5 Questions With…Diana Spechler

Diana Spechler

Not too long ago, I was lucky enough to win a copy of Who By Fire from a book giveaway that Suitcase Contents was having.  The debut novel by author Diana Spechler is an incredible story of  family, personal journey, and forgiveness .  If you haven’t already added this book to your collection, I strongly suggest you do.  You can purchase Who By Fire here.

I love to read.  I enjoy getting completely wrapped up and lost in a story.  I am always so intrigued with each authors unique writing process and journey.  So, as you can imagine, I was so thrilled when Diana Spechler agreed to answer some of my questions.

It is with great pleasure, that I share with you now, my “5 Questions With…Diana Spechler“:

1)  Who By Fire is your debut novel, tell us about your journey from the writing process for Who By Fire’s birth to it being published.

Who By Fire began as a short story called Close To Lebanon. I wrote it in graduate school. I thought it was done, but the characters kept haunting me. The story was about this fractured family, and there was so much love among the characters, but there were also all these communication issues. I couldn’t set the Kellermans aside. So I returned to them, and the story got longer and longer and longer, until it was too long to call a short story. Once I finished it (years later), my friend, Cristina Henriquez, one of my favorite contemporary fiction writers, read my draft and said, “I think my agent would like this. Can I send it to her?” Obviously, I said yes. Actually, I think I said, “Holy shit! Are you serious?!” So she sent it to her agent, who signed me, helped me edit the manuscript, and ultimately, sold it to a great editor at an imprint of HarperCollins that nurtures a lot of debut novelists. I still kind of can’t believe it.

2)  Who By Fire is written in three voices, which I find very interesting as it allows you to get to know each character more intimately.  What was your reasoning behind doing this?  Did you find it difficult to switch writing between characters?

Usually, I could only write from the perspective of one character per day. I had Bits days, Ash days, and Ellie days. That was frustrating, of course. Restrictions of any kind are frustrating. But I really felt that the story needed to be told from multiple perspectives. It’s a story of how the remaining family members are coping in the aftermath of a kidnapping. They’re all responding so differently. I really wanted to explore everyone’s grief comprehensively.

3) Throughout the writing process you must have become very close to your characters, but, if you had to choose just one, who would be your favorite character and why?

I love them all. I really do. This is like asking me to choose a favorite child. Okay, fine: I guess I’d pick Ash. In the end, his journey wound up feeling the most important to me. Don’t tell the others I said that.

4) Writing involves a certain discipline and focus. What advice would you give to other writers and future (potential) authors?

It’s important to make writing the centerpiece of your life. That doesn’t just go for writing, actually. I think it’s good, general advice: Pick one thing and focus. Otherwise you’re a dabbler. Committing to an art involves not just self-discipline, but a certain level of risk. In the end, though, I think it’s better to really make a go of mastering one thing than to be kind of okay at a bunch of things. I would also advise aspiring writers to develop a thick skin. Rejection is a big part of becoming a writer. It’s a rite of passage. It’s practically unavoidable.

5) What’s next for you?  Have you begun working on a new novel?

Yes. I’m working on a novel set at a weight-loss camp for kids in the mountains of North Carolina. It’s based on my experience working at such a camp a few summers ago.


Thank you, Diana.  It has been so much fun doing this!

To find out more about Diana Spechler visit:

And, for all of you that have Facebook, become a fan of Diana Spechler.  You can drop her a note and stay up-to-date on news and upcoming events.

Have you read “Who By Fire”?  What are your thoughts on the book?

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  2. Erin

    June 4, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Diana’s advice is relevant to all and I am eagerly awaiting her next novel.

    If you ever have the chance to attend a reading by Diana, go! You will be moved.

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