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Interview with Dionne Lister
Why are dragons the coolest creature ever?
Isn’t it obvious?
They look awesome—cute and dangerous all at the same time, they breathe fire and they can fly.
You seem to have an interest in particularly violent deaths. Has this been a lifelong issue?
Death has been. I’ve always been afraid of dying, even at a young age (3 or 4). Even now, it is the only thing that makes me freak out—the fact that I will stop existing one day. I know I won’t know anyway but still….
I do really enjoy writing violent deaths and I have no idea why. I think I like knowing that when people read it they are going to get grossed out J. Could be my sense of humor ;).
I’ve also heard you like skiing. How did you get into that?
I started at school when I was about 14 because they had an annual ski-trip for the students. When I left school I had a friend whose dad owned shares in a ski lodge, and we went every year and stayed in the snow for not much money. It was awesome. Alas I hardly go now that I have children, although I did manage to escape last year with a friend for a few days. It was fantastic and we had powder. Lucky me!
Dark Spaces and Shadows of the Realm are very different styles. Is it hard transitioning from one to the other?
Not at all. Both genres write themselves and I don’t know how it happens. When I decide what I’m going to write, my brain takes over and does all the work. Maybe I’m channeling some dead authors lol.
Have your children read any of your work?
Ah, no. Being 4 and 6, they’re a bit young. My 4 year old doesn’t even know all the letters of the alphabet by site. They did ask me to read some once, but their eyes glazed over about half way down the first page. They do love my cover though.
I’ve noticed in Dark Spaces and your short story Divine Intervention some stark social commentary. Is it intentional or do they just turn out that way?
A bit of both I think. I don’t plan them to have to say something, but when I know who my characters are, I’m not afraid to tell it like I think it is. I do think stories with a deeper meaning are desirable and it is part of an author’s responsibility to point out what’s wrong in the world so maybe it can be discussed and changed, but I don’t see myself as some lecturer on ethics or social justice. My main aim when I write my short stories is to create suspense and intense feelings and social issues tend to do that.
What stories have inspired you the most?
I’ve recently read some very good literary works that have inspired me to write better—I may never reach the skill of those writers, but I will always try. Recent inspiring works I’ve read, hmm. The Fig Tree by Arnold Zable was an autobiography/biography which had not only beauty of language, but life stories I could relate to, and The Hours by Michael Cunningham which had the most poetic observations of the minutiae of life.
I love the magic in Shadows of the Realm. It’s such an original perspective. How did you come up with it?
I tried to be original because even though genre has expected norms, I didn’t want it to be a total cliché. I let my imagination do the work and also tried to be logical about what was and wasn’t possible or believable. I made sure I had well-defined boundaries.
What got you into editing? You’re very good at it.
I kind of fell into it (as usually happens in my life). I love reading, and I love correcting grammatical and punctuation mistakes (yes, I know that’s anal) and while doing my creative writing degree, I’ve learnt how to look at the structure of a story and how to make it better. I love helping authors improve their work, while at the same time improve their future work because they’re learning as they go. I enjoy the process and find I have a passion for it and hopefully an empathy with what the author is trying to achieve. It’s worked out well because I’m able to stay close to what I love, and that’s books and writing.
Do you and Amber ever get really angry with each other or is the screaming on Tweep Nation all in good fun?
He, he wouldn’t you like to know ;). I have to leave something unsaid, don’t I. I’ve heard it’s better to be a little mysterious.
Thanks so much for interviewing me, Ben, I’ve really enjoyed answering the questions. And happy 2013 to you and all the readers of your blog!