Today’s interview is with Keta Diablo. A writer of Fantasy romance. One of the things that drew me to Keta was her covers and the fact she had trading cards. Now how awesome is that? You’ll find a couple after the interview.
Terry C. Simpson: What is your book about?
Keta Diablo: Dust and Moonlight is a time travel fantasy novel. Criminal profiler, Kira Barton, has a lead on a serial killer and follows him into an abandoned building. When he attacks her, a woman from another world descends to save her. Kira awakens in a strange land, one filled with sorcery, wizards, shape-shifters and a prince that makes her heart thrum.
Terry C. Simpson: What inspired you to write this particular story?
Keta Diablo: I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of time travel. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could travel into the past or into the future through mysterious venues? I’m particularly intrigued by history, would love to experience firsthand an era in early Wales, Scotland or Ireland. I say for a short time – lol – because times were hard, living conditions rudimentary. While the visit would be intriguing, I’m thinking a short period of visitation would be ideal.
Terry C. Simpson: What writer influenced you the most?
Keta Diablo: I must say Harper Lee because To Kill A Mockingbird was the first novel I remember reading and remembered long after I put it down. I suddenly realized I could go anywhere in the world simply by turning the pages in a book. I loved the vivid depictions of her characters. Everything seemed so real – the sultry heat of the South, the bitter taste of prejudice and the fascinating adventures of Jem and Scout’s childhood. Even the names she choose for her characters – Atticus and Boo Radley – were well suited to the overall ambience of the novel.
Terry C. Simpson: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Keta Diablo: I liked writing about Kira, the heroine. An only child, she sort of floated through an idyllic childhood, yet knew something about her parents seemed strange. She wasn’t really prepared to be thrust into another world, yet rose to the occasion through determination and grit. As the alien, dangerous world unfolded around her, she kept her wits intact, didn’t collapse into hysterics – which I think many of us might have. She isn’t a perfect character – she has flaws, an annoying habit of comparing a situation or a person to something visual from her past. I think characters, like every day people, should have flaws and weird nuances whether physical or as a result of life’s experiences. Perfect characters are boring and unreal in my opinion.
Terry C. Simpson: How long did it take you to write your book?
Keta Diablo: Dust and Moonlight started out as a published short story. So many reviewers and readers wanted to know more about the world of Locke Cress and the people who lived there. They also wanted to know what happened with Kira and Prince Balion. I expanded the short story into a full-length novel that seemed to write itself. I knew Kira and Balion quite well after writing the short story. This helped in the journey to lengthen their story.
Terry C. Simpson: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
Keta Diablo: That depends on where the idea originates. At times, I find an idea for a story through research. A good example of that is my novel Land of Falling Stars. I read a true life story online about cousins who fought on opposite sides in the Civil War, yet lived only miles apart. That led me down a path of “what-ifs”. What if two men who loved the same woman fought for opposite sides in the War? What if one died and the other came home to tell her the horrific news?
And like many authors, at times for ideas stem from a dream. I’m a vivid, virtual dreamer and keep a notebook on my nightstand in case I wake up from a dream. And finally, I get ideas by people-watching. This is a great way to invent your next character. I look for peculiar expressions, and again nuances/quirks in their persona. It’s amazing to watch two people hold a conversation – forget the words, just watch the expressions and the gestures.
Terry C. Simpson: What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
Keta Diablo: With all my books, I hope for two things: That for a short time I was able to remove them from their every day struggles and worries. Of course, authors want readers to remember the book when they’re done reading. I’ve read hundreds, perhaps thousands of books but distinctly remember only a handful years later. If one accomplishes the above, the author has done his/her job.
Terry C. Simpson: What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
Keta Diablo: Always the pacing for me. I have a tendency to rush through scenes at times– my mind working much faster than my fingers. We all hope to improve with every book we write. Knowing what we need to work on is half the battle. The other thing is to know your characters well. You have to stop and ask yourself if your character would really say or do such a thing. Yes, it’s fiction, but it still has to be believable.
Terry C. Simpson: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
Keta Diablo: I wish I did strive for a certain word count each day, but that doesn’t work for me. I’m a binge writer once I get the story down in my mind. I think about the plot, the characters for weeks – run through every scene and conversation in my mind long before I sit down to write. When I have things squared away in my brain, then I might write for eight hours a day. If inspiration is still with me in the following days, I’ll do the same until I’m done. That’s the first draft. Then I go back and look for plot holes, wrong words, bad writing, that sort of thing. And finally, I run through it a third time for typos and spelling errors. It’s a long process writing a full-length novel, and the first draft might not look too much like the final. At least not my first drafts.
Terry C. Simpson: What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?
Keta Diablo: Two things: Freedom to do what I love without someone looking over my shoulder and the sense of satisfaction when someone likes your book – really likes “your” book. To me, that’s amazing.
Terry C. Simpson: What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Keta Diablo: I don’t know that I’m qualified to give advice. I think every writer needs to find their own path during their journey. What works for one, will not work for another. Some authors outline or use note cards before they attempt the next novel. Some write by the seat of their pants. I think you can’t listen to what everyone tells you – find what works for you. Be persistent and persevere. Writing is hard work; it’s a craft you must learn if you want a following. There are no shortcuts, but there are lots of rules. Learn the rules and then have the courage to break them when you know you should.
Terry C. Simpson: What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?
Keta Diablo: Promotion and marketing is never-ending. Again, there are no easy answers here. You need to discover what works for you. How many hours a day do you have to devote to marketing? What are the best venues for your type of book? What can you afford to give time- wise so it doesn’t prevent you from writing the next book? There is no easy way around promotion and marketing. You must have a plan and again, persistence and determination eventually pays off.
Terry C. Simpson: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
Keta Diablo: I’ve run the gamut to see what works best. I have a large following on twitter (@ketadiablo) and my Facebook page is very active (http://www.facebook.com/KetaDiablo.Author). I post regularly on both and think they work well for me. I make sure my books are current on Goodreads, Shelfari and my Amazon author page is up to date. I do belong to Nings and other social networking sites but there’s no way of knowing how well they work when it comes to actual sales. I have a large blog following (http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com) and post regularly to the blog. I also have an author home where all information is updated on a regular basis. (http://www.ketadiablo.com)
Terry C. Simpson: What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?
Keta Diablo: If I truly did the best I could in all aspects of life, then I’ll be satisfied. To not try to improve no matter what role you play or what path you take is a mistake. We can always work harder at being a good person. We don’t always succeed, but what’s important is that you keep trying.
Terry C. Simpson: Have you written any other books?
Keta Diablo: Yes, thank you so much for asking. I think I have about 21 books on the market now. You can view my books at my Amazon Author page here (http://amzn.to/qsrw5D). In 2009 my novel Decadent Deceptions finaled in the RWA Molly contest. In 2010 one of my stories finaled in the Scarlet Boa Contest and in 2011 my paranormal shifter Where The Rain is Made was nominated for a Bookie Award by Authors After Dark in the BEST enovel category. Be sure to check them out at the link above.
Terry C. Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?
Keta Diablo: On the links I’ve listed, Amazon, Keta’s Keep Romance Blog and my web site.
Terry, thank you so much for hosting me on your lovely blog. It’s so kind of you to support your colleagues in this manner. Sending lots of good thoughts your way for your kindness.
Terry C. Simpson: You’re most welcome Keta. And thank you for the thoughts. Here’s a couple of Keta’s trading Cards for Dust and Moonlight.
Individual Card links: