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Diane Allen

Q & A With Yorkshire Writer Diane Allen

3 January 2017

In the first in a new series of interviews with authors, we hear from well-known Yorkshire writer, Diane Allen.

Diane Allen worked at Magna Large Print Books for 26 years and spent the last 16 years as the General Manager, before turning her hand to writing her own books. She is now a best-selling author in her own right. Writing at the kitchen table of her cosy country cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, Diane Allen has penned six novels and will soon start work on her seventh.

Where do you get the ideas for your books?
Basically all around me. I'm a devil for being nosy and I listen to conversations. I've always been into history so I embroider the history with a bit of truth.

When you worked at MAGNA did you always dream of becoming a writer yourself?
No I had no idea I was going to be a successful writer. I'd never written anything before in my life. There are no writers in my family unless you count four generations back.

What do you enjoy about writing?
Well I love it because you're in your own fantasy world and you can go back to any time you want to be in. It's fascinating because you learn all sorts while you're writing because you have to do quite a bit of research. In my last book I wrote about a photographer in 1883 and I hadn't got a clue about photography then but I've had to look into it.

Do you carry a notebook around to jot down ideas and storylines?
No it's all up here in my head - a notebook, what's that?

Where do the ideas for your characters come from?
Perhaps I shouldn't say this but it's usually people I know and places I know. I bet everybody will be analysing the books now.

Do you sketch out a character description before you start writing?
I do but I don't actually physically write it down. It's in my head and I know the character inside out by the time I've finished with him or her. I'm good at picking up people's traits so I quickly analyse people.

How do you research your books?
I spend a lot of time at the library and I look on-line, I ask anybody I think who might know something about it. I look here there and everywhere. It will take me two months of research and then I might have to go and find more because I never set the story down, it twists and turns as I write.

Are any of your characters autobiographical?
A little bit. Polly from For a Father's Pride is not far off. She's the one that everyone can relate to because she's a typical farm lass. All my books are set in the Yorkshire Dales and it's the only place I'll ever write about. It's no good writing about somewhere you don't know and you don't love I don't think, it doesn't work.

Do you worry that you'll ever run out of ideas?
I do panic a bit yes. But then something springs up. I'm really enjoying this trilogy I'm writing at the moment, but I'm always thinking about the next book.

How long does it take you to write each book, roughly?
At the moment it takes two months of thinking and researching and then it depends, probably about three or four months. It depends how organised you are, for me it's helped that I've worked in an office. You've got to be disciplined.

Books published by Diane Allen can be found here. The Mistress of Windfell Manor is published in June and will be available in large print early next year and in audio in November.

Interview by Nicky Solloway at Magna Large Print Books.