Q&A With Diane Bator

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Q&A With Diane Bator 

I have the honor of doing a Q&A with Canadian mystery author Diane Bator. Diane is the author of several mystery series which are Sugar Wood Mysteries, Gilda Wright Mysteries, Glitter Bay Mysteries, & Wild Blue Mysteries. 


Q: Diane when did you realize your calling was to be an author?

A: Pretty much since I could hold a crayon!

As a kid, I was an avid reader of pretty much anything mystery, unexplained mysteries, and so on. I enjoyed writing stories and poetry in school and figured if other people could be writers, so could I.


Q: What fascinates you the most about writing in the mystery genre? 

A: I have always loved puzzles and mysteries of all types. Ironically, although I loved reading mystery novels, I never thought about writing them until I entered a contest put on by a small publisher out of North Bay, Ontario. They used the characters and clues from an old murder mystery party game and asked people to write a chapter at a time in the voice of each of the characters.

It didn’t take long until they changed it so we had to write 10 chapters and create an entire novella! Each chapter was still in the voice of a different character with the detective feature in Chapters 1 and 10. It was definitely a stretch of my skills to make each character unique and a great exercise.

When I ended up winning the contest and had my first novella published, I realized I was meant to write the mysteries I used to read! I changed the Women’s Fiction novel I was working on into a mystery novel and The Bookstore Lady was born!


Q: What advice do you give to anyone wanting to write great mysteries, and on how to keep a series interesting?

A: Read lots of mysteries – or whatever genre you want to write in. Also read about people and how they think and about what makes them tick. And don’t ignore human relationships because they are generally central to any novel.

Writing a good mystery, you also need to be sure to give a feeling of suspense to your readers and just enough information they can actually figure out whodunit. Do not throw in a last minute character and blindside your reader! They will not read another book you write again!! Teasers are great as are red herrings—things that appear to steer the crime solver to one suspect then turn out to have nothing to do with the crime.

If you’re writing a series, you can use the Murder She Wrote formula and really have none of your characters evolve or change OR you can write characters who start at a certain point in their lives and grow as the series grows.

For example, in my Gilda Wright Mysteries, Gilda starts off as a karate school receptionist who has taken the job to build her own confidence as she takes classes. Through a series of misfortunes, by the end of the series she will become a kick-ass woman who figures out her own way in life. Not to give anything away!


Q: If you deal with writers block, what advice do you give to aspiring authors on how to deal with the same problem?


A: I seldom have writer’s block, mostly because I’m always writing. I’m not one of those people who struggles for ideas since I pull in ideas from everywhere. Usually when I’m already busy in other projects. I have learned to keep notebooks or binders that I can stick ideas in for later.

The times I do get stuck, I go back to basics. Go for a walk, do the dishes, do crafts, anything to keep my hands busy so my mind can wander. The two very best ways are to have a bath/shower where your notebook is in the other room and you can’t write things down! Or when falling asleep at night. I keep notebooks and pens next to my bed just for those occasions.


Q: Is it fair to say that the characters and places in your novels are based off of real people and places? I love it when an author can create fictional people and worlds based off of real ones. 


A: For the most part, yes. The town of Packham in my Wild Blue Mysteries is based on the town in Ontario I moved to many years ago. I found it a great way to get to know the town since I was creating a story around it. I’ve immortalized a few of the local businesses in the books, but most people wouldn’t know them.

Gilda Wright’s books are based on a fictionalized town along Lake Erie. I was in need of a great little town and spent some time googling. While the name of the town has changed, I used the basic map to create Sandstone Cove.

As for people, I’ve only had a couple people I’ve used as characters. One was a lady who won the opportunity to be a character in one of my Gilda Wright books. The other was a lovely lady I met while at work one day. She is a transgender woman who has become a friend and I have based Quinn Evans in my Glitter Bay series on her! She even signs her notes to me from “Quinn” and can’t wait to read the next adventure!


Q: If you’re writing a new novel now is it a part of any of your existing series, a standalone novel or perhaps the start of a new mystery series? 


A: I’ve always had a problem writing standalone books, mostly because I want to know what happens to the characters next. As you can tell, I’m not a plotter and most definitely a pantser – meaning I write my story as I go along! Many times the characters steer my intentions off course, but it always ends up working out for the best.


Q: Does Hollywood have the interests or rights to your series? Hollywood is long overdue for original content. 


A: Not yet, but it would be very cool to have a series turned into a movie or a television series! I agree, all of the remakes lately make me wonder where all the creative people are hiding!


Q: What advice do you give to new authors on dealing with negative reviews, trolls and family and friends who aren’t supportive of their writing goals?


A: I can relate to the lack of support! Up until recently, my mom had no idea where my books were published or that I even had a website! You can’t let the negativity get to you. I’ve had friends, family, trolls, the works who never wanted me to write or basically heckled my books and told me what I was doing wrong or that they didn’t like a book but loved a character.

Most of the time if you get a One Star review – we all do!! – it’s from someone who is a) jealous or b) a troll who never even read your book. Focus on the good reviews and learn from the bad or ignore them.

One thing writers need to remember is that we’re doing this because we love to write and love the words and stories. If you’re in it for the major accolades and big bucks, those generally only go to about 5% of writers. Most of us remain in the trenches doing what we love!


Q: If you were to write a different genre which genre would it be and why?


A: Funny enough, I’ve been dabbling with a couple fantasy books, a romance series, and young adult novels for years. The mystery novels have taken up most of my time, mostly because I have a market for them!

I started the fantasy books because of a good friend of mine who wants his book to be his legacy. We’ve been working on it for a few years now and I truly hope to get it published in the next year or two as well as a couple other books I have on the shelf.