Good morning! I’m pleased to introduce today’s writer: Diondra Sims! This interview is different as she has authored some pieces when she was younger, but now she is currently working on her first novel, The King Trials. She is not to be trifled with and will certainly stop at nothing until her book is published for the world to see and enjoy her book. I felt a sense of encouragement from her words and I think that oozes for you, my readers, as well. If you would like to learn more about Diondra, her books, or just chat with her; then follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, email, and her Author Website!
Are you an indie author or a traditionally published author?
I am currently leaning towards being an indie author. I love the independence being self-published gives you, and I love learning new things, such as marketing and building my website and brand. To be a self-published author you have to wear many hats, and not be afraid to conquer everything that a traditional publishing team would conquer for you. In other words, be prepared to slay your dragons.
Tell me a little about your writing journey, thus far.
I fell in love with writing in middle school. We had to do a writing assignment for English class where we wrote a short story for Halloween. My story was not very good, but I loved the process of coming up with characters and plot. To this day I want to thank my eighth grade English teacher for that assignment. Since then I have written poems and short stories. When I was in high school, I finished a novel about vampires. It was published for a brief period but has since been taken down. I decided to take it down to study the craft of writing and hone my skills so that the next project I worked on was better than the last. Let’s hope it is, anyway!
Do you write under a pseudonym? If so explain why.
I don’t. I thought about it for a brief time but decided to write under my birth name. However, I write my fantasy novels under D.L. Sims and my contemporaries under Diondra Sims.
What genre do you write and why?
I write New Adult and Young Adult Fantasy and Contemporary. I love both of these genres; they’re what I read when I am not working on my own stories. I love contemporary because I think it’s important to tell stories about characters who have real problems, such as family issues, finding their way in the world, falling in love, heartbreak. And I write fantasy because who doesn’t love a good quest or battle scene?! I write what’s important to me. When I was younger fantastical books like Harry Potter, and Series of Unfortunate Events was kind of like an escape, especially after I was diagnosed with clinical depression, I think it’s important for people to find themselves in books, and a lot of the reason I love writing is because I can help people connect with characters or get lost in another world.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a New Adult Fantasy novel called The King Trials. After the death of the king of Elthare, six competitors from five noble families enter a series of trials that will end with one of them being crowned king. I like to describe it as Game of Thrones meets Roman gladiators.
What inspired you to write your books?
Besides my eighth grade English teacher and my love for reading, what inspired me to write was the fact that when I was younger (especially in high school), it was hard for me to find books about a chunky, black girl who was part of the LGBT+ community. I vowed to write books for girls like me so that we could have something to relate to. Now, there are books like that all over the shelves, and I am so happy to see them! It makes me so proud that today young women like me can easily find books with characters in them who are like them, and they can relate to those characters and those problems. I can not wait to join the ranks with these authors!
What are your top 5 favorite books?
Such a hard question!
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince–K. Rowling
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest–Ken Kesey
Six of Crows–Leigh Bardugo
Slaughter-House Five–Kurt Vonnegut, and The Shining–Stephen King, and Peter Pan–M. Barrie, and pretty much anything by Becky Albertalli.
I couldn’t pick just five! I tried! I could barely narrow it down to eight!
What does literary success look like to you?
I have never been one of those people that dreamed of becoming as big as J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. If even just one person reads and enjoys my book, who isn’t my mom, then I will be over the moon happy. But right now, success would be to just finish the novel!
How many hours a day do you write? What is your writing routine?
I try to at least write four chapters a week. I mostly write on my days off, because they are the only days I get down time. I usually sit down at my computer, put on something soothing like Iron and Wine and go over my outline before I get to writing. Oh, and I also drink an entire pot of coffee while I write, that is essential.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it be and why?
Another hard question!
The Mortal Instruments Series. I loved those books in high school, but I had always wanted Clary to end up with Simon. Plus, I would have ended the books at three, and change some of the plot points I didn’t enjoy. But I would keep Magnus exactly as he is; I love that cat-eyed warlock!
What advice would you like to give to aspiring authors?
Read as many books as you can, find a genre you like and study the way your favorite authors write. Learn the rules of writing, learn what tropes are popular and turn them on their heads. I learned a lot from authors on Youtube, find a channel you like and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to ask other writers for advice when you are struggling; I promise we’re nice. And drink coffee, it’s writing fuel!