Author Q&A: Diana Wallace Peach

Catling's Bane from Diana

We all know I adored The Rose Shield Tetralogy (award winning cover of Catling’s Bane pictured to the left). After reviewing these, I was lucky enough for Diana to agree to a Q&A about the series.  See below for the good stuff!

What was your inspiration for The Rose Shield Series?

I believe that humans are, at their core, emotional beings, and that our feelings drive us more than thoughts and reason. When we interact with others, we’re trying to influence them emotionally – make them smile, comply, love, take our side, go away. We are masters at influencing, almost from birth. For the book, I simply took a big leap forward and asked: what if a group of people could influence people’s feelings artificially through a special talent? What power that would give them! And what would they do if there was someone who could stop them?… 

Were there themes you wanted to get across to the reader outside of the story? If so, what were they?  Were these themes in mind before you started the story or did they evolve with it?

Power and wealth are usually the culprits in my stories, greed getting in the way of kindness, caring, fairness, and generosity. That’s certainly the case in this series. It impacts individuals and whole races, as well as the planet. Sound familiar? That said, I do try to focus on the human story versus making any sort of political statement. One thing I did a little different in this series is make the planet sentient. That was fun. And it was all planned out from the start.

Which character was your favorite to write? 

Oh, so many! Catling and Whitt endure such hardships that their scenes were often heartbreaking or difficult to write. I put those poor characters through the wringer. Probably the most fun was Tiler with his unconventional cursing. I had a blast making up ridiculous swear words and fitting them into his scenes with his goofball personality. (Reading Minds Side Note: I can’t wait for the perfect opportunity to use the term “sock fondler” in reference to an unpleasant person)

What was the biggest challenge for writing this story?

Probably making sure that the magic system (the power to influence others’ emotions) was consistent. It’s a pretty powerful skill, and I had to keep checking myself and asking the question: why wouldn’t they just use their influence? There needed to be reasons and consequences in every instance for using it or deciding not to.

What process do you follow when writing a story? i.e. full outline vs organically letting it unfold while writing.

I’m an outliner for sure. Outlines keep me and the characters focused on the goal, and the writing stays tighter. There’s less running off on tangents (which I can easily do) and fewer plot holes and loose ends. My outlines are definitely flexible, though. I’m comfortable making changes as I write and when the characters convince me it’s a good idea.

Outlines support consistency and cohesiveness, both important to me. For the Rose Shield, I outlined all four books, wrote them and published them simultaneously in order to make sure the elements of the story made sense the whole way through. It meant holding up the first book, Catling’s Bane, for a whole year, but it was worth it to me.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I was a member of a writers’ critique group for five years, and I never would have landed a publisher without their constructive criticism. From my fellow writers, I learned a tremendous amount about the craft and had an opportunity to find my voice. We don’t know what we don’t know, so it’s vital that we seek feedback in a way that challenges us and helps us grow.  I recommend writers’ groups to all aspiring writers.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently plugging away on a duology: Soul Swallowers and Legacy of Souls (titles may change). I’m aiming to release it in the late spring (both at the same time, of course). It takes place in a world where people’s souls are captured in tiny spheres when they die, and those glowing pearls can be swallowed by others, passing on the essence of personality, wisdom, and skills. Of course, this doesn’t always go smoothly or happily. There are some souls that simply should not be swallowed!

Are you willing to share an excerpt?

Are you kidding? I’d love to! This one is relatively early in the first book and introduces a new character, a woman who’s swallowed too many souls:

Raze climbed the ledges, and on a flat rock bordering the fall’s pool, he halted. A woman knelt near the trees, a fire flickering at her knees. Her red hair fell forward, tangled threads of copper hiding her face. She added twigs to the flames with a thin arm, the only part of her not concealed beneath her cloak.

He softened his voice, “Hello.” She leapt up and brandished a knife, eyes tight in an oval face and flitting like panicked birds. He raised his hands. “I’m not here to hurt you. I live at the freehold.”

She aimed the knife at him, knuckles white and arm trembling. Her cloak, too large for her small stature, dragged across the rock as she sidled away. “I should kill him.”

Raze tensed, confused by the odd statement and wary of the threat. “Is someone else here?” He stepped back, prepared to leap to the trail and run.

“Nae, I’ll carve out the evil.” She peered across the pool into the lattice of vines. “I see the wickedness in his skin.”

“Who are you talking to?” He studied the forest. A wisp of fog hung in the trees and played tricks with his eyes, but he sensed nothing alarming beyond the woman’s blade, no hint of another presence.

Her eyes glanced at the falls. “She doesn’t want me to kill you.”

“Who?”

“Echo. But the others swear there’s evil in you.”

Mist and spray from the white water drifted with the curling breeze. Watery wraiths formed and dissipated. Raze concentrated, seeking more than the whimsy of imagination, but no ghosts appeared before him, and their absence was a relief. One mad woman with a gleaming blade seemed preferable to a host of angry spirits intent on his death.

Connect with Diana: Website • Blog • Twitter

d. wallace peach

125 thoughts on “Author Q&A: Diana Wallace Peach

  1. Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk about the books, Michelle. I’m honored that you asked and delighted to be here on your blog. That was such a fun interview, and I loved being able to give everyone a peek at the latest project. I’ll share on Thursday and send some readers your way. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Myths of the Mirror and commented:
    I’m so pleased to be over at Michelle’s book blog, Reading Minds, today. She read all 4 books of The Rose Shield series (an author’s dream come true) and had a few questions about the thoughts behind it. Of course, I was delighted to answer.

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  3. I really need to catch up with your series, Diana. The world and the characters sound fascinating. I also couldn’t agree with your more about critique groups. No matter what state we’re at as writers, critique groups and critique partners are so beneficial.

    I really enjoyed this interview, ladies. Michelle, thank you for featuring Diana and her series today.
    The new work sounds captivating as well!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for visiting, Mae. Michelle was so sweet to invite me to answer a few questions, and her book reviews are wonderfully engaging. Yes, those critique groups/partners are awesome… I can’t say it enough. Happy Writing, my friend. 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Nicole, and for the wonderful comment. I’ve done interviews before, but this was the first time anyone wanted to dig into the background and impetus for a particular book(s). A real pleasure. Happy Reading!

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  4. Referring to your advice above, this line says a lot… “We don’t know what we don’t know.” I agree, and it sure helps to have input from others 🙂 Congrats on the Award Winning cover. I enjoyed the excerpt and interview, Diana and Michelle.

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    1. Thanks, Basilike, for your kind comment. I was so tickled to get these questions from Michelle and have an opportunity to share the thoughts behind the book(s). She did a wonderful review for the series that I’ll share in a few weeks. Happy Writing. ❤

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    1. So true! I think that’s why I enjoyed this series so much. Diana did an awesome job of making sure the reader can relate to why the characters are doing what they’re doing… even if we, as the reader, are begging them not to.

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    2. I agree Carrie. I think that’s the hardest part about giving characters some special power – they’d use it all the time to fix every problem unless there was a good reason not too. Trust me, if I had a magic wand, I’d wear that baby out. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to read. Much appreciated!

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  5. Thank you Michelle for interviewing Diana and letting us all read some of her writing secrets. I’ve read several of Diana’s books and they are amazing BECAUSE of the characterizations, the setting, the immense imagination, and the plotting that keeps the reader on her toes. None of that could be done without the organization Diana obviously does to keep the fantasy world as real as our own. Sometimes, more real.
    And that new series – wowee. Can’t wait.

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    1. You’re so sweet, Pam. It was fun adding in the excerpt. I had to polish it up a bit since it’s only the second draft, but what a treat that Michelle asked me to share it. I’m so glad you enjoy my writing. It’s an honor to put something creative out there that others enjoy – as you know. Happy Writing, my friend.

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  6. I’m halfway through Catling’s Bane and loved having the insight from Diana about writing the four books, Michelle. I know I’ll be continuing on with the others in the series. I love that you get points across through ‘show don’t tell’ and don’t get on a political soapbox, Diana. So much more effective. And I wonder how one gets involved in a writer’s group? Do they have them for humor writers?

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind comment, Molly. Soapbox – ugh. I shall try not to do that! Ha ha. Most cities have writers groups. I used to drive about 50 min each way to a sci-fi/fantasy group and we met every other week for 5 years. But I also started one myself in my town that meets at the library. It includes all types and levels of writing and it’s also lots of fun. A group doesn’t necessarily have to be all the same genre, though it helps. 🙂 I hope you find something when you’re ready to take that step. They were the highlight of my social life for a long time! ❤

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      1. You would thrive, Molly. The most important thing about choosing a group is to make sure that when you walk out of the meetings with suggestions to improve your work, you also feel supported and energized. A critique group should leave writers eager to start typing! 😀

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  7. One of the reasons Catling’s Bane resonates with me is that I think the planet — our planet, I mean — is sentient, just like the one in The Rose Shield. There’s an occultic belief — one I happen to share — that consciousness is an energy field to which we’re all connected, which makes nature itself a conscious entity. And consciousness is governed by metaphysical mechanisms we don’t at all understand, despite our vast scientific discoveries, so it stands to reason that somebody at some point was going to envision a fantasy scenario in which certain people were gifted with the special talent of “backchannel” emotional manipulation. Diana just got there first!

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    1. I’m with you. I know Diana speaks of greed and power being themes but I couldn’t help but draw a theme around how the planet is treated as well. That nature helped forced the balance necessary for the Ellegeans, Farlanders, and Cull Tarr to continue to live there. Perhaps it was my own stretch to themes going on now with global warming and extinctions occurring, but I related to this (potentially invented) theme strongly.

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      1. I think — based on what I know of her through her blog and her writing — Diana is very much a person who is in touch with and responds to the rhythms and the beauty of nature; she is a capital-R Romantic, drawing from that great literary tradition. And I’m sure she’s given tremendous thought to the environmental and existential crises we, as a planet, face at this moment in time, and undoubtedly that informed some of the Rose Shield‘s subtext, even if only unconsciously. But I’d love to hear Diana speak to that directly!

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      2. I think about those things too, Michelle. And I do believe the planet as an organism is self-correcting, just like our bodies. Global climate change, extinctions, and the increase in human infertility are significant acts of correction in response to human behavior. I’m so glad you enjoyed that aspect of the book. You got me smiling. 😀

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    2. Exactly, Sean. I love your comment. I happen to believe our planet is sentient as well, a living organism of which we are all a part, all intrinsically connected energetically and through a collective conscience. That’s why it boggles my mind that humans are so willing to wreck the Earth. And fantasy is such a great place to explore and express all those concepts. I don’t think I’m the first, but I do hope that when all the elements of the story are combined there isn’t another series quite like it. Thanks for stopping by Michelle’s blog to check out the review. Michelle had some great questions. 🙂

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      1. Indeed — this was one of the better blog interviews I’ve read in a while! Kudos, Michelle!

        The next full-length novel I write — outlined but still a long way away from completion — will be a period piece that draws from the styles and themes of Romanticism, and explores issues of collective consciousness and metaphysics. (It’s a monster story, too, lest you think I’m writing some pretentious dissertation!) Glad to have found a kindred spirit in you, Diana!

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      2. Michelle did a great job. I was so pleased and grateful for the invite. And I’m looking forward to your book(s), Sean, so get writing! Spec. fiction is a great way to explore and present cerebral concepts in a tangible way. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. 😀

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  8. Congratulations Diana for this interview by Michelle and reviews for the series. I also enjoyed this wonderful discussion about our planet and agree with you that it possesses the power of self-healing. It is interesting to note that you believe emotions could be controlled or influenced! 🙂 Thanks for sharing an excerpt from your latest book…As usual I admire your poetic prose.

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    1. Hi Balroop. Thanks so much for the visit. I do believe we have a huge influence over the emotions of others. Just think how a kind word or a smile or a helping hand can change someone’s day. Same thing the other way around. My grandson can certainly make my heart sing, and I’ll bet your grandkids do that to you. Of course, this isn’t really “control” like in the book – that’s the fantasy part – because we have a choice and in the book, they don’t. Michelle’s questions were a lot of fun because I haven’t chatted much about these themes before. Happy Writing!

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  9. I hope this doesn’t offend, but I’m surprised you outline everything from the start. I would have guessed pantster or hybrid because there’s nothing formulaic about your writing. Very interesting insights. I’ll have to rethink my biases. 🙂

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    1. I’m a committed outliner, Andrea. But my outlines are flexible. I do the first one handwritten because I have to be able to scribble in the margins, write between the lines, draw arrows, etc. Then I put it all into Excel. No paragraph breaks, just one long narrative. (I love Excel because it’s so easy to move things around.) I try to roughly fill all the plot holes and wrap up loose ends at that point. Then I start writing, and of course, things change! I just go back to my outline, makes the changes, note places where I have to go back and rewrite details, as well as make sure that what’s coming still makes sense. Hmm. An idea for a post?? Ha ha. Not that you wanted all that info, but there it is. I can talk writing all day and night. Thanks so much for swinging by and for the comment. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Easy, because the characters are still acting independently. They’re having their own thoughts and feelings and they establish their own relationships. They have goals, but exactly how they get there can shift. And my outline is very “general.” So an outline for a whole chapter might be. “They escape from the city.” Everything else… all the details, how they do it, what they say, the challenges they encounter come to life as I write.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Suzanne. I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt. It’s a bit of an odd one out of context, but I hope it piques the curiosity. Michelle was awfully kind to ask about an interview and I loved her questions. Happy Writing, my friend. 🙂

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  10. Michelle, this is a excellent interview with Diana with great questions letting us learn more about her books and way of writing. Diana, I’m just back from my writing group and I can’t thank you enough for getting me to join one…you kept telling me about how important and rewarding they are and I totally agree! Today we were discussing how we write novels and two said they never plan anything, I do to a certain extent. I wonder if you need to plan more for fantasy books overall? Great interview and good luck with your latest work…wonderfully written extract! 😀

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    1. That’s so wonderful to hear, Annika. I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying your group. It’s such a wonderful way to learn and grow and support each other. I have no idea if fantasy books need more planning (??). What I’ve found, personally, is that the more planning, the less rewriting. But even with a plan, staying flexible is crucial – a story has to be allowed to take on its own life and flow. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Writing!

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    1. Thanks, Jacqui. Michelle’s questions gave me a great opportunity to dive into the themes of the book, something I hadn’t done on a blog yet. I like the background stuff too, especially learning how authors find their inspiration. I’m so glad you stopped by. Have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. Thanks so much for swinging by, Christine. I think most writers love to yak about what we do, and I’m no exception. Ha ha. The interview was really fun and I was delighted at Michelle’s invitation and her set of questions. Have a lovely weekend and Happy Writing. ❤

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  11. I am thrilled to have read questions and answers between Diana and her reader. I have started to read the series, and I am keeping quiet since it is too interesting. Will I be writing something about it one day? well well well! Well done Michelle and Diana! Happy weekend to everyone!

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    1. So nice to see you here, Juli, and thank you for the sweet comment. I don’t think we gave away any spoilers here. I’m just thrilled that you’re enjoying the books and can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Stay warm, have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Reading! ❤

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      1. Thank you Diana. and I am traveling this week they will accompany me. I will surely write my thoughts after I finish reading the series.

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  12. Outstanding interview, Michelle and Diana. Consistency is so important, and lack thereof can ruin a novel. I’ve never been an outliner, although I do keep grid notes. My last book was 350+ pages, and I referred to my notes constantly. So nice to learn more about your writing process, Diana ❤

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    1. Thanks for the visit, Tina. I haven’t heard of grid notes and I’m curious. And 350 pages off the cuff is amazing. My outlines are pretty loose, but the direction of the novel is definitely laid out with a sequence of things that need to happen to move the story forward. I love how we’re all different and how we find what works. Happy Writing, my friend. <3.

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      1. Grid notes is a term I made up, Diana. Guess it comes from watching football 🙂 It’s simply a diagram of the character’s traits, days/dates of pivotal events, etc. that I might need to refer back to. Otherwise, I’m a pantster ❤️

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    1. Thanks for stopping by to read, Robbie. Michele’s questions were especially fun as I rarely get to talk about the thoughts behind a book. I don’t think my writing process is that unique, really. And I definitely learn by trial and error, that’s for sure. We each find what works and I think that’s pretty cool. Have a great weekend and Happy Writing!

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  13. Perfect interview! Loved the questions as well as the answers, for I’ve been following Diana for a while and am always glad to read what she has to say about any given subject.
    I also love any type of author Q&As as I always learn something new from them. Tremendous advice from her 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Sophie, and for the kind comment. I especially love Q&As that get at questions I’ve never answered before, like this one. And I can talk about this stuff ad nauseam too. Ha ha. Happy Reading, my friend, and enjoy your weekend. ❤

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  14. Great interview! It’s always fun to hear about the origins of books and especially the characters, I think. I can’t wait to start Catling’s Bane–I’ve got the ebook, just have a few others to work through before I get there 🙂 And an enticing intro to the new books, Diana (I saw what you did there, and it worked 😀 )

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    1. Thanks! You’re in for a treat when you start it. I think Catling’s Bane and Kari’s Reckoning (book 4) compete for my favorites in the series. Diana was the first author I’ve spoken with about the writing process, but now that I know how cool it is to learn, I’ll be reaching out to more authors to see if they’ll also grant me the same honor of answering my questions. Have a great weekend!

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      1. You won’t have any problem getting authors interested, Michelle. Most are delighted to be asked and happy to participate. This has been lots of fun and I hope it’s brought some attention to your blog. More to come. 😀

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    2. Thanks for the visit, Julie. It was fun sharing a snippet from the new books. You’ll see as you start doing the same. There will be a few more from Soul Swallowers coming down the line as I get through the next few drafts. A spring release isn’t that far away (yikes!). Happy Writing, my friend. ❤

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      1. It was very enjoyable. I also have the series you’ve completed however I’m only on the second book and way behind schedule on all my reading. Reviews though, help me to regain focus. Thank you for sharing this interview with us.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Steph. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview and excerpt. That was one of the harder pieces to write in the new book because it’s supposed to be confusing and clear at the same time!! Have a wonderful Sunday, my friend. 🙂

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  15. I usually am not a fantasy reader. The truth is I was pulled into Diana’s book, “Catling’s Bane,” by reading parts of her other books. She creates tiers, different levels of classes. She creates realistic, “come to life” characters. They speak as themselves, such a unique quality of authorship. She really “knows” and expresses her friends in each book. They are who lead her book into darkness, humor and into the lighter, future places. I will look forward to how Catling handles her final decision she made at the end of her first foray (book).
    Diana’s my friend 💐 and I’m glad I was able to review her book last summer, 2017. Smiles, Robin

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    1. I love how you describer her writing. So true! And that you outline the characters as her friends. She takes such care to tell their stories that this is such an apt label for them. Thanks for visiting!

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  16. Thanks for hosting Diana, Michele. I loved Catling’s Bane, and I’m well into book II and intend to read them all. It’s fun to hear about her process and especially which character entertained her the most. Since I’m an author too, I always like to hear the ‘behind the book’ stuff. You have a great site! -Sheri

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