Friday, November 3, 2023

Diane Barnes

Diane Barnes is the author of More Than, Waiting for Ethan, and Mixed Signals. She is also a marketing and corporate communication writer in the health-care industry. When she’s not writing, she’s at the gym, running, or playing tennis, trying to burn off the ridiculous amounts of chocolate and ice cream she eats. She and her husband, Steven, live in New England with Oakley, their handsome golden retriever.

Barnes's new novel is All We Could Still Have.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I struggled to think of a title for All We Could Still Have. My working title was Life, Unplanned, but I didn’t love it. When I gave a draft to beta readers, I asked them to suggest an alternative. Fortunately, someone suggested All We Could Still Have. It’s a line from the novel and it perfectly captures the meaning of the book. To me it conveys that even when you don’t get what you want or when things don’t go as planned, you can pivot and still be happy. I hope my book leaves readers with that sentiment.

What's in a name?

The protagonist of All We Could Still Have is Nikki Sebastian. Nicholas is my favorite name, and most of my books all have some form of the name in it, Nico is the bad guy in Mixed Signals, Nick is the hot guy in More Than, and now Nikki is a character I hope readers will root for. In the book she says people always call her Nikki except when they’re breaking her heart. That she prefers to be called Nikki tells me she is approachable and down to earth.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

Of all my novels to this point, I think All We Could Still Have is the book my teenaged self would be least surprised I wrote. Teenaged me love watching Dynasty, General Hospital, and Days of Our Lives, and actually thought writing for a soap opera would be the coolest job. This book is about the ups and downs of a relationship and the work that goes into making a marriage succeed, which is sort of what soap operas are about, right?

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

For this book, the ending was harder to write. When I started writing, I had the last scene in mind, and in the draft I sent to beta readers, that’s the ending I used. But, 2 of my 3 beta readers said the ending didn’t work, and they both cited the exact same reason for it not working. So, I felt I should change it and I did. If anyone wants to know the original ending, they can email me and I’ll tell them.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I think there’s always a little of the author in all the characters we create. There are definitely similarities between Nikki, the protagonist in All We Could Still Have, and me. Like Nikki, I grew up in an Italian American family in New England. Like Nikki, I wanted children but don’t have any, and we’re both a bit paranoid that we don’t fit in or are judged for not having kids. We also both work jobs that involve writing and are still close to our childhood friends.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

When I listen to music, I pay more attention to the lyrics and the story the song tells than to anything else. Sometimes I get ideas for scenes or characters based on lyrics. The song "Never Wanted to Be That Girl" by Ashley McBryde and Carly Pearce inspired one of the characters in All We Could Still Have.
Visit Diane Barnes's website.

--Marshal Zeringue