Diane Scott Lewis – Interview and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Diane Scott Lewis who is celebrating the recent release of her latest book Outcast Artist in Bretagne. For a chance to win a digital or paperback copy of the book, please leave a comment or ask the author a question. The giveaway will end on May 12.

Diane grew up in a very small town 30 miles from San Francisco. She loved that her childhood was rural, with horses, and fields to meander through. Everyone knew each other, and she grew up with some very dear friends.

“I’m still in touch with many of them,” she told me. “We felt safe in that town, whether it was noon or midnight.”

“What was the scariest moment of your life?” I asked.

“When I was ten, we were driving back from picking up my best friend’s catechism card, and a drunk driver drifted over the center line and hit us head-on. The station wagon had no seat belts, so I dove under the dashboard, but my mom and best friend were badly injured. Mom hit the steering wheel, and my friend smacked into the radio on the dashboard. My brother was in back and banged his head on the front seat. Lots of blood, very scary. I only got scrapes but the blood I saw on my mom and friend was horrifying. Thankfully, they recovered, but it took years.”

She first knew she wanted to be an author when she was five years old. She had illustrated her first story and told her mom what words to write, since she hadn’t yet learned to write. She began her first novel at the age of ten, which she also illustrated. It was set in ancient Egypt and Rome.

“I’d just watched the movie Cleopatra and became fascinated by the era,” she explained. “I’m sure my research was faulty, but it was great fun.”

She started writing young but took a hiatus from writing while raising her family.

“When I started writing again, I thought I knew everything about the craft,” she said. “I found I knew little, and styles had changed. Those troubling action scenes again. You have to start off with a brick through the window scenario, no easing into the stories. I should have been a Victorian author.”

Her office is the spare room that leads to the backyard.

“My desk is neatly cluttered—if that’s possible,” she said. “My bookcases are jammed with research books. I also have a shelf of my own published works. Maps of other countries, travel books, and I’m sure many things I should throw away.”

She’s written about ten historical novels, and two small children’s books for her granddaughters. Her favorite is the one she just finished.

“I hated to say goodbye to my star-crossed WWII characters, Norah and August,” she confessed.

Diane shared with us that she writes under a pseudonym.

“The middle name is my brother’s. He died many years ago. I wanted to keep him close. Lewis is my mom’s maiden name. I thought it fit better for an author.”

When she’s not writing, she loves to camp, travel, play with her granddaughters, or create graphics for blogs, Twitter, and Instagram posts. She’s also in a book club, so when she’s not busy with research, she reads their picks.

“Sometimes I don’t care for the choices, but I forge on. The last book was I never Promised you a Rose Garden. I’d read this story in my teens and loved it. This time around I found it dry and lagging in places, though the heroine is still a fascinating character. With my great medical knowledge,” she said with a wink, “I decided she wasn’t schizophrenic at all. I also read that the author, whose story this is based on, surmised she wasn’t schizophrenic either. Great minds!”

I asked her to share what her work schedule was like.

“Early morning works best for me these days. When I was younger, I could write any time of day. But now my mind is sharper in the morning, 7 to 12. In the afternoons I’ll often read for research, or to catch up with my book club choices.”

“What is the hardest part of writing for you?”

“Writing more action scenes. I think I’m pacing the book just fine, but my critique partners want more action. Usually my novels grow so large, it’s hard to put them in, but I try. I also learned to write shorter novels.”

Diane likes a story that grabs her right away with vibrant characters, setting, and conflict. Beautiful prose, luscious descriptions.”

“I strive to accomplish all these elements I strive to accomplish; but some authors have the knack to mesmerize you with their prose. Their plotting might be strange, but the prose pulls you in,” she told me.

“What comes first,” I wondered, “the plot or characters?”

“Both, but I’m a pantser. I never outline, which can cause a lot of revising later on. When I get to the end of my stories, my characters are well developed and I must go back to the beginning and change them, because now I really know who they are and what they want.”

Finally, I asked, “What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?”

“The best: write what you love. The worst: write what you know. What about imagination? If we all wrote what we know, there’d be no historical novels, or fairytales.”

Unwed and pregnant, Norah Cooper flees England to hide with her cousin in Brittany before Germany’s 1940 invasion. After her baby is stillborn, she’s trapped under the Occupation. Norah consoles herself by sketching wildlife. When she’s caught near the coast, she comes under scrutiny of the German commandant, Major August von Gottlieb.

August loathes what Hitler is doing to his country and France but is duty-bound to control the people in his jurisdiction. The young Englishwoman piques his interest. Is she a spy? He asks her to sketch his portrait so he might uncover the truth.

Soon, their relationship evolves into a passion neither can deny. He plans to sabotage a major war machine of the Reich, while she secretly helps the Resistance. Will their love ruin her and end in heartbreak? Or will they overcome the odds and survive the surging threats.

About the AuthorDiane Parkinson (Diane Scott Lewis) grew up near San Francisco, joined the Navy at nineteen, married in Greece and raised two sons in Puerto Rico, California, and Guam. She’s a member of the Historical Novel Society and wrote book reviews for their magazine. She’s always loved travel and history and has had several historical novels published.

Diane lives with her husband and one naughty dachshund in western Pennsylvania.

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