Diane Bator is a mom of three, a book coach, and the author of well over a dozen mystery novels and many works-in-progress. She is the host of Escape With a Writer, a blog to promote fellow authors and is a member of Sisters in Crime Toronto, the Crime Writers of Canada, and the International Thriller Writers. She is represented by Creative Edge Publicity.
Could You Tell Us About Yourself?
Sure, I am the mom of three great young men, author of fourteen mystery novels with one on the way in May. I currently work for a professional theatre and have written one play. I’m a part of a couple local writing groups, Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime. I love to help other authors and host a blog called Escape With a Writer to share their work.
What made you write your book (s)?
I’ve loved to write since I was a kid and have always had stories to tell. My first series, Wild Blue Mysteries, was born after moving across Canada from Alberta to Ontario. I developed a character named Katie who was on the run from some bad people.
What is the first book you remember reading?
The entire Hardy Boys mystery series when I was in elementary school!!
What’s your favourite book?
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. It was my first writing book. A gift I received 30 years ago that I keep reading over and over for inspiration. I’m thrilled she’s now doing online courses! I signed up immediately!
Who is your favourite author and why?
Ooh! That’s a tough one. I love reading all sorts of authors, so I really don’t have one favorite. My favorite book I read recently was The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais. It’s an autographed copy because I met her last fall at a local event.
How many hours a day do you write?
Depending on the day it can be anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. Because I work full time, it’s harder to get in a lot of time, but I do have two standing dates with a local writing group. We’ve met weekly since early on in 2020 and write Sunday mornings and Monday evenings for 2 hours at a time.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
My day job? LOL!
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Sometimes my biggest problem is taking on too many other projects for other people. I love to edit and help others. Currently, I’m helping a good friend publish her memoir and another good friend to write his fantasy novel.
If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why?
Oh man! Another tough one! I’d love to sit with Stephen King, Karin Slaughter, Natalie Goldberg, pretty much any author who loves to talk writing!
What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
Pretty much just something to write with and something to drink. I’ve learned to write anytime, anywhere which means I’m not always in the same writing space. Pen and paper are always in my backpack or purse!
What’s your favourite writing snack or drink?
Coffee in the mornings and wine at night! Mostly, though, I drink water or sparkling water.
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
I’ve been so busy proving to the world I could actually write and publish books that celebrating wasn’t a thing. I’ve had a couple book launches, but when the people around you don’t seem all that excited by your accomplishments, you lose that momentum.
With my last book, I treated myself to a little something I’d been eyeing for a while. I haven’t done an actual book launch in a while, but that might be something down the road. A party for me and my baby book!
Do you listen to music while you wrote your book (s)?
Mostly something instrumental that won’t distract me with words, especially if I’m in the writing or editing process. Aside from that, anything goes!
Where do you get your idea (s) for your book (s)?
Anywhere and everywhere.
Wild Blue Mysteries started when I moved across Canada and was getting to know my new town.
Gilda Wright Mysteries grew from my experience of working at a karate school (Gilda is a receptionist in a martial arts school just as I was!)
Glitter Bay Mysteries came from haunting second hand shops! Seriously! And one of the fabulous characters, Quinn, was inspired by someone who has become a friend.
Sugarwood Mysteries, my first series set in Canada, was inspired by my love of crafts, puzzles and mysteries. I’m having fun getting to build the fictional town of Sugarwood.
What is / was your writing process like?
As I said, I write wherever I can. My entire process involves pulling out a pen and paper and writing. After it’s on paper, I transfer it to my laptop and build the story. After the first draft is done, I do at least two edits before the book goes off to Beta readers. Once I get notes made and do one more batch of edits, it goes off to my Publisher for one more set of eyes. After one last set of edits, it’s ready to be published and I’m happy to have it off my plate!!
Do you try more to be original or rather give readers what they want?
The advice I usually give other authors is to write what you’d want to read. I follow that same advice. The market is fickle and what is trending in May will likely be old news by November. That said, if you have a series readers love, by all means give them more!
What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Research varies from book to book. Generally, I tend to write first and follow up with research while I’m editing – unless there is something I know I’m putting in the book that I need to know more about ahead of time. With my Sugarwood series, I’ve spend a lot of time researching voodoo and witchcraft among other things.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Once I have the basic idea, the rest develops as I write the book. Characters come along the same way and sometimes tend to take over the story.
What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing your book (s)?
My favourite part is actually writing the book. It’s like a new adventure every time I pick up my pen. Least favourite is possibly the anxiety of opening an email to see what feedback I get from Beta readers! Most of the time they’re pretty fair and their comments make sense, but some people can be a little harsh. Those are the people I never ask again.
What part of the book was the most fun to write?
For my latest book, Dead Man’s Doll, the part that was most fun to write was when Audra gets to meet and hang out with Simon who is Miss Lavinia’s nephew and protégé. I always enjoy setting up the mystery then leaving clues for readers to help solve it. Oh, and learning more about Miss Lavinia and her coven.
How did you come up with the title for your book (s)?
For Dead Man’s Doll, it was easy. The doll in the title is the voodoo doll of the dead butcher Audra finds in Miss Lavinia’s shop. For book one, Drop Dead Cowboy, the deceased character is an actual cowboy who Audra sees playing guitar on the bench in front of Miss Lavinia’s shop until she finds his body Halloween Night.
Would you and your main character get along?
Absolutely! I think Audra and I could get into a lot of mischief together!
If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
If I met Audra and her bestie, Merilee, I’d probably buy a few things from their craft shop! Then we’d talk about all things crafts and mysteries.
Which of the characters in your book (s) do you relate to the most and why?
I think the character in one of my books I relate to most is definitely Audra. She’s had some health scares, marital issues, and is just who she is. She doesn’t pretend to be anyone else. She’s also curious about the people and world around her.
What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft?
With Dead Man’s Doll, as with all my books, the ending definitely changed. At first I wasn’t sure how things would end, but with the second round of edits, it all fell into place and I was happy with it.
How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
My books are clean and very little swearing or gore. Most of my readers are women in their thirties and up BUT they’re great for readers of any age and gender.
What did you edit out of your book (s)?
With most of my books, I don’t usually edit much out.
What was your hardest scene to write?
My hardest scene is one that is going to be in an upcoming book -Dead Without Malice. I need to kill off a character who has become one of my favourites and I’m dreading it.
How long did it take for you to write a book?
I’ve done Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) a few times and have been able to write a full novel in 30 days. In general, it takes me 2-3 months to get the book done from beginning to end and off to my Editor.
What do you hope your readers take away from your book (s)?
I hope readers will be entertained and challenged to see if they can solve the mystery. My goal is to give people an escape a few chapters at a time.
What was the hardest part of writing your book (s)?
Sometimes, the hardest thing is having to stop writing when I’m on a roll! That’s when it’s great to switch from full on sentences to tightening to dialogue or quick notes. Then I can go back to flesh it out later.
Did you get some negative feedback on your book? and if so how do you deal with that?
I used to pay attention to the negative feedback but realized some of it was from people who were struggling with their own writing – or lack of. When the positive feedback outweighs the negative, you need to brush off the nasty comments and move on.
How did you feel when you first published your book(s)? Scared? Excited? Nervous?
With my first book, The Bookstore Lady, I had a wide range of emotions! Excited to have it published. Scared no one would read it. Happy to hold MY book in MY hands. Nervous to do a book launch and have no one show up. Afraid everyone would laugh at me. Worried I wouldn’t be able to write a second book and have it published as well.
Where can people who are interested in your book, buy your book?
The easiest link to follow is my website
Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
My current work in progress is called All that Shimmers, book 3 in my Glitter Bay Mystery series. I love this series! Former supermodel, Laken, works at her sister Sage’s vintage boutique on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Along with their new sidekick Quinn Evans who is a trans woman, they solve crimes and deal with the fallout from both Laken and Quinn’s former lives in Los Angeles.
After writing your book (s) what is your advice to people who want to become writers?
Write what you want to read. If you’re serious about being a writer, learn your craft and get to know other writers. Also, be wary of publishers who ask you for thousands of dollars to publish your book. There are better ways!! Just do your homework.
What are common traps for aspiring writers and have you faced any of them?
Letting friends or family who are not writers read their work! Yes, done this. They can either gush about it or be your harshest critics!
Trusting feedback from people in a writing group. While some are helpful, others just want to be helpful and tend to give bad advice or discouragement.
Paying thousands of dollars to publish a book with a vanity press. Some people have good experiences, but others end up with a garage full of books.
Not finding a good editor! Don’t be stubborn. The one thing worth paying for is to have someone edit. Most will let you send a few pages so you can see what they do and if you’re a good fit.
Thinking you live in a bubble! Yup, that was me. It took years for me to find great people to work with. Trial and error with writing groups, national writing groups, and so on will help!
Do you read your book reviews?
Now and then. I don’t read them all the time, mostly because doing so can create anxiety AND I’m already a very busy person! Reading them occasionally is perfect for me and I’m happy to share them when I find really good ones!
How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I’ve shared good ones on book covers (when we did a new cover for Drop Dead Cowboy) and on social media posts. Bad ones, I learn from if they say something constructive. Keep in mind many of those are put up by trolls to never read your book and go author to author spreading hate. You’ll learn to know the difference and which ones to ignore.
Is it something more you want to tell us which I forgot to ask about?
One thing writer’s think is that once you have a publisher, you’re set for life. That’s not how it goes. Sometimes publishers clean up their list and will drop writers and their books for various reasons. I’ve been dropped and know of many bigger named authors who have done the same. Sometimes, you just need to self-publish if you want to sell them again. Other times you get lucky and another publisher will pick them up. So far, I’ve been very lucky and look forward to many more books!!
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