I am very excited to introduce to you this week's Friday Five interviewee - Diana Renn, author of TOKYO HEIST, a new YA mystery/adventure published by Viking a couple of weeks ago. I met Diana online through the Apocalypsies, and we quickly bonded as pub sisters. She has an artistic eye, a vibrant imagination, and is a taiko drummer. How cool is that?
1. What is your earliest memory?
My earliest memories all seem to involve books. Building houses out of my parents’ books. Sleeping with library books. Making my own little illustrated volumes. My uncle was a printer, and always kept me well-stocked with paper, all kinds of cast-off bits which I felt compelled to turn into books. I was a self-publishing force to be reckoned with by age five, churning out little illustrated chapbooks and foisting them upon anyone who crossed my path. The earliest had incredibly didactic titles, like “Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables!” and “Time to Clean Up!” (Now, as a parent of a preschooler, maybe I’d actually find them useful – I think I’ll revisit them!)
2. What would your super power be?
My super power would be similar to one imagined by Violet, the main character in Tokyo Heist. Violet is writing and drawing a graphic novel, and she invents an alter ego, Kimono Girl, a superhero who can fly into works of art. Inside the art, Kimono Girl can fully investigate the world of the painting, or spy on the outside world. I’d love to slip into art and books like that. Poke around for awhile. Though it might be hard not to tamper with anything.
3. What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Other than more hours in the day? A personal assistant. I am currently drowning in paper, correspondence, household errands, etc. I constantly feel stretched in many different directions. (Don’t we all?)
4. Who are your writing heroes?
Anyone who balances writing with parenting and/or a day job and gets stuff done, whether they are published or not. I’m an avid follower of my friend Pat’s interview series called The Juggler Interviews. He does these in-depth interviews with people who juggle creative careers with family life and other demands. Many of them are playwrights and screenwriters, and have travel pressures on top of everything else. I’m humbled and inspired every time I read those interviews.
5. What is your favorite writing motto/mantra?
It’s one word. Believe. I write it on a post-it whenever I start a writing session. That single word reminds me to believe that I’ll get something done, even if it feels impossible. It also reminds me to believe in what I’m writing, and to trust the writing process. There’s work in the writing, for sure, but there’s a little magic in it. Here’s some uncanny proof. Last summer, while revising Tokyo Heist for my publisher, I decided I wanted the book to make the Indie Kids’ Next List. I read that seasonal list faithfully and love the bookseller recommendations. I crossed out “Summer 11” and replaced it with “12,” for 2012. And I knew making that list was a longshot – so many factors you cannot control -- but I wrote one word on that masthead. Believe. Astoundingly, my book did make the Indie Kids’ Next List for Summer 2012! That is one powerful word.
ABOUT TOKYO HEIST:
When sixteen-year-old Violet agrees to spend the summer with her father, an up-and-coming artist in Seattle, she has no idea what she's walking into. Her father’s newest clients, the Yamada family, are the victims of a high-profile art robbery: van Gogh sketches have been stolen from their home, and, until they can produce the corresponding painting, everyone's lives are in danger -- including Violet's and her father's.
Violet’s search for the missing van Gogh takes her from the Seattle Art Museum, to the yakuza-infested streets of Tokyo, to a secluded inn in Kyoto. As the mystery thickens, Violet’s not sure whom she can trust. But she knows one thing: she has to solve the mystery -- before it’s too late.
Having spent time as a freelance travel writer, travel agent, coffee shop barista, bookseller, ship's steward, construction company contracts manager and Montessori preschool teacher, I have finally found my calling. I write historical fiction for young adults. I am represented by Catherine Drayton of InkWell Management.
When poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach Anne Boleyn on how to shine at court, she accepts. Before long, Anne's popularity has soared, but more than popularity, Anne wants a voice. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart's desire and the chance to make history.
When her best friend marries Henry VIII, Kitty Tylney must learn to walk the fine line between secrets and treason, discovering that in the Tudor court, the price of gossip could literally be her head.