In my third SPFBO author interview I spoke with fantasy author and creator of the Sword of Cho Nisi series. Book one is an entrant in the competition.


  • Hi Dianne, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I was a child and being a devote reader, I lost myself in the worlds of Shakespeare, Dumas, Dickens, Lewis, Poe, and more. I wrote mostly poetry when I was young but having a creative yearning, I expressed myself in other art forms (oil painting and music). It wasn’t until my later years that I decided to write novels. My first successful piece (I have some false starts of course) was about a boy and a dragon. I painted the dragon before I finished the novel. (It’s 3 panels 9 ft X 4 ft oil painting with copper leaf accents) and formed the story while I worked, using my grandsons as not only a target audience, but models for my MC. Since they were raised without fathers, I was especially compelled to write a story that would encourage them to be the man they wished their father had been to them. That series is titled Ian’s Realm and we did some Indie filming of a short concept film, put it in some film festivals and won a good many awards for it. It may be produced sometime down the road.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I have always been a day dreamer! I grew up in southern CA around the time Disneyland was built and we went there the first week it was open. I can still remember the thrill of walking around in a real fantasy world and I never wanted to leave. I guess I am still enjoying being in another place, one where I have control, where I can make the birds sing, the snow to fall, or horses run in a grassy meadow. C.S. Lewis wrote “You can make anything by writing,” and I found that to be the theme of my life. Writing about the here and now, to me is boring. I need a fantasy element to stay connected.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Sword of Cho Nisi is a three-book series that I wrote one after the other with the intention of publishing them quickly. It begins as a story (Rise of the Tobian Princess) about a young princess who makes a fatal mistake and spends the rest of the first book trying to make up for what she did. It speaks of overcoming guilt, forgiveness, and redeeming oneself, has a nice subplot romance, but becomes darker in the next two books as the main characters work through their weaknesses. I published the first book May 25 of this year and the next book; Fall of the Kings is set to launch July 9, 2021.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I’m drawn to writing male characters who have inner struggles. I put myself into all my characters though. I think if I didn’t write I’d have multiple personality disorder because I can relate to so many characters: the confused female, the wicked female, the flighty female, the weak male, the strong male, the bungling wizard, I’m all those things and more so it’s really easy for me to put myself into them. I also have some experience in psychology, so I enjoy developing backstories and why these characters do what they do…what in their childhood caused them to be the way they are.  Developing characters is the most exciting part of writing, I think.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

If you think you know what you’re doing, you probably don’t. Learn all you can and read as much as you can. Research, even if you’re writing fantasy. Learn about this world and its history and the people in it, and that knowledge will help you develop the world you want to write.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I write in the morning when everyone is asleep, and I give myself a minimum word count every day if I’m on a schedule. To keep my stories on track, I outline my chapters before I even begin, and have character and relationship sketches. I do a lot of pre planning before I write. If I didn’t, I’d lose track.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I plot. I need to know point A and point B. I start with a premise, a logline for the plot. Everything else develops from the relationships of the characters. What are the arcs I want to develop for each character, and then how are they going to get from A to B. I then write all the events to get them there. I develop the world as I go and sometimes move between chapters for continuity, so there is a lot of pantsing after the initial plotting.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I want to write a spin off series to Sword of Cho Nisi. I did a Kickstarter for this series and found it quite successful and once I’m in a world I don’t like leaving! I have other stories I’ve written that I’d also like to expand, shorter, all with a fantasy element. One is historical fantasy and fans have asked for more of that world. I’m still debating on whether to do that though.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I’m always a good over evil girl. If it can’t happen in this world, I want to see it happen in my world.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Lord of the Rings by far. I don’t think there’s many authors that can compare to Tolkien.

My website: https://gardnersart.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DianneLynnGardner

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DLGardner2

New release is Sword of Cho Nisi Book 2 Fall of the Kings July 9

Thanks for taking part!

Thank you so much for including me!


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