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Author Talk: September 2013

Question: What do you love most about writing?

Dianne Dixon: I love the thrill of telling stories about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. I love exploring the mysteries of the human condition. And I love the poetry of words.

Q: What inspires you the most as a writer?

DD: Life. How hard we all try to get it right. How easy it is to get it wrong. The intriguing unpredictability that’s always lurking in that balance point between right and wrong.

Q: When do you know the story is finished?

DD: Wow. That’s a good question. The truth is… it’s weird. Even before I begin writing, I know exactly what the ending of the book will be, exactly what the words in the final sentence will be. Maybe it’s because the stories I tell have very specific plots and I know, going in, precisely how the plot needs to unfold.

Q: What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started your writing career?

DD: I think if I’d known how lovely and generous the readers are I would have started writing novels much sooner. The readers…their comments, their support, their enthusiasm…it’s wonderful!

Q: Did you always want to be a writer, or did you start off in a different career?

DD: Always. Always. A writer. That’s what I wanted to be.

Q: How would you describe your writing style in one word?

DD: Hmmm. I have no idea.

Q: What is the most challenging part of being a writer?

DD: The discipline it takes. And how solitary it is.

Q: What research or preparation did you engage in before writing Book of Someday?

DD: I traveled to the locations where the various sections of the book play out—I think it would be difficult to clearly depict a place that you’ve never experienced…landscapes you’ve never seen, wind you’ve never felt, air you’ve never smelled. And I also did extensive interviews with breast cancer survivors. I needed to hear from them exactly what it was like to make the journey through chemotherapy.

Q: Are any of your characters inspired by the people around you?

DD: Not specifically. But aspects of certain people in my life did find their way into the characters in The Book of Someday. And now that we’re talking about this, I’m realizing that one of the most complicated characters in the book is very much like someone I was close to, a very long time ago.

Q: The Book of Someday starts out with a dramatic opening scene; did you always know that the novel would open with Livvi hiding from her father, or did you add this in later?

DD: No, the structure was what it was, and never changed. Luckily for me, because I realize how much easier it made the writing process, the book was in my head, pretty much full-blown, even before I sat down to write it.

Q: Which character do you share the most in common with – Livvi, AnnaLee, or Micah? Which character are you least like?

DD: I guess I can see bits and pieces of all three of them in me…parts that are good, and not so good…but it’s Micah that I’m the least like. I’m not as bold as she is. Not even close.

Q: The ending is a little bit ambiguous; did you always know that it would end this way, or did you have alternate endings?

DD: For me, the book was always exactly what it ended up being on the page. There was never an alternate ending. Writing this novel was an interesting experience. The story found me, and presented itself in its entirety. I feel very lucky. I never had to go looking for any missing pieces. The sequences always seemed to be flowing, from beginning to end, without needing to take any detours.

Q: Did you (or do you) have your own Book of Someday like Livvi? What would you want to put at the top of your Book of Someday list?

DD: What would I put at the top of my Book of Someday list? That’s a great question. I guess if we’re talking about real life I’d want, someday, to know that I’d made a difference, had in some way made the world a better place. But if we’re talking about fantasy, then someday I definitely want to be taller, at least five-eight. And I kind of like the idea of being able to write a country song. A really good one.

Q: You beautifully describe the woman in the silver dress with the pearl button shoes; where did you get the inspiration for this painting?

DD: Now you’ve hit the heart of where this book came from. The woman in the pearl button shoes is someone I used to dream about when I was a child. But to this day, I still have no idea who she is. I always wanted to tell her story but could never figure out how to do it. When I came up with the plot for The Book of Someday, I realized I’d finally found a way to have her make sense. Whoever she is, wherever she is, I hope she approves of the context I gave her.

Q: If you had the opportunity to go to dinner with David or Andrew, which one would you choose and why?

Well, I guess if I were in the mood for an evening of excess and excitement I’d choose Andrew. But if what I needed was something sweeter and more meaningful I would want to be with David.

Q: Livvi fields some pretty interesting questions and comments during her book signing; what is the most interesting question that you have ever answered about your writing?

DD: Oh, that would have to be when a man at a book signing for my first novel The Language of Secrets wanted to know how, as a female writer, I’d managed to make Justin Fisher, the main character in the book, so completely real. He then asked me if I’d actually been a man at some point in my life. I laughed. But after a split-second of awkward silence I realized he wasn’t kidding. It was a truly bizarre moment.

Q: Can you talk about Jack, and why you think he has such a hard time deciding what he wants to do with his life?

DD: There were times while I was writing Jack’s chapters that my heart broke for him. His situation seemed so sad to me…a man who dreams of something he’s incapable of being. What Jack desperately wants is to be a hero but he doesn’t have a hero’s heart, or a hero’s strength. And over the years his weakness has shredded him, made him a lost soul.

Q: Sierra offers to teach Livvi how to tell assholes to fuck off. Do you have any words of wisdom on how to tell off an incredibly rude person?

DD: I wish! But honestly…I’m not very good at it. I could use some serious help in that area.

Q: Persephone starts off as a rebellious teen – were you rebellious as an adolescent? Whether the answer is yes or no, what’s the most rebellious thing you did?

DD: Adolescent rebellion…? I have to admit, this question is really making me laugh. I was without a doubt the most dull and boring adolescent ever to draw a teenage breath. The outrageousness and rebellions came much later. And, no, I’m not going to tell you what the highlights were. It would be too embarrassing.