Title: What You Don’t Know Now
Author: Marci Diehl
Publisher: Merge Publishing
1. Tell us a bit about WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW NOW…
The story is based on an actual trip I took through Europe when I was young. I kept a travel journal, and the itinerary from the tour was still in it. The trip was so bad, I always thought I would write it as a humorous story. But as I wrote it, it blossomed into a full tale of love, awakening, choices and discoveries during a time when a generation was at its threshold. Bridey discovers all sorts of things — about the world outside her protected American home, about what it means to fall in love with a gifted young man, about who she is versus who she’s expected to be, and the choices we all face in our lives.
2. How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a child. I wrote all through school, in diaries and journals, mammoth letters, essays, short stories, and finally for magazines. I make my living in marketing writing and I still write non-fiction features for a newspaper. What You Don’t Know Now is my first novel.
3. What inspires you?
Beautiful language inspires me. Wonderfully-written novels inspire me. But I’m most inspired by the little pieces of magic around us. Yesterday I pulled into my driveway, and I could see a bright spot of red inside the tangle of bare branches of a forsythia bush ahead — a male cardinal. Then I spotted the female. I sat and watched them hop around together. They’ve been sticking close inside that bush. I think about the miracle of such fragile things bucking our brutal winter, choosing a safe haven for their nest. That’s magic to me. Just those small moments – and yet they have such meaning.
4. What did you find most useful in learning to write a novel?
Being in my writers group when I was writing the first 2/3 of the book. I got such excellent feedback and input from my fellow writers. I learned how, though you might mean one thing in a piece of interaction and dialogue, or description, another reader might have a very different take on it. Sometimes you’d see how what you wrote wasn’t clear. The suggestions and observations were so helpful, never mean-spirited. It was a great way to learn what were “extra words” and how simple edits improved the writing and made it sing.
5. What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
I hope I’ve written a novel with some depth to it. Bridey may be just eighteen and self-centered, but there’s a lot of thought going on inside her. Readers have said that they didn’t want to put it down, it took them along on the ride. I think it’s full of characters you can love — and a couple you may dislike. It doesn’t follow a trend just to fit a genre and take advantage of a market. It also has some surprises in it. And a little opera.
6. How do you find or make time to write?
Once I got married and started having kids ( I had four boys under eight years old), writing time was restricted to naptimes and after 9pm. I’ve always been night writer. I had an unusual life for 20+ years — my former husband played the PGA Tour, and life was all about his career. I was a stay-at-home-mom who started writing humor and essays freelance, then I wrote features for magazines. Once my marriage broke up, I had to “get a job” and my focus had to be on managing to keep a roof over my boys’ heads and my own. Life and work took up my days, so nights became my writing sanctuary.
7. What do you like to read in your free time?
Novels, of course! For the last few years, I’ve been fascinated with reading novels based in WW2. I’ve loved so many novelists — Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegone series, P.G. Wodehouse, E.B. White. The list goes way back to T.H. White’s Once and Future King, which I fell in love with as a teen.
8. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Give yourself time. Don’t try to rush through writing to pump out books and get obsessed by Amazon sales. Write the very best book you can — pay attention to things like spelling and punctuation. Some of the self-published stuff I’ve seen promoted on Twitter is just ghastly, or poorly done. Be as authentic as you can. If you can, find a writers group or workshop that is constructive and facilitated by a reputable author (doesn’t have to be anyone well-known). Stay away from self-important “literates” who only offer criticism. Read good books that inspire your own passion to write. Don’t give up.