Friday 10 September 2021

An Interview with Dianne Stadhams


Today I'm interviewing on my  blog Dianne Stadhams. We have published several of her short stories in our annual anthologies. We have also been pleased to publish her linked short story collection  Links. Today we are talking  to her about her writing in general and about her YA novel Doll Face.    


What do you write? Why this in particular?

So many reasons! Because I enjoy telling stories. Because I am incensed at the level of social injustice... literature is a powerful tool to raise awareness and contribute to social change. Because ageing women in developed world societies are increasingly invisible. Actually I'm guessing they always have been... or vilified as witches etc. And just BECAUSE!!!

 What got you started on writing in the first place?

I have always enjoyed writing... from school (where teachers got me to write to keep me quiet and sitting still) to work (where I wrote non-fiction which included anything from business development plans and evaluations to academic articles on poverty alleviation strategies). From my passion for theatre I started writing scripts and had some success. When I moved to a rural area and briefly joined a writers' group I started writing short stories because the other members didn't want to read scripts.

Do you have a particular routine?

I try and write most days but life can be a great disrupter. I hibernate in mid-winter and try to get a first draft of a novel completed.

Do you have a dedicated working space?

Yes I'm very fortunate to have my own office... nicknamed The Tip... say no more... except that it overlooks a forest with Welsh mountains in the background.

When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?

When I got my first royalty payment. It might only have bought me a coffee or two but it felt momentous and bone fide. I usually say I'm trying to write full-time rather than I AM a writer. It's not exactly lack of confidence. More ego... as people always ask if they would have heard of my books. Answer... err, well, do you want to check me out on Goodreads? Amazon? The Hive? Bridge House Publishing? The Red Telephone?

How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?

Supportive in that they see writing fulfills a need in me. Delighted that I've had publishing success. I only wish more of them would upload reviews. My family has copies of books on display in their homes... but I'm not sure they've actually read the books.

What are you most proud of in your writing?

Finishing a manuscript; having three plays selected for workshops and productions at London and Bristol theatres; being published.

How do you get on with editing and research?

The research I quite like doing. I tend to delve as it fits the plot point. I find editing works best for me when I write the draft and then put it away for a time. Then what doesn't flow or the gaps in the work leap out.

Do you have any goals for the future?

I have three novels and another collection of short stories I would like to see published.

Which writers have inspired you?

Too many to list but three books that had a massive, positive impact for different reasons are: Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Apeirogon by Colum Mc Cann.

And about Doll face specifically:

So, tell me about Doll Face

Doll Face is the story of what happens when Tilly is taken hostage on holidays. She’s 14, feisty, funny and was born with Mosaic Down Syndrome. Post-holiday Tilly is not sleeping. Her parents and school are worried. Tilly is sent for therapy where she shares her views on tourism development and land rights campaigners. With her secret passion for dodgy websites Tilly’s decision to tell the world her version of the truth and what justice is really all about goes viral.

Doll Face is told through the eyes of Tilly talking to her psychologist; naive Yousef, the young, British educated, leader of the campaign group who seize the tourists to raise awareness about environmental issues; ambitious student Giselle, a wannabe journalist reporting for a British television channel, whose arachnophobia triggers a deadly crisis; smitten Private Jack, a British soldier sent to deal with the hostage situation who is flattered by Giselle’s flirtation but learns the price of interference; and loyal friend Jane Doll, Tilly’s alter ego who accompanies her at all times and is the namesake on her Internet blog.

The novel was short-listed for the Triskele prize for debut writers.

Tell us about your research for this book.  

Much of the reason for writing the book came from my work and studies in tourism development in some of the world's poorest communities. How individuals, communities and governments see tourism and its benefits can be contentious. The research on Down Syndrome was rooted in my experience with a friend's child over many years, contact with a charity and a lot of reading about the topic.. 

What inspired you to write this? 

I am fascinated and amused at how other people view their worlds. A childlike perspective can be so inspirational and reveal a powerful truth.

What's next?

Editing the manuscript of a sequel to a who dunnit. The first novel, Crococdile Tears, was set in the 1990's. The sequel is set in contemporary times.

Completing an immersive, theatrical script with original music and lyrics which will premiere in Gloucestershire on June 25 2022.

 Do you have any events planned?

Attending the launch in London of Resolutions, a collection of short stories by Bridge House Publishing. My story, Advent Calendar, opens the collection




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