Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Author Diane J. Reed Talks About Robin in the Hood

It’s my pleasure to welcome Diane J. Reed, a new-to-me author, to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about her latest release, Robin in the Hood, a YA romance.

Here’s a brief synopsis of Robin in the Hood:
15-year-old Robin McArthur thinks she has it all figured out when it comes to bilking her wealthy dad for guilt money as a substitute for his genuine affection. Until one day he suffers a stroke, and she learns the brutal truth.
     They’re broke.
     And everyone from bankers to bookies has lined up in her dad’s hospital room to collect.
     His only saving grace is what he reveals to Robin in between drools: He truly does love her, in spite of all his mistakes.
     Panicked and desperate, Robin figures she has two choices. Either surrender to the pestering caseworker and live in a skanky foster home, or take a chance and sneak her dad out of the hospital to make a run for it. Little does she know that stealing a car and hitting the road means that before the day is through, she will rob her first bank.
     Now an outlaw, Robin finds a backwoods trailer park to hide her dad from authorities. There, she encounters Creek, a local bad boy who also commits crimes to provide for their motley neighbors. Realizing she could use Creek’s help, Robin proposes an ingenious plan—they should team up to rob banks together. But when their partnership leads to a romance that turns Robin’s whole world upside down, she soon begins to discover that people are more precious than pocketbooks, and real love means opening your heart to the kinds of treasures money can’t buy . . .
    This YA novel is an edgy romantic-adventure with magical elements (the trailer park turns out to be enchanted) where the main character Robin learns that people are more precious than pocketbooks and true love means opening your heart to the kinds of treasures money can't buy.

Diane has graciously answered some questions for me. 

Mason - What draws you to write YA romance?

Diane - When I came up with the character of Robin, a 15-year-old student at a private boarding school, I just loved the idea of describing someone whose whole life is ahead of her (which is one of the hallmarks of writing about teenagers in YAs). In Robin's case, she's come to a crossroads in her life—her family's now broke and her father's disabled—so there's really no one to take care of her anymore! She has to grow up fast and make all her own choices. But on the positive side, she gets to put her hands directly on the steering wheel of her life—every decision she now makes is her totally own and no one else's. 

I thought it would be fun to see what Robin chooses to do with her new-found freedom after running away from boarding school and hiding her father from authorities at the trailer park, where she can take care of him. Her father has lost his ability to speak due to a stroke, so suddenly there's no one to tell her not to go out at night, when to get her homework done, or not to have sex with boys! Robin gets to make her own decisions based on what she sees as right. But first she has to get money to survive, and since she's only 15 and can't get a "regular" job, for her that means robbing banks . . .

Mason - The cover for your latest release, Robin in the Hood, is lovely. Did you design it or have any input into its creation?

Diane - I sure did! My husband and I designed that cover entirely by ourselves, just like my last novel Twixt. I've tried using cover artists before, but I'm super picky about covers—because I DO buy books based on how they look! A gorgeous cover totally reels me in, so it was important to me that the images on my book evoke the tone of the story that the reader is about to enter.

Mason - What made this story so compelling to you that you had to tell it?

Diane - I grew up in an ordinary, middle-class family surrounded by massively wealthy neighbors, and I'll never forget how sad so many of those teenage girls were. It was not uncommon for wealthy girls to ask me to stay overnight at my house for extendedRobinInTheHood (2) periods because their parents had jetted off across the world somewhere and left them with no one to take care of them! And the frightening thing is that these girls didn't even know me very well—they just needed a couch to sleep on and hoped for a warm meal. That's when I realized that these were "emotional orphans"—kids who were being raised by toxically ambitious and self-absorbed parents who never gave them the time of day. 

For most, it was a matter of time before they got strung out on drugs or crashed their brand new cars into trees. I learned never to be jealous of their wealth and to value the kinds of things money can't buy: especially genuine love and loyalty. With Robin in the Hood, I wanted to tell the truth about those girls' worlds and explore what might happen if a teenage girl got a chance to break away from that culture & forge authentic bonds with people who truly care about her. And, of course, to fall in love with a hot guy who'd give his life for her . . .

Mason - With the book’s release, as you look back what was the biggest surprise that occurred in writing the story?

Diane - Ooh, it's hard not to insert spoilers here, but I think the biggest surprise to me is how deep and sensitive Creek turned out to be (Robin's love interest). At first he appears to be the typical bad boy from across the tracks, but his devotion and capacity for love is greater than anything Robin has ever known.

Mason - If you couldn’t write, what other career would you have?

Diane - I've worn a lot of hats in my life already, but my other fantasy career would be to be an artist Smile

Mason - As a published author, has your perspective of authors changed?

Diane - Certainly—writing is a lot of hard work, so when I see anything by people who write well, I want to stand up and shout about it from the rooftops! I admire anyone who has the courage to pursue an artistic or creative career—they are heroes in my book.

Mason - What would you say are the pluses and minuses to writing?

Diane - Oh, the pluses by far are the wonderful characters and worlds you get to create, and then the delightful people you get to meet who enjoy reading about them. The only minus I can see is that promotion and marketing of your books can get tedious and takes a lot of time and effort.

Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you?

Diane - I'm doing research now for the sequel to Robin in the Hood which takes place in beautiful Venice, Italy, where Robin and Creek go to search for her long-lost mother. It will be more of a thriller as Robin discovers the dark truths about her DeBargona ancestors . . .

Diane, thanks so much for joining us today and giving us a look at your writing. I have to agree with you, I buy books based on their cover too.

Now let me tell you a bit about Diane. She holds a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing, but don't let any of that fool you—she loves to watch trashy TV shows and still holds tea parties for her imaginary friends. Smile

For more on Diane and her writing, visit her website and find her on Facebook and Goodreads. Robin in the Hood is available in paperback at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and as an eBook on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Kobo.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have you ever thought about just how ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky’ seemingly wealthy youngsters are?


  1. Diane, thanks again for guest blogging. Your story is intriguing. I like the twist. Wishing you much success.

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Diane.

    Diane - You've got such an interesting context for this story. And I truly admire folks like yourself who write books to draw young people to reading. To me, that is so important. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  3. Very nice interview. Best of luck with Robin, Diane.

  4. Thanks for having me—it's a delight to be featured on your blog & to discuss the fun adventure of writing Robin in the Hood. Hope you enjoy it : )

  5. Emotional orphans. Very true. I do like the premise of the story and the title.

    Very nice interview, Mason and Diane!

    I love the cover, btw. well done!



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