Diane Allen was born in Leeds, but raised at her family’s farm deep in the Yorkshire Dales. After working as a glass engraver, raising a family, and looking after an ill father, she found her true niche in life, joining a large print publishing firm in 1990. Rising through the firm, she is now the general manager and has recently been made Honorary Vice President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She is the author of ‘For a Father’s Pride’ and ‘The Mistress of Windfell Manor’, and its sequel, ‘The Windfell Family Secrets’.
- To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing
Up to two years ago I was the manager of a publishing firm dealing in large print and unabridged audio. A mother of two grown-up children, with families of their own I had started to go through the feeling of empty-nest syndrome a few years earlier. So to fill in my evenings as my husband watched the football, I decided to try and write a book. This, after many pit-falls, turned into books, now being six published and a seventh in the pipe-line.
- If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
I’m true to my trade, so if I was to start a book club it would have to be one based on Family Saga’s. Authors on my list would be June Tate, Helene Wiggin, Rosie Goodwin, Annie Murray, Margaret Dickinson and I would have to re-print the best saga writer ever, the wonderful Catherine Cookson.
- What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
Starting a new novel, you have a basic out line and roughly know the ending. But how you get there is entirely where your imagination takes you.
- Why did you decide to write historical fiction?
I have a great love of local history. My book shelf is full of books written about my home in Yorkshire. I also love the Victorian period, being an avid collector of all things from that period. I could not have written anything other than historical fiction to bring my two loves to life.
- If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
Definitely, pay more attention to English grammar! I’m so busy telling my tale, my grammar seems to go out of the window. Making me spend more time on proof-reading than actual writing.
- What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” From ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier.
It just captures you straight away.
- Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
Scarlett O’Hara from ‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell. Followed closely by Catherine Earnshaw from ‘Wuthering Heights’. They are both strong women who know their own minds.
- What do you think makes a good book?
A good opening line, a good plot and believable characters.
- If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
Leo Tolstoy, ‘War and Peace’, ‘Jane Austen’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and James Joyce, ‘The Dubliners’. I have in the past started all three but never had the patience or time to finish them, which is a terrible sin in my eyes.
- What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
Plot building, so often I read a book that sags in the middle. A plot must be strong enough to continue to keep you intrigued with every turn of the page.
- When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
Coffee, I live and function on coffee.
- And finally do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website.
The third book in the Windfell Series is to be published this next summer entitled Daughter of the Dales and I am about to start work on two books set in Swaledale.