It was a joy to welcome Diane to my new Chat Room. It was a beautiful summer’s day but too hot to venture outside. Ruby, the dog, was looking a little hot and bothered so we decided to seek sanctuary in the shade of the Chat Room. We opened the patio doors and enjoyed the welcome breeze that made its way into the room. Ruby stirred, a little when she heard the barking of the neighbour’s dog but settled to listen to the chat.
I prepared some Rum Swizzle cocktails and we settle down to chat about Diane’s debut novel, ‘Press Three for Goodbye’. Diane had brought crusty bread, green and black olives and smoked salmon with cream cheese and horseradish. She was wearing a flowing, bright summery dress and carried a pink leather handbag with a gold clasp.
It was great to be in Diane’s company she was so cheerful and relaxed during the interview.
Jessie: I enjoyed the book and referred to it as a ‘rapid read’ for my handbag as it was an easy comforting read. Although funny the book is heart-breaking as Beth has been with ‘one person for half a lifetime’ and has to re-build’. Do you agree with this?
Diane: Yes. My novel is an easy yet poignant read written with compassion and humour. A reminder we have the power to rebuild ourselves, even when we’ve hit rock bottom.
Jessie: The book is positive and inspiring. I know that the book would cheer people up if they were feeling a bit low. The novel is a great escape and easy to read. What made you start to write the book?
Diane: I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1999 and writing rescued me from depression because it gave me a focus, so I was actually thinking what I could do rather than what I couldn’t. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and dreamed of writing a book. I’ve written poetry and short stories, but I knew that writing a book was a big task and a long journey and worried that I would be unable to tackle writing a novel, especially as I get fatigue and memory lapses as a result of the MS. The MS Society funded a short writing course for me, which I loved, and I found that my imagination hadn’t deserted me, after all! I tried to pace myself throughout the novel, although I confess at one point I never thought I’d actually type “The End!” I am donating a proportion of the sales from my book to the MS Society.
Jessie: People have been very positive about your book. You must be so proud of your first novel and the way that the story just breezes along. I enjoyed writing your review but what did other people say?
Diane smiled, took a sip of her cocktail and then searched for her phone. Ruby was sitting beside Diane and sitting on the phone. Diane took the phone and placed her book in front of the dog. Ruby settled down again as if she intended to read the book again. Diane looked at her phone and read some of the Amazon reviews.
Diane: I am really chuffed with the reviews and the support that I have had from everyone.
“This has everything: love and heartache, humour and friendship, courage and compassion”.
“The heroine, Beth, is that rare thing in contemporary fiction – empathetic, likeable and thoroughly believable”.
“The witty yet sympathetic narrative delivers frequent laugh-out-loud moments and numerous poignant ones.”
Jessie: Read an extract from my book to tempt a reader
Diane: “Beth stared at Paul, her mind racing. She knew things hadn’t been all hearts and flowers between them, but surely most marriages were like that after twenty-three years, weren’t they?”
Jessie: Beth is such a likeable, humorous and fun character. I missed her when I had finished the book. How did you feel when you’d finished writing the book, and did you miss any of the characters?
Diane: I felt a tummy churning moment as the reality of writing “The End” kicked in and I realised I would no longer be immersed in Beth’s world. I missed all of the characters, especially Beth, Jackie and Paul. It was fun to write from Paul’s point of view.
Jessie: Are you anything like the character of Beth?
Diane: I am impulsive, a worrier and have a great sense of humour, so I guess I related particularly well with Beth’s character. A lot of people who’ve read the book say they can think of people in their everyday lives with the characteristics of some of my book characters!
Jessie: What’s the last sentence written in my writer’s notebook?
“OMG! I’ve actually done it!”
Jessie: How do your family feel about your novel? Have they read it?
Diane: They are all so encouraging and really proud that I finished it.; they know it’s something I’d put on the back-burner for years. My two daughters have read it and so have my brothers and sisters-in-law, but I’ve yet to force oh, sorry, convince my son to read it!
Jessie: Do you think that you will write another book?
Diane: Yes, I’d like to write something different before eventually writing a sequel to Press Three.
Jessie: What’s the biggest challenge of an indie author?
Diane: In my case, it’s promoting my book. I find it very hard to “sell myself”, and I’m definitely not a natural sales person, so I find it difficult to keep up with book promotion.
Jessie: Why should you keep my book in your handbag?
It’s an easy read that you can dip into and a reminder that if life’s not good, that we have the power to rebuild our lives. It’s ideal for when you have a chance to kick off your shoes and relax somewhere with a nice glass of wine, or a cuppa if you prefer!
Jessie: Well, I think that you have sold the book perfectly. You have a lovely succinct, engaging style of writing. I hope that you will write another book. Congratulations on your first novel. I think that people should buy the novel for a great holiday read. As I said in my review, it’s ‘a rapid read’. It’s a great book for the airport as long as people are happy to laugh out loud.
Diane laughed at this comment and made reference to one of the early scenes involving the dog. Ruby seemed to understand the conversation and jumped up to indicate that it was time to leave.