Kathleen Dienne has been a reporter, a theatrical stage manager, a ghostwriter, a sloganeer, a video game consultant and a marketing analyst. Fiction seems to be the most honest stuff that she’s written.
She is very lucky to have the enthusiastic support of a brilliant husband, a delightful toddler and several elderly beagles. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, and if she’s not reading, she’s taking photographs of the husband/toddler/beagles and making elaborate scrapbooks. Secretly, she practices Italian with those “speak and learn” CDs in hopes of someday moving to Tuscany. So far, the only person picking up Italian with any fluency is the toddler.
If you’re the sort of person who enjoys watching how a writer avoids writing, please come over and hang out at http://www.kathleendienne.com. Sometimes there are recipes. You can also find her on Facebook (friend her or fan her!) and follow her on Twitter (KathleenDienne). Finally, she loves hearing from readers, so feel free to drop her a line at KathleenDienne@gmail.com.
Please tell our readers and members a little bit about yourself?
By day I am a consultant and a freelance writer. By night, I write erotic fiction. But the lines kind of blur, because I work from a home office. So if I absolutely have to attend a meeting featuring powerpoint and people talking to hear themselves talk, I can mute the phone and do something for one of my stories… and all in my comfy pants. It’s not really the writer’s paradise it sounds like it might be – I’m doing all of this so I can be home with my toddler and have dinner ready for my husband, he of the good health insurance and the top quality plot solutions. It is interesting to switch between Finding Nemo and sex scenes.
Also, if you have just made a joke inside your head about “Nemo” as a euphemism for a body part, congratulations, we have the same kind of dirty mind.
You have a new release coming out with Carina Press. How was your experience with this new ePublisher that is a division of Harlequin?
Fantastic, start to finish. I tell stories that don’t fit anywhere – the novella that came out on June 21 was a contemporary erotic romance that hinged on the concept of parallel universes, for example – so when I saw that Carina Press was looking for stories that couldn’t be pigeonholed, I jumped to submit. (I also wanted to go digital, not traditional, but I fully admit I wanted the heft of a traditional publisher for my digital work!)
And then the experience itself was fantastic. ePublishing moves so much faster than traditional publishing. I submitted my story in January, got the call in February, and the book went on sale in June. The Harlequin digital team has been great – I have been working professionally in social media since before it was called that, and I still learned a ton from their Social Media bootcamp. No one is ever too busy to answer questions and support newb authors, including the Executive Editor. The other writers are so enthusiastic and helpful. Finally, I can’t say enough good stuff about my editor, Melissa Johnson. She’s just a genius when it comes to spotting the real problem with a manuscript instead of the problem’s symptoms, and she’s hilarious to boot.
What other projects do you have in the works?
Carina Press just acquired my second novella – it’s an erotic romance with a cool action element. I’m trying not to talk about it too much, since we’ve just started editing!
I’m working on several Victorian-era pieces. Victorian erotica is pretty mindblowing, and I love the historical period.
What inspires you? What were your writing influences?
I am a huge science fiction and fantasy nerd. (My stories involve… well… science fiction, fantasy, and/or nerds – more on that in a second.) Heinlein, Asimov, McCaffrey. Mercedes Lackey was my gateway drug and I just finished her back-to-basics Arthurian tale. Sheri Tepper blows my mind and I can’t understand why she doesn’t get listed with the one-name greats. I love Louisa May Alcott and Agatha Christie, too.
The thing about those people is that they tell great stories. There’s metaphor and symbolism and depth, but the number one thing is a ripping good page turning story, and they never lose sight of that from the first page to the last. That influences me more than anything else.
I’m inspired to write when I hear a snippet of conversation between two people in one of my daydreams. Put it this way – if I overheard something like it at a Starbucks, I’d want to scoot my seat over to hear more. Since I’m in my own head, I get right up close and play out the scene. If it holds my attention for a couple nights running (getting a toddler who doesn’t want to go to bed down for the night involves a lot of time in dark quiet rooms), I figure it’s worth a shot and I toss it in my idea file.
What helped you make the decision to become a romance writer?
Honestly, it’s because these are the stories that compel me to write them. I have tried many other genres, and the romantic stories are the ones I stay interested in long enough to finish a manuscript!
That’s the big reason, but another reason is that my characters want to have their stories told. Many of the people in my stories are nerds. But their stories aren’t about their nerdiness. They’re just people, people who read a lot and play computer games and sing in choirs and collect movies. A nerd is just as likely as a jock to be great in the sack, to fall in love, to make a partner complete.
What is the hardest part of being a writer? The easiest?
The hardest part is treating it like a job even though you won’t get paid for another year… if you get paid at all. But if you only write when you feel inspired or artistic, you’re not going to finish much. You’ve got to treat it like a job, and make it a priority. That can be really hard without external feedback, and there just isn’t any. You’ve got to be your own source of strength and discipline.
The easiest thing is talking about your work. It’s like bragging about your kids, but people ask you to do it!
What is the biggest misconception about romance authors that you’ve come across?
That we’re not writing “real” books. That we’re hacks churning out the same three plots. That because there’s a happy ending (and the books are written by women for women starring women), the resulting work is of less aesthetic value than one of those dreadful things where everyone dies after pissing and moaning for three hundred pages. And rainclouds are a metaphor for how your mother never liked you. Or possibly testicles.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Finish something and mail it to a publisher. I don’t mean to be flip – I have many, many friends who are terrific writers, and haven’t done either of those things. Finishing something is one of those things that is easy to say and easy to do. Butt in chair. Hands on keyboard. 250 words a day, minimum, and you’ve got a novel in less than a year. (This POST is more than a thousand words.)
I have been writing professionally for ten years, and I am not particularly remarkable. I just know I’ve got nothing to lose by hitting send (after carefully reading and following the submission guidelines).
Any last words for our readers?
Thank you so much for BEING readers, of anything. You make the world a better and more interesting place.