Today, I’m on a quest to find a magic crown. I haven’t lost it, this is going somewhere. I’m interviewing Dianna Gunn, a fantasy author who has just released a new book, Moonshadow’s Guardian. Since she’s a fantasy author, I’m hoping she’ll know how to deal with all the weird creatures I might encounter on this quest.
Dianna, welcome to Rock Paper Spirit! What’s the best way to deal with an angry dragon?
Rolf, the dragon in Moonshadow’s Guardian, is anything but angry, so I’m not quite sure. But if I had to guess, it would involve hiding. In stone structures, because fire breathing dragon + wooden building = pile of ashes.
We’re on a kind of pilgrimage. Have you ever gone on a literary pilgrimage?
I’ll have to be honest, I’m not sure what you mean by this. I read mostly secondary world fantasy or science fiction, so I suppose any time I read a bunch of books in a short time frame it’s a literary pilgrimage 😉
Argh! Trolls! What do we do?
This depends. If they’re the type of trolls you encounter in most video games, stabbing them or setting them on fire tends to work. If they’re internet trolls, well, that’s what the block button is for.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Hahahahahaha. Honestly, it depends on the scene. Sometimes writing makes me giddy with excitement. Other times, like the other day, I pull my own heartstrings so hard I need to curl up in a ball and take a nap.
Don’t panic, but I think that spider over there is talking to us. Yeah, that one with tattoos. I hate spiders, they’re my Kryptonite. What is your writing Kryptonite?
I hate writing one-on-one fight scenes. Give me a large scale battle any day of the week, but in a one-on-one fight I find it so difficult to balance the technical details with the emotional ones.
You’ve been published by a small press publisher before, haven’t you? How does it compare with your self-publishing experience?
The timing of this question is rather ominous, to be honest. I adored my small press, The Book Smugglers Publishing, but this month they announced that they will no longer be selling books. They’ve returned my rights for Keeper of the Dawn, the book I published with them, and I’ve already chosen another small press to approach because it’s really nice to have a team, even a small one, backing you and your book up. I’ve also chosen to approach small publishers for Super Secret Projects for the same reason.
Still, I’ve enjoyed (most) of the self-publishing process for Moonshadow’s Guardian, especially the Kickstarter campaign I ran to fund edits. I’m also excited to have full control of the marketing, including things like price promotions.
I believe taking both approaches to publishing is the best way to build my career. Having a small press team behind me can mean a bigger launch and some great opportunities – I was in Teen Vogue thanks to the Book Smugglers – but small publishers close all the time. Having self-published titles ensures that you’ll always have some kind of income, even if the publisher behind one of your books closes.
Tell us about your new book, Moonshadow’s Guardian?
I still have a really hard time figuring out what qualifies as spoilers for my own books, so I’ll just stick with the blurb here:
All Riana has ever wanted is freedom. Unfortunately, that’s the one thing her kind cannot have.
Bound by the curse in her demonic blood for millennia, Riana has tried several times to bend the rules and live out her life in the mortal realm. Now her consistent rule breaking has drawn the attention of Loki, God of Mischief, the main tormentor of Riana’s kind. But instead of punishing her, he offers her the escape she has always desired. All she has to do to is save the kingdom of Moonshadow from a mysterious magical plague.
Armed only with the inherent power of her own blood and Loki’s pet dragon, Riana is determined to fight for the right to create her own destiny.
However, when her mission forces her to destroy the last remnants of an ancient culture, Riana must ask – what is freedom really worth?
Moonshadow’s Guardian is a tale about the meaning of belonging, and the struggle to create a future not defined by your past.
What does literary success look like to you?
Being able to pay my bills with the money I make from my books and other fiction projects – I’ll probably still do a little bit of freelance nonfiction work, to keep variety in my days, but I dream of making a living with my books.
Here at Rock Paper Spirit, we’re big cat fans. A little birdie told me you own a cat. Do you consider him your mascot? Or does he distract you when you’re writing? Feel free to talk a lot about him 🙂
I have TWO cats! One is a beautiful, majestic princess named Artemis who is possibly the most food motivated cat I’ve ever met.
The other is Mister Mistoffelees (ten points for anyone who gets the reference), and he alternates between being the sweetest cuddliest snuggle butt and destroying my entire house.
There are some really weird names on this treasure map. How do you select your characters’ names and place names?
I like to create rules for each culture, and I use those rules to brainstorm a whole bunch of names when I’m world-building. Then I can pick and choose from those, or create a new name based on the rules if I don’t like anything I’ve come up with so far.
Place names are honestly a lot less systematic, I mostly just try to make sure the place names in each country sound like they belong together.
I’m starving. I’ve brought some snacks in my knapsack. What’s your favourite biscuit/cookie?
…You want me to pick JUST ONE COOKIE? What form of torture is this?
I guess I’ll go with double chocolate chip, although this decision still hurts my soul.
If I’m not mistaken, the magic sword is at the other side of this mountain! Yay! Do you ever hide secrets in your books that only certain people will find?
For sure! I like to transplant names of usually minor characters from other books into my books for other minor characters. Some of these names seem like totally common names so only the people who know me will notice, but others are somewhat outlandish and should be noticed by anyone who has read the other books.
Look! It’s the magic sword. Oh, it’s so sparkly. Dianna, thanks for joining me on the quest. I’d have been eaten by trolls before getting this far! How do our readers find your book?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dianna Gunn has wanted to be a writer since she was eight years old. She wrote her first novel for Nanowrimo at eleven years old, but quickly discovered that writing books is not an easy way to make a living. So she decided to broaden her horizons, seeking another way – any way – to build a career in publishing. Her career began in earnest when she became a marketing intern at Musa Publishing in September 2011, and quickly became a staff writer, in charge of multiple imprint blogs.
In April 2017, Dianna’s first book, Keeper of the Dawn, was published through Book Smugglers Publishing. Her second novel, Moonshadow’s Guardian, releases on November 17th, 2018 and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and Kobo.