Diana Forbes writes romantic historical fiction. Her debut novel, Mistress Suffragette is easy to pick up and hard to put down. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview this author and I think you’ll enjoy what she had to say…
Chanticleer: Tell us a little about yourself: How did you start writing?
Forbes: I started writing when I was 6 years old. First I wrote poetry. Then I wrote diary entries, heavily influenced by Harriet the Spy. After that, I wrote articles for my school paper. Then I wrote restaurant reviews for the school paper. In college, I wrote features for the college paper.
Chanticleer: So, basically as soon as you could form cohesive sentences, you were off to the races! Nice job, Diana. But when did you realize that you were an author?
Forbes: I met with a career coach in 2003 and I told him, “I want to be a writer.” He said, “Why don’t we just say you are a writer since writing is in the doing?”
Chanticleer: Smart – writing is an active verb… Let’s chat about genre. What genre best describes your work?
Forbes: Mistress Suffragette, my debut novel, is best described as a romance. It’s historical, so sometimes it’s described as cross-genre: historical-romance. It also has a lot of humor in it.
Chanti: Cross-genre sweet spot – best of both worlds. What inspired you to write historical/romance?
Forbes: I take two writing classes a week in Manhattan where I live, and one of my writing teachers used to tell me, “Don’t worry about the genre. A debut novel is what it is. Just write it.” But, I basically wrote the story I wanted to read. It’s a romance against a very interesting historical backdrop – the late 19th century or Gilded Age.
Chanti: I love the fact that you continue to work on your craft by taking writing classes. That’s such an important thing to do! Do you find yourself following the rules or do you like to make up your own rules?
Forbes: I like to break rules selectively. In other words, I love to know what the rules are, then break them if there is a very good reason.
Chanti: Good. Know the rules, so you know when, why, and how to break them. What do you do when you’re not writing? Tells us a little about your hobbies.
Forbes: I am an art buff. I like to go to museums and galleries and look around. Recently I have also started going to plays and musicals in Manhattan. I like to poke around antique stores and fairs, too. I have a great respect for history, so if I can learn a little history while I am having fun, that’s even better.
Chanti: You’re in the perfect place to do all that! Tell us a little about how you structure your writing day.
Forbes: I am very structured. I am fortunate to have an office that is separate from where I live. I roll into the office at 9 a.m., trying to get in one full hour of reading before the day officially starts, so from 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. Then I write from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., trying to stay off social media and email completely. At 3:30 or so, I return all my emails and hop on social media. After that, I work till between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. on marketing Mistress Suffragette.
Chanti: That’s a fantastically structured day! What has been the most helpful marketing tool you’ve used so far?
Forbes: I really like awards shows. They offer the chance to have the work receive a little recognition as well as a great marketing push. Award shows can also help introduce the work to new readers.
Chanti: What areas of your writing are you most confident in? What advice would you give someone who is struggling in that area?
Forbes: Readers often tell me that my strengths are my research, the setting, and the voice. I love stories that whisk me away, and that’s what I aimed for with Mistress Suffragette. I also want to tell untold stories. Some of the things I learned while researching M. Suffragette, I had never ever heard before – even in Political Science classes at my university. Anything I discovered that was really new and really interesting about the time period I made sure to include in the novel.
Chanti: That’s pretty cool. So, we know that you take two writing classes a week, what other things do you do to grow your author chops?
Forbes: My writing classes in Manhattan require that I turn in 20 pages at a time to early readers (my classmates) who give me feedback. One of the classes concentrates more on the craft of writing. I also read books about writing. In addition, I look for award show contests that provide feedback, so that I can learn and grow and my writing can improve before I show my work to an agent or editor.
Chanti: This is how we discovered each other! We’re thrilled you entered your novel into the Chatelaine Awards. What are you working on now? What can we look forward to seeing next from you?
Forbes: I am working on the sequel to Mistress Suffragette. I see the story as a trilogy. I am not sure when the sequel publication date will be. I write many drafts of my novels before I show them to my agent and editor, so I am somewhere in the revision process.
Chanti: I certainly hope we get to see the sequels of Mistress Suffragette. Thank you for stopping in!
If you love romance (and who doesn’t?) and the Gilded Age, you know what to do! Check out Diana’s website and follow the links to purchase her book, Mistress Suffragette.
Like her Facebook page and follow her. Trust me, there is more to come from Forbes, and you’ll not want to miss out.