I am so excited to share with you my interview with Diana Paul. Her book, Things Unsaid, released in 2015 by She Writes Press, explores the dynamics and emotional landscape of caring for elderly parents, while trying to navigate life’s other plans.
What was/is your latest book release? Tell us about it!
My debut novel, Things Unsaid, was released exactly three years ago and focuses on the sandwich generation: what to do with aging parents who are driving you crazy? Conversely, for the elderly, will their adult children be willing to contribute to their caregiving financially, emotionally, and physically? This could be about anyone’s family.
Inspired by a true story – Jules Foster, a Stanford child psychologist, after hearing news of her estranged, narcissistic mother’s terminal diagnosis, chooses to care for her mother over her own addicted daughter.
What are you working on now?
I have two novels in the pipeline–one is a rom-com about online dating . The other is a mystery that continues where my debut novel, Things Unsaid, leaves off, turning an ambiguous subplot into a possible murder.
What advice would you give to your younger writing self?
Stay with your dream of being a writer, even if that means only writing for yourself. My advice would draw attention to the fact that you will be surprised by how much you enjoy meeting others along the way in your writing/reading adventure.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? What made you decide to become one?
I have always been a scribbler and writer, from elementary school on. I wrote stories for the school and college newspapers, academic books on Buddhism (my graduate school specialty), and then finally turned my energies to fiction.
Who is your favorite character in your book(s)?
All the characters, of course, have part of my psyche but my favorites are the protagonist, Jules Foster, who is deeply flawed, and her daughter, Zoe, who has to contend with her own crisis. I had fun with Courtney in the online dating novel as well. She’s hilarious and also vulnerable.
Where do you do most of your writing?
If the weather is nice, I like to write on the deck with my laptop. Otherwise, at my desk.
What inspires you?
Almost everyone has a story, and I love hearing what others have experienced. Sometimes, I will even record what a friend says with her/his permission, of course. Movies and television series also have great writing. The structure and character arcs of the best screenwriting never cease to inspire my own writing.
What else would you like your readers to know about you?
That I meditate every day as a way to bring a clear mind to the writing process and to unwind and let thoughts just surface.
Tell us a little about your process. Pantser? Plotter? Mixture of both?
I usually start with an outline, so that makes me a “mini-plotter”. But the story and characters evolve in a way that surprises me so I become a “pantser” as well.
What are you reading right now?
I haven’t read mysteries in a very long time, but since I’ve just finished the manuscript for one, I decided to pick up the genre again. I’m enjoying reading The Suspect by John Lescroart, featuring a female attorney as the protagonist.
If you could spend the day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
I’d either sketch or paint with Jules, the protagonist in Things Unsaid. Or, I’d attend university classes with her daughter, Zoe.
What actor/actress would you like to play the part of your protagonist if your book became a movie/television show?
I always thought that Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, or Naomi Watts would make a great Jules Foster who is on the cusp of fifty years old. For the narcissistic matriarch I would go for Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, or Melissa Leo. I kept these actors in mind when working on Things Unsaid.
What are your top 3 favorite books?
A Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende, Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell, and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
Do you have any rituals that you practice before sitting down to write?
I meditate, then I review the previous day’s work. And I also have to deal with our cat, Mao, jumping on the keyboard of my laptop.
What do you like to spend time doing when you aren’t writing?
Creating mixed media art, gardening, and dancing.
More about Diana:
Diana Y. Paul was born in Akron, Ohio andhas a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has a B.A. in both psychology and philosophy from Northwestern University. Diana is a former Stanford professor in Buddhism with a focus on the role of women.
Diana is also the author of three books on Buddhism, one of which has been translated into Japanese and German. Her short stories have appeared in a number of literary journals. She lives in Carmel, CA with her husband and calico cat. Her second novel, A Perfect Match, is pending as well as a third, Deeds Undone, a mystery which continues the narrative in Things Unsaid. When not writing, Diana creates mixed media art. Her art has been in museums and galleries in California, Hawaii, and Japan.
More about Things Unsaid:
Family is never easy to deal with, elderly family is even more so. Jules, a former university professor, has always played “the good daughter.” She and her husband Mike have set aside a college fund for their daughter Zoë, who is preparing to leave for Stanford. But when Jules’ parents lose everything in 2008’s Great Recession, she must make an impossible choice: her daughter’s future or her dying parents.
Things Unsaid is an award-winning novel: a 2016 USA Best Book Awards Finalist in two categories (Best New Fiction and Best Literary Fiction), 2016 Beverly Hills Book Awards Winner for Best New Adult Fiction, Readers Favorite Silver Award Winner for Best Drama, and a 2016 Pushcart Nominee.
“With a grace that is absorbing and deft, Paul tackles many difficult questions, including filial responsibility, depression, marital strife, and sexual identity. …The author depicts heart-wrenching conundrums as the three siblings are forced repeatedly to evaluate their personal priorities….An engaging tale of family dysfunction and intractable senior citizens.” ~Kirkus Review
Connect with Diana:
Visit Diana’s blog on movies and art at: www.unhealedwound.com and her author website at: www.dianaypaul.com. Or stop by on Facebook, Twitter: @DianaPaul10 and/or Instagram: dianapaul10 and dianapaul4675