Monday, September 21, 2009

Author Interview ~ Keta Diablo

Today, on The Menagerie we have Keta Diablo hanging out with us. It’s been fun getting to know her. We’re pretty excited. So, welcome, Keta! Make yourself comfy. Tell us your latest news?

Two new releases in June have kept me busy promoting. Carnal Cravings released through Dark Roast Press and Crossroads Revisited released through Phaze Publishing.

Great news! Glad you’re doing so well. When and why did you begin writing?

Professionally, I started writing sensual historicals about six years ago, but I’ve written informally for years. Mostly family history type stuff.

How great! Well, I’m sure your family appreciates your writing talents. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I suppose the first time I was offered a contract and was actually paid after the book was released.

That would do it for anyone. What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve always loved reading books, but then I started to collect stories about the pioneers who settled this country. That sparked an interest in writing my first historical novel.

Huh, it’s funny how our love of books is what pushes us to write them ourselves. Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m a “panster” for the most part. I do outline the story in my head, every conversation between characters, every scene, so by the time I sit down to write, I know what comes next. As for style, it depends. I’m wordier in my fantasy and historicals, and very to the point if I’m writing male/male contemporaries. I think this has to do with the pace of the story.

That makes sense if you ask me. And we’re all ‘pantsers’ here at The Menagerie. LOL. How did you come up with titles?

Often I don’t know the title of what I’m writing until at least half-way through the book. Something will trigger the title, either a conversation between the characters or some snippet about one of the character’s past. For example, in Land of Falling Stars, the title didn’t come to me until the heroine, Sophia, commented about her penchant for lying in the grass and watching the stars. She liked to pretend she lived in the Land of Falling Stars as a child.

Ah, how iteresting. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If there are messages, they are subtle. I try to stay away from anything concerning my own personal or political views while I write. I just write the characters as I see them, and at times, reviewers have said, “Keta Diablo likes to write the “politically incorrect” characters. This isn’t intentional, but I do admit, some of my characters have been very controversial among readers and reviewers. Particularly in my gay fiction. I don’t sugarcoat my characters, but rather write them with all their warts and blemishes. Because readers like to concentrate on the goodness in people, this hasn’t always gone over real well.

How much of the book is realistic?

This is a good time to stress that romance and gay fiction books are simply that, fictional. These people don’t really exist, but seem very real to people. I think that’s why some might take offense at a character like Frank McGuire in the Crossroads series. He’s a tough, take-no-prisoners type of man in his career and in his personal life. Some have found him at the least abrasive, and at best dislikeable. But I call him like I see him as an ex-cop with tons of personal baggage.

I don't think many of us ever forget thtat it's a fantasy. Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Never anyone I know personally. I suppose there are preconceived notions about what I imagine them to act like or how I think a certain character might respond were they real. But again, this is only in my imagination and not fashioned after anyone in particular. I don’t know anyone in my life like Frank McQuire or like Dominic Beresford from Carnal Cravings -- my two most controversial characters.

What books have most influenced your life most?

I simply love To Kill A Mockingbird, and read it for the first time when I was in the 5th grade. I read it at least once a year to remind myself how grand it is to open a book and be transported to another time and place by an author’s words.

I’m also fond of the characters in Gone With The Wind, particularly the complexity of Scarlett O’Hara. She was a woman ahead of her time, fearless and beautiful, willing to risk all, including her reputation to get what she wanted. She’s perhaps one of the most selfish characters portrayed in any book I’ve read.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I don’t know about choosing a writer, but I could perhaps choose a book. Windflower by the husband and wife team Laura London resonated with me. It’s one of those books that people either hated or loved, and I loved it. Today the prose would be considered a bit much. Their descriptions were lengthy and verbose, but I fell in love with their characters, could actually picture them and knew who was speaking by the way they were written. The secondary characters in the book were almost as strong as the main characters and could have easily had their own book. Too bad the authors stopped writing after Windflower. I would have loved to seen what happened with the secondary characters.

What book(s) are you reading now?

I have about four I keep going back and forth with. Mostly historical. That’s not a good sign I guess because none have held my interest from the first page long enough to keep me reading. Yet, there is something to learn from every book. I don’t have much time to read, so when I do, I hope to be hooked from the get go. The best kind of books are those you think about long after you’ve returned it to the shelf.

What are your current projects?

I’m in the final edits of a 85,000 word historical. Set during the Civil War and the Dakota Uprising, it’s the story of two brothers who love the same woman. Needless to say, there’s a lot of angst and conflict in a story like this. And there’s some violence to keep it realistic for the events that happened back then.

I’m also anxiously awaiting the release of Cecilia Tan’s Anthology called Boys of the Bite. My story involves a Sin Eater and a Vampire. I was very fortunate Cecilia chose my story for this anthology and can’t wait to see how it’s received.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

That would be two – readers and reviewers without a doubt. They have been most supportive, kind and generous.

Do you see writing as a career?

I couldn’t possibly see it any other way. I spend most of my daylight hours writing or promoting. And some of my ideas for a novel have come from my dreams. I think I’m way beyond calling my writing a hobby or a part-time vocation.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I try not to look back. Like I said, I call the characters as I see them. To write them to suit someone else would seem false. Not everyone is going to like your book or your characters. I fully understand that and write them with that in mind. You can’t please all the readers, so to venture down that road would be a continual second-guess game. Not a fun way to write for me.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Yes, what to work on next. I have far too many ideas rambling around in my head and have to make a concerted effort to stay focused. I might have three or four projects going at one time and end up spinning my wheels. I do best if I stick to one Work In Progress until it’s finished before moving on the next.

Who designs the covers?

Since I write for five publishers, the covers are designed by the cover artists that work with each individual publisher. I think some of the best covers I’ve seen are by April Martinez who designs for Ravenous Romance. She’s truly gifted.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I don’t feel I’m qualified to give advice to other writers. Every writer has to find their own stride, discover what works for them and what doesn’t. It’s a learning process. I guess the only advice I would offer is to stay focused and don’t listen to the naysayers.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

A sincere thank you. I think authors should never lose sight of the fact that without readers, authors wouldn’t exist. Oh, I suppose most would still write for the pure joy of it, but it wouldn’t be much fun if no one read your books or became enthused about them.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I write at all hours of the day, and sometimes the night. It depends on what I have going on in my personal life. If there is something I must attend during the day, I will write late into the evening to make up for lost time. This also means my sleeping schedule is very irregular. But I’m basically a night owl, so this life suits me.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I write the book after weeks of planning it out in my head. I write it fairly fast and don’t pay too much attention to structure or grammar at that time. When I’m all done, I go back in and edit the entire manuscript. This often takes almost as long as it did to write the book.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Spend as much time out of doors as possible (weather permitting). I like to read and garden. I spend a lot of time with my cat, Emma LaPounce and my Sheltie.

What does your family think of your writing?

They are very supportive and know when to leave me alone. If they interrupt me to many times for trivial things or things they could have taken care of themselves, they might see a “wee” bit of my Irish temper. For the most part, they know my family comes first, my writing second and so when I’m writing, they are respectful of that.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

How many hours and how much work goes into writing a book. I think a lot of people think you just sit down and a short time later, voila! Everything is ready to send off to the publisher. I hear a lot of people say, “I’m going to sit down and write a book.” And I say under my breath, “Good luck with that.”

How many books have you written?

I think I’m on my eleventh right now. Wow, that seems like a lot and yet I read all the time about authors who are on their 36th book and their 48th book. I have to hand it to them – that’s a lot of writing.

Which is your favorite?

That’s like asking me to name my favorite child. I like all the books I’ve written but for different reasons. Either I fell in love with the hero or was sad to see the story end. If I had to choose what I like to write best that would be erotica historical.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Study the craft. Read everything you can about writing and publishing. Knowledge is power. Learn the basic rules and then learn when you can break them. (lol)

You can keep with Keta at her author blog, and her online.

Decadent Deceptions, A 2008 Molly Contest Finalist by Keta Diablo

Noble Romance (

About the book:

Daring and desperate to win Morgan’s love, Olivia Breedlove embarks on a reckless folly. But everything backfires when Morgan remains one step ahead of her and the game ventures down a path of duplicity and murder.

A decade ago, Morgan was a heartbeat away from taking Olivia’s virginity. Her father, Thaddeus, intervened and threatened to meet him over pistols if he so much as looked at his daughter again. But now, Thaddeus is dead and Morgan has no intention of ignoring the ravenous hunger he’s harbored for the blasted woman for ten years.

One way or the other, he will quench this burning desire and make her his forever.

Special Content Alert: Voyuerism

Crossroads Revisited by Keta Diablo
Phaze Publishing (

The exciting sequel to Crossroads!

Frank McGuire is beginning to think the City has become a melting pot for serial killers. Another maniac is stalking the streets, only this time the deviant isn't tracking Goth girls, but gay college students. Rumors surface that put Frank's life in jeopardy, and somehow he must protect Rand from the carnage about to unfold. What he didn't count on was Rand becoming the killer's next victim.
Elements: scenes of intense sexuality


Helen Hardt said...

Nice to meet you, Keta!

Keta Diablo said...

Hi Helen,

Nice to meet you too.

Thank you Menagerie for having me. I loved the interview and adore your site.

You can also find out more about my books at Keta's Keep,

and my GLBT blog: The Stuff of Myth and Men,

Namaste, Keta

Barbara Sheridan said...

Loved learning more about you via the interview. That new historical wip of yours sounds yummy. I'd be happy to take one of those brothers off the heroine's hands so she isn't overwhelmed LOL

Isabel Roman said...

So this is where you've been hiding yourself, Keta! It's always great to read an interview with a favorite author--I always learn something new!

Dana Fredsti said...

Nice interview, Keta! I think I've read some regency romances by Laura London, very light, sensual and funny, and wonder if this is the same author(s) as the team you mentioned!

Here's to Scarlett O'Hara, the best heroine ever created!

Gracen Miller said...

Great interview, Keta! Best of luck with all your WIPs and upcoming releases! If they're half as good as Decadent Deceptions and Carnal Cravings, they'll be a hit!


Erika Gilbert said...

Hi Keta, that was an awesome interview. I'm keen on checking out your Sin Eaters/Vampire story - of course!


Cherry said...

Question for Keta: Is Sheltie a cat as well?

Rie McGaha said...

Hi Keta,
Great interview. I agree with you on To Kill A Mockingbird, it was one of my all time favs when I was young. Also, Of Mice and Men, the two greatest books of their time!

Rie McGaha...fantasy that keeps you up

Debra Glass said...

Great interview!

grbretz said...

Hey Keta,

Great interview. You said a lot of things that I could really relate to. I'm definitely a pantser; at least in the early stages of my stories. I really love highlighting my character's warts and blemishes. For me, the flaws are what make them real.

I've also found that some of my best stories are culled from my dreams. And titles. I always assign a story a working title, then I start writing and wait for the true title to pop out in mid-story.

Keep up the good work, Keta. I know it's a labor of love, but it's a labor none the less. As you pointed out, most people have no idea just how much work is involved in writing a good story.

Delightfully Disturbing Daydreams

Hobert said...

Always a pleasure to share in another's writing experience, and yours was both enlightening and familiar. Shoot, I feel like we're kin!

Keep on writing those difficult characters and making those unpopular choices, Keta. That's how you'll unearth something fresh.

Continued good luck and thanks again for sharing.

Stormy Glenn said...

“Keta Diablo likes to write the “politically incorrect” characters...congrats, my dear...I think thats fantastic. Yeah, I know, that may be wierd...but I like being called weird...LOL
Great interview Keta.


Keta Diablo said...

Hey, look at all my friends who showed up! What more could a girl ask for . . . except for maybe a bottle of wine, a romance movie and a decadent hunk on a Saturday night?

Thanks so much for all the great comments AND, mostly, for stopping by. You ladies and gents ROCK!


Becca Simone said...

What a great interview!

Keta, I can't believe you can do a whole outline in your head. Very impressive.

I also love the character Scarlett O'Hara, but I really, really hate her, too. OMG she was a selfish wench. :) I don't think a character like her would ever fly in today's romance novels.