Writer Of The Week: Diana White

writer of the week

Our Writer of The Week is Diana White. Diana’s story, “Passing It On”, appears in Special 203, which is on sale now.

Davey’s close bond with his grandad is evident in the story. How much of a source of inspiration is the grandparent/grandchild relationship to you?

Quite a significant inspiration. I was extremely close to my own grandparents, and spent a lot of time with them as a child.

I was a bit of a dreamer — I suppose I still am — and would spend hours play-acting in the imaginary worlds I created.

My grandparents understood this and never tried to stop me, which was important. Like many children, I found the real world difficult to understand sometimes and would retreat to one which I did understand.

My grandfather was a lovely man, who took a real interest in me and what I was doing. He listened to me, answered my questions and didn’t treat me as a child. And he encouraged me to write.

He was a writer himself and his stories appeared in evening newspapers. He’d have been delighted to know I’d continued writing.

Do you enjoy writing for the “Friend”? What are your future writing plans?

I love writing for the magazine. I’m pleased to be a Writer Of The Week!

I love knowing what I’ve written has been considered good enough to entertain women (and men) up and down the country.

It’s quite a special feeling as the magazine is a very important publication. The “Friend” is like an anchor that keeps you safely moored in the world; a world one doesn’t always recognise as one gets older, and in these very difficult times is more necessary than usual.

I’d love to write more for the “Friend” and will try to do this. I’m not a writer who can rustle up a story quickly; I wish I were, but I take time to arrange my thoughts and always have to make masses of changes in whatever I write.

My main commitment is writing a monthly article called “Letter From England” for a newspaper in Luxembourg. As it’s a multi-language country I can write in English, luckily, as I certainly couldn’t write in anything else.

I’ve also written two books; one a history of the town where I live, and a biography of my literary heroine Jane Austen, which was published in 2017.

Currently, I’m in the process of writing a detective story, nothing grim or grisly. I also like humour, so I try to make even history entertaining. They say humour is the best medicine, and very often I think it is.

“Passing It On” has a feel-good message to it. Was it important for you to instil a sense of reader contentment within the story?

Yes, definitely. It’s extremely important to give a reader a story that satisfies them in some way, either emotionally or intellectually. I try and imagine how I would feel reading what I’ve written and always hope to engage a reader.

I try to write something that the reader can relate to and people they can sympathize with. Truth in a story is important to me; I don’t like stories which lack “heart,” or which don’t ring quite true.

If you could have written any famous work of fiction, what would it be, and why?

I’m a great fan of Jane Austen.

She was an undeclared feminist who managed to do something extremely clever. She wrote highly subversive novels as romance, the only way she could get herself in print and earn her own “travelling purse”.

Thankfully, life has moved on from when Jane Austen lived.

So, I’d like to have written “Persuasion”, the book she didn’t quite finish, and which her brother published after her death. But I would have added another two chapters to keep the reader in suspense a little longer and the happy ending delayed.

I sometimes wonder if she’d have been annoyed her brother published it as it was, without the extra work she knew it needed. She was a perfectionist.

Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?

I write on a laptop sitting in a comfortable chair where the view is of other chairs and a few pictures.

Nothing very remarkable, but a position which is so familiar I’m not distracted, and I don’t actually “see” anything. When I’m writing I’m totally concentrated and time doesn’t have much meaning, which is fine unless I’m supposed to be doing something else.

I do have a book room where I sometimes sit at an old-fashioned bureau with the slope supported on wooden rests. My laptop sits on top of the slope.

Where I write depends on different things, like the weather . . . My book room is small and cosy, smells of old print and is painted a very cheerful yellow. And it’s quiet.

I have to hear what my characters are saying, so music is out and even bird song.

I’ve been writing since I was twelve. Years went by before I got something accepted for publication, but the excitement and pleasure of that moment is exactly the same now as it was that first time.

Writing can be a lonely occupation, but knowing there are people reading what you’ve written makes the solitary world you occupy very meaningful.

Writing is therapeutic and rewarding, even if it’s only you who gets to read it.

P.S., What’s your one top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?

Never use language as a weapon.

For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.