I’m delighted to be hosting Diana Anderson Tyler today. She’s a brilliant, multi-genre writer whom I first connected with on Instagram. In this interview she tells us about her latest book, Armor for Orchids, and about her inspirations and challenges. Enjoy!
1) Tell us about yourself as a writer. When did you begin writing and what motivates you to write?
I honestly can’t remember ever not writing. Even before I learned how to properly write sentences from left to right, I would scrawl letters of the alphabet around the edges of colorful construction paper my mom, an art teacher, kept in her craft room. I was always fascinated with books and words and letters and loved creating my own, no matter how amateurish and illegible!
It’s hard to say what motivates me to write. It’s more of a compulsory act than it is one driven by motivation. I posted a quote on Instagram recently that said “I write to live and I live to write,” and that is absolutely true for me. Writing, as dramatic as this may sound, is as necessary to my survival as breathing is. Okay, maybe that’s hyperbolic, but I think you get the idea – I must write!
When I’m not writing, my world feels askew, like it’s been violently knocked off its axis. Writing, whether it’s nonfiction, fiction, poetry, or even a simple blog post, centers me and clears my head in much the same way yoga, meditation, or long-distance running does for others.
2) Your new novel, Armor for Orchids, is currently available. Can you sum up what it’s about?
It’s about three young women in a small Texas town who are each finding adulthood to be tremendously tougher than they expected.
Marissa, an aspiring actress, has just had her heart broken by her unfaithful fiancé and becomes severely depressed, resorting to over-exercising and under-eating to maintain some semblance of control over her life. When her mom encourages her to audition for a local movie, she begrudgingly agrees and wins the lead role. Soon after, she’s introduced to the woman the movie is about, 84-year-old Poppy McAdams who knows a thing or two about heartbreak.
Elise is a free spirit who chases short-lived flings and thrills to fill the void her dad left when he died unexpectedly. She’s never had a long-term relationship and, because of the unfortunate hand she’s been dealt, has a rather cynical outlook on life. But, when debonair actor Brady Bradshaw enters her life, she feels the walls around her heart begin to shake. Poppy takes her under her wing, and guides her on a journey of faith she finds hard to resist.
Charlotte is a newlywed whose so-called honeymoon phase has proven to be incredibly disappointing. Her husband distant and increasingly unaffectionate, Charlotte dives into erotic novels to satisfy her desire for romance. But instead of feeling satisfied, the steamy novels only make her feel ashamed as thoughts for another man, a real-life man, turn into something more. She is the third of Poppy’s Orchids, women selected by the wise sage to be mentored and nurtured and taught, through her own stories of heartache and hardships, how to have victory over life’s battles.
3) Where did the inspiration for it come from?
Your readers are probably familiar with the writing adage, “Write what you know.” This novel contains a lot of what I know, either by personal experience or close observation of others. I’ve battled over-exercising and binge/purging. I lost my dad at an early age. And I’ve had my share of marital struggles, just like every other married person on the planet! As for Poppy, I’ve been blessed to know quite a few women like her, women whose wisdom gives them a sort of mystical, enigmatic air. Her rock-solid faith represents the faith of the strongest women I know.
4) What would you say was your biggest challenge when writing it, and how did you overcome it?
Definitely the research. Poppy talks a lot about her life in the 1950s and 60s, so I had to do quite a bit of research to accurately depict that time period in the volatile coal fields of West Virginia.
5) How are you going about the marketing process?
Is “slowly” an answer?? 😉 Admittedly, promoting and selling are not my strong suit. I think that’s true for most authors. But alas, in today’s publishing climate, it’s a necessary evil.
With that said, I’m reaching out to a few writerly websites, such as yours, to talk about the book, and I’ve been steadily gaining ARC (advanced reader copy) readers to read the book before its release and leave an honest review online. My publisher is also going to have the book listed exclusively in KDP to take advantage of their promotional tools and voracious readership.
My husband has also been playing around with making Facebook ads for me, so we will see how that goes! I also post an image quote taken from the book on social media once a week, and have been including a few excerpts from readers’ reviews.
I know there is muuuuuuuch more I could be doing, but I’m a firm believer in not stressing yourself out for the sake of money, popularity, etc. I know that I’ll get better and better at marketing over time. I’m in no rush to perfect the process now!
6) What advice would you like to pass on to new or unpublished writers?
I’m going to repeat what I said in another interview I did recently: Never give up!
This career path is not for the faint of heart. Like a freshman college class, it will try to “weed you out.” The strong will survive if they persevere and keep showing up every day to do the work, despite how they feel. (Discipline is stronger than motivation.)
Expect to be tried and tested. Expect to fail and be frustrated. Expect to be rejected by agents, criticized by readers, and questioned by friends. But always remember your “why” for writing and hold that close to your heart. Doing so will ensure you don’t let the bad times conquer you.
7) Where can we buy your book?
It’s available in print and e-formats on Amazon!
8) What’s next on the agenda for you?
Right now, I’m working on the third book in a Greek-mythology-inspired YA trilogy. When I’m done, I’ll be in the query trenches for a few months, and if I don’t get any bites from agents, I plan to publish all three books myself within the year. After this third book is complete, I may explore ideas for an Armor for Orchids sequel!
9) Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about?
If you like learning about the ins and outs of writing, and/or would like a healthy dose of inspiration, I encourage you to check out my website! You can sign up for my newsletter there, too. I send a monthly email that always features fun, ancient-Greece-related content and giveaways!
Diana Anderson-Tyler earned her degree in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas and her personal training certification from the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. Combining her love for writing, faith, and fitness, she’s written five Christ-centered fitness books for women. Armor for Orchids is her first work of Christian fiction, much of which is inspired by the trials and triumphs of her own life and walk with the Lord. Diana co-owns CrossFit 925 in San Antonio, Texas with her husband, Ben, where she is passionate about helping women achieve and maintain health for body, soul and spirit. She currently writes entertainment and media-related articles for movieguide.org and contributes regularly to charismamag.com. When she isn’t writing or working out, she can be found playing Scrabble with her husband, watching Marvel and Pixar movies, and pinning recipes on Pinterest that she’ll never get around to cooking. You can find Diana on her websites: dianaandersontyler.com and dianadeadlifts.com.