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Posts Tagged ‘Dragonriders of Pern’

dianna sanchez Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Dianna Sanchez. Dianna Sanchez is the not-so-secret identity of Jenise Aminoff, whose superpower is cooking with small children. She is an MIT alumna, graduate of the 1995 Clarion Workshop, frequent participant in Odyssey Online, active member of SCBWI, the Author’s Guild, Broad Universe, and New England Speculative Writers, and former editor at New Myths magazine. Aside from 18 years as a technical and science writer, she has taught science in Boston Public Schools, developed curricula for STEM education, and taught Preschool Chef, a cooking class for children ages 3-5. A Latina geek originally from New Mexico, she now lives in the Boston area with her husband and two children.

Dianna has published one novel, A Witch’s Kitchen (Dreaming Robot Press, September 2016), and the sequel, A Pixie’s Promise (September 2018). Her short fiction appears in the 2017 and 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guides.

sanchez book Dianna Sanchez’s latest book, A Pixie’s Promise, is a fun middle grade read (ages 8 – 12). A quick summary for my readers: Petunia’s tired of being overlooked just because she’s six inches tall. She gets lost at home among her gazillion brothers, sisters, and cousins, and her own parents don’t remember her name. When her best friend, Millie, offers a vacation at her house, Petunia jumps at the chance. Cooking for Millie’s witch of a mother and babysitting a tree should be easy, right? But when an epidemic of spickle pox hits the Enchanted Forest, and Millie’s mother comes down with a mysterious illness, Petunia must pitch in to brew cures as quickly as she can, even if that means using up all her pixie dust. It’s a good thing she has friends to help.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, A Pixie’s Promise?
The protagonist, Petunia, was a supporting character in my first novel, A Witch’s Kitchen, and I really wanted to spend more time exploring her character and giving her the spotlight she so desperately craves. Petunia’s a six-inch-tall pixie from a large family with twelve or so siblings and an exponential number of cousins. I was inspired by my own large extended family and my abuela, who can never keep all our names straight. Petunia feels lost and overlooked, both within her family and in the culture of the Enchanted Forest where she lives, and she’s always trying to find ways to gain attention. She gets into fights and tells really bad jokes, but she’s also fiercely loyal and deeply determined to succeed.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
That’s a terrible question! That’s like asking which of my children is my favorite! Even though Petunia is the focus of this book, I still have a soft spot for Millie, the protagonist of A Witch’s Kitchen, and a deep fondness for Millie’s half-brother, Max. I love pushing the boundaries on Millie’s prickly mother, Bogdana, and I really enjoyed playing with their house ghost, Horace. I even love my villain, Cretacia! That’s one of the reasons why I choose a different protagonist for each book. Sagara, a math-loving elf, will be the protagonist of book three, An Elf’s Equations, and Max will star in book four.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
I’m indie-published by Dreaming Robot Press, an awesome little publisher that specializes in science fiction and fantasy for middle grade readers. I love the flexibility of working with a small press. They allowed me to design the cover for my first novel and used a sketch by my then-ten-year-old daughter as the basis for the cover of A Pixie’s Promise. They Kickstart each novel and anthology they publish, which is a lot of fun and a great way to connect with my readers. The disadvantage, of course, is that I have to fight to have my book carried in bookstores and rely heavily on social media to promote my books, which eats into my writing time.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
I’m a hybrid, actually. I usually start with a basic plot outline and a well-fixed beginning and ending. Then, as I write, the story begins to change and grow organically. I have a bad tendency to kitchen sink my novels, throwing in ideas as they occur to me. That leads me to a lengthy revision process, when I have to significantly prune and reshape my work. I suppose you could call this a sculptor’s process. I start with a wire frame, spend my first draft throwing clay at it, and then carve and smooth and refine until I have the final manuscript.

What was your favorite book as a child?
That’s almost as bad as asking which character is my favorite! I devoured books as a child and worked my way alphabetically through the SFF section of my local library. The books that I came back to over and over were Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders and Harper Hall series, and a little-known book called Windhaven by George R.R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle. I think what drew me to these particular books was the common themes of determination and personal transformation. Schmendrick perseveres and finds his magic. Frodo and Sam persevere all the way to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. Lessa goes from downtrodden scullery maid to leader of a weyr of dragonriders. Maris, the protagonist of Windhaven, changes all the rules of succession so that she can become a flyer. This last, in particular, inspired me to push my way out of the various boxes society tries to place me in. There were very few women (about 25% my freshman year) and even fewer Hispanic women at MIT, but I refused to let those labels define me or prevent me from succeeding.

What writing project are you currently working on?
I’m working on An Elf’s Equations, which is proving to be quite tricky. Originally, it was the second half of A Pixie’s Promise, but my publisher cried foul when I turned it in to them because there was entirely too much packed into one novel, and Sagara had largely taken over that second half even though Petunia was the protagonist. I’m now revising with Sagara as the viewpoint character, which has been slow going because I hadn’t done any of my usual character arc workup. All I knew was that she loved math and was something of a misfit among the elves because of it. But a lot of deep work on Sagara plus a very inspiring trip to Sweden and Finland have got me chugging along again.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
Daniel José Older has a wonderful essay refuting the standard advice that you must write every day. Certainly, that would be lovely, but like most people who don’t live in a monastery or on a desert island, I have a complicated life, and much of my time is devoted to my family. I can’t have a set work schedule because I never know from day to day whether someone will be home sick or has a doctor/dentist/orthodontist appointment or desperately needs silk roses for a school project, or the car gets sideswiped and needs repair, or both heating valves in our house break… all the tiny emergencies of daily life that I must cope with. Thanks to Older, I refuse to feel guilty for the days when I get no writing done, and this makes me far less anxious and more able to work when I do find the time.

Want to learn more about Dianna Sanchez and A Pixie’s Promise? Check out her :
Website & Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of A Pixie’s Promise.

Thanks to author Dianna Sanchez for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Carole McDonnell on January 1, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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