Monday, June 04, 2007

Author Interview: Dian Curtis Regan on Princess Nevermore and Cam's Quest

Dian Curtis Regan on Dian Curtis Regan: "I'm writing this on a tornado-y afternoon in Kansas, where I've lived for six years. Before that, I lived in Venezuela, Oklahoma, Texas (in backward order) and grew up in Colorado.

"This year marks the publication of my 50th book, plus the publication (finally!) of the sequel to Princess Nevermore (Darby Creek, 2006; updated and expanded re-release edition). My life pretty much revolves around writing and reading, thinking about writing and reading, discussing writing and reading with friends, and longing for more time to write and read.

"Oh, and a cat who could care less about books unless they happen to be in her favorite napping spot..."

Our last interview was in September 2005, shortly after the publication of The World According to Kaley (Darby Creek, 2005). How has Kaley been since?

Kaley is doing fantastic. The book was one of three finalists for the Benjamin Franklin Award. It landed on the Texas Horned Toad Tale List, and will be in Scholastic book clubs and book fairs. There will also be a Spanish edition. The sequel, CyberPals According to Kaley (Darby Creek, 2006) is on the shelves.

What else has been happening in your writing life?

Currently working on the 3rd Kaley book: Love According to Kaley. Up next is Fourth Grade According to Kaley. Both will be out in 2008. I also have two board books coming out this year, Peek-a-Boo Zoo and Nice Catch (TransGlobal 2007).

Congratulations on the re-release of Princess Nevermore (Darby Creek, 2007) and the publication of Cam's Quest (Darby Creek, 2007)! For those readers new to Princess Nevermore, could you tell them a little about the book?

How great to be given the opportunity to go back to a novel I started writing when I, myself, was a young reader. The new edition of Princess Nevermore is about 6,000 words longer and has been updated to the 21st century. Characters who play a role in the sequel are introduced, and many scenes in the original story have been expanded.

Could you also explain the history of Princess Nevermore, its relationship to Cam's Quest, and the path these two novels have taken?

In the dozen years since Princess Nevermore was published, I've received piles of letters and emails from readers asking for a sequel (and a movie, but that's a whole other interview...). I admit that I left the reader hanging at the end of Princess Nevermore. I'd always intended to continue the story, but I never meant to wait so long.

More recently, I'm receiving letters from readers in their 20s, telling me that they discovered the book when they were in middle school or high school, and how much the story meant to them‹enough to go back and re-read it year after year. They always ask about a sequel, so I'm happy I can finally answer, "Yes, it exists!"

How would you describe Cam's Quest?

At the end of Princess Nevermore, all we know about the wizard's apprentice is that his heritage is very cryptic and unknown to him, and that he's smitten with the princess, yet will never be considered a proper suitor since he does not come from nobility.

The sequel sends Cam off on a quest to unlock the secrets of his past so he can find his future. I love stories with twists and turns and surprises, so I promise that his (multiple) quests are fraught with all of the above. And, just when the reader thinks Cam is home free--well, he isn't.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, logistical) in bringing it to life?

I'm not a fan of novels that switch viewpoint characters, but it was necessary in Princess Nevermore so that readers would know what was happening in Mandria and on Outer Earth at the same time.

Likewise in the sequel, while Cam is off on his mission in our world, the princess, still in Mandria, steals away from the kingdom. Viewpoint switches allow readers to follow both stories at the same time as Cam's experiences and memories weave together with those from the princess's point of view.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

I just attended an SCBWI conference--which was excellent. However, questions from attendees all centered around marketing. Beginning writers should immerse themselves in learning the craft, not be overly concerned with how to submit a manuscript or acquire an agent. Believe me, if you put in the weeks, months, or years necessary to produce an outstanding book for young readers, you will not have difficulty finding a publisher.

How do you balance your writing life (research, drafting, revisions, etc.) with your responsibilities as an author (marketing, promotion, etc.)?

Ah, balance! I don't think I've taken a day off since 1993, so I'm not the best person to give advice. For now, I'm making myself stop and focus on promoting the new edition of Princess Nevermore and Cam's Quest because these feel like important books for me. I'm doing a lot of promo myself, plus I've hired a publicist and am signing at both BEA and ALA.

I don't know how to work any way other than constantly. Fortunately or unfortunately, my husband tends to work in other countries, so I have lots of time at home alone.

What tips do you have for newcomers in this regard?

As soon as writers have a book published (or in production), they should definitely put up a website to consolidate information about themselves and their books. They should make themselves available for school visits, and also go to conferences because networking is so important.

What do you do when you're not writing?

Travel to a book conventions, conferences, family gatherings, or whatever country my husband is in. READ. Hug my cat. And, oh, yeah, watch "American Idol."

What can your fans look forward to next?

There's a possibility of a third book about Mandria, making the story a trilogy. In the meantime, I'm enjoying writing shorter books. I have two picture books in production at Holiday House and am working on a possible chapter book series, much shorter than writing long fantasy adventure sagas!

Also, I am pleased to have loyal fans who have put up a fansite for Princess
Nevermore and Cam's Quest: http://princessnevermorefansite.com

And also a forum for readers to visit and discuss the books:
http://thewishingpool.proboards44.com

What an honor to have readers who connect so strongly with these books.

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