The Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature at Rhode Island College




- Diana Wieler -

Diana Wieler was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1961. She moved to Calgary as a teenager and, after high school, took the Television, Stage and Radio Arts Program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Working in radio in Calgary, and then for a newspaper in Saskatoon proved to be valuable training for a writing career, which she now pursues full time.

Diana's first published short stories: A Dog On His Own , (Prairie Publishing Company), To the Mountians by Morning, was published in a third grade reader ( Nelson Canada) and was the winner of the CBC Literary Competition in 1984; The Boy Who Walked Backwards, (Coteau Books) was published in the Parie Jungle Anatholgy and won the Vickey Metcalf Award in 1985; The Finder, (Houghton Mifflin) and The Scream were both published in The Canadian Children's Annual.

Diana's most recent works include Last Chance Summer (Western Producer, Parie Books) is a winner of the Ebel Memorial Reward; Bad Boy is the winner of the Governor General's Literary Reward for Children's Literature in 1989 and the Ruth Schwartz Foundation Reward for Excellence, the Canadian Library Association for Young Adult Book of the Year in 1990 and also optioned for Canadian Film Rights RanVan the Defender, which won the Mr.Christie's Book Award; and RanVan: A Worthy Oppenent, were published by Groundwook Books.

She has also ventured into screenwriting and is working on the scriptof RanVan: the Defender for O'Meara Productions Ltd. A picture book edition of her story To The Mountains By Morning was published by Groundwood books in October 1995.

Diana Wieler is currently living in Winnipeg Canada with her husband and her son, Ben.

Book Summaries:

Drive: On Jens' hometown football team, he was a star receiver and the Chocolate King, selling more fund-raiser chocolates than anyone in the history of the province. Jens believes or feels that success happens to people who go out and get it. But when his father has a heart attack, success looks different and it now takes on a whole new meaning. His parents' are very disappointed when he decides to quit school and move to a nearby city, securing a job as a car salesman. Chocolates aren't cars and then just before his nineteenth birthday, Jens is fired. Before he can come to grips with his crashed dream, there is a knock at the door. It's his younger brother, Daniel, with a $5,000 problem. As talented blues guitarist, his brother Daniel is in enough debt to his music producer, who wants his money back and he wants it now. Together the Jens and Daniel embark on the longest weekend of their lives. Jens is determined to help Daniel play every Legion and small-town bar on the prairies if that's what it takes to make things right. Jens needs to be a hero to his brother, his father, and more importantly himself. His demons are on his heels: his intense jealousy and love of Daniel, a difficult relationship with his Old World father, his deep-seated problems with women and his own self-doubt.

Last Chance Summer: Winner of the Ebel Memorial Award, 1987
Marl Silversides, a 12 year old who is moved from foster home to foster home, has been trouble all his life. Yet , through a caring social worker he gets one last chance in a group home on a farm in the Alberta Badlands. The other kids are like Marl: angry, distrustful, with nothing to lose. As much as he wants to gain control of his life, there are so many opportunities to keep fighting and running, until he makes a friend. Marl finds that everyone on this farm has some sort of history. He also learns that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to keep the past from ruining the present.


1) How do you come up with ideas for your books?

To be perfectly honest, I write to explore ideas and experiences, to satisfy my own curiosity about other people and their lives. I set "Last Chance Summer" in a foster environment because I'd met some young people who'd been through it. I was touched and yet curious about that life. By creating the character of Marl, I was able to imagine his experiences moment by moment, and perhaps come to new insights. Of course I want to be published and read, but I truthfully write because that's how I process the thoughts and emotions I have about a certain subject. Curiosity leads me out into a story; by writing it I come to some answers.

2) Are you able to represent male characters realistically, being afemale?

The one overwhelmingly consistent response I receive about my work is That the male characters are believable and realistic. I think I'm able to do this because I grew up without a father or brothers; males have always been a great mystery to me. My curiosity has made me an avid watcher, of male friends, boyfriends, and finally my husband and son. I find men fascinating because they are so different from me, a woman. No detail of their lives is too small to wonder over. Writing from that perspective is a great adventure of discovery.

3) Do you write from personal experiences?

I generally write from the "outside in", meaning that experiences I come in contact with, I take into myself and process through a story. By working as a volunteer for a sexual assault centre, I came in contact with kids who were in foster care; my husband played a great deal of hockey while growing up, a background I used for my novel "Bad Boy."
And yet, every writer draws from his or her own emotional experiences; I know what it feels like to be sad or lonely or angry. And many small pieces of my real life do creep into the books. For example, in "RanVan: Magic Nation", Rhan attends the same technical school I did as a young person, And takes the same media program. (Although I did go back to research the experience fresh!)

4) Do character develop or are they set when you write?

Although I do start out with some sense of a character's internal landscape, the whole person truly is revealed to me as I write. For example, while writing the first draft of my most recent book, "Drive", I noticed that I had made very few references to the women in Jens' life. In the last quarter of the book, the realization hit me: this guy had real anger towards his mother and women in general. In fact, it was one of the key issues of his personal journey. That new insight helped me enormously when I re-wrote the book.

5) Is there a new book on the horizon?

I am currently in the early stages of a new novel, which may or may not be my first work of adult fiction. It's too early to tell! (A complete list of my YA fiction and awards is available on my website.)

6) What influenced you to write a book for younger children?

My very first published works were for a younger audience, perhaps children 8 - 10. These include several short stories, as well as "To the Mountains by Morning", a picture book. Currently, I find the territory of the young Adult and nearly-adult to be exciting and full of potential. But the nature of writers is to grow by following new ideas and interests, which sometimes lead you back to the beginning! Anything is possible.

7) What is your favorite or least favorite book that you have written and why?

I think many writers cringe a little when they re-read their early published works; we'd do the same story differently now. I find that my "favourite" story is always the one I'm working on. Each new book takes such total commitment that you have to love it best -- for the moment. I also think that part of the writing process is to consciously "let go" of a book after it is published, so that you can grow and move onto other things. If you didn't, you'd keep writing the same story over and over.

8) I am profoundly touched by other people's lives, whether it's someone I've met or only heard about. I begin to imagine that experience, and wonder about it, and the story starts to take shape...

9) Do you write from personal experiences?

My personal experiences can have an impact on my work, but I don't Really draw from them for main plotlines or themes. Because I write to explore, my own life doesn't hold the mystery that it takes to pull me into a story.

10) How do you structure information for your books?

I have always been a very visual writer, concentrating on strong Dramatic scenes, dialogue and forward movement. Since taking a screenwriting course, I've been able to strengthen this cinematic quality by using the three-act structure in my work. For the average reader, I hope, this creates a book that's hard to put down.

11) How long does it take to write a book?

Each book is different. "Last Chance Summer" took a year, while "RanVan the Defender" took three. "Drive" took only seven months but I had been thinking about the story for five years.

12) Who or what do you read?

As a young person I devoured books, moving into adult fiction at about the age of 12. (There weren't that many good YA books at the time!) Currently I read mostly non-fiction -- spiritual awareness, personal account stories, biographies. Like many writers, I don't usually read others' books in my own genre, because I don't want to subconsciously steal an idea or a style.

13/14) No, in fact it would have the opposite effect. I don't mean this in an egotistical way, but I am devoted to my own ideas; it's important to me to walk my own path. I am influenced by people I meet, as well as film and theatre and art. I am inspired by artists who take risks -- whatever the genre-- who push the boundaries looking for insight, instead of recycling what is already accepted.

15) When did you first want to be a writer?

I think I always knew I wanted to be an artist of some kind; as a child I didn't know any authors lived in my country, so I didn't consider it to be an option. After working in media -- copywriting, feature writing -- I wrote my first short stories and finally my first novel. That experience was electric: at the end of "Last Chance Summer" I thought, I LOVE this!

16) Why do you write for young adults?

I write about young adults because that was such a vivid, thrilling And frightening time of my life. I made mistakes and had experiences I wouldn't trade for anything. So much happens in a short space of time -- your understanding of the world can change in a weekend. And I believe we each continue to carry that young person inside us, someone vulnerable and brash, full of angst and hope.

17) How long did it take you to get published?

I was very fortunate with my first novel. Just as I was finishing "Last Chance Summer" I received a letter from a publisher who had seen my short stories.They asked if I had anything longer. Boy, did I! After many revisions, the book was published.

18) Do you know the direction of the book before you finish it?

When I write, I have a loose idea of the direction I'm going in, but it's always an emotional moment when I can see that climactic scene. Usually I veeroff my original course in some interesting way and I like the finished story far more than my first idea. When characters get up and run on their own, in their own directions, it's the most exciting thing in the world.

19) Are you contacted by the kids who read your books?

Since many of my readers are male teens, they don't contact me directly, but I hear heartwarming stories from teachers and librarians. Guys who hate to read will read my books -- that's a thrill. A librarian in Ontario, Canada, told me that my book "Bad Boy" was the one most often stolen from the library. She said, "Some of the kids just need to have it that badly." I consider than an honour.

20) Any Suggestions that would help a new writer?

For beginning writers, I suggest: Keep a journal and write in it every day. It "turns on the tap", the flow of thoughts and ideas. Don't write about what you know -- write about what you CARE about, what interests and intrigues you. Watch people and listen to their stories; it's your greatest source of research. If you don't know the beginning of a story, start in the middle or any other part of it you can see; stories often come together like patchwork quilts. Try to love your characters, even the ones who behave badly. Forgive yourself every day for not being brilliant or perfect -- and keep writing. No matter what, keep writing.


I am very pleased with the results of the interview, Diana was wonderful in her openness to the questions and how she writes her books. She was very insightful when it came to the questions about technique and What she would recommend young author and teens to do if they have the inspiration to become writers. She is an author who is willing to help young adult see another point of view, and is able to open new world to them, like foster care and it's effects on young people. I liked how she reflected on her books in the interview rather then focusing on one novel, by doing this we are able to see her true writing process and how she is able to write for the teen male audience. She is an author that I would strongly recommend to young male readers. She is able to write to this audience with a sense of who they are as teens and is able to relate to these readers through a male protagonist and is able to do it in a positive manner. She is able to provide the teen with a sense of adventure.

Page compiled in part by: Lisa Kowalski

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