INTERVIEW WITH JOYCE DIPASTENA
Q.What genre do you write and why?
A. I write historical romances and romantic historicals. What’s the difference? Simply the amount of time the story focuses on the romance theme vs other themes in the story. Why do I write historicals and medievals in particular? That’s hard to say. I’ve always been interested in history, from ancient through the 1800s (pre-Industrial), but when I got to college I just seemed to get more and more caught up in the Middle Ages and have been happily focused there ever since.
Q. Your book is set in medieval Poitou and Venice. Have you ever been there?
A. No, but a few years ago my sister and I briefly visited Torino and Torricella Peligna in the Abruzzo area of Italy where my grandmother’s family came from. That trip wasn’t nearly long enough. We both hope to go back some day and spend more time getting to know Italy, including hopefully on our next trip, Venice!
Q. Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?
A. Usually writer’s block hits me when I’m feeling too much pressure to produce. So I’ve learned a little ritual. I set a timer for an hour and tell myself that I don’t have to write anything, but I do have to stay at the computer with my story called up until the timer goes off, and during that time I can’t do anything else but write or stare at the screen. No email, no internet, no computer games, I can’t leave the computer to do something else. I just have to stay there with my story for one hour, until the timer rings. But I tell myself it’s okay if I just stare at the screen for that time, I don’t have to actually write. (But I can’t do anything else.) Somehow knowing that I don’t have to write takes the self-imposed pressure off of me, and once that pressure is removed I feel myself relax and I can usually start thinking of something to write after all. If I don’t, I’ve still put in the time, and that alone is an achievement. But it’s very, very rare that I actually come away without writing something once I tell myself I don’t have to write if I don’t want to. (But remember the rule: you can’t go do something easier or “more fun” during that hour!)
Q. In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?
A. I wrote my first three novels entirely in longhand. Only one of those is currently published, Loyalty’s Web, although a second original “longhand” novel (deeply revised on the computer), The Lady and the Minstrel, is due to be published next year. Sometimes I’ll still jot plot ideas for my books down by hand.
Q. What is your next project?
A. I have a romantic historical novel I’m hoping to have ready to publish early next year. It’s called The Lady and the Minstrel. The title sounds like a romance, I know, but while it has a strong romance element in it, it deals in some depth with the manorial class system in medieval England. The story is currently going through a second round of beta readers, then I hope to polish it up and send it off for editing.
Q. Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?
A. I don’t usually snack while I’m writing, but on those rare occasions when I do, I snack on Hershey Kisses with almonds or Jelly Bellies. (Favorite flavors: bubble gum, cotton candy, toasted marshmallow, caramel corn)