Q. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and what inspired you?
A. In elementary school, I discovered that I liked writing assignments because I always surprised myself with what I wrote--something I still try to do. I was especially proud of one story I wrote in 3rd grade, but instead of praise from the teacher, she accused me of copying it from a book--which I did NOT do. I was shocked that she would think I would cheat, but also pleased that she'd think my story was that good. Other teachers chose my stories and poems to read out loud to the class, which gave me confidence that writing was something I could do well. I didn¹t consider writing as a career until I grew up, and started attending writers' conferences. That was the push I needed to become serious about writing stories and submitting them for publication.
Q. How do you get ideas for stories?
A. I like to say that ideas are like mosquitos. Many buzz around you- enough to notice--but it's the ones that take a bite out of you that you remember. And those ideas become an itch you just have to scratch. :> I spend a lot of time thinking, planning, and plotting ideas before I ever write a word. But when the opening scene finally comes to me, then I know it¹s time to sit down and begin to type.
Q. How long does it take you to complete a book?
A. PRINCESS NEVERMORE was written over a period of twenty years. THE VAMPIRE WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS was written in a week. The other books all fall somewhere in between. :> If I can block off large chunks of time, the work goes fast because I stay in the story. When I'm away from my work, it takes hours or days to get the momentum of the story moving again. Of course, large chunks of writing time are few and far between, therefore I've learned how to write in bits and pieces. One of my first novels was written entirely in restaurants after I moved to a new city and was not feeling at home.
Q. Did you have any role models as a child and who were they?
A. Jo in LITTLE WOMEN. She wanted to be a writer. And she cut off her long hair and sold it so her family would have money. How noble! My heroes were in books. I wanted to be Anne of Green Gables, and, with red braids down to my waist, I certainly looked the part. I wanted to be Lucy in NARNIA, and I wanted to be Taran in PRYDAIN.
Q. Do you have any advice for kids who want to write or illustrate?
A. You're never too young to be a writer. If you are interested in how to get your stories, poems, or drawings published, or how to enter writing contests, here are a few tips: I recommend a book called Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, which contains a chapter on markets for writers under the age of 18. It also features lots of questions and answers about publishing books. Read! There is an old saying: "Learn from the masters." Read not only for entertainment, but read to figure out how the author:
1. Grabbed your attention in chapter one.
2. Kept you turning the page.
3. Made you laugh or cry or feel angry or sympathetic, etc. 4. Made the story exciting or scary, funny or sad.
5. Made you wish the story didn't end.
Write! Many people make the mistake of thinking they will write "someday." But real writers write. Period. Find a few friends who like to write. Read and discuss each other's stories. This helps an author see what needs to be changed, trimmed, expanded, etc. I have more tips for young writers on my webpage: diancurtisregan.com.
Q. Do you have any pets or a favorite animal?
A. I have a Texas cat named Poco, who I rescued from an animal shelter when he was a baby. He is 16 now, and my biggest concern is how to get him from South America, where I live now, back home to the states. Walruses also play a big role in my life, based on a story I wrote years ago. People send them to me, so I now have over 90 walruses in my office. Also, a walrus is buried somewhere in almost every one of my books.
Q. What are your hobbies?
A. First and foremost--reading, of course. Here in Venezuela, my hobbies have changed out of necessity. I attempt to grow my own sprouts, herbs, and vegetables, because food here is different and not as healthy as I'd like it to be. I am not entirely successful at this, and have yet to conquer making my own cottage cheese and yogurt. These are hobbies I will gladly give up when I move home. :>
Q. The richly detailed world of Mandria makes the reader feel like they are there. How long did it take you to create this world and what was your inspiration?
A. Mandria was inspired by Narnia, Prydain, and probably other fantasy worlds I found in books while growing up.
Since the updated edition of Princess Nevermore was written after Cam's Quest, I was amazed at how much clearer I saw Mandria after writing about it and thinking about it for—oh, twenty years! I added a lot of detail about the underground kingdom that wasn't in the first edition of Princess Nevermore.
Also, I enjoyed adding unique details that are found only in Mandria: kemble fish stew, buttonball trees, a magic potion made of maidenhair.
Q. Mandria is a medieval world and Outer Earth is a modern day world, and having them together works well in the story. What made you decide to combine these two worlds?
A. Truthfully, when I'd written up to the point when the princess arrives in the outer world, I put the story aside for a while to think about what that outer world might be.
I considered making it a different time in history, like the 19th century or the middle ages. However, I ultimately decided the story would be more intriguing if the princess travels from her medieval home to our modern world.
And it's amazing how much our modern world has changed since the first edition came out in 1995. Updating the text meant bringing the story firmly into the 21st century.
Q. I like that Quinn is a strong female character who thinks and acts for herself. Is she modeled after yourself?
A. Well, I hope so. :>
I originally began writing the story back when women's equality was a front-burner issue, so it's understandable that the princess would become a strong and independent character—which bucked the medieval society in which she lived. Art imitates life, yes?
Q. Cam and Quinn are such wonderful characters; will there be a third book about them in the future?
A. I can imagine a second-generation story, starring Baywin as a teen and the young prince and princess as his cohorts. Hopefully, it won't take me another dozen years if I do decide to continue the story.
Q. Are you working on something new right now?
A. I'm about to begin the final title in the Kaley series: Fourth Grade According to Kaley. This is one of multiple projects I'm involved with right now. Crazy-making, but exhilarating as well!
Click here to visit Dian Curtis Regan's website
Below is a list of Dian Curtis Regan books:
The Friendship of Milly and Tug
Dear Doctor Sillybear
Monster of the Month Club
Monsters in the Attic
Monsters in Cyberspace
Monsters and My One True Love Fangs-Giving
Home for the Howl-idays
All of these books can be purchased at amazon.com