Dianna Sanchez is another member of Broad Universe, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative genres.
Dianna is the not-so-secret identity of Jenise Aminoff, whose superpower is cooking with small children. She is an MIT alumna, graduate of the 1995 Clarion Workshop, frequent participant in Odyssey Online, active member of SCBWI, the Author’s Guild, Broad Universe, and New England Speculative Writers, and former editor at New Myths magazine. Aside from 18 years as a technical and science writer, she has taught science in Boston Public Schools, developed curricula for STEM education, and taught Preschool Chef, a cooking class for children ages 3-5. A Latina geek originally from New Mexico, she now lives in the Boston area with her husband and two children.
Dianna has published two novels: A Witch’s Kitchen (Dreaming Robot Press, September 2016), and its sequel, A Pixie’s Promise, which came out in September 2018. Her short fiction appears in the 2017 and 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guides.
She describes A Pixie’s Promise:
Petunia’s tired of being overlooked just because she’s six inches tall.
She gets lost at home among her gazillion brothers, sisters, and cousins. Her own parents don’t remember her name. When her best friend Millie offers a vacation at her house, Petunia jumps at the chance. Cooking for Millie’s witch of a mother and babysitting a tree should be easy, right? But when an epidemic of spickle pox hits the Enchanted Forest and Millie’s mother comes down with a mysterious illness, Petunia must pitch in to brew cures as quickly as she can, even if that means using up all her pixie dust. It’s a good thing she has friends to help.
Did something in the real world inspire A Pixie’s Promise?
While my immediate family is small – I have only two siblings – I have about ten bazillion cousins and grew up surrounded by a large extended family. My abuela just could not keep track of us all. When she wanted to call someone’s name, she often ended up running through the whole list of people in the room: “MaxDiannaCathyJim!” And then she just gave up, pointed at the person she wanted, and yelled, “You! Youyouyou!”
When I set out to write A Pixie’s Promise, I gave my protagonist Petunia a big family in which she feels lost and overlooked. The enormous bed that Petunia sleeps in with all her siblings was inspired by Abuela’s experience growing up with six sisters and only one bed for all of them. To this, I added the fact that Petunia is a six-inch-tall pixie who’s literally overlooked by most other folk in the Enchanted Forest, which drives her to distinguish herself any way she can. She gets into fights, she tells really bad jokes, but eventually she finds something she loves to do and develops more positive ways to make herself stand out.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
In one chapter, Petunia is kidnapped by a dragon alchemist who needs her to make a particular potion. Petunia refuses to cooperate and fights back as only a pixie can, by being faster and more clever, and by pelting the dragon with bad dragon jokes. This chapter was so much fun to write! It marks a turning point where Petunia pulls together all her skills and talents to overcome rather large obstacles.
What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?
Ridiculously complicated! I have a bad tendency to kitchen-sink my novels: when I write, I get an idea, and I throw it in. When I first turned in A Pixie’s Promise to Dreaming Robot Press, they responded with, “Um, there is WAY too much going on in this book.” They asked me to split the novel into two novels, neither of which would be novel length. That was fine, because they wanted me to use that space to expand and fully develop the plot threads and character arc. I had to sit with this idea for a good month before I finally agreed with them. A Pixie’s Promise turned out really well as a result.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
With A Witch’s Kitchen, my first novel, I really had to do a lot of legwork to promote my novel and get invited to local events and readings. Now that I’m an established author, I’m starting to get invitations out of the blue from schools and bookstores, which is really gratifying. No, I take it back: the best thing by far was the enormous hug I got from one of my young fans at my launch party.
What do you have planned next?
I’m working on finishing book three of my Enchanted Kitchen series, An Elf’s Equations, which was carved out the second half of that first version of A Pixie’s Promise. It’s been very tricky because I had to change protagonists. Petunia’s character arc was largely resolved in A Pixie’s Promise. My publisher pointed out that another character, Sagara, had largely taken charge for the half of the plot that I then set aside. It made logical sense to have Sagara, a math-loving elf, be the protagonist, but I hadn’t really done any of the work to figure out her character. I needed to do that in order to interweave her character arc with the existing plot. Of course, that has required some more changes to the plot. I got a lot of inspiration from an extended trip to Sweden and Finland last summer that I’m also integrating into the setting. It’s been quite challenging, but ultimately, I think it’s going to turn out great. And after that, on to book four with yet another protagonist, which will take place mostly in Atlantis.
You can pick up a copy of A Pixie’s Promise on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ryJZ8x.
Check out all of Dianna’s books on her Amazon page: https://amzn.to/2rydYxc.
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