Kindle Author Interview: Diane Farr

Diane Farr, author of Wicked Cool, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Wicked Cool?

DIANE FARR: Wicked Cool began as an experiment. I had reached a roadblock in my career writing historical romance—my editor was canned and I found myself "orphaned." In the ensuing months, my agent kept submitting my proposals, and we kept hearing, "Gosh, I love it! Too bad it's not right for our line," from house after house after house. Eventually I got so balled-up, psychologically, that my writing was paralyzed. So, to free up my writing muscles (so to speak), I sat down to write something completely different. I'd always written historical fiction, so this one I set in the present. I'd always written in third person, so this one I wrote in first person. Along about page two I realized that the voice flowing onto the paper was that of a teenager. Lo and behold—I was writing what the industry calls "YA paranormal." And loving it. Wicked Cool is the result.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

DIANE FARR: Characters always come first for me. I'm not a plot-driven author. My background is in theater, so it's natural for me to express plot through dialogue rather than narration. You know, you usually don't get the opportunity to narrate when you're writing a play—that's cheating! And you can't use lines like, "Hello, Mabel, my stepsister who I haven't seen for ten years." No, no, no. So there's a certain amount of skill and technique involved in acting and playwriting that I was trained in and that I draw on. Characters leap into my brain fully-formed, and I hear their voices very clearly. Then I have to figure out what happens to them! That's the hard part, as far as I'm concerned.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

DIANE FARR: My readers are amazing, naturally. I aim my books at intelligent, well-read persons with keen and subtle senses of humor. Early in my career I came across this piece of advice: "Reward the careful reader." And I try to do that. I'm currently writing books aimed at teenagers, but I do not compromise on the vocabulary—or anything else. I reward the careful reader. This means that I do not hammer bits of information in, or telegraph what's important. I trust my readers to realize, when they come across something on page 173, that it relates to what happened on page 19. As a reader, I love those "aha!" moments—so I try to create those for my own readers. In my historicals, I dropped little Easter eggs to reward my careful readers, and it delighted me when people found them—little references to characters or events in my other books, or even other authors' books, which someone (usually several someones) always spotted.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

DIANE FARR: Like all writers, I started out as a voracious reader. Eventually I got hooked on the delicious novels of Georgette Heyer. I bought all her books—even multiple copies of some of them, because I read them to tatters. (This was before the days of Kindle!) Ms. Heyer, alas, died in the 1970s and the supply of her books was finite. There would be no new ones. So when I couldn't stand it anymore—I needed a new Heyer novel, and she wasn't around to deliver one—I started writing my own. I wrote The Nobody purely for my own amusement. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that what amused me, amused others. Signet Regency bought it and published it in 1999. And the rest, as they say, is history.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

DIANE FARR: Slow. Tortuous. Painful. I suffer from permanent and debilitating writer's block. It's rather like chronic constipation, if you'll pardon the metaphor. But eventually the stories must, and do, come out. I always type "THE END" with a sense of relief that is almost euphoric.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

DIANE FARR: Have I mentioned Georgette Heyer? There are many others, of course, but since most of them are presently alive and writing, I hesitate to mention them—for fear that I'd leave someone out and hear about it later.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

DIANE FARR: Oh, wow...just one? How about Gone with the Wind? I'd love to have written that, because then somebody would let me write a sequel.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

DIANE FARR: I haven't. Isn't that awful? Unless you count this interview. I just hate it when authors incessantly hawk their books, so I try to spare others the discomfort. You hate to turn anybody down who approaches you personally with a "buy my book" plea—but if I bought every book marketed to me, I'd go broke. I'm friends with an awful lot of authors. I try to buy at least one by everybody...but it's so miserable to visit a chat room or a message board and be bombarded with book marketing, don't you think? I have a Facebook page, but it's only got 200 fans, so I am definitely doing something wrong! Someday I'll figure out where the sweet spot is. Until that day, I'll try to err on the side of under-marketing. At some point I'll get serious about it, because I think you really have to, these days. I just hope I find a way of doing it that isn't too annoying. It's counter-productive, I'm sure, if you end up driving people away.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

DIANE FARR: Freedom, baby. It is soooo refreshing to have this much control. Anyone who has dealt with traditional publishers knows what I'm talking about. You are deeply grateful to your publisher, of course, but I don't know a single print author who has enjoyed the kind of smooth going I've enjoyed with Kindle. Print publishing takes forever. Your book hits the stores a year or two after you have sold it, and then you wait at least another year for your first royalty check. So you'd better get a healthy advance, because otherwise you'll be eating a lot of mac & cheese for the next few years. With Kindle, the book is done and up and for sale, spit-spot. What I don't "get" is how readers find your book—but then, I've never understood that process anyway. It's quite mysterious. Somehow, readers are finding
Wicked Cool. More readers than I anticipated. Not sure what that's about, or if it will continue, but so far I'm very pleasantly surprised.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

DIANE FARR: Don't publish your book until some other pair of eyes has looked at it—preferably a very sharp pair of eyes. It is not humanly possible to catch all your own typos. What you are missing in the Kindle experience is editorial input, and no author can afford to be flip about that. Editors drive you crazy, true, but their work is valuable and necessary. Get someone to correct your typos and and tell you things like, "Are you aware that the heroine's eyes 'widen' about six times in this chapter?" I don't care how good you are—you are going to miss things when proofing your own work.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Diane Farr was first published at the age of eight when the local newspaper printed one of her poems. She has spent most of her life with her nose in a book—sometimes reading, sometimes writing. Eventually she produced eight historical romances that were all published by Signet Books. Her latest adventure, Wicked Cool, started out as an ebook, but she missed the smell of the ink and has now made a print version available through CreateSpace (yes, you can buy it on!) to go with the Kindle version.

Visit her website and find her on facebook.

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