I’ve met Diny through a mutual author friend and have invited her to be my guest this week. She has kindly agreed to a 4Q interview and is sharing an excerpt from Crime and Cremation.
She is an author, a poet, a writer of stuff, an editor and offers a variety of author services. Her website tells us about her role as an author. She also publishes a blog that is full of valuable information for writers and people wanting to write. Altogether, a busy and motivating lady.
Diny was born in Switzerland, but returned to England before she was a year old. As a child, her father frequently brought home new and interesting (and often quite unusual) books for her, which instilled an absolute fascination and love of books. She was too distracted to be much good at school, but remembered her English teacher once telling her, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you can’t write,” which is something that has stayed with her, although she only started to take her writing seriously about six years ago and didn’t even tell her friends that she wrote poetry (despite writing poems on commission for people from all over the world!).
Diny stopped work as an IT trainer to move to the coast and have her three daughters. She was a home-educating mum to all three children, but now has only one still home-educating, which has finally given her a little bit of time to concentrate on being a Teen/YA author, creative writing teacher and spooky story-teller.
She also suffers (like Lady Gaga – but that, alas is where the similarity ends) from Fibromyalgia (having been diagnosed over twenty years ago), which means that pain is a constant partner in all that she does, but she feels that is part of her motivation for keeping going and not letting the pain stop her.
4Q: Let’s start off with your latest project. You’ve completed Book 1 & 2 of A Creative Writing Course. Please tell us what this is about and how it came to be.
DVK: In my previous role as an IT trainer, I wrote a lot of courses and course material, so when I started to teach Creative Writing at a local community hub, I naturally wrote a lot of material, which I realised would make a great book. I decided each book should be in the form of a 12-week course because that seem like a doable challenge for anyone who really wants to get into writing. Book 3 will be out soon, as soon as I have collated the rest of my course notes together.
DVK: I have always been fascinated by the paranormal, having had several
|Photo credit: Everything Ghosts.co.uk|
spooky experiences in the past and when I had the chance, I went on a ghost hunt at the very famously haunted Michelham Priory, where I had some seriously weird experiences and ended up joined the company who ran it. I know run up to 12 ghost hunts a year at haunted venues around Sussex as well as performing in theatrical ghost story events; one of which I wrote entirely in rhyming couplets and is performed by several professional actors (and me) in our local theatre.
Despite spending a lot of time alone in very dark and possibly haunted theatres, Napoleonic forts and ancient houses, I am still terrified of the dark, so I always carry at least 4 torches at any one time, just in case the batteries go in one of them.
4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.
DVK: Sadly, I just lost my father to cancer at Christmas and one memory that keeps coming back to me is of accompanying him to London to visit design exhibitions as quite a young child. My dad was a silversmith and taught furniture design, and I seem to recall that I was often the only child at these events, but I don’t think that ever bothered me.
4Q: You have two novels published at present. The first, – Freen: The First Truth and the second – Crime and Cremation. The first written for teens, the second for older teens and adults. Can you give us a brief synopsis of each?
Crime and Cremation
It is the summer holidays and Louella and Emily have finished school, are bored and broke. Nineteen-year-old Emily’s parents have gone away on vacation leaving her and Louella at home. Worried that someone is creeping into their house at night, they bring best-friend Harry over to stay too and hatch a cunning plan to catch whoever is breaking in. However, the plan backfires and they end up accidentally killing the pervert, who they discover is about to collect a large bag of cash. Faced with the stark choice of a prison sentence for manslaughter, or covering up the crime by burning the body in Harry’s uncle’s crematorium and collecting the perverts stash – they opt for the latter, which leads to them believing they can rid the world of more criminals and make money in doing so. Unfortunately, this leads to them becoming involved with a criminal gang, Satanists, fraudsters and a very dodgy policeman. Can they get away with both the cash and their lives, and can Louella make any money blogging about their exploits?
FREEN: the First Truth
Gem is sent to an expensive boarding school where she quickly makes friends with Lana and Nooshi. All is going well, but then she loses her precious heirloom necklace in the school grounds. When she and her friends creep out in the middle of the night to look for her necklace, they are drawn into the woods by a mysterious light and discover a tiny door, high in the trees with a strange message. Then the girls discover another girl, Ember has an identical necklace to Gem – and so has archaeologist Cessi, who is doing a dig on the school grounds.
Cessi already knows that the necklaces mean something, and she enlists the girls’ help to discover more about the necklaces and a strange connection to famous novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The more the girls investigate the necklaces, the more strange things seem to happen at the school. More strange lights beckon the girls into the woods, and they are drugged and taken to an underground world and the truth about the necklaces is revealed.
The problem is, the truth is about who they are. The girls believe that the truth must be told to everyone, but the problem is that there are a lot of people who don’t want the world to know.
As things escalate, Ember is kidnapped and taken to Austria and the girls, together with Cessi and her friends Jack and Mac must rescue her, before heading to Michigan in the USA where a conference of high-powered celebrities is going to be revealing the truth.
The question is, should they stop it, as requested by the Earth-Freen Alliance or let the truth be told?
4Q: If you were to write a biography of anyone you choose, who would it be and why?
DVK: I would write a biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – without a doubt (although I certainly wouldn’t be the first). I have a picture of him and Harry Houdini on my desk and I am utterly fascinated by him, for his writing, his spiritualism and his intelligence and sporting prowess – he really was a man of so many talents and if he was still alive, I would be following his every move on social media.
My favourite poem – although really it isn’t a great poem, is ‘A Parable’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is a poem about cheese-mites of all things, but it shows that the man had great wit and deep thought.
4Q: Tell us about your “author services”.
DVK: Well, I didn’t exactly intend to be offering ‘author services’, but as an ex-IT consultant, I found it quite easy to self-published my own books and then ended up helping lots of the members of my writing group to publish theirs too. Word got out and I have ended up being employed by lots of other local authors to self-publishing their books too, which led me to also offering editing services, which I particularly love doing. However, it stops me from writing my own books (but it does help to pay the bills).
4Q: What’s next for Diny, the author & poet?
DVK: I have just released some early literacy activity books called ‘Letter Detectives’ and am in the middle of writing a follow-up to FREEN, called BA. I have the third Creative Writing book to finish, an illustrated poem that I commissioned seven paintings for to produce and I am about to start producing some writing and education related podcasts with my husband. That is between educating my daughter and editing and publishing other people’s books.
It is a good job that I don’t sleep much!
4Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
DVK: I would like to say to anyone who wants to be a writer, but doesn’t believe they are good enough – none of us are to begin with, but that is the beauty of writing, it is a craft that can be learned and everyone improves with practice, so keep writing.
An Excerpt from Novella: Crime and Cremation
Chapter: Death by Bed
(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)
I am still ridiculously nervous about the whole thing but, never-the-less, agree that it is our duty to stop this pervert and potentially save future victims from terrible fates.
For the next few days, nothing happens, no intrusions, nothing but, on Wednesday, I have the funniest feeling that this will be the night, so I tell the others, which makes Louella incredibly anxious all day. It turns out that my intuition is spot on!
We wait until really late to go to bed, to reduce the chances of falling asleep on the job. Louella promises not to pick up her book, in case she gets lost in another fantasy and Harry has brought a gun from home. I freak out, but he explains that it’s a replica and only shoots pellets. Louella says she thinks he looks hot with a gun - I’ve never seen Harry look so pleased.
At eleven fifty-seven we are in our places, wide-awake and ready.
At one-twenty I drop off to sleep, aided by the large glass of whiskey I self-administered before bed.
At two-thirty-six I wake with a jolt as my bed collapses. I assume it must be an accident, but then a torch-light blinds me and Harry pulls me off the bed. He points the torch downward and I follow its beam then scream at the sight of the flabby, pale, limp arm poking out from under my broken bed. It isn’t moving.
“Oh my god, oh my god,” I grab onto Harry, who looks as bloodless as a cast member of ‘Twilight’. Louella is stood in the doorway, doing a great impression of a goldfish.
“Has anyone called the police,” I shakily enquire.
Evidently neither Louella nor Harry can speak as they both mutely shake their heads.
I gather my tattered nerves together and tentatively poke the arm with Harry’s torch. Nothing. I push it and prod it, again, nothing. Then I whack it really, really hard with the torch but it doesn’t even flinch.
“I think he must have passed out.”
More mute nodding.
“Here, Harry, give me the ropes.”
Harry looks at me, realising what is on my mind and starts to balk at the idea but, I grab the ropes from him and proceed to tie one end around the perv’s wrist.
“Harry, Louella, you need to lift the bed, I’ll truss him up while you hold the bed up then we can drag him out and call the police.”
Louella remains in the doorway, not moving.
“Quickly, before he wakes up and gets himself out,” I shriek.
That pushes her into action. I get ready with the ropes and also grab the baseball bat I keep next to the bed, in-case he starts to stir. The bed rises slowly to reveal an unattractive man none of us recognise. He is solid, about fifty and wearing the kind of grubby tracksuit bottoms that only the most unfit men wear. His sneakers are in good condition but splattered with white paint and his t-shirt is probably from a supermarket. All-told not a fine specimen of a man.
I squeeze under the bed and tie his limp and surprisingly heavy arms together. Harry passes me the second rope and I wrap it round his legs all the way up to his thighs, threading the end of it through his arms and securing it with four knots. I step back to admire my handy-work, then take the end of the bed from Harry who, after a lot of over-exaggerated huffing and puffing, pulls the trussed-up body out from under it, where we can now survey him on my fluffy, pink rug.
“He looks like a pervert,” observes Harry.
“Why can’t they ever be cute?” I moan.
“And have good hygiene,” adds Louella, wafting her hand around her head.
“I’ll call the police,” says Harry.
“Wait just a minute,” I say, noticing a bump in his trousers. I kneel down to investigate and pull a thickly stuffed, cheap plastic wallet from his pocket. “Oh my god, there must be five hundred pounds in here!”
Harry grabs the wallet from me and pulls out a driving licence. Apparently our man is called Harvey J Goodlington and he lives just a couple of streets away. There are a couple of credit cards in the same name and two in the name of Asnat Fosnittar. Harry tips the rest of the wallet out onto the bed and another driving licence falls onto my covers in the name of Hans Gubner; it would appear that our perv’ had more than one identity.
“I bet he’s already wanted by the police,” says Louella.
“Do you think we should keep the money, as a fee for catching him?” I suggest.
“Put twenty back, they’ll be suspicious if there’s nothing in it,” says Harry.
“Oh, I had no idea you had such a criminal mind,” gushes Louella.
I guess it’s true that crime turns people on. A phone vibrates, making us a jump out of our skin.
“It’s coming from underneath him, from his back pocket,” Harry rolls him over to retrieve it.
Harry tries to pass the phone to me, “Don’t be an idiot, I’m hardly going to sound like some fat bloke - you answer it.”
Harry puts the phone to his ear and presses the button. He grunts a deep sounding ‘Yeah’ into the mouthpiece, which seems an adequate response to the person on the other end. Cleverly, Harry switches the speaker on and we all hear the gruff voice on the other end.
“Bud, you are in deep shit, Franko and Lena are blaming you for getting that bastard cop onto us, she reckons you got drunk and spilled too much info - reckon you aughta just get out of town. The boss wants your head – Hans, you hearing me?”
Harry grunts another deep affirmative.
“Okay buddy, I got a plan – gunna do you the biggest favour you ever been done in your sorry life, only ‘cos I owe you – I’m gunna put my arse on the line and retrieve some of the cash so you can make a new start, Franko doesn’t know there’s cash in the haul, so I can swipe fifteen, he won’t miss it. I’ll leave it at Jackson’s, under the booth at the end, pick it up when you get your coffee at half-ten – don’t be late or some other lucky bastard will find it – you got that?” Harry grunted again, “and don’t be early either, I can’t afford to be seen with you,” and the phone went dead.
“Wow Harry, class acting skills there,” I compliment.
“Fifteen-thousand pounds,” muses Louella.
The cogs in my brain start to whirr, “Fifteen-thousand pounds is a lot of money,” I look at Louella and Harry.
“No way, don’t even think about it,” Harry looks horrified.
“We could do it, we just caught a real, live, potential killer – hell, we could be like a teen-crime fighting unit – Jessica Fletcher and the Scoobies.”
“Which Scoobies? The ones from ‘Scooby-doo’ or the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Scoobies?” asks Louella, “cos if there’s a choice between Buffy and Daphne, I’d rather be Buffy.”
“I think I’d rather be Shaggy than Xander, although I’m not sure there’s much difference, other than the dog,” adds Harry.
“Oh my god,” groans Louella, staring down at our flabby perv’, “I think he’s stopped breathing.”
Harry and I kneel down and try to see if his chest is moving, then Harry grabs the guy’s wrist and feels for a pulse, he shakes his head, “He’s a gonner.”
We all sit back for a moment, not sure what to do.
“Tea,” I suggest. My mother always says important decisions should be made over a pot of tea, so we head down to the kitchen and make a one.
Louella is shaking and Harry is looking perplexed. I’m actually feeling rather hyped – after all, we just took down a dangerous criminal and now we are going to cash in on the mother-lode.
“Shouldn’t we phone the police?” asks Louella.
“I guess so,” agrees Harry.
My mind is whirring with ideas and a niggling worry that we may actually get in trouble for killing the bloke, even though it wasn’t our intention. I have an idea, “Do you think they’ll accuse us of murdering him?” I tentatively suggest.
Louella’s face drains of all blood and her mouth does the goldfish thing again. Harry takes advantage of her vulnerability and slings his arm around her shoulders, “It was an accident - we only meant to capture him.”
“So man-slaughter then?”
“Shit no, Em,” descries Harry.
“It’s possible,” I counter, “after all; we did set a trap that we should have known had the potential to cause serious injury or death.”
“But they couldn’t blame us, could they?” Louella whispers.
“I think they could, don’t you Harry?”
He shrugs nonchalantly but his downcast eyes answer ‘yes’.
“Oh Em! What do we do?” cries Louella.
“Harry can get rid of a body – can’t you?” I stare pointedly at the poor lad.
It takes him a moment to catch on, “No way… my uncle would never allow it.”
“But you know how to work a cremator?”
“And you could borrow one of the vans?”
He nods again.
“Yes,” I fold my arms and try to look like I mean business, “you can sneak one of your uncle’s vans, collect the body, take it to the crematorium and toast it before anyone realises he’s missing, then tomorrow, we go to the café and collect the cash. It’s a perfect plan.”
Harry looks at Louella and I can actually see the cogs in their brains trying to assimilate my words.
“Fifteen grand is a lot of money and we would be doing the world a favour by getting rid of this scumbag,” says Harry.
“Do you really think we could get away with it,” asks Louella, her eyes wide and Bambi-ish.
I nod confidently.
Harry nods back. Thirty minutes later he arrives at the house with one of his uncle’s vans and just before dawn cranks up the daylight, we heave the body into it. Two hours later, the evidence is a pile of ash and we are back in my living room. Harry has to be back at the crematorium in two hours and the money needs to be collected in four, so we simply sit and stare glaze-eyed at the news channel until one-by-one, we doze off.
Harry wakes with a start as his phone rings in his pocket, “Shit! It’s my uncle.”
He answers the phone and gets it in the neck for being late.
“Did he notice anything suspicious?” I ask.
“He didn’t say anything, he’s just pissed because we’ve got four cremations to do today and he needs me there ASAP,” says Harry.
“Well we’d better work out where Jacksons is,” says Louella, looking relieved.
t is held by the author. Used with permission)
Thank you, Diny, for being my guest this week and your thought-provoking answers. Wishing you much success in your writing journey.
For you wonderful readers and visitors wanting to discover more about Diny, her writing, author services and where to buy her books, please follow these links:
Author website: https://www.dinyfvk.co.uk/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DinyvK/
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