I am so excited to share with you all something very fun today! This is my first ever author interview! Yep, last week’s cat interview got me all warmed up and now it is time for the real deal. Today I am interviewing Diana Urban, whose debut thriller novel All Your Twisted Secrets in coming out in March of 2020. Keep reading to hear all about her novel and some tips for writers!
Interview With Diana Urban
- What inspired you to become a writer?
The craft of writing is always something that fascinated me, but if I told you I always wanted to be an author myself, I’d be lying. While growing up, I didn’t think I was remotely capable of writing a novel! I used to marvel at J.K. Rowling’s world-building, R.L. Stine’s cliffhanger chapter endings, Agatha Christie’s brilliant red herrings, and Stephen King’s terrifying descriptions, and think, There’s no way in hell I could ever do that.
So I didn’t even bother to try. Instead I let my story ideas swirl around my brain without release. I was too afraid to fail.
Then one day in my mid-twenties, while on a business trip in Paris, I saw something terrifying happen right in front of me on the metro, and it inspired me to write my first novel. The desire to tell that story overpowered my fear of failure. That novel hasn’t been published yet (hopefully someday!), but once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. I think about that moment a lot—if I hadn’t been on that exact train car at that exact time, would I have started writing? Part of me likes to think so. Another part of me likes to believe in those singular moments that tear your reality in half and set them on alternate paths, a la Sliding Doors.
(And telling you what happened on that metro car would be a spoiler, sorry!)
- Can you tell me a little about you new book “All Your Twisted Secrets” and how you started writing it?
All Your Twisted Secrets is about Amber, a 17-year-old aspiring film score producer who arrives at an invite-only dinner and is locked into the deserted restaurant with five other students. They uncover a tray with a syringe of poison, a bomb, and a note that reads: “Within the hour, you must choose someone in this room to die. If you don’t, everyone dies.” Determined to get everyone out alive, Amber orchestrates friends and foes alike to work together, grappling with the clashing personalities of her jock boyfriend, her nerd crush, her former best friend, the queen bee, and the stoner. But as the bomb’s timer ticks down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to uncover who locked them in… and who’s going to die.
One day my husband and I were just sitting around speculating the shortest timespan you could set a book or movie to, throwing ideas back and forth. Could an entire book take place over just fifteen minutes? No way, that’s not enough time to accomplish anything. But what about an hour? What if you locked a group of people in a room for an hour? What if someone died at the end of the hour? What if the trapped people killed one of them? What if they had to choose someone to kill, or else they’d all die? We exchanged this look that was like, “Bingo,” and I raced to my desk and started scribbling down ideas for characters I could put into this crazy situation.
- What is your top tip to aspiring mystery/thriller writers? It seems like a very daunting genre to take on!
You’re right—it is a daunting genre to write. From effectively building tension, to hiding information from readers until the right time, to strategically placing red herrings… it’s a lot. But it’s important to throw away the notion of writing a perfect first draft. The real magic happens during revisions. Just like you wouldn’t solve a jigsaw puzzle by pulling pieces out of the box and setting them down in order, from left to right, one at a time—you don’t write a thriller that way, either. Instead you scatter all the pieces on the table and start working on the edges of the puzzle (the outline, or the framework of the novel) and then you tackle one section at a time (one plot thread, or one character arc, or one red herring), building and building until it all finally fits together. It can be overwhelming to conceptualize a thriller all at once, but when you break it down and take one element at a time, it’s easier to manage in your brain. At least, that’s how it works for me!
Thanks for reading and thank yout to Diana Urban for participating in this interview! If you are interested in All Your Twisted Secrets, here is the synopsis from goodreads and my review will be up in a couple of weeks:
“What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.
Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?”
Happy reading! What books are you most looking forward to in 2020?