Interview with Diane Farr

Published 2020-03-17.
When did you first start writing?
I'm pretty sure I began when I was nine months old.

This may require an explanation.

Evidently, I was an early-morning babbler in my extreme youth. My parents formed the habit of removing me from my crib, where my yakking impeded their ability to sleep, and placing me in a playpen in the living room.There, I could carry on to my heart's delight until the rest of the household was ready to greet the day. One day my dad turned on a tape recorder before he went back to bed, and captured my morning routine.

You can hear me bouncing and murmuring. My voice goes high. My voice goes low. I am babbling nonsense syllables, interspersed with snatches of melody that are, all too clearly, portions of the "Mickey Mouse Club" theme. I laugh at my own jokes. I am, in my baby way, telling stories. At nine months old.

They do say some people are "born storytellers." I must fall into that category!
What's the story behind your latest book?
Years ago, my agent pitched a book series for me to a high-ranking editor at a New York publishing house that shall remain nameless. The editor approached me at a dinner party and waxed enthusiastic about it. Unfortunately, my agent had neglected to tell me that she had done this (hoping to surprise me with this lovely idea the next day). I responded to the editor with a blank stare and explained, blushing, that she must have confused me with some other writer. My blank stare was, naturally, returned. And the big New York publisher never picked up my series.

Fast-forward to today. The publishing landscape has changed. I no longer am at the mercy of well-meaning agents or enthusiastic, but easily-offended, editors. And after all, the idea my agent came up with was pretty good. So I'm writing it. Book One was "The Mistletoe Test."
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Writing fiction is like sex. It's thrilling ... until somebody starts paying you to do it.

Published authors feel guilty about complaining, because there are so many people out there who long to be in our shoes. But -- for me, at least -- traditional publishing was so stressful that the delights were considerably diminished by the constant state of nail-biting anxiety my publisher induced. It was deliberate, of course. I do not blame them; they are a business and the purpose of a business is to make money. By making your authors feel as if they are mere cogs in the machine -- and not even particularly important cogs -- you keep them "in their place." A groveling author, an author who has to beg for her money, an author who is frantic to pay her bills but can do NOTHING to force you to honor the terms of her contract, an author who lives in fear of offending you, is an author who will meet her deadlines promptly and sign on any dotted line you present her.

Ah, but times have changed. I was among the first of my friends to jump ship. I asked for my rights back, received them, and self-published my backlist beginning in 2010. No more pacing in my kitchen, working up the nerve to call somebody in New York. No more weeping when the Cover Gods give me a cover I hate. Nobody to placate, no ruffled feathers to smooth, nobody I have to impress or cajole or pretend to agree with or bite my tongue around. I have complete artistic control. If I hate my cover, I have no one to blame but myself. I write when I please and publish on my own schedule. I'm remarkably easy to work with. I pay myself on time and am unfailingly courteous. And the only thing I really miss is the Art Department.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I adore Smashwords. Nobody should have a corner on the market, and although The-Behemoth-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless has been very, very good to me, I love having a fiercely independent alternative that makes my books available in multiple formats and multiple marketplaces, treats its authors well, and gives Behemoth-averse readers an opportunity to connect with authors like me.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Oh dear. I'm afraid I do. When I was ten, I wrote the first half of a Nancy Drew mystery. So I guess it was fanfic! Like much of my work, it was replete with exclamation points and relied heavily on humorous dialogue. (Hey, I'm working on the exclamation points. Really.) I abandoned the project when I was unable to solve the mystery. Lesson learned: It is the reader, not the author, who should be stumped by your whodunnit.
What is your writing process?
My books are character-driven. When writing a romance, usually one main character or the other will "come to me" first. And it really does feel like they come to me, by the way. As if these people already exist, fully-formed, out in the ethos somewhere, and are brought to me by my muse for an introduction. Once my attention is caught by a fascinating individual, it's simply a matter of creating the perfect person for that character to fall for.

In one instance, I based a character on a famous character created by someone else. I had watched "Goldfinger" with my husband and thought, "Sean Connery's James Bond is the sexiest man on earth. And in real life, I'd hate him." The arrogance! The coldness! The promiscuity! It seemed clear to me that every woman who slept with him was confident that she was going to be The One, that she was going to capture his heart and bring him to his knees. And every last one of 'em was wrong. (Poor Moneypenny! How can she ever fall for anyone else, with that devastating man walking into her office every couple of months and teasing her?) So I gave him another name, dressed him in Regency clothes, and dropped him into "Falling for Chloe." I was determined to give that man his comeuppance. But! I quickly discovered that my little Chloe was not up to the challenge. Besides, she was perfect for somebody else. So Chloe ended up with her somebody else, and my editor gave me my first "breakout" contract to write a standalone historical romance. We called it "The Fortune Hunter." This time, I found him a woman he couldn't resist. And he fell like a shooting star. Most satisfying.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I love my Kindle Paperwhite. It's not good for anything but reading; you can't play games on it, email your BFF, watch a movie, or tweet. You just read, comfortably, in any light, on a lightweight device with a screen that is easy on the eyes.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
None. I rely exclusively on word of mouth--because that's what matters to me when I'm choosing a book. I ignore emails and tweets and Facebook ads and basically every form of book marketing that isn't a review or a friend's recommendation. So I figure most other readers do too. I am probably wrong, since most of my author friends do various kinds of promotion. They're probably on to something, and I am probably missing out. But until I stumble across an ad or an email that makes me buy a book, the ins and outs of marketing will remain a mystery to me.
Describe your desk
I have a beautiful office with a large and handsome desk. I stopped using it because whenever I went in there to write, my husband would lurk plaintively outside the door and call my name, requiring urgent answers to such questions as: "Where's the butter?" -- despite the fact that the butter was, inevitably, always within 18 inches of where he was looking for it. (Hint: The refrigerator is a finite space.) Now I write on a laptop. The sunroom is my favorite spot, but I can write anywhere. I have learned to handle interruptions with a nimbleness that would astonish my pre-nuptial self! And yes, my husband is worth it.
What should readers know about your books?
Someone once told me, "Reward the careful reader." I try to do that, in various ways. Most of my books contain "Easter eggs," subtle (and a few not-so-subtle) references to Georgette Heyer's works, or glimpses of characters from her books or mine. I'm always delighted when readers find them and let me know. There are couple still out there, undiscovered ... or at least unreported! If you are unfamiliar with my other books, or hers, the Easter eggs won't slow you down. But for those who enjoy stumbling across them, they are there.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

The Mistletoe Test
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 55,010. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Holiday » Christmas, Fiction » Romance » Regency
Luckless Lulu longs for love ... but should she try to overcome her awkward, tomboy nature--or find a man who will love her as she is? Set against the backdrop of Christmastime in Bath, The Mistletoe Test is a holiday charmer, a sweet and sparkling sugar plum of a book.
Falling for Chloe
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 71,260. Language: English. Published: September 3, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Regency
Chloe and Gil are lifelong friends, but when a notice of their engagement mysteriously appears in the London papers they are outraged - and determined to escape the trap. Unfortunately, breaking their trumped-up betrothal proves trickier than either of them had bargained for. "...charming and sweet... I heartily recommend FALLING FOR CHLOE." - All About Romance
Under A Lucky Star
Series: "Star" Trilogy, Book 2. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 86,310. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Regency
(4.00 from 1 review)
Derek Whittaker does not believe in love at first sight - until he lays eyes on Cynthia Fitzwilliam, the icy beauty known as the "Frost Fair." He alone perceives the warm & vibrant nature hidden beneath her chilly demeanor - but can he melt her frozen heart? "Simple yet magical ... this book will remind readers why sweet is sometimes better." - Publisher's Weekly
Under The Wishing Star
Series: "Star" Trilogy, Book 1. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 94,580. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Regency
(4.00 from 1 review)
Widower Malcolm Chase wants to dismiss his daughter's cruel governess and hire kind Natalie Whittaker instead. Natalie fears it would be unseemly for a woman of her station to move into a bachelor's household. The obvious solution? Marriage. But Natalie desires a union of love, not convenience - and Malcolm's dark past has taught him there is no such thing as love.
The Fortune Hunter
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 105,600. Language: English. Published: November 12, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Regency
(5.00 from 1 review)
Desperate and destitute, wicked Lord Rival has drawn up a list of rich single women who might be willing to wed -- and mysterious, reclusive Lady Olivia Fairfax heads the list. But when he finally meets the elusive Lady Olivia, she is hardly the lonely naif he expected. Her quick wit and sweet temper completely entrance him -- and make it difficult to bring his heartless seduction to a conclusion.
Once Upon A Christmas
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 75,420. Language: English. Published: November 6, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Regency
(4.00 from 1 review)
After a tragic loss, Celia Delacourt faces a life of loneliness & poverty - until a distant cousin, the Duchess of Arnsford, unexpectedly takes her in. Celia is grateful to be spending Christmas with family, however remote the relation - and despite the chilling grandeur of the ducal palace. And meeting her cousin Jack makes Celia wonder: Will this be the worst Christmas of her life - or the best?
Duel of Hearts
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 74,860. Language: English. Published: October 11, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Regency, Fiction » Romance » Romantic Comedy
A spoiled brat and an arrogant aristocrat, both accustomed to having their own way, delight in taking each other down a peg - until, to their dismay, they realize they've met their match more ways than one. *Winner of the GOLDEN QUILL award for Best Regency Romance* *An All About Romance DESERT ISLE KEEPER* "Truly one of the most delightful books of the year." -- All About Romance
Playing to Win
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 85,190. Language: English. Published: September 15, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Regency
(4.00 from 1 review)
Trevor Whitlatch always wins when playing the game of love. His first glimpse of lovely, baseborn Clarissa fills him with desire — and determination. She will be his next mistress. But love is no game to Clarissa. She has suffered all her life from the choices her mother made, and vows that no child of hers will bear that shame. Irresistible force ... meet immovable object.