Victorian romp, complete with mistaken identities, a masked ball, a bit of intrigue and a hero and heroine who keep each other guessing on every page. My working title is LOOKING FOR MR. BEDDINGTON.
In 5 years, where do you see yourself? - In general and in you're writting career
In 5 years, I hope to be writing full time, traveling more, and spending more time with the love of my life, my husband Brian.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
A perfect hero would be boring. I want my hero to have a few rough edges, a few hurts in his past, something to make his heart tender beneath his tough exterior. We live in an imperfect world, peopled with imperfect souls, but the qualities I really look for in my hero are compassion, self-sacrifice and strength.
What do you do for inspiration?
Research (at least that's what my husband calls it!)
Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
I'm kicking around a paranormal idea right now, just in the world-building stage. I think that may be what's next for me after BEDDINGTON.
What type of book would you like to write but haven't yet?
The books I love are the ones that stay with you after you finish them. The ones that convince you the characters are still off having adventures without you, once you reach ?the end.' I have some on my keeper shelf that I re-read every other year or so (MM Kaye's Far Pavillions, Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series). I guess my goal is to make it to my readers' keeper shelf.
What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
Other than my aforementioned ?inspirational? research, I do copious amounts of historical research, as much as I can absorb about the time period. More than just the outer trappings of dress and mode of life, I'm interested in how people thought, what they believed and why. That's what makes the difference between a true historical and a costume drama.
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
The muse is a figment of someone's imagination. I write whether I feel like it or not. And re-writing is much easier than plowing the virgin page. A deadline lights a fire under me. If my editor didn't impose one, I'd have to give one to myself.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
As soon as I had a finished manuscript, I submitted it. And I have the rejection letters to prove it. Submitting is scary, but if you want to be a writer, you have to be willing to take some ?no, thank you's.' If my mother (who thinks everything I write is wonderful) or my husband (who wants to continue sleeping with me) were the only ones reading my stories, I'd never stretch and grow as a writer. And as a side note, that first manuscript is still unsold in my bottom drawer.
What would you like to tell your readers?
That I hope they experience as much pleasure reading my stories as I do writing them.
What is the best and advice you have ever received?
The best advice is to start on the next story whether or not the last one sold. The worst advice was an idea for marketing from a person who is no longer my agent. She wanted me to get dressed up like a Valkyrie in breastplate and horned helmet, go on the public access channel and demonstrate Viking recipes (and me culinary-phobic!) to promote MAIDENSONG. I'm willing to do a lot to promote my books, but that was a tad over the line.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I do character sketches to find out who my characters are and what they want. Then I write an 8-10 page synopsis making it hard for them to get it.
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I had a wonderful critique group when I lived in Seattle. One of my friends from that group still critiques with me via email. Now I'm 100 miles from the nearest writing group, so I don't have the luxury of several pairs of eyes on my work. It's a problem, but one I have no solution for right now.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
MAIDENSONG, Leisure Books, May 2006. It's still available on Amazon and I actually saw a copy on the shelves of a Barnes & Nobles last week. ERINSONG followed in November 2006 and it too is still available.
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
My website is probably the best source. I posted excerpts of all my books, even some deleted scenes. My local bookstore is partnering with me to provide a way for readers to buy an autographed copy of my books. The Book Nook information is on my website. Thank you, NightOwl, for providing this venue for me to connect with readers.
Thank you for this opportunity!