Today I'm delighted to share an interview I did with the lovely Diana Lyndhurst. She is a writer of historical fiction and is adamant at making women the focus of her historical works. She also runs a fabulous blog and Instagram account, highlighting indie women writers. Diana is a huge inspiration and I truly hope you enjoy what she has to say.
L: First things first, please introduce yourself!
D: My name is Diana Lyndhurst. I’m 39 and I’m a historical fiction author living in Melbourne, Australia. I love watching costume dramas (as one might expect from someone who writes historical fiction) and my favourite shows include Outlander, Downton Abbey, The Crown and Peaky Blinders.
L: What has your writing journey looked like?
D: Very circular, if I’m honest. I wanted to write novels since as far back as I can remember. I used to write short stories in exercise books, even when I was seven or eight. That was always my favourite thing to do as a kid. But it took me years to develop the self-discipline and also the self-confidence to finish a manuscript and put my work out there. It’s really only been in the past five years or so that I’ve had things published.
L: Who are some authors who are inspirational or influential to you?
D: If I had to name one author who has inspired and influenced me more than anyone, it would be Louisa May Alcott. I first read Little Women when I was about seven, and I loved it so much. Jo was a huge influence on me, and there is a lot of Jo in my main character, Jessie. I think that was the book that made me want to be a writer.
L: Your debut novel, A Woman’s Place, is out now! Can you pitch us this book?
D: It’s about three women from the same family, and the way they cope with the aftermath of the First Word War. Yes, there are more opportunities for women after the war, but there is also some of the same old prejudices and each of them have to grapple with that. Jessie enters politics, and finds herself having to face her arch-enemy, her Uncle Theo, who was responsible for Jessie’s imprisonment some years before when she was active in the suffragette movement. Then there’s Alexa who marries the man of her dreams, only to discover she wants more than to just be a wife and mother. Finally, there is Alexa’s mother, Adeline, who suddenly finds herself taking charge when her husband William returns from the war, damaged by what he’s been through.
L: What drew you to historical fiction?
D: When I first considered the idea of writing a novel, historical fiction just seemed a natural fit for me. I’ve always felt like I belonged to a different, earlier era, so it didn’t seem that much of a stretch for me to write about people who lived a hundred years ago.
L: What was your research process like for A Woman’s Place?
D: I was always discovering fascinating new things as I went along. This first book takes in the years 1918- 1923, so I researched the key events from those years, and tried to weave a story around it.The plot changed a few times over subsequent drafts, until I hit upon the story that I felt was right for the kind of novel I was trying to write, and that also encompassed those years.
L: You have three female leads, Jessie, Alexa and Adeline. Can you tell us a little bit about them and how you went about developing these characters?
D: I started out with the basic idea that one would be a suffragette, one would be a flapper and one would be a ‘New Woman.’ I deliberately chose the early decades of the 20th century because that was really when things began to change for women. And their characters developed from there.
L: I know it’s difficult to pick your own favorite character, so is there a particular character that the readers are just loving?
D: I think Jessie is the hands-down favourite. Everyone who has read it says they love that she’s so brave and stands up for what she believes in. I love all of them, but for me, her scenes were the most fun to write, and she was the character I felt the most kinship with.
L: What was your favorite part of writing A Woman’s Place?
D: I loved developing the relationships between the characters, particularly the main female characters. There is a real sense of solidarity between them, even if they don’t always agree with each other’s choices, and that was something I really wanted to convey to the reader, the closeness of the women in the family, and the support they give each other.
L: Do you have any advice for historical fiction writers?
D: Please don’t get so caught up in researching the time period that you forget your chief job as a writer is to entertain your readers.
Follow Diana on Instagram:@indie_women_writers