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Interview with Diana Spechler, author of Who By Fire

She really is that cute in real life.

She really is that cute in real life.

I met Diana Spechler at the Book Group Expo a little over six months ago. I had so much fun talking to her that I made sure I got a copy of her book. I loved it and thought it would be fun to interview her, so here we are!

Hey Lady: Welcome, Diana! First, I’m curious how you came up with the premise of Who By Fire?

Diana Spechler (DS): The novel sort of bloomed from a short story I wrote in grad school. I was mainly inspired by the time I’d spent in Israel in college.

Hey Lady: In Who By Fire, Bits was such a flawed character. The behavior she engaged in just made me cringe. You said in the interview that appears at the end of the book that your background and experiences definitely make their way into your writing: “It’s in there. All of it. It wears many full masks and thin veils.” What parts of you are in Bits?

DS: Bits is more isolated than I am. I keep a lot of people in my life. She doesn’t have even one real friend. And she’s a little more reckless than I am, too. But we’re similar in our desires to “help” the people we love. Sometimes I have to sit on my hands to keep from doing it.

Hey Lady: Even though it bloomed from a short story you wrote in grad school, it’s my understanding that Who By Fire took you four and a half years to write from start to finish. I’ve noticed that for the first book of most authors, that kind of time to write a book is pretty standard. Why do you think it takes authors so long to write their first book?

DS: I had no idea what I was doing. That was the first thing. I had read a lot of novels, but no one had ever sat me down and said, “Here’s the formula. Just plug in your characters and plot.” That’s because there is no formula. (Or if there is, please tell me, because I’m working on my second novel now and I’m open to any and all assistance.) I’m not sure if the writing process gets faster after the first book. My guess is that it doesn’t. So far, it hasn’t. Of course, I learned a lot from writing Who By Fire, but there are all kinds of other things I have to learn now that I’m writing something else. My guess is that it never ends.

whobyfireHey Lady: Since it took you years to complete Who By Fire, how did you know when it was ready to submit?

DS: I sent it to the agent who wound up signing me a couple of years before she actually sold it. It took her some months to get back to me. When she did, she said, “I’d like to work with you” (and I practically fainted), and then she gave me her suggestions, and I did some revisions, and then she gave me more suggestions, and I did more revisions, and so on, until finally she said, “Okay, it’s ready to go.” I thought, It is? Well. Whatever you say. Then she sold it. And I screamed.

Hey Lady: LOL. I scream when I get comments on my blog. I know it’s not the same…but it’s as close as I’ll ever get to real writing! 🙂 When people find out you’re an author, do they ask you if they’re going to be in your next book?

DS: Sometimes. Or they say, “Like J.K. Rowling?” Or they say, “Will you remember me when you’re famous?” Or “Do you write for adults?” Or “You should hear my life story. You would make a billion dollars writing my life story.”

Hey Lady: Do you have a special place that you write? An office in a bedroom? A corner of your apartment?

DS: I just moved into a new apartment. In my old apartment, I wrote on the love seat. In the new apartment, I write in bed. I’ve never been a desk person.

Hey Lady: Okay, so do you write everything by hand or use a laptop? I only ask because I recently read that Joshua Henkin hand writes his work.

DS: Laptop! Always!

Hey Lady: Do you ever look back at old writing? Does it make you cringe or are you impressed?

DS: Impressed? God, no. Yes, it makes me cringe. Of course. It’s like looking at pictures of guys I was in love with in the ’90s. I think, But he had a feathery mullet! I used to write his name on the side of my shoe?!

Hey Lady: What books are on your nightstand right now?

DS: I’m actually reading an unpublished (although not for long, I’m sure) manuscript for a friend right now, the novelist Greg Williams, author of the amazing Boomtown.

Hey Lady: If you like Boomtown, I’ll be sure to check it out. Who was an author you were most excited to meet? Would you tell us about it?

DS: I met Curtis Sittenfeld before she was Curtis Sittenfeld. This was nearly six years ago in DC. She was working on Prep. After I met her, I couldn’t wait for her book to come out because I thought she was so cool. Then I read Prep and lost my mind over how amazing it was. I met her again last spring at BookExpo America in LA, and I was so excited to see her and gush. Maybe that doesn’t count as “meeting,” since I’d met her once before, but I had to remind her about the first meeting, so I think it counts. The only reason I got close enough to talk to her in LA was that we were both at a party for “emerging leaders,” which I guess was a euphemism for “young writers.” She’s really cool and down to earth, the kind of person who asks you a lot of questions and seems genuinely interesed. The kind of person who allows you to talk about yourself ad nauseum. Who doesn’t love that?

Hey Lady: What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time when you’re not writing?

DS: Um…feel guilty that I’m not writing? I also work several jobs, do Bikram yoga, and spend a lot of time with friends.

Hey Lady: HA! I could say the same thing about blogging. On average, how much time do you spend writing every day?

DS: It really depends on the day, but I try to make it my day’s main focus.

Hey Lady: And finally, I assume you’re working on your next novel…can you tell us about that?

DS: I’m writing a novel set at a weight-loss camp for kids in North Carolina. I’m writing about lots of people who have lots of secrets.

Hey Lady: That sounds like a great premise! Right up my alley. 🙂 Diana, thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed! You’re a blast to chat with.

Check out Diana’s website. Diana’s also on Facebook, and if you join her fan page, you can stay posted on all her events, news, etc.

| Tags: , , , 17 comments »

17 Responses to “Interview with Diana Spechler, author of Who By Fire”

  1. Natasha @ Maw Books

    Great interview Trish! Those were some great questions. This book sounds great.

    [Reply]

  2. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    I’m amazed that some authors handwrite their books. I can barely handwrite a to-do list.

    Congrats on your hard-won success Diana!

    [Reply]

  3. Lisamm

    What a fun interview! And how cool that you got to meet her at BG Ex!

    [Reply]

  4. Biblibio

    Well, that was a peppy, cheerful interview. Spechler sounds really interesting.

    [Reply]

  5. Julie P.

    Great interview! I love everything I’ve read about Diane — her book (of course), interviews, guest posts, etc!

    [Reply]

  6. bermudaonion

    Great interview. I hope to read Who By Fire soon. Were you hinting that you’d like to be in her next book?

    [Reply]

  7. The Social Frog

    Very nice interview Trish, well done 🙂 Sounds like the new book she is working on is interesting.

    [Reply]

  8. Diana

    Trish, you’re a blast to chat with, too! Everyone, thanks for commenting, and for all the kind words. If you’re interested in Who By Fire, I’d love to hear from you!

    [Reply]

  9. gentle reader

    I’ve got this book on my shelf and I plan to read it soon! Thanks for the great interview 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Anna

    I really enjoyed this interview! I thought Who By Fire was great. And I’m with Diana…if anyone knows of a book-writing formula, I’d love to hear it!

    [Reply]

  11. ammo

    Great interview Trish! Maybe you should do that as a job:)

    [Reply]

  12. Liz

    Great interview! And wow… handwriting a book. I’ve become so computer spoiled, I dont know if I could even think without typing anymore. How sad is that. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book, she’s a very talented writer. 🙂

    [Reply]

  13. zibilee

    Loved the interview! She sounds like a really funny and down-to-earth person. I am definitely going to check out this book. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  14. Staci

    Excellent review!! I just received an email from this author and was totally blown away that she contacted me. She sounds fascinating!!

    [Reply]

  15. sagustocox

    great interview!

    [Reply]

  16. Kim L

    Great interview Trish! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only who’s not a desk person. I tried and tried, but I have to sit at a desk ALL DAY at work, so when I’m at home, I want to curl up in comfort. I got a nice laptop holder which I LOVE. And I curl up on the couch.

    [Reply]

  17. Ann Carmola

    Hi Diana,
    Are you the Diana Spechler that went to Ward School? I taught second and third grade at Ward during the 1980s. If so, I know I had your sister Dawn in third grade, but can’t remember if you were one of my students. I would love to know what the rest of your family is up to and if they still live in Newton.

    [Reply]

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