Reviews new!
Signings new!
Author | Illustrator
BookInfo


Pomology is the science of growing apples.

Play Firegold Archery!
Shoot as many falling apples as you can!


What's next for Jonathon?
Tell us what you think happens

Read Firegold
Read the first two chapters.


Apples & More
The National Archery Association

 

Author Interview:
Find out more about Dia Calhoun, her writing career,
and news about her next books.
Photo Album:
See the view from Dia's writing studio overlooking Puget Sound, the orchard that inspired FIREGOLD, and a photo of her fishy hobby.
Behind the Scenes:
Ever wonder how authors write great books like FIREGOLD? Follow the evolution of one small part of the book from first draft through final draft and you'll see how much work it really takes.
Contact Dia Calhoun:
Go ahead, don't be shy! Ask Dia Calhoun a question or let her know how you liked the book. Your questions or comments might be posted here for other fans to see.




From her Puget Sound studio, Dia Calhoun spoke with us about her writing career, FIREGOLD, and life in general— read on to get the scoop!

What did you do before you became a professional writer?

I was a freelance lettering and logo artist. I did lettering for book jackets, for example.

Anything we might have seen?

Well, I did the logo for Alaska Airlines, so if you've seen an Alaska Airlines plane, you've seen my work!

How about when you were younger?

I freelanced right out of college. Before that, from age five to seventeen, I trained to be a classical ballet dancer, which is a very serious commitment. It basically came down to a choice— continue dancing, or go to college. I chose college.

What made you switch from design to writing?

I always knew I wanted to write— in fact, I knew in the second grade that's what I wanted to do. I won some awards in college, and then at age twenty-seven, I started writing for one hour each day. I had more time to write after getting established in my design career, and it just evolved from there.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Robin McKinley, Katherine Paterson, and Francis Temple are some of my favorite writers for children and young adults. As far as adult books, definitely Ursula Hegi. Stones from the River is one of the best novels I've ever read. And I love Jane Austen.

What's the first thing you remember writing?

The first thing? I do remember a 5th grade poem called "Our Classroom Flag." It was truly terrible, but it rhymed! I never really found my stride until I tried novels. Everyone says to start with short stories but I'm just not a short story person— I'm too long-winded. I like to weave lots of threads together. My first novel was a middle grade novel; I wrote it after the space shuttle crash. It's about a 6th grade girl who plays violin, and the crash has a profound effect on her.

What inspired you to write FIREGOLD?

Almost everything I write comes from a single impression or image; it starts from one little thing. For FIREGOLD, that thing was a memory I've had from childhood, a memory of standing beside a river and having that creepy feeling of being watched. My husband's family owns a commercial orchard. I was there one day, heard the river roaring in the distance and thought— aha! That one memory started the whole book.

Why did you choose to write for a young audience?

I never set out to purposefully write for young adults, it just emerged. What really interests me is the whole coming-of-age idea. I firmly believe that we are all in a constant state of transformation, and teens go through an enormous change in a  short amount of time. I find that process fascinating.

What draws you to fantasy in particular?

With fantasy there's more of a range for the imagination, and that's one of my strong suits. I feel that I have a pretty good link to the unconscious, so it's natural for me to write fantasy. Also, fantasy is a way of talking about serious issues while being removed from them at the same time— so in a way, it's easier to entice readers to look at them.

What's a typical work day for you?

I write best in the morning, usually from 9:00 to noon or 1:00. I need a solid chunk of time. Then I'll keep going one or two hours after lunch, and usually I'll work on research or publicity in the afternoons. When I was finishing FIREGOLD, I wrote for ten hours a day! Too much. But I average around five hours. I work in a loft studio over a friend's garage; it's on ten acres overlooking Puget Sound. I have a great big oa k desk and a view of the waterfront. I write, listen to the birds, often take walks on the beach when I'm stuck— it's fabulous.

What do you do when you're not writing?

I go fly-fishing. Or hiking and camping in the Cascade Mountains, or we'll go over to the orchard. We're outdoors people. I also do Sumi painting, which is a type of Japanese brush painting.

Can you tell us a bit about your family?

I don't have any kids, but I do have a fairy goddaughter— Anna. She's the daughter of the people who own my loft, and she visits every day after school. My husband, Shawn, makes custom cabinetry. We live in Tacoma, which is about twenty miles from Seattle, but we're planning to move out to the country next summer. The final question!

What are you working on now?

A prequel to FIREGOLD, set about 400 years earlier. It's from the point of view of Jenn, a servant girl who works at Greengard Orchard, and it's about how Jonathon's Dalriada ancestor got into the family. That's in the third draft, and then I have a sequel to the dancing book in my head, so that's what I'll be doing next.

Did you use any of the people in your life as characters for FIREGOLD?

I better not answer that! No, that's much more true of my upcoming book, a fantasy which draws on my experiences in ballet.


Dia Calhoun is available for author events in the Seattle/Tacoma, Washington area. She can sign books, do readings, or make a presentation ("Gates, Gigapets, and the Golden Arches: How to Use Your Fantasy Toolbox to Create a Fantasy Story"). If you're interested in having Dia Calhoun visit your school, library or bookstore, 
click here to e-mail Winslow Press.

[ back to the top ]




Check out these snapshots of Dia Calhoun's studio, the real orchard behind Firegold, and her first catch as a fly-fisherperson.

The orchard that started
it all!
This is where Dia does
her writing...
The view from
her studio
Dia's lettering handwork 
takes to the skies!
What a catch!
[ back to the top ]



How long do you think it takes to write a few paragraphs?

Sometimes it comes out perfect the first time around, but more often it takes a lot more work than you'd think! Author and editor both put in many hours of editing and rewriting before a book is ready for publication. Follow the editing process between Dia Calhoun and her Editor, Glenn Pudelka, on a small section of FIREGOLD. Here they're trying to find the best term to define "Atenar."

1st Draft

"What is Atenar?" Jonathon asked Kiron glared at him. "It means foster-brother. Now be silent." Foster-brother? Jonathon thought, horrified. Kiron was the last person he would want for a brother! What was Tlell thinking? Elanae caressed the bow as though it were a kitten. Then she stared at Jonathon, dipping her head from side to side as though in rhythm to some song that only she heard. Editor comments: ("foster" is circled) Better word? Mountain-brother?

2nd Draft

"What does Atenar mean?" Jonathon asked Kiron glared at him. "It means mountain-brother. Now be silent." Mountain-brother? Jonathon thought, horrified. Kiron was the last person he would want for a brother. What was Tlell thinking? Elanae caressed the bow as though it were a kitten. She stared at Jonathon, dipping her head from side to side as though in rhythm to a song that only she heard.

3rd Draft

"What does Atenar mean?" Jonathon asked Kiron glared at him. "It means foster-brother. Now be 

silent." Foster-brother? Jonathon thought, horrified. Kiron was the last person he would want for a brother. What was Tlell thinking? Elanae caressed the bow as if it were a kitten. She stared at Jonathon, dipping her head from side to side as though in rhythm to a song that only she heard.

Author comments: Mountain-brother doesn't work for me. I'm trying to think of an alternative. I don't think Jonathon would have such a strong reaction to mountain-brother. He might not know its significance. Editor comments: Okay, but foster-brother doesn't really work for me. Foster-brothers I don't think are absolutely close. The importance isn't there for me.

4th Draft

"What does Atenar mean?" Jonathon asked Kiron glared at him. "It means Hart-brother. Now be silent." Hart-brother? Jonathon thought, horrified. Kiron was the last person he would want for a brother. What was Tlell thinking? Elanae caressed the bow as if it were a kitten. She stared at Jonathon, dipping her head from side to side as though in rhythm to a song that only she heard. Author comments: How about Hart-brother after Red Hart and heart? Would definitely imply closeness. Editor comments: YES! YES! YES!

Final Draft

"What does Atenar mean?" Jonathon asked Kiron glared at him. "It means Hart brother. Now be silent." Hart brother? Jonathon thought, horrified. Kiron was the last person he would want for a brother. What was Tlell thinking? Elanae caressed the bow as if it were a kitten. She stared at Jonathon, dipping her head from side to side as though in rhythm to a song that only she heard. Author comments: (thanks!) Hart Brother Hart-brother— capital H? Hyphen? I think Hart must be cap. Editor comments: Two words, no hyphen. Hart brother; lowercase b.

[ back to the top ]



Are you Dia Calhoun's #1 fan? Got a burning question about FIREGOLD that we didn't answer on this site?   For those who would prefer to write her a letter, here's her address:

Dia Calhoun
c/o Winslow Press 
770 E. Atlantic Ave.
Suite 201 
Delray Beach, FL 33483

Send Dia a fan e-mail at FiregoldDC@aol.com.

[ back to the top ]