I would like to thank Diana for taking the time out to let me pick her brain! It is much appreciated!
1. What influenced you to first become a Writer?
I’ll warn you, this story is kind of strange. I started writing my first novel because I had a dream one night that I was a young adult author, and I dreamt the concept for an entire series of books. Seriously. When I woke up and told my husband, he reminded me of a vacation we took five years earlier through New England.
We had stopped in Salem, MA to see the witches’ houses. While there, I decided to visit a psychic (when in Rome, right?). So I sat down and the psychic immediately said, “You’re a writer.” And I was; at the time, I was a reporter. I told her this, and she asked what I wrote about. Intentionally trying to be cryptic (I mean, she is a psychic, shouldn’t she already know?), I told her that I wrote about “business.” She swiftly said, “No. I see you writing books, little books, like children’s books.”
I had never considered writing a book before. But after the dream, and my recollection of that encounter, I figured it was “a sign.” So I sat down and started writing my first novel.
2. What advice as a writer, would you give to your younger self?
The road to publication is a long one. When I started out, things happened very quickly. I got my first agent after querying for only two weeks. But things didn’t go smoothly after that. It took me years to sell my first novel to a publisher. So if you want to be an author—I mean, really want it—then you need to be prepared to settle in for the long haul. Everyone gets rejected—some spend years trying to find an agent, others years trying to find an editor, other years trying to create a fan base. Love the acting of writing so much that it makes everything else worth it.
3. What’s your favorite under appreciated book?
I read a lot of young adult novels (occupational hazard), and I feel some of the mega success that’s been achieved in this genre (like Suzanne Collins, Stephenie Meyer, and J.K. Rowling) has skewed the perception of what qualifies as success. So I’m not sure exactly which novels I’ve read that would be considered “under appreciated.” So instead of naming a specific title here, I’ll give a shout out to indie publishers, because they are putting out some great reads. My novel, PROOF OF LIES, is pubbed by Entangled Teen, which has tons of other fabulous YA books. I blog for Quirk Books, which has been killing it lately with hits like Miss Peregrine’s and Pride & Prejudice and Zombies. There are so many more. So seek out a great book by an indie publisher and leave a review!
4. What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before starting your book?
Short answer–tons. Long answer–PROOF OF LIES is the first book in the Anastasia Phoenix series, which I describe as being a bit like Jason Bourne meets The Da Vinci Code. The espionage elements in my novel center around the practice of “disinformation,” which is when a government uses black propaganda to mislead the press and the public. When I started writing this novel, the concept of “disinformation” was rarely mentioned in the news. Now given current events, and the rise of “alternative facts,” it feels like I might have picked a very timely subject. But my novel deals more with the twisting of historical events, not current politics, and this required a lot of research. Half of this book takes place in Italy, thus I wanted to feature an Italian conspiracy theory that I could manipulate so my characters were suddenly inserted into the events. This required lots of research, to pick just the right historical event and figure out how to contort it. Additionally, I met with a former communist spy as research, Lawrence Martin Bittman. He was the Deputy Director of Disinformation for the Czech Republic during the Cold War, and his backstory helped shape many of the espionage elements I created. Also, since all three of the novels in this series are set abroad, I did a lot of research on the settings, and this of course, included travel! So I will claim my trip to Rome, Tuscany and Venice as book research; not a bad work trip, huh?
5. What did you edit out of this book?
Honestly, I edited out enough to fill another entire book. I’ve been working on PROOF OF LIES for seven years and during that time, the novel changed dramatically. Characters that I once killed off, now live. Characters that once had ulterior motives are now purely good. Fight scenes were cut, a love triangle was snipped, and lot of espionage clues and elements were deleted–all to streamline the plot and make my characters’ motivations clearer. Overall, the story I wanted to tell has remained the same, it just took me a long time and a lot of editing to get the book to where it is today.
I have never been so caught up in mysteries and conspiracy theories as I have been with PROOF OF LIES. This is such an interesting tale and I look forward to reading more from Diana Rodriguez Wallach.