Imagination, persistence spark author’s debut novel
September 25, 2013
By Neil Pierson
Having the discipline to write every day wasn’t something Diana Lanham mastered overnight: From start to finish, it took Lanham four-and-a-half years to complete her 416-page fantasy debut, “House of Aegea.”
Personal circumstances weren’t in her favor as she struggled to find time to write. Now 48, she’s the single mother of a 10-year-old daughter. To get the book moving, she had to carve out time in life’s “nooks and crannies,” namely early in the morning and late at night. When her daughter Gabby was away, she spent entire weekends in front of her laptop.
Lanham, who has lived in Sammamish for three years, also said she went off on many different tangents before coalescing the novel into its final form.
“This story that I ended up with is not the story I started with at all,” she said.
“House of Aegea” follows a mermaid clan known as the Dauphine. The early portions of the book explain their origin, which Lanham was determined to make unique, and eventually gets into the major conflict they’re having with a rival clan. As the author phrases it, the book is “a classic story of good versus evil.”
Lanham, a self-described lover of action movies, said she wrote the book with “Lord of the Rings” fans in mind. There are several battle sequences that might appeal to them. But she also drew from a softer, feminine side that is grounded in the chats she likes to have with her mother and sisters. Hopefully, she said, the romance aspects that seep into the book aren’t too “fluffy.”
Friends who’ve read the book have posted their comments on Lanham’s Facebook page, and the novel began gaining more critical acclaim earlier this month when it was listed on Amazon.com.
“It’s all about creating a buzz,” Lanham said. “And to be honest, I don’t even mind if there’s a bad review. … It’s out there and it’s like, if I didn’t want people to read it and comment, I shouldn’t have written the book.”
Feedback on Amazon.com has been limited, but positive.
“This story is a frothy swirl of modern mermaids … with humor and romance and mystery that takes you into a world like you’ve never imagined,” one review stated. “The characters are full of witty repartee and cool sensibility as they deal with the fantastic creatures they have lived among for centuries.”
“I found the story to be well-written and I read three-quarters of it in one sitting,” another review said. “It was very engrossing and the characters tug at your heart as the inevitable battle takes its toll.”
Lanham’s mermaids also deal with religion. As the story unfolds, the Dauphine do what they can to protect their goddess while also preparing for the arrival of a new deity, which happens every few millennia.
The battle with their rivals, which has also been going on for ages, is spawning Lanham’s possible sequel. Tentatively titled, “The Cradle of the White Lotus,” she plans to start working on it in October with hopes of finishing in two years.
A second book shouldn’t be as difficult, she feels, because she’s already created the world and its major protagonists.
“I’m just a better writer now,” she added.
Lanham’s full-time job is with Starbucks, where she works to keep the company’s supply chain moving smoothly. While her life is hectic and keeps her from reading as much as she’d like, she’s been influenced by a wide variety of authors throughout the course of her life – from Anne McCaffrey and Louis L’Amour to Clive Cussler, Stephen King and J.K. Rowling.
However, she has also found enjoyment in self-published authors who, like herself, haven’t turned themselves into household names.
“I’m really trying to read indie stuff, and there’s so many great self-published authors out there that are so good,” Lanham said.
Meet the author
Diana Lanham will be reading from her book ‘House of Aegea’ and signing copies from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E. in Lake Forest Park.