I met her around the creative network of Tribe Builders and I fell in love at first sight with her sparkling creativity and dazzling personality. She’s the one behind Storyartist.me, as well as the denouncer of the Couch Potato Lord and his evil plot against creatives!
I am super excited to give you this interview about Diana’s new dystopian novel "Prometheus Rising" and her amazing journey behind the scenes! The book follows the tradition of “The Hunger Games” and “Brave New World”. If you've ever wondered how these fantasy - yet believable - worlds come into existence, here's the chance to have a glimpse!
Have you got your seatbelts fastened? Let’s go!
Hello, Diana! Thank you for for this interview on Just How Cool Is That?! – backstage stories from the creative journey!
Congratulations on your new book! How did the idea first appear, what made you go for it, and how long did it take for you to complete? Did you have the outline in your head before starting, or you let the story flow on its own whim? Characters first, story first – how did it happen?
The idea was born in 2014, when I was studying my Masters in Film Directing and thinking about my final Master’s film and what I wanted it to be about.
I have both Russian and German ancestors, both having fallen victim to devastating regimes, and I always heard my grandparents tell stories I could hardly believe happened only a few years ago.
But then, I began to notice how media manipulation occurred in our time. There was also an incident where my family was treated in a terribly unfair way by the government in Germany, to a point where my grandparents felt like they had been brought back to the Soviet Union.
This was when I decided to write a dystopian story (and also because I love dystopian fiction!). As soon as I began to dig deeper, I realized that a short film was by far not enough to tell the story I wanted to – tying in historical events, political ideas and future developments of science. Now, it’s a trilogy :D
It took me one year to complete the short film which was played in several festivals in L.A., New York and Berlin, and now has become my book trailer. It took me another 1,5 years to complete the first novel, and three months to finish the prequel novella “Shanakee’s Tale”.
The main reason it took me so long to write the first novel was that I needed to find my process first. I discovered that I cannot write without an outline, and had to perfect my outlining skills to a point where I felt comfortable to start the first draft. Now, I feel much more confident and hope to finish my second novel in 4 months.
What I had first in mind was the story world, which is a bit odd, but I knew exactly what futuristic world it would be and what rules it would play by. The main character – Adama – followed suit very quickly. From that, everything else flowed organically.
Why Prometheus? What attracted you to the character of the rebel god, bringer of light, and what does he have in common with the main storyline of your
Prometheus is a symbol for revolutionary movements, which this book was about from the beginning on. A rebellion against the “false gods” of the age, if you will. But when I started exploring the metaphor, I realized that it was much more than that.
I love the symbol of fire, it’s so multi-layered and open to interpretation, and it’s driving my book in a very strong way. Fire can mean love, life and passion, and it can also mean destruction and death.
The question is:
Did Prometheus unwillingly provide both for humankind – fire to bring advancement and freedom, but also a weapon to destroy humanity?
This ambiguity is something the book explores on a deeper level.
Although “Prometheus Rising” is officially a fantasy
dystopia book, you had to do a vast amount of research – including places and history. Why is that so important for a believable story and character
I wanted to write a dystopian book that is highly based on events from the past and scientific predictions for the future. Because dystopia is always critical of politics and society, I wanted a world that was not only shocking in a „made-up“ kind of way, but in a very real way, meaning that those things really happened in society once, and history tends to repeat itself.
I had a lot of fun doing research! I learned about regimes and revolutions, studied old Gaelic traditions and beliefs which amazed me, talked to my grandparents and read books about concentration camps and labour camps which revealed very shocking truths about humankind’s darkest secrets. I also travelled around the UK to discover my locations, which I enjoyed a lot!
I think research is a vital part of book writing and makes fiction so much deeper and on a level, closer to truth. This is why I also started the series "Power Strategies to Effectively Research Your Fiction“ on StoryArtist ;)
You had an impressive creative team around the project, and especially around the epic cinematic trailer for the book. How about the other parts of the process – what did you do alone,
and when did your professional partners enter the scene?
I was very lucky to work with so many talented people on the short film, starting from a screenwriter who co-wrote the script with me to an amazing crew and cast of more than 20 people!
Producing a book is much simpler in that sense, because you are not reliant on a huge team to finish it. Still, you do need professionals to help you!
For my novels, I have my amazing editor Luke Gerwe whom I found on Reedsy, and his feedback was invaluable! He made so many great points and suggestions, I always love getting his developmental feedback because it challenges me to make my story shine just when I thought it was good :D
I also worked with several illustrators and cover designers to get the perfect cover. As a very visual person, I’m really picky when it comes to this.
It’s only the first part of a trilogy, plus it has a prequel! ("Shanakee's Tale" FREE
download). What are some of the main objectives to keep in mind when developing a large body of work? By when do you hope to have the next part ready?
To be honest, I just went with it when I started writing book one, not thinking about book two and three yet. I just don’t think I can get so much into my head; I need to focus on this one story and then move on.
For the prequel, I just picked up some characters who I thought were interesting and developed a whole new story for them! But every new story piece makes my world richer and gives me depths I honestly never thought it had before I started digging.
I hope to have my second book ready by July 2018, but I don’t want to pressure myself. The thing for me is I need to walk around with this idea and plot it as long as it needs to be plotted until it becomes perfect. And this can take me from several weeks to several months, unfortunately. I cannot force the ideas, I have to give them space to be formed and developed through time and research.
Having supporters and honest feedback is a huge part of a successful book. Did your beta-readers influence the story development and in what ways?
Oh I love my beta-readers!
It’s so interesting how they read the story from their own perspectives, how they notice mundane things I had never thought about.
They also give great suggestions! But it’s also important to edit those suggestions with care. I don’t accept all of them, but because I know my story well, I know which suggestions would improve it.
Beta-readers are also great motivators. If you get comments like “this chapter was exciting, I couldn’t put it down!”, it makes up for the months of hard work because you know you did at least something right ;)
I also hope to have more beta-readers in future, because for now, they are only trusted friends. So if anyone here wants to become a beta-reader, give me a shout!
Your professional background revolves around film making. How does that help in fiction book writing? How are the processes alike/ different?
Film is very visual, and this is what I always try to bring into my writing. I want the readers to see what I see and feel what I feel.
Film also helps understand the rule “Show, don’t tell”, because it’s much easier to tell in writing while in film, you mostly have no choice but to show.
Understanding film language as a writer and learning to adapt those principles can be invaluable, and I do encourage writers to try writing for the screen.
Did it turn out better or worse than you originally planned? When did you know it was already good enough and ready to go?
When you’re so deep into the project, it’s pretty hard to judge the outcome. I think how it turned out will be for the readers to evaluate.
Knowing it was good enough is a very hard decision, because actually, it’s never good enough. You can always keep editing. This is why I love the professional editor’s feedback, and rely on his assessment if it’s good enough to go into the wide world.
Did you choose traditional or self publishing, and for what reasons? Which form do you prefer in general?
I chose self-publishing for several reasons. I was thinking long and hard about this decision, listening to podcasts, researching the pros and cons.
The most important argument for self-publishing for me is the amount of control I get to keep, and I love the control over all the other creative aspects of “packaging” the book.
Also, I just did not want to wait for years and years before publishing my book, hoping to win the “lottery ticket” of the publishing industry. My goal is definitely to make a living writing one day, and I think the self-publishing model is the right one for this goal.
What was the most challenging part of writing your book, and which was your favourite?
Oh, there are challenging moments all over the way! The outlining process can be daunting, when you just bang your head against the wall because you cannot figure out a way to solve a story problem. The first draft is tiring because it’s all about cracking out the words on paper and being a disciplined writer. The editing process, especially for the first edit, is overwhelming because you just don’t know where to start.
I guess my favourite part is when I got the first editorial feedback. Because up until that point, I have been all alone with the story and have no clue whether the book works at all! I love getting another pair of eyes on what I think is an absolute mess. It helps me see the strengths and weaknesses of the story more clearly.
What is your final message to anyone reading this?
Writing books is a risky balance act. So I’d say what my film making tutor said to me once:
“Write from the heart, and create a story that you would love to read. Because if you try to please everyone else, your story will be absolutely boring.”
Be unafraid to write truth, to polarize and most importantly: write!
Thank you so much for this interview! I wish a shining rise for "Prometheus Rising" and the next parts of the trilogy!
Have your say!
- What are your favourite fantasy fiction books?
- Do you collaborate with other professionals to bring your creative project to life?
- Have you had a time when your work became much larger than originally planned?
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Diana Wink Today:
My main current focus and responsibilities include writing fiction, building my Story Artist website & blog. editing news and working on commercial film projects.
Stay tuned for the upcoming StoryArtist podcast, more action on the Story Artist YouTube channel, and the "Write a novel that will change your life" online course.
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