“It’s been a long, hard fight to be as successful as I am now”- novelist Diane Allen
DIANE Allen is not only the manager of a large print book firm but also the author of popular saga novels. Her latest book, ‘Like Father, Like Son’, which weaves a tale around heroine, Polly Harper, is out now.
Why does the Yorkshire Dales influence so much of your writing?
The Yorkshire Dales is my homelands. My family have lived there for centuries. I’ve travelled quite a bit of the world but nothing beats the feeling that I get when I visit my home valley of Dentdale. Dale’s people are a special hardy breed like the surrounding fells and dales. I’m proud to be part of both and to have been influenced deeply by the beautiful surroundings I was lucky enough to grow up in.The mobile ‘travelling’ library that would come up your farm track once a fortnight was one of the things you lived for as a child. What are your thoughts on the fact that, due to council cuts, libraries are closing across the country?
I owe part of my living to the library service. That, along with a thirst for reading and a love of books, makes me passionate about our libraries. I think the council cuts made to the libraries are an easy option for the Government. One that can be made without too much outcry from the public. The cuts hurt the older and poorer of the community, those unable to have access to computers and literature.What are your favourite books from being a child and what did you learn from them?
When I was a child, I read anything and everything. I used to love Enid Blyton and any books containing horses, especially Black Beauty. With being the youngest of a family of three and left with my parents, once my sister and brother had left home, books were a meaning of escape from being lonely. Unbeknown to me I was also learning the art of writing and composition.What do you enjoy most about being an author?
I enjoy being an author because I become the character I am writing about and am thrown back into a time when times were tougher but gentler. I sometimes completely confuse my husband when I tell him what my characters are up to and he has to ask is this the real world or is it in your book?Do you have to be disciplined to write? Oh, yes, at the moment I’m giving every day from 8am to 2pm to writing, after that my brain goes into melt down. When I was in full-time work, I used to have to be really hard on myself and take myself away with my computer and write from 7pm to whenever I found myself starting to not make sense through tiredness. No watching Coronation Street or Bake Off. Do you have the whole plot planned out before you start or does it just flow?
My plot, grows with the book. I basically know the main character, I know where and when it’s set, but what is going to happen within the pages depends on which path I take.Which is your most favourite character you have created and which one do you most identify with?
Polly out of ‘Like Father, Like Son’ is my favourite character. She’s a farm girl, just like I were and she gets frustrated with her lot in life. I used to hanker for the finer things in life, but nothing is finer than good friends and family.Why do you think you books are so popular? Do you think with our hectic lives today romance is still alive and well?
I think my books are popular because they portray everyday life, set in surroundings that anyone can connect too. Of course the romance helps, I think we have all probably been smitten and love struck by someone that we perhaps cannot ever have. In fiction you can make the unthinkable happen and give everyone a nice warm feeling of satisfaction.You worked as a glass engraver, raised two children, and looking after an ill father, before founding your true niche in life, joining a large print publishing firm in 1990. What advice would you give to other women who feel they haven’t yet found their ideal job?
My life has not always been a bed of roses, it’s been a long, hard fight to be as successful as I am now. I’d say to any woman that feels unsatisfied with their job, not to give up on their ideals. To pursue their dream and have faith in themselves. Five years ago, I had no idea that my titles would be in bookshops and supermarkets country-wide, nothing is impossible.You can date your family back for centuries in the Yorkshire Dales – what does family support mean to you and do you think you would have been so successful without them?
My family means everything to me. My husband bless him, has supported me through thick and thin, and my children, their partners and offspring mean the world to me. I would be nothing without them and my extended family of cousins, who rally round and support me at every book signing. My family have made me what I am and I hope I reflect their love and my love of them in all my books.
Diane Allen has written ‘For The Sake Of Her Family’, ‘For A Mother’s Sins’, ‘For A Father’s Pride’ and her latest ‘Like Father, Like Son’ which is published by Pan Macmillan and available on Amazon and at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and WH Smith.