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SheSaid recently sat down with author Dianne Blacklock to discuss life, writing, her views on technology and of course her new book, The Secret Ingredient.

1. How old were you when you had your first novel published? And how long did it take you to write your first novel?
I signed my first contract just prior to my 40th birthday, which was a fabulous way to celebrate that particular milestone! I had spent about 9 months writing the draft that led to the offer of publication, and I spent almost the same time rewriting, editing and shaping it into the published book it is today, with the help and guidance of my wonderful publisher and editor.

Are you sad when you finish writing a novel, like you have to say goodbye to the characters you have just created and written about daily for the past few months?

I’m very sad! Not straight away – at first I’m relieved and happy that I’ve made it to the end, and I usually crack open a bottle of champagne to celebrate. But after a day or two I get restless, and I start to miss the characters, and wonder what they’re doing … Sounds mad probably, but they have been in my head for months and months, so it is a kind of loss. I think that’s why I enjoy editing so much, because I get to have them back and play with them for a while longer!

2. Do you have a favourite novel of the 8? Or is that like asking if you have a favourite child to a mother?
Yes, it’s exactly like asking if I have a favourite child! Each novel has a special place, whether because it’s my first, or it was an ‘easy birth’, or I wrote it through a difficult time so it gave me an even stronger sense of achievement … and of course the last is like a new baby: you’re besotted, and it takes up most of your time and attention – but that doesn’t mean you love your other children any less.

3. What is your new novel “Secret Ingredient” about?
It follows the story of Andie, who is married to Ross, a man who left his wife for her ten years ago. But now he looks set to do the same thing to Andie. But she also gave up a lot for Ross, and after her marriage implodes, she decides to return to her dream of being a chef. However, Ross isn’t letting go that easily, and her new boss, Dominic Gerou, is making things difficult for her as well. Andie has to learn to take charge of her life, and work out what, and who, is going to make her happy.

4. Can you take us through a normal day in the life of Dianne Blacklock?

Hmm, I’m not so sure there is such a thing! Currently I’m juggling publicity for The Secret Ingredient with scheduling tradesman and preparing my house for sale, having just shepherded my son through his HSC, all while trying to squeeze in some writing! However, when I’m on deadline I write every day, until all hours. Between those extremes, when things are a little more ‘normal’, I try to get to the gym, or go for a walk with a friend in the morning. Then depending on what I have to do later in the day, I will start work anywhere from about 10.30 to as late as after lunch, if I have the evening to myself and can work through. I reckon my most productive time is from about 3 in the afternoon until 8 or 9 (later if I’m on a roll). You can imagine that routine was not possible at all when I had kids at school!

5. What is the best thing about being an author?
It’s an incredible privilege to do what you love for a living. I have a bonafide excuse to sit at my computer and make up stories to my heart’s content – how cool is that? But it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying without an audience. When the first feedback comes trickling in, it gives me such a buzz. People talking (or emailing, or posting on Facebook) about characters I made up in my head is incredibly rewarding and thrilling, especially when they refer to them as though they’re real. If people are touched by my books, if they relate to the characters, or feel better understood somehow, or if they are simply entertained for a few hours, then I couldn’t be happier!

That is only part 1 of our chat with Dianne, so stay tuned for the rest of the interview. We can’t wait to read her new novel Secret Ingredient out now and just in time to add to our Christmas reading list!