It’s always great to ‘meet’  authors and take a peek into what they are creating. I read very widely so for those of you following my blog while I have my fair share of rural literature authors to visit there are so many wonderful books out there it seems a pity to constrain this site to just one genre. So for those of you looking for a new fiction read in November Dianne Blacklock would certainly be worthwhile looking up. Dianne and I ‘met’ after I was fiddling around on the internet one day and I came across one of her novels. Dianne lives in the beautiful Illawarra and has four sons. She has been a teacher, trainer, counsellor, check-out chick, and even one of those annoying market researchers you avoid in shopping centres. Nowadays she tries not to annoy anyone by staying home and writing. Her eighth book, The Secret Ingredient, will be published in November 2011. Enjoy… 

1.       What type of books do you write?

Broadly speaking, I write ‘women’s fiction’, but men are allowed to read it too! I write about women, and men, and relationships and families and everything that goes with them. There has been a fabulous ongoing debate over at my blog this past week on how we define the genre. Some people hate the term ‘chick lit’, believing it devalues books written by women; others suggested that perhaps ‘women’s fiction’ sounds a bit dour and politically correct. All agreed that they were drawn to books with engaging characters and a compelling narrative that makes them think, but also offers some entertainment and escapism! That’s certainly what I aim for in my books. 

 2.       The Secret Ingredient to be released this November is your 8th book. Does it feel like a milestone to have reached this number? 

Every time I complete a book it feels like I have reached a milestone, but interestingly, once The Secret Ingredient is published, I worked out that I will have over a million words in print. That does feel pretty amazing! However, you can never rest on your laurels. By the time a book is out on the shelves, I’m already working on the next one. I live in fear that I won’t come up with something fresh, and I’ll just start churning out the same thing, so I try to approach each one as I did my first – never assuming it will be published, but constantly striving to make it my ‘best yet’. I think complacency is probably the greatest enemy of a writer. 

3.       Many authors reflect on their previous works when commencing a new ‘story’. Do you find it easy to move on or do previous characters ‘haunt’ you?  

I’m very happy to have past characters hanging around in my head! Sometimes I worry that the new characters won’t be as engaging, the new storyline not as interesting. But as things develop, the old characters gradually fade into the background. I find I can always summon up the characters from all of my books if I want to – they’re like old friends, or people you once worked with, it’s nice to catch up occasionally. That probably sounds a bit nuts! 

4.       What made you become a writer?  

I’ve loved to write for as long as I can remember, but I never had the audacity to think I could be a writer – it quite simply never crossed my mind as an option. Then a dear, longstanding friend suggested we ‘knock over’ a Mills & Boon together to make a bit of money. Of course we were promptly rejected – it’s not as easy as it looks. So we decided instead that we would write what we wanted to write, not to a formula or for a particular audience. And so began what I like to call my apprenticeship – a manuscript that developed over the next decade, through pregnancies and babies and building a house, and going back to paid work. Eventually I had four children, was teaching part-time and about to embark on a master’s degree, so I decided I needed ‘closure’ on my writing aspirations. I would finish the manuscript, submit it to a publisher and eventually receive a rejection letter. And that would be the end of it. 

 Only I didn’t get a rejection letter! That’s how I became a writer. 

5.       You appear to do quite a lot of joint publicity including library talks with two other Women’s Fiction authors. A) What led you to ‘combine’ forces and b) What is the single greatest benefit from such a collaboration?  

 A) Ber Carroll, Liane Moriarty and myself ‘combined forces’ for many reasons. Ber and I had both been looking for opportunities to network with other writers, and happened to mention it to our shared publisher, who put us in touch with each other. I had met Liane before, so I invited her to join us. That’s when we discovered we have a lot more in common than the fact we all write women’s fiction for the same publisher. We all come from families of six kids and have Irish backgrounds, and we’re all mums trying to juggle writing and rearing! It’s been a natural fit, and writing is such a solitary occupation, it’s wonderful to have the support and camaraderie of other writers. 

 B) Liane jokes the greatest benefit is that at least one of us always has a pen for signing books! But we all really appreciate sharing the load. It’s a lot easier to stand up in front of a crowd when there are two others who have your back. I think it’s also more entertaining for the audience – especially when they hear Ber’s Irish accent! We also produce a newsletter together, which is much more varied and interesting with three voices contributing.