First of all, can you tell us a bit about your new book, The Miner’s Wife?
It’s set in Swaledale, which is very dear to me because it’s one of the nicest places in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s about 19-year-old Meg Oversby, a farmer’s daughter aspiring to have a broader life than being stuck at home. She finds a different life away from her farm when she meets Sam, a lead-miner, and his brother Jack, but she soon realises Sam is not all he seems…
Your work is heavily influenced by the Yorkshire Dales – what’s your favourite thing about the area?
Gosh, that’s a hard one! It’s just so beautiful wherever you go, but all the Dales are different and you don’t have to go far to see them. I love the scenery that changes with the weather – every season has its own beauty. The people here are fantastic too!
Can you tell us how you got into writing?
Completely by accident about 10 years ago! I was in my mid-50s and working as manager of Magna Large Print books in Long Preston, but I’d never put pen to paper before in my life. Basically, we were short of family sagas at work, and one day I jokingly said that one of us must be able to write one… so I went home, sat down and wrote a book, and that’s how it started.
It must have been a hit because you’ve written quite a few more since.
The first one wasn’t, it was a disaster! It was turned down quite quickly, but the publisher said, ‘Get on and get writing again because there were nice pieces in there.’ I wrote another one and that one was accepted.
Do you have a favourite book that you’ve written?
I must admit, I do like the one about Ribblehead, For a Mother’s Sin – that one was more personal to me.
What is it about romance and historical family sagas that you love so much?
I’m a great lover of history, so I can involve the history of the Dales alongside the romance of people’s lives as well. I also like to try and keep local names in, which sometimes gets me in a bit of trouble because there are people with those names who are still alive! But I don’t mean it to be them. And then I just love romance in general – who doesn’t love Gone With the Wind?
Who are your own literary influences?
I love the Brontës and Daphne du Maurier – she describes Cornwall so well and I love that.
What is your favourite book of all time?
I’d say Wuthering Heights. It’s got perfect characters: Cathy’s wild and footloose and Heathcliff is so brooding. It also depicts that part of the Dales so well.
Do you have any creative rituals when it comes to writing?
I have a build-up of about a month planning and researching, and then when I put it all together it flows as I write. I never really put a plot together because it’s usually whatever comes out at the end. I’m quite a strange writer to be honest – I often find it hard to send a synopsis in to my publisher because it twists and turns according to how I feel that day when I’m writing. I do sit down and think: ‘Okay, today I’m going to write 2,000–3,000 words about this’, but the plot flows naturally.
Do you have any advice for budding authors out there?
Try your best, keep on going, and if at first your work is rejected, don’t lose heart. That’s the key.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an author?
I’d be nicely retired! But I’d certainly be doing something because I’m one of those people who can’t sit still. But I’ve got the bug now – I’ll never stop.
Diane’s new book, The Miner’s Wife, is published by Pan Macmillan and is available to buy on Amazon and in all good bookshops.