I’m pleased to welcome Diana Ballew as my guest. Her new release, Thorns of Eden, set during the Civil War, is a welcome addition to the world of American historical romance. So much focus centers on Regency England in the historical romance realm and so little on America. Time to hearken back to our roots. With that in mind, here’s Diana to share her writing journey.
What do you think makes Thorns of Eden different? What will draw readers to it?
And along that same line, do you feel a strong pull to the people and the time periods you write about?
Civil War romance novels are few and far between these days. That alone helps them to stand out. I wanted Thorns of Eden to be different right from the start. Rather than have the hero and heroine on opposite sides of the war, I chose to have both Rayce and Eden siding with the South and smack dab in the middle of conflict at every turn. I never shied away from the slavery issue. In fact, the subject is addressed from a surprising angle you rarely hear about. But this story is a passionate romance above all else.
*Sounds fabulous to me, and one I want to read. And I absolutely love that cover! And now, back to Diana.
So do I. How long have you been writing?
Like most authors, I’ve been writing for years. It started out just as a hobby when I was younger; mostly poetry and shorty stories. As I grew older, I needed to write full-length novels because I had entire stories and characters rattling around inside my dizzied head and they wouldn’t go away. Thorns of Eden is one of those stories.
I well understand how that is. So tell me, are you a Plotter or a Pantser?
I’m a Pantser—all the way. I don’t want to know how the story will unfold or how the characters will react ahead of time. They guide me as I write the story. The ending of a novel comes to me when I’m about 2-3 chapters away from the finale, and I’m usually quite surprised at the turn of events that lead up to the end.
There’s a story waiting to be told in everything we do, everything we see, and even in everything we perceive. After spending twenty years in genealogical research, I’ve always been drawn to writing historical romance. Regardless of the genre, human nature has not changed. Deep emotions are as relevant today as they were many centuries ago.
Dreams do play into my novels from time to time. I’m a very vivid dreamer. Throughout the day, I remember those colorful dreams and mixed emotions I felt while sound asleep. I have a notepad on my night table, and I’ve been known to bolt up out of bed and jot down the latest bizarre dream.
Same here and I so agree with you. Do you write in silence or listen to music? What is essential to your writing process, coffee, chocolate…
I usually write in silence, but sometimes I’ll write while listening to soft music. Additionally, I can’t stand the feel of anything tight around my waist while I’m writing. I need to be in loose, comfortable clothes.
The family tease me about my favorite sloppy ‘wolf’ T-shirt and I just got another. Speaking of wolves, have you killed off any characters? If so, how did you feel about that, and did you have anyone in mind that character was based on in real life? I did. 🙂
Sure, I’ve killed off characters. Frankly, it wouldn’t be realistic writing a Civil War romance where everyone escapes unscathed during that brutal war. I don’t take the death lightly. I try to write the scene so the reader feels as conflicted as I do about the character’s death, yet somehow resigned to their passing. All my characters are based in part on someone I know ; )
Wonderful way to vent. Do you research your story before you write it? Or as you go?
With Thorns of Eden, I researched the entire American Civil War before deciding on the exact time and place this story would unfold. Still, the intriguing storyline and vibrant characters required a lot of research as I went along, too.
I’ll bet. That’s a lot of research. Do you enjoy it?
I adore research. It’s a great passion of mine.
Mine too. Do you have a favorite character?
Wow! Tough question and it really shouldn’t be hard to answer. If we’re talking about my books, I’m in love with Major Rayce Hampton. There, I said it. Yes, the man just does it for me, and I still dream about him. If we’re talking characters from other books I’ve read, I’d have to say my favorite characters are Ignatius J. Riley from A Confederacy of Dunces; Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights; Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games and Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.
I’m with you on Heathcliff. What is one thing your readers would find surprising about you?
When I was young, I crash landed in a fiery airplane on Wake Island. Now that’s surprising, especially that you survived.
Do you ever stray from your genre? Your comfort zone?
All the time, but my full-length novels are always historical in nature.
Has your writing journey been a smooth or bumpy ride?
What advice would you give to a new/ aspiring writer?
Write and don’t stop. Sounds simple, huh? Well, it’s not, and I can’t tell you how many writers struggle with taking the time to write. Life always gets in the way of writing, so finding the time doesn’t just appear on a silver platter—you have to seize the necessary time.
Excellent. Thanks for sharing with us. And I hope you’ll come back soon.
A quote from The romance Reviews says it all: ‘Holy smokes! This is one AWESOME novel! Diana Ballew knew EXACTLY what she was doing when she penned the words that make up this incredible historical novel. Her readers will instantly fall in love with, not only the beautiful characters, but the scenes, the sounds and the feel of a nation torn in two.’ by ReviewsbyMolly
For more in Diane and her new release please visit her website at: http://www.dianaballew.com/
*Images of the Civil War, the beloved Confederate Generals Jeb Stuart and George B. McClellan. General Joseph E. Johnston, commanders of the Union army in the Peninsula Campaign. The very hot Major Rayce Hampton, the hero in Thorns of Eden, and the lovely heroine Eden Blair.