Friday, September 18, 2009

Author Interview - DIANA HOLQUIST

We interrupt this blog for an announcement: Apprentice Writer experienced technical difficulties today, delaying author interview festivities. We regret any inconvenience. As the web appears to have finished its hiccups, we rejoin our regularly scheduled program.

Today, we end Book Blogger Appreciation Week with a bang by welcoming the delightful Ms. Diana Holquist, author of 'How to Tame a Modern Rogue'! Here Ms. Holquist's gracious replies to our raving reader curiosity.

1. First things first: The cover of HTTAMR is lovely! Did you have any input regarding art, and did you choose the title?

DH: My original title was HOW TO TAME A MODERN JERK. My editor, as any good editor will do, made it much better. (Just kidding! It was originally called, HOW TO TAME A 21st CENTURY ROGUE. Still, my editor made it better. Okay, I promise I’ll be serious now…)

I didn’t have much input for the art. Mostly stuff like, “Um, she’s not a blonde…can we darken that hair?”

2. Not just the title, but the story also feels like a kind of hybrid between contemporary and historical. It was wonderful! Might there be more such books in store? Is HTTAMR a stand-alone or the first in a series? Might you be tempted to branch out into 'pure' historical?

DH: I’m so pleased you liked it! Thank you. I wrote this book with a “historical” voice because I wanted the richness of language I love in historicals in a contemporary setting. This is a stand-alone book, although I can’t tell you how many e-mails I’ve gotten begging for Mateo’s story. I’d love to write a historical one day. But if I do, it’ll be YEARS in the making. So much research!

3. "Comedy is the hardest thing to write." Agree? Disagree?

DH: I have no idea. I never try to write a joke or anything funny. I just try to tell a story. If it makes people laugh, that’s gravy. I’d also never try to write a scene to make someone cry. It all has to be part of the story to work. All that matters is being true to the story.

4. What comes to you first: the hero? Heroine? Ending? Punchlines of the jokes?

DH: The theme. Always, always, always the theme. What the book is about, deep down. I have to want to write something that’s incredibly meaningful to me, or I can’t do it. In the case of ROGUE, I was exploring the idea that the crazy people are the sane ones. I wanted to explore this as thoroughly as I could: no one finds love until they get a little crazy.

5. My favorite scene is when the hero and a friend discuss the phenomenon of romance novels, and what it means for them personally in terms of the women in their lives. I think I read it five times in a row, because it was funny on so many levels - two guys trying to wrap their heads around an enigma, the gentle mocking of some well-loved tropes in the genre, the way they decide how best to apply the hard-won knowledge - it all worked. Not just in that scene, but later, when the hero puts theory into practice. What's your favorite scene in the book?

DH: That bar scene, where Sam and the bartender discuss how to be a romance novel hero (“two words: chest waxing”) was originally all in the hero’s head. My brilliant critique partner, Ellen Hartman, made me change it to dialogue. I think my favorite scene in the book might be when Sam discovers the coachman’s true identity. I had been working toward that scene for most of the book, and had no idea what would happen. It ended up as surprising to me as it was to readers. I love it when it all comes together like that—unplanned and spontaneous.

6. My saddest moment was when I realized the promised elephants would not make an appearance. Dare I hope for a glimpse in an epilogue on your site, sometime?

DH: Oooh…good idea! Deleted scenes. I’ll get on it!

7. What's a typical writing day for you look like? Has it changed since Book #1 ("Make Me a Match")?

DH: I have no typical day. Sometimes I write all morning, sometimes, all night. Sometimes, not at all. I do a lot of staring out the window, thinking. But I am much more disciplined now. I wrote Make Me a Match without a contract or a deadline, so it took a full year. Now I have to write a book in seven months.

8. Your best writing habit? Worst writing vice?

DH: My best writing habit is listening. I think the worst thing a writer can do is to try to go it alone. It’s just too hard. Every single person has something worthwhile to say about my manuscript. I read my reviews and take notes.

My worst writing vice is chocolate. Isn’t it everyones’?

9. Social networking: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing or Blessing in Disguise?

DH: Do what you can, but don’t get carried away. Anything that takes you away from the writing is your enemy.

10. Nightstand inspection! What was the last ________ you read?

DH: Contemporary: Robin Wells, How to Score

Historical: Eloisa James, Duchess by Night

Paranormal/UF/Fantasy: Don’t read them. They frighten me. I’m a total wimp.

Mystery: Don’t read them. I cheat and look at the endings. Very bad.

11. Who is your writing idol and why?

DH: I have two. One is my critique partner, Ellen Hartman, for more reasons than I could ever list here. She writes amazing contemporaries for Harlequin Superromance. I have SO MANY others, but I’ll keep it one here: Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I started writing after reading First Lady. My goal in life is to write a book as perfect as that one. I shared an elevator with her once at RWA, but was too tongue-tied to say anything. I smiled a lot.

12. Which literary character do you wish you thought of first?

DH: Hamlet. Also, Don Quixote.

13. Best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

DH: Talent borrows—genius steals. What I mean by that is, don’t try to re-invent the wheel. No story is original. Heck, I stole the plot and character of Granny Donny for ROGUE from Don Quixote, the first book ever written. Start with something great, and make it your own. “It’s Don Quixote—but a romance novel!” So much easier to sell and to write than a long, complicated explanation. Stand on the shoulders of giants. I promise you, you’ll come out with something completely original because no one will do it like you’ll do it. The good stuff is out there. Work with it. Embrace it. Make it yours. Don’t make writing harder than you have to. It’s too hard already.

14. Anything else you'd like to share with Apprentice Writer's readers?

DH: Please come and visit my website,, it there’s anything else you want to know about me. Or drop me a line at

Thanks so much for having me here, Maya. It’s been tons of fun.

Thanks to Ms. Holquist for this small glimpse into author life, and especially for penning such a great story! (AW's review here.)


Our giveaway for a brand spanking new copy of 'How to Tame a Modern Rogue' is still open! Comment on today's Q&A in addition to yesterday's review and receive an exta entry to win.


Kimber Chin said...

You had me at elephants. LOL

Diana, is there another storyline you're looking to steal? Is there another genre you'd love to write?

M. said...

Hi Kimber! Great questions. Welcome to my blog.

Book Dragon said...

"I shared an elevator with her once at RWA, but was too tongue-tied to say anything. I smiled a lot."

I would too! I saw an author at a writing association meeting and after the Q&A I finally got up the nerve to talk to her and played the gushing fan girl.

Then again, I asked another author what I thought was a simple question and she told me to do my own research because you can't find everything in a book. *shrug*

Hoping to win - adding to my wish list just in case. :-)

Wylie Kinson said...

Great interview, M & Diana. Love the premise of How to Tame a Rogue and look forward to reading it - soon!

Thomma Lyn said...

What an enjoyable interview! Wise words about not forcing funny, but keeping things true to the story. If something turns out funny, then great. :) And I agree -- great critique partners are a blessing! Constructive feedback is better than gold.

Thanks, M. and Diana. :)

M. said...

Book Dragon - Welcome to my blog!

Wylie - Nice to see you again!

TL - Glad you liked it.

Good luck to all!

Julia Smith said...

"I shared an elevator with her once at RWA, but was too tongue-tied to say anything. I smiled a lot."

LOL! There's always someone who will inspire the deer-in-the-headlights thing.

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