USA Today best selling author Dianne Castell writes for Kensington BRAVA. She also writes a monthly editor interview column for Romance Writers Report. Her books have won Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, been on the cover of Romantic Times Magazine and included in Rhapsody Book Club, Doubleday Book Club and have made the Waldenbooks Bestseller list. The second book in her Savannah Sizzles series for the BRAVA line, Hot and Irresistible, hits the shelves Nov‘09. Hot Summer Nights is out May ’10. Dianne lives in Cincinnati with her two cats and will do just about anything to get out of housework.
Thank you for this interview, Dianne. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
Hi, Broowaha. It’s great being here. I’ve been writing for fifteen years and it’s been a heck of a ride. I’ve met the most amazing readers and authors and many have become life-long friends. I cannot imagine a job more fun than writing.
Do you write full-time?
There’s so much more than just writing the book. In fact, an author is usually working on three books at once. There’s the book you’re writing, working on edits you got back from your editor for your next release, promoting that next release and working on a proposal for your next series. Writing is definitely a full time job.
You’ve met an old friend from high school and you want to pitch your book to him/her in five minutes or less. What would you say?
I try to keep a low profile and simply answer that writing is a job like every other job. There are good times and not so good but I enjoy what you do so I keep at it.
But if they persist and want to know about my next release I say something like: Hot and Irresistible is about four Southern gals and four hot guys, one lost jewel, a bit of ghosts and some voodoo and a mystery that brings them all together.
I memorized it so I don’t panic and freeze up. What’s really fun is when that friend confesses that he/she is also writing and I’m amazed how many are.
Who is your intended audience? Have you been able to crossover into other audiences as well?
Contemporary romance readers are my target audience but with Hot and Irresistible set in the South I often get readers interested in reading Southern books. I hear from them saying, “Hey, I ate at the Pirate House too.” Or “I love Paula Deen.” And I do love Paula Deen too and the Pirate House has wonderful food. You can connect with readers on so many levels. And with my books being humorous there are those readers looking for a fun read who often pick up my books as well.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I love the h-e-a ending. That’s endings where the hero and heroine live happily ever after. I hate book that kill off the hero at the end. To me that’s a cheap shot. It’s as if author cannot think of what to do with the hero or heroine so they get whacked. Or if the hero and heroine don’t wind up together, I don’t get that either. What is the point of putting two people through all the problems in the book and then not earn the right to be together.
Shawshank Redemption is the most deserved ending ever. Now that’s happily ever after!
Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?
I live with self-doubt. When I finish a book I’m amazed I did it and then wonder if it’s the biggest piece of crap out there. But when I read it over it’s not so bad and the editors seem to like it so that helps. After a time I actually like the book a lot. It takes a while. I think authors are their own worse critics.
Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?
I always write in my office which I just redid. There’s room for my two cats to sleep next to the computer…just like they are now… and three windows for great light and nice views of the garden.
What kind of research did you have to do during the writing process?
To write a book set in Savannah you have to go there and not just once. You need to experience the city in tourist season and when the locals get to reclaim it for their own. Those who live in Savannah love it. They fought long and hard to keep the big mansions, twenty-three squares and unique little shops from the wrecking ball and big box stores. It is the South. It is unique.
I have a bit of voodoo in my books and that too is a special aspect of Savannah. It’s not simply a tourist enticement but a part of the culture, not that all want to admit it but it’s a fact. Savannah is a character in Hot and Irresistible. It couldn’t be set in NY or LA.
Who is your publisher and how did you get accepted by them? Did you pitch your book yourself or go through an agent?
I write for Kensington Brava. I pitched a three book deal to Kate Duffy and she bought it. My agent, Roberta Brown, did the contract. I did the pitch myself because Lori Foster got me an intro with Kate as Lori was writing for Kate at the time. Lori Foster is a terrific friend. I owe her a lot.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
Self-promo is a must if you don’t have the publicist. I have bookmarks and posters to send to booksellers. I have a webpage of course and do Face Book and blogs and chats. I’m part of the Vamps and Scamps, an online group that hangs out and talks books and everything else. It’s good to keep your name out there even when you don’t have a release.
Also it’s important to give back to the community and help other writers get published. Lori Foster and I put on the Lori Foster/Dianne Castell Reader-Writer Get Together every year where all money we raise from raffle baskets and the bookfair are donated to local charities. This year we donated nearly ten-thousand dollars to One Way Farm, a local shelter for abandoned and abused children. In the past we donated to the YWCA battered women’s shelter and no-kill animal shelter. At the event…next year will be out sixth year…we bring in editors and agents and publishers so writers can pitch their work and find representation and get published. We’ve all had help getting where we are and Lori and I do the event as payback and for just plain fun.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Have a website that you change often and get on FaceBook and My Space and keep it current. These are cheap and they work. Keep your name out there even when you don’t have a book release. Keep in the game.
What’s next for you?
Hot Southern Nights comes out next May and then I have another series in the works. So many books, never enough time.
Thank you for this interview, Dianne Castell. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Thanks for having me, Broowaha. This was a blast. You have a wonderful site and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
You can see me at: www.DianneCastell.com
You can write me at: DianneCastell@Hotmail.com
You can talk to me at: www.facebook.com/reqs.php#/DianneCastell?ref=profile