Diana Peach is making a stop here in Chapel Hill on her whirlwind book tour of her latest book, The Necromancer’s Daughter. I decided to take her to the Carolina Coffee Shop, located in the heart of downtown, for breakfast, to give her a taste of this college town.
This coffee shop has the proud distinction of being the oldest continually running restaurant in North Carolina, serving Tar Heels for nearly a century.
After ordering their signature cornflake French toast for both of us along with coffee, I take the opportunity to find out more about her new book.
Noelle: Is there any basis for The Necromancer’s Daughter, which, by the way, I think is fabulous…no kidding!
Diana: The Necromancer’s Daughter is based on Chinese mythology and the story of Kwan-yin, which I shared in a post on my blog. For a while, I considered setting the story in a fantastical setting similar to China or Japan, employing relevant names, customs, clothing, foods, plants, and dragons. It’s a part of the world that fascinates me, and I thought it would be very cool for this story.
Noelle: So is that the book’s basis?
Diana: What I learned very early on is that the old saying “write what you know” applied. Or more accurately, “don’t write what you don’t know at all.” I realized that no amount of research was going to make me sound like I knew what I was talking about, so with the exception of some inconsequential details, I let it go. My fantasy world is simply the world in my head, and I know that one quite well.
Noelle: I do know about research, and it can be overwhelming at times…
Our French toast arrives, and after adding the usual maple syrup, I ask: Tell me about some of the quirks you’ve developed while writing. Do you have any?
Diana: I get up at 4:00 to start writing… every day. Most days, I stay in my flannel snowman pajamas and slippers for the duration. If for some reason I need to weed the garden or go to the post office, I just throw on a sweatshirt and head out.
Noelle: I don’t start at 4 AM, but I do my best writing in my robe and nightgown. What if you have to meet someone, like me, for a formal interaction?
Diana: You’re right. Sometimes, I actually need to wear grown-up clothes, so I don’t embarrass my family. If I dress before my coffee fix, while I’m still a zombie, I invariably end up wearing something inside out or backwards. I’ve left the house in this condition on a number of occasions, the little tag on my shirt flapping below my chin.
Noelle: So have you done research for any of your books?
Diana: Since you’re amazing at in-depth research, I thought I’d confess that I’m not. Lol. I research, of course, even for fantasy, but not to the depth required by historical fiction.
I can tell you how much a year-old pig weighs or how to treat an arrow wound or the sequence of human decomposition, but those are quick internet searches, not REAL research.
Noelle: How deeply do you get immersed in your writing?
Diana: I can tell you, I get fully immersed in the world I’m creating and will mirror my characters’ expressions on my face as I write. My husband can tell exactly what type of scene I’m working on just by looking at me, and he frequently asks me if I’m okay.
Noelle: How do you feel about your characters? Do they become part of you?
Diana: I believe that when we create characters, we create real energetic entities who are capable of living beyond our pages and having an impact on the world. They’re the characters we fall in love with and learn from, the ones who change us. Once created, they can’t be uncreated. We set them free to live their lives independently of us, and we never forget them. In a way, they’re just like “real” people we’ve interacted with but never met. We are all characters crafting our own stories, but if you haven’t met me, how do you know I’m real? And would it matter either way? Hmmm. There’s a premise for a book somewhere in there!
We finish our breakfast, drink two more cups of coffee, and chatter on before I let her go!
Here is my review of The Necromancer’s Daughter.
About the book
A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, breathes life into the wisp of the dead child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she, too, learns to heal death.
Denied a living heir, the widowed king spies from a distance. But he heeds the claims of the fiery Vicar of the Red Order—in the eyes of the Blessed One, Aster is an abomination, and to embrace the evil of resurrection will doom his rule.
As the king’s life nears its end, he defies the vicar’s warning and summons the necromancer’s daughter. For his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade. Armed with righteousness and iron-clad conviction, the Red Order’s brothers ride into the leas to cleanse the land of evil.
To save her father’s life, Aster travels beyond Verdane’s wall, where her pursuers must stop, into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a wilderness of dragons and barbarian tribes. She must cross this land to reach the Mountains of Blackrock, where her uncle Atrayal rules. There she hopes to persuade him to help place her on the throne of Verdane.
Unprepared for a world rife with danger and unchecked power, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—the son of the Vicar of the Red Order.
This is probably the finest fantasy novel I have ever read, right up there with Lord of the Rings. Where do I begin? Perhaps with the world itself, which is completely imaginative and creative. The author’s ability to create such worlds I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of her other books, but with this one, she has excelled even herself.
Complimenting this skill is the author’s way with words. She writes so beautifully that I often stopped to reread a page, just to enjoy the descriptions.
“…a mellow sun slanted across the meadow, turning the white swale of asters gold. A cool sea wind strayed though the garden and rustled the cherry trees. It clattered on the shutter and stole its way inside, carrying subtle fragrances of brine, chrysanthemums and chimney smoke.”
The story itself is compelling. A tale of good vs evil, with unexpected twists, set in this magical world.
Her characters are vivid: Barus with his broken body and kind heart; Taemus Graeger, Vicar of the Red Order, once a grieving father seeking the necromancer’s help, now a vicious seeker of anyone practicing witchcraft; the white-haired Aster, the still born child of the king, brought to life by Barus and determined to learn how to do this herself; Joreh Gaeger, son of the Vicar and a soldier of the Red Order, who finds himself conflicted by the Order’s holy tenets and his sense of rightness that he should help Aster when she is captured; and Teko, a huge man of the forest brought back to life by Aster. Each of these main characters display the faults and frailties, generosities and kindnesses, strengths and weaknesses, and conflictions of life that make us human…and so relatable, especially the love between father and daughter. .
Did I mention dragons! Oh, there are dragons! Used in battle by forces of Blackrock, they flew over Aster’s home and she fed one of them apples – one with shades of silver and black marbling its scales – and they establish a bond. The dragons have minds of their own, but certain people can communicate with them and Aster turns out to be one.
I could not put this book down – until my eyelids drooped – and inhaled the story like a gourmet meal. This is, I think, the best of the author’s books on so many levels, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The Necromancer’s Daughter Links:
Amazon Global Link http://a-fwd.com/asin=B0B92G7QZX
About the author:
A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.
In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.
Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.
The author can be found
On twitter: @Dwallacepeach
On her blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com
On her website: dwallacepeachbooks.com