It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Diana Y. Paul, author of Things Unsaid.
About Diana Y. Paul:
Diana Y. Paul is currently completing her second novel, Deeds Undone, a murder mystery which picks up where Things Unsaid left off.
A resident of Carmel, California, Diana is passionate about creating mixed media art. Her artwork has been exhibited in California, Hawaii, and Japan.
Diana and her husband love to visit their adult daughter, son-in-law and their family in San Francisco and their son and daughter-in-law in Los Angeles.
To learn more about her and her work, visit Diana’s author website at http://www.dianaypaul.com, and her popular blog on movies, art, and food at http://www.unhealedwound.com or, if you’d like to communicate directly with her, please visit Twitter @DianaPaul10.
About Things Unsaid:
Bookclub Favorite Winner of New Adult Fiction—Beverly Hills Book Awards for 2016 Winner of the 2016 SILVER Medal for Best Fiction in Drama from Readers Favorites Finalist USA Best Books Awards 2016 in Literary Fiction and in New Fiction
Inspired by a true story about mothers, daughters, and impossible choices—Jules Foster, a child psychologist, upon hearing news of her estranged, narcissistic mother’s terminal diagnosis, chooses to care for her mother over her own daughter, only to find out she has been betrayed all along. Things Unsaid asks us to consider what children owe their aging parents and siblings.
Author Interview with Diana Y. Paul:
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- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. If the scene is particularly intense: characters with internal conflict, what I call the “double doom” (damned if you do, damned if you don’t), it can be draining and exhausting, the psychology of it. As in Things Unsaid—when the main character, Jules Foster, has to choose between supporting her dying parents financially or their daughter who is applying to colleges.
Energizing happens when I’m writing a scene that really epitomizes visual storytelling: cold crisp dialogue, setting of scenes, conveying the emotion. Discovering something new about a character always gives me a boost of adrenaline too.
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Mrs. Bridge by Evan S Connell—sparse, terse writing with gut-punched in almost every chapter. A portrait of a family behind closed doors, their secrets, disappointments, well-intentioned behavior, and abject sadness. Published in 1959, Mrs. Bridge had a very brief rebirth recently on its 50th anniversary in 2019.
- Do you view writing is a kind of spiritual practice?
Yes, I am highly influenced by Buddhism and was a professor at Stanford who taught courses on Buddhism. My writing is heavily influenced by the Buddhist theory of karma and I consider writing a form of meditation, which I practice every day.
- How long have you been writing?
I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing, since I always have been both a storyteller and someone who is extremely interested in art. I would write down my stories and illustrate them in little books I created for my friends and family. In high school I was the editor of the school newspaper and wrote an opinion piece each week. I’ve written academic books on Buddhism, newspaper and magazine articles, and now am focusing on fiction, which is dramatically different from other writing.
- Have you always been a writer?
I’ve always been interested in language. At about six years of age–in first grade, I think–I wanted to be a UN interpreter, after watching news clips with my parents that showed politicians talking in other languages being translated into English. Maybe my interest in language was also due to the fact that my mother spoke in Italian (Sicilian) to her parents and my father spoke in Japanese to his father. So, language—the vehicle for storytelling–has always been one of my passions. Playing with language is the playground for any author.
- How do you come up with the titles to your books?
I love titles and subtitles. I write a blog reviewing movies and television series—www.unhealedwound.com—about mostly heroic figures. In mythology—and in Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings for example—the hero always has an unhealed wound that embodies the hero’s journey. This is the major theme of my blog—movies that are a hero’s journey. My publisher—She Writes Press—helped come up with the title Things Unsaid. The original title was “Unhealed Wounds”, to hint at the secrets and lies the main characters have.
- What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?
Before I finished Things Unsaid, I heard authors say the narrative writes itself. The characters evolve and reveal their own endings. What was most surprising to me was that actually is true to some extent! Just as in meditation or in a dream, thoughts arise and disappear on their own power. So do the characters—they’re half-formed—even if the author has an outline and they think, respond, and behave according to their own logic. The author creates the characters, of course, but they come to life and become authentic—following their own logic and personalities. Sometimes an author’s beta group—for first readers—have to point out what’s not true to the character’s inner world.
- Have any of your books been made into audiobooks? If so, what are the challenges in producing an audiobook?
Things Unsaid is now an audiobook, created through Amazon’s ACX program. Sara Sheckells of SaraSounds was an awesome narrator with a wide range of voices for nine principal characters. I do not think the listener will be confused as to which character is speaking and that is the fundamental challenge in producing an Audiobook. Some authors engage more than one voice talent for their characters. I didn’t have to do that.
- If your book were made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
Movies—and their visual storytelling format—are a passion of mine and, for me, rival reading novels!
For the main character, Jules Foster, a 50-something psychologist with a devoted husband and college-bound daughter, I’d want an actor who can exude strength, vulnerability, and the confusion of being conflicted. Kate Winslet, Naomi watts, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson, Octavia Spence, Jodie Foster—any of them would be great.
For the narcissistic, damaged senior citizen matriarch—Aida Whitman, Jules’s mother, who would be better than any of the fearsome foursome: Meryl Streep, Francis McDormand, Glenn Close, or Jessica Lange. Others on my top list would be Melissa Leo, Dianne Wiest, Olivia Colman.
For the two primary male characters—Jules’s husband Mike and the patriarch, Robert Whitman. First for Mike—he would be gloriously portrayed by Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Forest Whitaker, Blair Underwood, Jason Bateman,. The character of Mike calls for a devoted middle-aged, husband and father, going to almost super-human efforts to save his family.
For Robert Whitman, the senior citizen patriarch who is clueless about his wife’s needs and demands: Harrison Ford, Richard DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Richard Gere, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Tommy Lee Jones, Ed Harris, Jeremy Irons.