Interview with Author Diane Randle

Today’s special guest is author Diane Randle the author of the Spectral Witness. I loved the tense action and beautiful descriptions that fill this great novel. I hope everyone checks it out. 

So tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have a diploma in film and worked in t.v. and film for a decade in various capacities. I studied writing with iconic Canadian writer W.O. Mitchell at the Banff Centre of the Arts and won the National Film Board of Canada Award at the Banff TV Festival for Best Pitch for a tv series I created called ‘Hypoxia’.

I have written small (read as ‘eeny weeny’) stage projects that have been produced and done freelance copywriting for corporate clients.

Currently I work in health care and appreciate the contribution I’m able to make to society while observing the drama around me. Working in health care is a banquet for a writer. Every kind of person in the world needs health care sometimes and people are fascinating!

How did you first get into writing?

I have always imagined stories in my head. When I was a kid I was often ‘directing’ and ‘writing’ tv shows I was watching in that I would think of a different shot or a different line than I was seeing…of course mine was always better haha.

What is your favorite book(s)?

Lost Horizon by James Hilton. Dahlgren, an unbelievable science fiction epic by Samuel R. Delaney. Love Harlan Ellison’s work. To Kill A Mockingbird. The Plague by Albert Camus. So many! Oh, yes, Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. Love him! Wonder Boys reminds me of when I first started writing, oh, so long ago haha.

Where do you get your ideas and inspiration?

I don’t know. I will see an image or hear a piece of a conversation or be driving or whatever and these things just pop into my head.

Do you have a daily schedule for your writing?

I do. I get up at 5 a.m. to write before work. I find I can’t write in the ev ening because I’m too tired .

Are your characters based on anyone you know or personal experiences?

Sure. Both. I think if you’re not writing from a deeply personal place you are probably producing (wow, alliteration!) mediocre formulaic work. I’m still too much of a chicken. I need to be more fearless in my work.

Helga is my favorite character, what was your inspiration for her?

Horse and Train, (1954)
by Alex Colville
casein tempera
41.2 x 54.2 cm

What was my inspiration for Helga? Hmmm… one inspiration was a school mate from the wealthiest family in the small mountain town I grew up in. She was an arrogant twat but also obviously struggling with a lot of issues. As I started writing Helga’s inner voice just came out and I really enjoyed writing her smug inner dialogue. As well, I’ve always been fascinated with that Colville painting.

I felt that Helga was doomed and that she would have an obsession with that painting throughout her life, sometimes, in her more optimistic moods, she would imagine the horse veering off the tracks, but most of the time she expects to end up as the horse will, obliterated.

How do you develop your settings?

The strangest setting I developed was the high mountain town for ‘Hypoxia’, the TV series I created and pitched at the Banff TV Festival. Because I grew up in a high mountain town (Canmore, Alberta) a lot of it was there in my experience, I just embellished it in crazy ways that happened scene by scene, moment by moment as I was writing.

How much do you read in your chosen genre?

I don’t have a chosen genre. Though ‘Spectral Witness’ is a paranormal mystery, ‘Hypoxia’ which I may work on next, is a fantasy/comedy. I read everything from Dickens to King to A twood.

Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Find your voice. Let the work take you where it wants to go. Don’t try to plot your work too much. I made that mistake. My work had a contrived feel that I knew was false, though, in screenplays, my dialogue was praised, my characters were praised etc…there was something not right.

On the screenplay for ‘Spectral Witness’ I changed my process…I threw out the planning and threw out 90 percent of the script and then just went minute by minute, writing it and seeing what would happen…and what happens, and Stephen King talks about his in his fantastic book “On Writing’ , is that your characters start telling YOU their story. It’s a fantastic feeling! I have a protagonist in ‘Spectral Witness’ but I wasn’t entirely sure of her motivation, it was fuzzy, and then she did something in a scene I didn’t expect and HELLO! Light bulb. SHE told me what her story was.

That ‘s my advice. Don’t push your work in a particular direction too strongly. Half way through Misery Stephen King realized that he could not kill off his main character. He had envisioned the ending since he started the book (the germ of which he dreamt on a flight to London) but realized as he wrote that his character was much more resourceful than he had at first thought, and so he lived.

Let the work tell you what it wants to be. Write every day. Write because you love it your story.

Thanks for coming today!

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