We were so excited when Diane J. Reed approached us about reading her book Robin in the Hood, and even more excited when she became our first guest blogger. We thought we get know more about Diane by interviewing her. We hope you enjoy her interview as much we did.
For those who don’t know, what is Robin in the Hood about?
Robin in the Hood is about a rich, boarding school girl named Robin who gets the shock of her life when her father has a stroke and she discovers her family has gone broke. So she moves her father to a trailer park to hide from creditors while she robs banks to make ends meet (she’s only 15 and can’t get a “regular” job). But Robin never dreamed she’d find true love in her secret life of crime—or that a handsome backwoods boy named Creek would steal her heart and teach her a thing or two about life, love and what family really means.
What was your inspiration for this book?
I was actually talking with my 15-year-old niece one day about YA fiction and we were lamenting that there weren’t a whole lot of “alpha” female heroines in YA literature at the time—most of the female characters seemed to follow their aggressive boyfriends around and depend on them for their identities. So a light bulb turned on for me and I wanted to write a story where a teen girl gets out there and tries to solve her own problems, even if it means breaking all the rules!
Are any of the characters or the story based on real people or events?
Yes! I grew up middle class in an area dominated by extremely wealthy families—and I learned never for a second to envy those teen girls who came from rich homes. So many of them were “emotional orphans”—products of toxically ambitious and dysfunctional parents who didn’t give them the time of day, and their lives often became downright tragedies. I wanted to write the truth about that—how money can never be a substitute for love, so the arc of Robin’s journey is to learn that her new-found friends at the trailer park are emotionally “richer” than she could ever imagine in her old life. Money truly isn’t everything.
Who was your favorite character to develop?
I love how Robin starts out snarky and self-serving and completely changes. She just has this secret heart up her sleeve that I enjoyed bringing out, once she could finally let down her walls a little. And of course I love Creek, the total survivor and provider for everyone in the trailer park who helps teach her what really matters. He’s brooding and mysterious—but he would give his whole life for those he loves. Robin’s never known that level of devotion, and it totally rocks her world.
When did you become interested in writing?
When I was five years old, I already knew I wanted to paint and write. I just loved picture books and the adventures and worlds they help you explore.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Butt in chair. I used to have all kinds of rituals—lighting candles, incense sticks, meditation. But after all these years, it really all comes down to disciplining yourself to do it for hours on end. But here’s my biggest tip: be sure to take time to DAYDREAM too! At the end of the day, it’s the best dreamer who wins the hearts of readers—someone who creates a world and rich characters so fully that readers can’t help but want to fall into that dreamscape and stay forever. So discipline and daydreaming are my to keys to writing multi-dimensional stories.
What word do you always have trouble spelling correctly?
Oh, I could win a spelling bee. For some reason I have that gene, so spelling words is rather easy for me (I worked as an editor, so there’s that OCD component, too. I scare myself sometimes… ; ).
What author or book inspired you to write YA?
I love many of the bestsellers! But I have to say the books that have stayed inside my soul and resonated for years are When the Legends Die by Hal Borland, National Velvet by Enid Bagnold and A Boy Ten Feet Tall by W.H. Canaway. These books gripped me by the heart and never let go. First of all, they are written by true masters, so the level of literary quality is very high. But they are also gut-wrenching stories of choices or even pure survival where young people go through trials and come out stronger and knowing who they really are in the world. I could read them again and again for the triumph they depict of the human spirit.
Which authors inspire you today?
Well there aren’t many writers who can top the artistry of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead or Alice Hoffman’s short story collection Blackbird House—books I could read a dozen times. For YA authors, I’m really enjoying Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl right now. It’s beautifully written, yet a page turner.
What advice do you have for anyone who would like to be an author?
Just write! Have yourself a ball and keep going. Balance the fun of it with the dedication and perseverance. But above all, love your characters : )
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the sequel to Robin in the Hood, which takes place in Venice, Italy (where Robin and Creek will go to find her long-lost mother).
And our final question, if you could have one superpower which one would it be and why?
I know this sounds beauty pagaent-ish, but I really would wave a magic wand so that everyone had enough food and economical stability in peaceful circumstances so that humankind could put more effort towards creative environmental & technological solutions for our future. How’s that for a mouthful? Bling! Did you feel the sparkle yet from my magic wand? Oh, and really good donuts. I’d definitely wave a magic wand for that ; )We would like to thank Diane for a wonderful interview.And don’t forget to check out Robin in the Hood