Diane Rapp Interview

Diane Rapp became an entrepreneur when she started her own dog grooming salon in Santa Barbara, California. She spent the next thirty years as a small business owner; she sold real estate, started an office supply/copy center, and performed free-lance advertising design.

What inspired you to write?
I started writing down the stories I imagined while trying to fall asleep each night. You see, I developed insomnia due to my stressful work as a Realtor. When interest rates hit 20%, I worried about my clients too much. To fall asleep I made my mind think about the characters in a story. Soon I had to write the story down or I'd really be unable to sleep. My stories turned into books and I needed to learn how to edit and publish. I still get insomnia sometimes, but I let the characters in a new book decide how their stories will turn out while I dream.

Did the inspiration to write come to you suddenly, or had you been thinking about it some time?
I've dreamed up stories since I was a kid but had to work at a job to make money. After I retired I got serious about making my books printable and worked with an editor. I found a publisher who had contracted to print my first mystery, but the publisher went bankrupt and returned the book. Discouraged, I quit writing for five years. My hubby read an article in an RV magazine (we were RVing around the country) and gave it to me. It described how Indie authors published on Amazon and my husband encouraged me to give it a try. I now have ten books on Amazon and working on a new mystery.

How did you tell your story? In other words, did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
My mysteries follow a "timeline" that I write down, so I know where my characters will be and what they must discover along the way. Nothing is set in stone. I develop a list of characters and red herrings, but I filter them into the story and let the characters tell me the story. In my Science-Fiction I imagine characters and what difficulties they must face. I develop themes I want to get across to my reader. As I write scenes with each character, I get to know them and eventually let the story develop from character interactions. I'm very grateful for cut-and-paste features on word processing. I used to do that with real scissors and paper.

Did you receive any encouragement from family and friends, or did you work on your book alone?
My sister read my first science-fiction novel on a Saturday when she was planning to go shopping with a friend. She called her friend and said, "I can't go shopping, I've got to finish my sister's book." Later she called me and said, "I've literally known you my whole life but never knew your mind worked like this. It's fabulous!" She buys multiple print copies of my new books and gives them away to her friends. It warms my heart. Of course my hubby is my biggest cheerleader. I've gathered a network of author friends on Twitter and Facebook that always support me.

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
Ending a storyline. I once tried to write short stories but they kept turning into books. I got half-way through my first science-fiction novel and realized I needed to tell what happened before the story started to know what happened next. I found myself writing book one and book two at the same time. Then the story wasn't finished, so I wrote book three. Those first characters are still whispering new ideas during my dreams so I may need to write more books. That's not so bad, is it?

What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
Imagining new worlds and characters. They become friends who I enjoy visiting.

Did you experience any personal transformation after the book was published?
After I published several books and started getting good reviews, I developed self-confidence. Writers sit alone pouring their thoughts into a machine and sometimes wonder if anyone is really our there reading. Getting people to write reviews is hard, so it's gratifying when they take the time to do it. Of course there are a few who "don't get it" but most of the readers really enjoy my stories.

What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity?
Life interruptions. My hubby needs lunch, my dog needs a walk, a phone call breaks into the thought process. I guess that's why it's good to have a written outline. I do usually regain my train of thought because the characters complain until I write their scenes down.

What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
At first I cried, a lot. Once I wrote a scathing reply and then deleted it. Now it's better to ignore the snarky people who have nothing better to do than tear down someone who spends time creating. (My last novel took a year from start to finish.)

Where did you grow up and what is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
I grew up outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. My worst memory was nearly drowning when our fishing boat capsized in a storm. I never really enjoyed fishing and made sure I learned how to swim. My favorite memories usually involved reading exciting adventures in books, and I always wanted to write my own ideas. I got great encouragement from teachers about my writing.

Do you have a favorite quote?
“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be..." Robert Browning
It's a quote that my husband and I use.

What is your favorite show on TV?
"Castle" was my favorite, and I watch the reruns all the time. I also enjoy "NCIS" since the writing is very good.

Favorite movie?
"How to Train Your Dragon"
It may be a cartoon but it is so good that I'll watch it again and again.

Favorite book?
That depends on what mood I'm in. If I want to write a mystery, I will read Agatha Christie novels. If I want to write a science-fiction novel I will re-read the Dragon Riders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. I have bookcases full of my favorites.

Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
Isaac Asimov got me started reading science-fiction.

Is there a talent you wish you had?
Telepathy, but I'd be sure to learn how to block thoughts!

What’s something about you that would surprise us?
I design and sew really cute handbags. Of course writing gets in the way of sewing!

Describe yourself in 3 words!
Split Personality Writer