Q&A with Diana Iles Elliot and Give@way

1. Why did you choose Westerville, Ohio for the setting of your novel?
I knew when I began planning the novel that I needed a small-town setting. I'm from a small town myself, but one in California, and that seemed too close to Los Angeles to really play on the contrasts. I was mentioning this to a friend of mine and she started telling me about her hometown, which turned out to be Westerville. I liked that the setting was Midwestern, and also that I could get a really good feel for the place just listening to all my friend's stories. I like to think I've been there in spirit now! And she's the one who told me about Paprikash Casserole, which is seriously freaking delicious.

2. Please describe Norah Castle?
Norah is a contradiction in a lot of ways. As a musician, her job is inherently emotional, yet she thinks she's unemotional personally. Really the problem is that she feels everything too deeply and can't stand it. I think of her as a refugee. She escaped from a small town and a mother who possibly didn't love her and definitely didn't understand her, and that took courage, but there are a lot of things from her past that she still hasn't dealt with. One of the things I like best about her, and I know this is strange, but she's not a very good person, and she's not very likable. The novel is really about the transformative power of love, and her journey to become worthy of it. I've had many people tell me that they don't know why they like her but they do, and that makes me happy, because I think it means I did my job.

3. Who is your favorite musical artist?
I'm a musician of the indie rock persuasion, but my tastes are pretty eclectic. My all-time favorite band would have to be Cursive. The Ugly Organ is one of the most perfect albums ever recorded, in my ever-humble opinion.

4. What's your favorite song?
This is such a tough question! As far as classics and standards go, I love "You Don't Know Me". It's an old cowboy song and just perfectly describes that feeling of being in love with a friend. Emmylou Harris does a great version, but there are many recordings of it. For something more contemporary, "Butcher The Song" by Cursive is one I can listen to endlessly.

5. Which character was your favorite to write and why?
I enjoyed writing Norah but she was complicated, so I wouldn't say writing her was fun. I think my favorite out of all of them is Odessa. She's very sarcastic, which was a blast to write, but she's also fiercely loyal. She may need her own novel someday if I can dream up a guy who can handle her...

6. What sort of coffee would your characters order from Starbucks?
Will is a straightforward guy, so I suspect he'd just order regular coffee with a splash of milk and lots of sugar (he has a sweet tooth). Being from LA and being in the entertainment industry, Norah is obviously very focused on her health, so she'd probably order green or herbal tea, not any of the fancy lattes or frappuccinos with all the calories.

7. Is there anything in this book based on real life experiences or is it purely all imagination?
A lot of the circumstances of the novel are based on real life, but the plot and characters are purely fictional. I'm a musician myself, so everything Norah goes through while writing and performing her music is very authentic (and I used my own lyrics even). But I think the aspect where my personal life had the most impact was in Norah's relationship with her mother. At the time I wrote One Night Standoff, my mother and I hadn't spoken in three years, and in a way I was almost using what Norah went through to explore my feelings about that. We're back in contact now, but I don't think I'm going to let her read the novel!

8. What's the best book you've ever read?
 "The Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood. It is brilliant on every level, and there's really not much more I can say about it. If you read it and don't feel awed by it, you have no soul. Or, you know, you just have different taste from me ;) But seriously, it's amazing.

9What's next for you?
I'll be releasing Willpower, Will's side of the story, next month, to be followed by The New Forward, which will focus on Elliott Edrington, the musician Norah feuds with in One Night Standoff. I also have an as yet untitled work that might be ready in between the two, but I don't want to make promises I can't keep. I hope to have an entire series of romance novels set in the music industry, because I love love and I love music so I extra love them both together! In that same vein, I've been doing a lot of work on my website Di My Darling, where I offer romance advice by recommending songs that speak to the issue. Love and music go really well together, is what I'm saying!

Be sure to check out Diana Iles Elliot on her website and facebook.
Diana Elliot is giving away 5 e-copies of One Night Standoff to my readers. To enter you must be at least 17 years old. You must fill out the form below.

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