Describe your book.
The book I am promoting is my first novel. It is a coming-of-age story set in postwar Dallas, Texas. It’s the story of an upper-middle class family under the stress of a father with PTSD; a mother who struggles to keep everything under control and appearing normal; and an eldest child who struggles to understand what is really going on in the adult world, and the truth of how things work in the greater world, but since she hardly ever gets a straightforward answer about anything, begins to look outside in ways that aren’t always safe.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I had many favorite books as a child. There was no TV until I was about 10. The first book I read from beginning to end was Bambi.
The shock that the mother is allowed to die caused me to push through all of Felix Salten
's books in an attempt to understand. I was about seven then. After that I read Heidi
, which annoyed me because she had to stay with those boring rich people. I loved all of the Black Stallion
books, the dog books of Jack London
and Albert Payson Terhune
, the Oz books
, and many more.
When did you know you were a writer?
I first knew I was a writer in sixth grade, when Mrs. Coleman had us keep observation notebooks and write poems. Mine came easily, and soon I was writing the poems for half of the girls in class to hand in. Of course Mrs. Coleman knew this. She was a wonderful teacher in a little country school. This was before teachers had to skim through mountains of prescribed material and could pretty much teach what and how they wanted. She would read out loud to us and cry — Evangeline
, Caddie Woodlawn
, Amos Fortune, Free Man
, and I still remember her classes to this day.
I was already writing in a diary at that time, and soon after I tried to write a dog story patterned after Lad, A Dog
, but I never finished it. But that was when I realized I could write.
What does your writing workspace look like?
My workspace is a small room off of my second-floor apartment in a 100-year-old house in Brooklyn that my daughter and I bought together about 10 years ago. There is a wall of bookshelves, a small desk, other walls covered with papers, photos, clippings, etc. There is a second-floor porch off of this room, so I can step outside for a few minutes, look at the big tree and the street action, and just think about everything.
What do you care about more than most people around you?
I care about ideas, logical thinking, and history a lot more than most people. I find it absolutely tragic that these subjects are being neglected.
Tell us something you're embarrassed to admit.
I am embarrassed to admit how serious my procrastination problem is.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
by Fritz Zorn. This is an amazing book, first published (scandalously) in Switzerland and later published in the US by Knopf. A furious indictment of the psychology of the upper-class social order by a young man dying of cancer. Everyone should read it.
Besides your personal library, do you have any beloved collections?
I have a nice, small collection of work by Texan artists. Having once been an antiques dealer, I collect too many things.
What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I worked for a tutoring service in Chinatown in New York for a few years. That was incredibly interesting. Tiger moms galore! You were considered a “spoiled American” if you wanted a lunch break! I knew then that China would take over the world!
What scares you the most as a writer?
What scares me the most as a writer is either that I will be hated and punished, and someone will have a heart attack and die, or, I will be taken up and co-opted by someone else’s political agenda.
If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
The Journey: She Did What She Had to Do.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
Just about any paragraph from Housekeeping
by Marilynne Robinson, but especially one that I now cannot find describing the contents of a drawer and ending with “odd socks.”
I also love this quote from Finite and Infinite Games
by James P. Carse:
Evil is never intended as evil. Indeed the contradiction inherent in all evil is that it originates in the desire to eliminate evil. "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." Evil arises in the honored belief that history can be tidied up, brought to a sensible conclusion. It is evil to act as though the past is bringing us to a specifiable end....It is evil for a nation to believe it is the "last, best hope on earth." It is evil to think history is to end with a return to Zion, or with the classless society, or with the Islamicization of all living infidels. Your history does not belong to me. We live with each other in a common history.
Share a sentence of your own that you're particularly proud of.
I’m proud of this one:
But I knew I wouldn’t think about it, but would wait until they were gone to their dinner party at some other ready-to-be-photographed-for-House-Beautiful-type house, me babysitting and waiting until dark outside — and all the Shasta daisies white ghosts of flowers in the dark — to go out and turn on the pool light, to there find a giant spotted-golden bullfrog come up from the creek where he used to swim flat out for miles, but now he was trapped in the glowing, undulating, bluer-than-blue pool, powerful legs pumping and stretching to coast the blue width and length — pushing off from one side and then the other, from one end and then the other, stirring the whole pool and all the leaves and doodlebugs into whirlpools on all sides of his repeated, frantic, trapped path, back and forth and up and down, with no place to get a leg up, banging back and forth — that bullfrog, leapfrog, frog-in-the-throat — pushing off the deep, then the shallow, then the deep, then the shallow, ranging the shape and size of the pool, being the shape and size of the pool, forgetting that there was ever anything else but the shape and size of the pool.
Describe a recurring dream.
My dreams are almost always a vivid technicolor, depicting an emergency that only I can solve. There are many obstacles and a time limit, and I wake up sweating before anything is resolved.
What's your biggest grammatical pet peeve?
My biggest grammatical pet peeve is incorrect use of apostrophe-s ('s), especially when used for a simple plural. This is rampant, even among the educated, even in scholarly or serious works, and is always shocking to me because I know there must have been an instant of uncertainty. Why don’t they just look it up?
Name a guilty pleasure you partake in regularly
TV, ice cream, and funny videos of infant and/or animal behavior. I love to sing karaoke, but don’t feel guilty about that.
What's the best advice you’ve ever received?
Pay attention to the way a man talks to his mother, because that’s the way he’s going to talk to you.
My mother told me that.
The man that you would want wouldn’t want you now.
This was told to me in a letter from a Catholic priest when I was about 18. We had an ongoing correspondence for some years because he was always trying to convince me of the existence of God. And I liked him and enjoyed the argument. Of course back then I didn’t understand this and took it as a kind of insult, but now after marriages, divorces, children, etc., I certainly do get it.
Write a question of your own, then answer it.
Q: What drives you?
A: Two things: curiosity and the desire to make everything right for my children and grandchildren. And those two things have often contradicted one another.
Top Five Books That Have Been of Use to Me in a "Lifetime Journey" Kind of Way.
1. The Denial of Death
by Ernest Becker
2. Finite and Infinite Games
by James P. Carse
3. The Loser
by Thomas Bernhard
4. A Room of One’s Own
by Virginia Woolf
by Marilynne Robinson
÷ ÷ ÷
A fifth-generation Texan, Diane DeSanders
is a history buff, theater lover, poet, mother, and grandmother. Between careers as a history teacher and antiques dealer, she has worked in regional theater in almost every capacity. She now writes, gardens, and sings in Brooklyn, New York. Hap and Hazard and the End of the World
is her first novel.