You’re the author of a staggering nine novels of woman’s contemporary fiction. Did you choose this genre or did it choose you?
Hm, maybe it was a bit of both? I hadn’t heard of such a thing as ‘women’s fiction’ when I first met with a publisher. She encouraged me with the old chestnut ‘write what you know’, and what I knew, and was interested in exploring, was people and how they relate to one another – women, men, kids, parents, friends, at home, at work, anywhere – which all comes under the big broad umbrella of women’s fiction. I discovered that’s what I was writing when my first book was published. Though I’ve heard it described recently as ‘life lit’, which I have to say I quite like. Because after all, there is no label for ‘men’s fiction’. But don’t start me down that rabbit hole …
Where do you think writers often go wrong when trying to write compelling love stories and scenes into their wider narratives?
It all comes down to their comfort zone – many writers feel awkward or self-conscious writing about love and everything it entails. But as in life, if you’re faking it, it’s not going to end well. The thing is, it has to be considered in the same light as any scene or element in your narrative – is it furthering the story, and/or revealing character? If it’s not, it’s going to feel unnatural no matter how well it’s written. But if you’re writing about people, love relationships are likely to be an integral part of their journey.
What do you think are the key components to writing good, genuine sex scenes?
The answer is in your question – it’s about being genuine. But that can mean different things to different writers. If you feel totally comfortable writing explicit sex, with all the terminology, it’s probably going to read fine, though you have to know your audience. But if you don’t feel comfortable, it’ll be as awkward as that conversation you’ve never had with your teenager. It’s perfectly acceptable to write around sex scenes, to ‘fade out’ and close the bedroom door, but there’s still a lot of skill in writing to that point, creating a mood, and building tension. And if you decide to leave the door open, it’s essential to convey genuine emotions and sensations, whatever they may be.
Who do you admire working in your genre at the moment?
So many writers, that if I started naming them I’d be worried I was leaving someone out! But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my two close colleagues, Ber Carroll and Liane Moriarty, and I know Ber shares my particular admiration for all that Liane has achieved. She is the first Australian to debut at number one on the NY Times bestseller list – a woman, writing ‘women’s fiction’, set locally. She’s a trailblazer, and has made it possible for stories about Australian women to sit comfortably on the international bookshelf.
Learn more with Dianne at her upcoming workshop, Writing Romance: Where is the love?, on Saturday 14 November, 10am-4pm.