Thursday, September 28, 2017 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Getting to Know Diana McCollum

The Write Way Café welcomes Diana McCollum, an author who enjoys creating worlds where anything is possible.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?  
     I’d been toying with the idea of writing a historical romance for about ten years while working at a full time job. Ideas kept floating in and out of my brain. I’d write them down in a notebook of “someday story ideas”. I also collected interesting news stories that I thought I might one day use in a book. Finally one idea was too intriguing not to be written. I bought a typewriter, checked books out of the library, read the books during my lunch hour, and researched medieval history. That story was a romance. I joined the local writing group in Auburn, California. A mixed group of writers from novels to non-fiction. There I met a lady who told my about Romance Writers of America. I joined the Sacramento, California group where I listened to lectures on writing, took classes and workshops and realized how much I NEEDED to learn. Needless to say, that first book is under the bed and may never see the light of day.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do? 
     I found out it takes a tribe to publish a book. I sent the manuscript to Beta readers, hired an editor, and hired a cover designer. I bought “DIY Publishing” by Maggie McVay Lynch, I took some online classes on e-publishing, and taught myself publishing by trial and error. 
     As for research I did most of it online. I studied fishing boats, and terminology, I looked at pictures and read descriptions of Massachusetts. I did some research on bacteria and scientific facts about the ocean. Waxing, MA in my book is made up, but based on a fishing village in MA.

Where did the idea for your story come from? 
     The idea for this story sprang from the short story I wrote, The Crystal Witch which is part of an anthology “Love & Magick”. The witch in the short story belonged to the Coastal Coven and Ella my heroine was a member. So I had Ella’s name but what sort of witch was she? Always fascinated with mythology, I thought a sea witch would have to be governed by Poseidon, the god of the sea. Then I did the “What if?” game and from those questions I came up with Ella who is a sea witch, who is also a marine biologist researching the Atlantic ocean off of MA. When disaster strikes in the form of an unknown bacterium, Ella is forced to find the answers for a cure not only by the local officials, but Poseidon demands it.

Why did you pick the setting you did? 
     I love New England. Massachusetts seemed a fitting place for this Coven to exist. 

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself? 
     They are imaginary, although some physical attributes are from me or people I’ve met. 

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret? 
     Yes I did have writing blocks. Sometimes all I needed was to take a break from the computer for a while. Sometimes it’s just a quick walk around the yard enjoying the flowers. If that didn’t work, I either brainstormed with my critique partner or asked myself ten to twenty questions of what could happen. Of course the main thing is I got myself back in my chair with my fingers on the key board!

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
     I was very surprised at Mischell, a tween mermaid with short pink hair who showed up while I was writing the book. Afterwards, I was surprised at how many people have asked for two things: Mischell’s story, and James, who was cursed by Poseidon to live as an Octopus. James is Ella’s familiar.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world? 
     I learned I get a lot more writing done when I have a specific time to sit in the chair with fingers on the keyboard. And to not start off by editing three chapters back. Just get the first draft out and then go back and edit.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you. 
     My writing space is a corner of our den. I sit by the window and have a birdfeeder outside which is enjoyable, especially when I’m trying to think of the perfect word. Much better staring at the birds and sunshine than the computer screen. Since it is a small area I sometimes write at the kitchen table. 

What are some of your favorite books and why? 
     Anything by Nora Roberts because she is such an excellent writer and story teller. The “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon. Her books average 800 pages and she has made Jamie and Claire’s story last for eight books which is amazing. Plus I love time travel stories, and this one is of epic proportion. My keeper shelf has all of Paula Brackston’s books. I started with The Witch’s Daughter. Paula’s use of language and description are wonderful and she is a talented story teller.

What are you working on now? 
     I’m about four chapters into my new manuscript, The Twilight Witch. Opal is also a member of the Coastal Coven in Waxing, MA. She lives and works in Nova Scotia. Opal is a scientist studying the evolving coywolves. And yes there really are coywolves, a cross between coyotes and wolves on New Briton Island, Nova Scotia, I researched it.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why? 
    Yes, someday I’d like to write a medieval romance. I’ve always been interested in that time period. And what’s great today is we have the internet and tons of information at our finger tips.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be? 
     I would like be a courier for the diplomatic corps. I could travel to many different countries and see the world, and maybe help with world peace.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble? 
     When I sit down to write in the mornings I sometimes go back three or four chapters and edit before beginning to write. I try to only allow myself to go back through the last scene on the first draft. Every now and then I do go back several chapters, but doing so is such a time drain. Most important is getting that first draft done!

Who is your favorite hero/heroine? 
     I’d have to say Jamie and Claire, from Outlander. In my own writing my favorites are always the story I’m working on, so Opal and Gavin. 

Diana will be giving away a $5.00 Amazon gift card to one lucky person who leaves a comment!

     Gifted witch Ella Stone, born with an affinity for water and the ability to talk to sea creatures, is on a mission. Ocean life is disappearing off the Atlantic Coast, and Poseidon needs her to find out why. She'll do anything she can to find answers, even if that means hiring handsome, brooding sea captain Noah Drago to help.
     Ella leads an isolated existence, keeping her secrets close. To the world at large she's a scientist, but deep down she's a lonely witch, wanting a deeper connection but afraid of reaching out. When Noah accidentally learns of her magick, she'll have to trust him.
     Noah has been a commercial fisherman all his life, except for five years as a Navy SEAL. He's seen and done things that scarred him, so he keeps to himself. Ella hires him and his life changes as quickly as a storm at sea. The sexy scientist's kisses turn Noah's world upside-down. Soon, he's plunging into a world of myth, magick and passion.
     But will their growing connection-their love-be enough to save them from an encroaching evil bent on destroying all life as they know it?


About Diana: Diana McCollum, her husband and 91 year old mother live in Central Oregon with a view of Mt. Bachelor. Life is often chaotic. Having a few hours of uninterrupted writing time is a precious commodity.
     In between her duties as caretaker, administrative assistant, chauffer and cook, Diana likes to read, paint, garden, hike and fish, and of course WRITE!
     A lifetime avid reader, Diana enjoys creating worlds where anything is possible. She can’t help but include an element of the paranormal in her stories, and always a happily-ever-after.
Diana is a member of Romance Writers of America, Rose City Romance Writers RWA, Central Oregon Writers Guild, and Bend writer’s lunch bunch!

You can find Diana at the following locations:


Lynn said...

Interesting interview. Good luck with sales! Your book sounds great. Thank you for being on our blog!

HiDee said...

Thanks for being with us today, Diana. Your book sounds very interesting!

Diana McCollum said...

Thanks so much for having me, Lynn and HiDee! It was fun doing the interview. I'm going spread the word about the interview with you on Social Media!

Kathy Coatney said...

Diana loved hearing about you as a writer and can't wait for you to finish the book you're working on and get to that medieval!

Judith Ashley said...

Diana, Great interview! and I thought I knew you but a diplomatic courier? Who knew! So glad you are working on Opal's story. I've heard of coywolves also. What a fun research topic. And, your stories are very creative. I've read them all and enjoyed them immensely.

Diana McCollum said...

Thanks for stopping by Kathy! I know, finish the darn book. Kathy is a writer friend from Bend and a member of our little Bend lunch bunch. We boost each others morale and help keep each other on track.

Diana McCollum said...

Hi, Judith! Thanks for the compliment. What would you be if you could be anything other than a writer? Inquiring minds want to know!

Sarah Raplee said...

I've read this book and loved it! I'm one of the people that wants to read Mischell's story and James's story! Your short stories in Love and Magick are wonderful, too. Enjoyed learning more about your writing journey.


Deb N said...

I really enjoyed this book. And I too thought Mischell and James would make a great couple. They were such fun characters. If I had the talent, I would have loved to be a saxophone player. Maybe in another life, since I can't carry a tune in this one :-)

SusanD said...

Diana, you have such a fertile imagination. I love the world you've created with Poseidon. There's going to be a new version of this story, right? or a re-issue? Including a new story. When can we look for that?

Diana McCollum said...

Thanks for stopping by Sarah, Deb and Susan! A saxophone player, I would have never guessed, Deb. Yes, Susan, an added short story to the Novella and is in the near future.

Madelle Morgan said...

I love the cover. Great premise, Diana, and so timely. Ocean life is indeed endangered by so many things! The world needs diplomats too. ;)

Marie Harte said...

Awesome interview, Diana! Thank you for sharing. :)

Diana McCollum said...

I'm glad you like the cover, Madelle. Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks, Marie Harte!

Barbara Rae Robinson said...

Great interview, Diana! You're full of surprises--diplomatic courier and writing medieval romances. I hope you get to do both!

Diana McCollum said...

Thanks Barb! It would be great to do both. I Intend to do at least one of those items.

Diana McCollum said...

I put all the names in a hat and my 90 yr old Mom drew the winner, Susan D.
I know who that is and will contact her today.

The Write Way Cafe said...

We'll add the winner to our Giveaways page as well. Congratulations Susan D.! Thanks again for being with us Diana!