Author D. Wallace Peach infuses her speculative fiction with vivid prose and intriguing plots. Her twelve published books are divided between two four-book series and four standalone novels. Kari’s Reckoning (2017) is the fourth and final novel in her Rose Shield series, a storyline that explores flawed and compelling characters, a sentient landscape, and a magic system that allows for manipulating emotions. Learn more about Diana and her writing on her website/blog MythsOfTheMirror.com and her Amazon author page, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@dwallacepeach), and Goodreads.
What was the initial spark for the Rose Shield series—a character, the setting, a what-if question?
For any of my books, my initial spark is usually something related to a magic system. I’m a fan of fantasy author Brandon Sanderson and enjoy the structure he brings to the magic in his books, including how he integrates his concepts into the characters, themes, and plot. From the magical inspiration, the rest gradually falls into place.
The magic system of the Rose Shield started with my experience as a counselor. I believe that our emotions drive us more than our thoughts and reason. When we interact with others, we’re influencing them emotionally—trying to make them smile, comply, love, take our side, leave us alone. For the Rose Shield, I took that concept a step further and asked: what if a group of people could influence others’ feelings through a special talent? And what would they do if there was someone who could stop them?
Among your cast of characters are influencers (magic wielders), warriors, assassins, rebels—and Catling, who has the ability to disrupt the power of the guild that rules her world through manipulating emotions. Were the characters fully formed when you began writing, or did they reveal themselves to you as the story unfolded?
I do tons of pre-writing preparation, including biographies on all my characters, even the secondary ones. I describe their childhoods, fears, dreams, challenges, goals, and secrets. Characters take further shape as the outline comes together. And, of course, when I start writing, more of their personalities emerge. On occasion, I have to edit their biographies because, despite all the planning, I still allow them to be themselves. That’s part of the fun.
Tell us about the main setting. Do you consider it to be a character in the books?
The Rose Shield takes place on a terraformed world, so it has Earthlike and alien elements. In this series, the planet is sentient, so it’s not only a character, but it causes all kinds of havoc. The world’s luminous rivers are its veins, and when humans start messing with the planet’s “blood”—the source of their unusual power—the planet straightens them out. Kari’s Reckoning, the last book in the series, is partly about the “setting” getting her way and putting humans in their place.
What was the most difficult aspect of world-building for this series?
Definitely keeping the magic system (the power to influence others’ emotions) logical and consistent. It’s a powerful skill, and I had to keep asking the question: why wouldn’t they just use their influence? There needed to be reasons and consequences in every instance for using it or deciding not to.
You released the four-novel Rose Shield collection within two months of publishing the first book. How did the series come together?
It took me two years to write the series. I wrote the entire outline for all four books, plotting them as one long story, before I started writing. That way the whole thing felt cohesive to me—all the forecasting was in place, characters had complete arcs, themes flowed from the beginning to the end, and I plugged up the plot holes. I structured each book with escalating challenges and ensured all the books worked together as one intensifying story that led to the final climax. The editing passes were bears, the grizzly kind. I wanted to release all four very close to each other so that readers who enjoyed the first one could pick up the next immediately. It made sense from a marketing standpoint, and it’s how I like to read. Basically, to release them together, I held up the first books while waiting for the last.
What are the hardest kinds of scenes for you to write, and how do you get over this hurdle?
I have two types of scenes that I find challenging. One is battle scenes because I hold my breath and have to type really fast! Ha ha. They’re so intense, people are fighting for their lives, so I can’t take a breather. I’m in this intense “zone” and have to see it through. I’ll occasionally find myself gasping because I’m not breathing!
The other scenes that are tough are sad scenes. I get emotional, all teary and snotty. My husband is used to it now, but when I started writing he’d stare at me with a worried look on his face. For me, writing is an emotional commitment. I take a deep breath and dive in because I want the reader to feel it. If I maintain a protective distance, I think the reader can sense it and won’t be as invested in the story.
What writing projects are you working on now?
I’m working on a two-book series right now: Soul Swallowers and Legacy of Souls. I’ll publish those together in May. The idea/magic for these books started with lots of musing about the nature and mystery of the soul. What if we could access the souls of the dead as a way to keep those we love near us? What if we were able to merge? We might acquire skills and knowledge, a more robust constitution, a happier temperament, greater wisdom. All positive, right? But time and again, human beings demonstrate a tendency to take things to the extreme without considering consequences. These books will have plenty of conflict, but I’m hoping that there will be some wisdom and heart in them as well.
Thanks so much for the fun questions, Kathy, and for your interest in the series. I love learning about how stories come to be and can talk about storytelling for hours. Happy Writing!
Thank you, Diana. I, too, love learning how other authors weave their stories.
Reblogged this on Myths of the Mirror and commented:
Over my break, I answered a few questions about The Rose Shield series for Kathy Wagoner’s blog. Kathy’s another speculative fiction writer. If you have the time, stop by to say hi and check out her blog. And have a wonderful weekend!
Thank you for sharing, Diana! (I just got done with a 10-hour drive, so I’m late checking the comments.)
You’re welcome, Kathy. And thanks to you for the wonderful opportunity and interview. Happy Saturday. :-)
Great Q&A! I always love to hear about an author’s process, especially when writing a series. It’s interesting to see if and how they plot the novels out to have them connect. It must be very emotional to become so close to characters you breathed life into, and then have it come to an end!
Thanks for the great comment, Nicole. :-) It is really hard after two years of “living” inside your characters’ hearts and heads to say goodbye. After finishing my very first book, I cried. Now I’m used to it. I love them, but I’m capable of moving on. Have a great Saturday!
I really enjoyed this, Kathy and Diana.
Diana, of course, I’ve read many interviews you’ve done, as well as having gotten to know you more personally throughout some of your writing endeavors. But I continue to learn fascinating new things about your process and person. Here (though I’m not surprised in the least), I loved picturing you writing the battle scenes and emotional scenes. And, yes, I can always tell when an author “went there” … or didn’t.
Ha ha. It’s true, Erik. I noticed myself holding my breath yesterday and had to laugh. My husband is so funny about noticing the tears or super-serious faces now. He’ll look at me and ask, “Is someone dying?” Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. :-) Happy Writing!
Thank you, Erik. I’m glad you learned something new about Diana and her writing process.
I approach my character prep much like you, Diana. I like to have full biographies written first. I feel knowing my characters beforehand helps flesh out the story. But also like you, I have to go back and change bits about the biographies as I write the first draft. Just like stories do, characters often evolve and change from what we first anticipated.
Thanks for the second comment, Carrie! I love the process/evolution of characters becoming real 3-dimensional people. It’s one of the fun and magical aspects of writing that is so addictive. Have a great weekend. :-)
Fascinating interview, Diana and Kathy!
Thanks, Bette. It’s a pleasure to be over here on Kathy’s site. Have a lovely weekend, my friend. :-)
Thank you for dropping by. I’m glad you enjoyed learning more about Diana and her work.
You have a lot of patience, Diana, to sit on books ready to publish until you get the others written. :-) Cheers to you for that! Thanks for sharing Diana and Kathy.
Thanks for stopping by, Mary. I’m not confident enough to put out a book before the whole series is done. All through the process, I’m jumping back to the earlier books to add or change elements. It may be part of speculative fiction because the details of the world and magic aren’t necessarily a given and have to be set up early. Just “speculating” here. Ha ha. Happy Writing! <3
Ah, that does make sense. I can understand that.
You’re welcome, Mary. I learned a lot from Diana’s answers — she’s not only a great writer, she’s made wise choices with her publishing strategy.
Hi Kathy. I’m happy to discover your blog via Diana. This is a well crafted interview, and it’s always great to learn a little more about Diana, her thought process, and creations. Hugs to you both.
Thanks for the visit, Teagan, and I’m glad you found Kathy’s blog. Speculative fiction writers unite! Have a magical day, my friend. <3
Thank you for dropping by, Teagan!
Fabulous interview! I like that you personalized it, Kathy. This gave us a broader view into Diana’s writing process. xx
Thanks for stopping by, Tina. I love questions that are personalized too. It provides an opportunity to go into more depth about process and thoughts. I’m delighted to be over here on Kathy’s site. Sending you hugs, my friend. <3
Thank you, Tina. I researched Diana and her work (plus I’m a fan, anyway) and tried not to ask the same questions everyone else does.
Well done, Kathy!
Great interview! As a big fan of Diana’s Rose Shield quartet? I’m always fascinated by the ‘how’ behind her amazing stories. And just as a matter of interest, the last book positively explodes. It’s wonderful. :)
What a great comment. Yay! Thanks, Andrea. I’ll take “explodes.” I love talking about the “how” and learning about the “how” of other writers. I always learn something and am inspired to get to work. Happy Writing, my friend. :-)
I don’t want to give away any spoilers so let’s just say I loved the ‘resolutions’. Perfectly necessary but very VERY courageous. :)
Fascinating to read about Diana’s process for putting together a series. So much involved! I love the biography idea – to shape the characters first with their stories. So much work and so much imagination! I’m not surprised to learn of the emotional investment. Diana’s heart shines through every word she writes. And she has me hooked on Catling’s powers of influence. The soul swallowing series sounds equally intriguing.
Thanks so much for the comment, Molly. I find that all the planning cuts down on my writer’s block and reduces the amount of time I have to spend on rewrites. Things feel a little more “solid” right from the start of the first chapter. The trio of character bios, world-building, and plot outline all sort of come together at once. Then the writing starts … Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Writing.
Sounds like it is like painting a room. The prep is slow going but essential to do before you start using a roller and making real progress. And the end result is a beautiful new room!
I love the biography step. I learn so much about my characters with that and can then make sure they remain realistic. Nice to hear you do that too!
Thanks for reading, Jacqui. I don’t use half of what I include in the bios, but I do think it makes the characters fuller human beings before the stories begin. And I think (I hope) that shows. Happy Writing!
Fantastic Q and A! I am amazed at the amount of prep Diana puts into the prep of her novels, but the results are nothing less than stellar. Her writing grips me each and every time.
What a great comment. Thank you!! I do a lot of prep and I’m always chomping at the bit by the time I start writing. It’s like the meal after all the planning, shopping and cooking. :-D Thanks again for visiting. You certainly left me with a smile!
This is an excellent interview. Thank you!
Thanks again, Jennie, for swinging by to read. Much appreciated, my friend. :-)
A pleasure, my friend. 🙂
You’re welcome, Jennie. Thanks for dropping by.
Excellent interview. I enjoyed learning more about Diana’s process as a writer. Diana is one of my favorite people on WordPress.
Aw, thanks for the kind comment, Robert. You are so sweet. I try to keep it fun and positive. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview. Kathy’s questions were tailored for my work, so it was a pleasure and honor to participate. Have a wonderful week, my friend. <3
I enjoyed the questions because they were so specific to your work. I learned a few things about interviewing from that interview; she’s very good.
Reblogged this on Art by Rob Goldstein and commented:
Author Interview: D Wallace Peach
Thanks so much for sharing!!! :-D
Thank you for the reblog, Robert, and for stopping in. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview.
I loved the interview and I loved your questions. It’s great to learn more about the bloggers I admire.
This is a great interview! I love the insight into your process, Diana, and can’t imagine the prep work, although it makes a ton of sense. And those sneaky characters always seem to get their own way with certain things. These are on my towering TBR for sure!
Thanks for the visit, Julie. I’m always amazed at all the prep work you do! It seems you have the writing board and marker in hand on a routine basis. And yes, those characters do become more and more themselves and harder to control. :-) Happy Writing, my friend.
Thank you, Julie, for taking the time to drop by and leave a comment. I’m glad you liked the interview.
A brilliant insight into Diana’s technical writers mind re her world building and keeping everything within the acceptable limits she has set with the world of the novels. I was interested to read how she writes battle scenes and sad scenes as well — I really believe emotional investment in such points within the work is essential to create scenarios that resonate with the reader. Really enjoyable.
Thank you for visiting over here at Kathy’s, Paul. I like the emotional investment in writing. I think it’s was draws me to it. I’m getting to live and feel these other lives. Today I’m tired so my characters are probably going to be yawning a lot. :-) Have a wonderful week, my friend. <3
I absolutely loved this. I love reading about how books finally get put together, thought patterns and so forth. I really enjoyed the questions and answers :-) Diana, I could just see you frantically typing with vast speed the battle scenes as if you were in the battle yourself physically. Well done my friend. I am so proud to know such an accomplished writer.
Thanks for the great comment, Lynne. Sometimes I use my own reactions to what I’m writing as gestures and facial expressions for my characters. I’m wincing, inhaling through my teeth, grimacing, getting teary, holding my breath, biting a lip. My husband laughs at some of the expressions. I’m so glad you enjoyed the interview. Thanks for visiting!
You are welcome :-)
Thank you for visiting, Lynne. I’m glad you enjoyed learning more about Diana and how she puts her stories together.
My pleasure :-)
I can’t imaging outlining four novels before starting on the first one – for me, it seems like an insurmountable obstacle. You have my highest admiration, DIana!
Thanks for stopping by, Teri. It was a long long long process. And trust me, the outlines for the later books were pretty sketchy. By the time I finished the first book, though, everything was pretty well laid out. My need for a cohesive outline may be a result of writing in another world with magical powers and strange cities. There aren’t as many “givens” as there are in contemporary novels, so everything for the end needs to be set up early. Happy Writing, my friend. :-)
Congratulations on this great review/interview by K.L., Diana. Thanks, K.L. :) — Suzanne
You’re welcome, Suzanne. Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks again, Kathy, for the great interview and all the fun visiting on your blog. Happy Easter. <3
You’re so welcome. We should do it again when you publish your next set of books.
I would love to! :-D
Thanks so much for heading over here to read, Suzannne. Kathy had some wonderful questions and made this so easy. Have a great week, my friend. :-)
Thank you, Kathy, for hosting this wonderful interview! I can’t get enough insight into the creative process of writers, and as a Rose Shield fan, Diana’s background information on what inspired the series, how it was plotted, and how the “rules” of the world were designed (and then followed) only enhanced my appreciation for it. Brandon Sanderson, whom Diana cites, is a master at world-building, and creating a system of magic that has consistent rules and consequences; that’s the reason his fantasy is a cut above that of most other authors in the genre. Diana stands shoulder-to-shoulder with him! I really enjoyed this “inside look” into the series’ development.
How creativity works is fascinating. I, too, am interested in how other writers create their story worlds – and it’s fun to compare it to my own process. And I agree with you about Diana (and Brandon Sanderson). She really has a handle on world-building, and she’s one of the best writers to study and learn from. Thank you for the comment and the follow!
Thank you, Kathy, for the generous comment. I’m flattered and grateful. Have a wonderful week!
You’re welcome. Enjoy your time off!
Thanks so much for the comment, Sean. I’m with you on the fun in learning about other authors’ creative process. It’s why I never get tired talking and reading about the art of writing with other authors. Kathy hosts a wonderful interview, and it was an honor to be over here. :-)
There is plenty of wisdom and heart in everything I’ve read from you, Diana. You are a special writer and lovely person. I always enjoy your interviews!
Thank you, Basilike. I’m so glad you enjoyed this interview. Kathy had some fun questions and it was fun to talk about the book series and writing in general. Hugs, my friend. <3
And many hugs to you!