How did your writing journey begin?
This is a difficult question for me to answer. From a young age I have always been actively involved in some creative pursuit. I trained as a teacher specialising in English and Textiles and taught Textiles for 6 years. Later I became a jewellery designer and also ran a business featuring designer pillows all whilst I continued with my teaching career. There has never been a time when I have not been busy with some form of creativity. So to return to your question, I decided to write short stories, perhaps 15 years ago. There was no idea of publishing. ‘Dear H’ began in a different format to the present diary. The writing was spasmodic and one day, the story had become longer and had transformed into a dairy.
My neighbor’s granddaughters read the manuscript and urged me to publish the book. After submitting it to a few publishers with no offers of a contract, I lost interest. It was not until my circumstances changed, a badly shattered wrist, that led me to re-edit the book and I made the decision to self publish.
Was writing something you always wanted to accomplish as one of your goals?
No, I can’t say it was. I was busy expressing myself creatively in other ways.
What do you want your readers to take away when reading your books?
‘Dear H’ is for young people of aged 10+ although a lot of adults have read and enjoyed the book. It was originally written just as a book to be enjoyed. However, once the book was completed, I saw it in another light. The book is a diary written by 12 year old Amanda who is constantly being bullied. I have been instrumental in presenting workshops in primary schools and the book has proved to be an excellent discussion tool where the students can speak freely on bullying, depression, self-esteem, diary writing and their dreams for the future etc. The book is motivational and inspiring.
‘The Daisy Chain’ is the sequel and is written for girls from 13+ years. Amanda is now a student at a prestigious music academy. She is determined to set up an anti-bullying support group called the Daisy Chain. The book introduces new characters who are experiencing problems of adolescence. Amongst them the reader sympathizes with mental health issues and an unplanned pregnancy. Again, the book is for enjoyment but is full of ‘tips’ and discussion points.
How many books have you written?
So far two, ‘Dear H’ and ‘The Daisy Chain’.
Do you plan to publish more in the future?
I have made a start on ‘Tilly’s Story’. This is the story of how Tilly, in ‘The Daisy Chain’ has to leave the college due to her pregnancy and give up her place at a music conservatorium.
Have you had any book signings? If so, how did that go?
For both of my books I arranged book launches which were held in my local Art Gallery. These were well advertised with guests of honor. Book signings were part of the events. I also sign books when I visit schools to do workshops.
What marketing strategies do you use for your books?
I have a website, www.dianeguntrip.com. Initially for the book launches, I was featured in the local paper and on community radio. I have also been featured in blogs and a recorded radio interview. I use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. I approach schools and associations to offer to speak.
Are there any challenges getting people to support you?
Yes, especially as the books are self-published. A lot of institutions, some libraries and book fairs do not accept authors who are self-published.
What is your writing style like? Any special places you like to go to write at?
As both books are diaries, I would say they are chatty, easy to read, conversational. I can only write when I am in my study with the door closed!!
How can readers connect with you and buy your books?
For Australian residents the books can be ordered from the website. For elsewhere they are available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk. Barnes and Noble and the Book Depository.
Tell the readers more about the types of books you write.
My books are fiction and the characters are all from my imagination. However, the issues that are mentioned are all problems that young people can encounter in today’s world. I hope that my books will inspire others to have the strength to follow their dreams.
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