Dianne Hartsock is the author of the paranormal novel, Alex. She and her husband live in Oregon.
You can visit Dianne online at her blog. She is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in a large, boisterous and loving family in California, spent ten years in the rocky mountains of Colorado, and now live in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon. At the moment I spend every spare second on my writing, but I also read books like mad. I enjoy going out for coffee or lunch with friends, love music and browsing antique stores. I also like walking on the beach, hiking, having a good laugh, and sitting by the fire with my husband.
To me, the intricate and fragile nature of the mind is always fascinating. Having worked with the public through various careers I’ve come to respect the resilience and strength of the human spirit. I’m always trying to capture that spirit in my writing.
Currently, I work as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for me. When not writing, I can express myself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.
What made you first decide to become a writer?
I’ve always been a story teller, and was very proud when a story of mine in first grade was pinned up on the wall for everyone to read, the teacher liked it that much. I didn’t think much about writing again until seventh grade when my creative writing teacher surprised me by saying I had some talent and should develop it. She believed that one day I could become published. She had me hooked! I’ve been writing ever since. About five years ago I went through a writing workshop given by Wolf-Pirate Publishing that really opened my eyes to the whole writing process. And now, with the success of Alex and some e-published short stories, I write every day and enjoy every minute of it.
Can you tell us about your latest book?
Alex is about a young psychic’s journey to find a normal life. Raised in isolation by a physically and emotionally abusive parent, on her death, Alex is thrust into a world of violence and intolerance that bewilders and hurts him. He hears the cries of children, the screaming women. Alex has been left with horrible scars on his body and even worse scars within his mind. Even though it puts him in danger, he’s compelled to help those who call to him. He’s driven, motivated by his visions to rescue them and uncover the killer.
With Alex, I wanted to take a different approach than the usual serial killer/psychic story. This is a story of a young man able to experience other people’s emotions and sometimes see their thoughts. The story is told from Alex’s unique perspective, revealing how he deals with his ‘gift’ in a doubting world. I wanted to show the vulnerability and insecurities of the typical twenty year old, plus the added stress and confusion caused by his abilities. Alex is a young man whose mind has slipped beyond the common boundaries of life. Only the love and support of his friends brings him through the summer safely, with his mind whole.
What inspired you to write it?
Alex is the story of an unwilling psychic. I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal and wanted to create a character who, by his very nature, could suspend disbelief for the duration of a novel. I wondered what extreme circumstances could lead to his ‘gift’. I decided it would have to start with his childhood. Alone and isolated, living with the anguish of abuse, perhaps a person’s mind would expand, seeking escape from the sadness and loneliness of life.
I believed Alex’s isolation would also make him hypersensitive to the people around him. He’d be empathetic to the point where he could sense and sometimes see the emotions of others. Their thoughts would leap to him in a wave of sympathetic connection.
I put Alex in a small town with a few friends who knew him and still liked him. There would be someone to love him. But what would Alex do with this gift of his? It seems to me that in extreme duress, a person will call out for help. I wanted Alex to pick up on these calls. I threw in the serial killer, police and detectives, all the usual suspects. But I tried to keep the story all in Alex’s perspective. He’s just a 20-year-old boy trying to make a life for himself.
What is one thing you hope readers will take away from this book?
One reviewer summed Alex up for me very nicely. “Overall, I am left with a new definition of what love is: an emotion that can endure through life and death. Love isn’t over-romanticized as something that will conquer all, but love makes life worth living.”
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
If you could meet any writer (living or dead), who would it be?
C.J. Cherryh. I’ve fallen in love with more of her characters than I can count. I’d love to spend an afternoon discussing her worlds over a cup of coffee. Who was her influence for Tristen? Or her shy wizard, Sasha? What about Vanya? Josh Talley? So many others! Such an amazing writer.
What is one fact about yourself you wish to share with our readers?
One day I’d love to paint in oils. I don’t know what I’d create, but the idea of putting beautiful, rich colors on a canvas intrigues me. In the meantime, I work with flowers, letting their vibrant colors be my medium.
What is up next for you?
At the moment I have a fantasy/adventure novel being considered by a publishing house. I have the sequel to this fantasy written and am in the midst of edits and revisions. Also, I’m finishing up a couple of short stories, then I’ll reread Alex, taking serious notes. I have the rough outline to a sequel in mind, but I want to immerse myself back into Alex’s reality. Though I have the outline, character sheets, etc. from when I first wrote Alex, well, I’m afraid I’m not a very neat writer. There’s notes scribbled everywhere and some I simply can’t find. Better to start from scratch with fresh paper and ideas.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Alex is a young man whose mind has slipped beyond the common boundaries of life. Only the love and support of his friends brings him through the summer safely, with his mind whole. Isn’t it amazing how we take our own friendships for granted? Friends are there for movies and dinners and the chat over a cup of coffee. They’re there in our times of need. In this holiday season, let’s not forget to thank them for being in our lives.