April For Darkness Shows the Stars FAQ (and Giveaway!)

Since it’s the last day of the month, and since I’ve been a Very Bad Blogger this month, I thought I’d round things out with a little FDSTS FAQ and Giveaway.

But first, let us start with a teaser:


“Ah, here he is,” said the admiral, bounding from his chair to the window. Two figures in free Post dress were coming up the steps of the porch. “Miss Elliot, I’m so excited to introduce you to the pilot of the ship we’ll be building here, to the captain of the Argos—”

But Elliot saw him clearly through the window. She needed no introduction.

No midnight blue jacket, no new, longer haircut, no strange, noble bearing—nothing would serve to disguise him to her eyes. She had only a moment to compose herself and then he walked into the room. Into her house, for the first time in years.

“Miss Elliot,” said the admiral, as she staggered to her feet. Out shot her hand, reluctantly, mechanically, obeying a courtesy so ingrained as to be unconscious. He was taller now. Taller than her. And though he turned in her direction, his hand did not rise to meet hers, and his eyes remained fixed on the mantle beyond her head. “May I present Captain Malakai Wentforth.”

“Hello.” His voice was the same. It rang through Elliot’s body like a thunderclap announcing a storm.

“Hello,” said Elliot, for parroting him was all she could trust herself to say, there in her old, worn clothes, with her braids all mussed; there, in the same room with the same furniture and the same fire and her hand floating in the air between them, curling out into space like a misguided vine, yearning desperately for him to reach across the distance and touch her again.

Hello, Kai.


And now, on to some of the questions folks have been asking:

Q: Will you be going on tour for FDSTS?

A: Unfortunately not. However, I will be doing a bunch of book related events both near to home and far away, starting with my signing at BEA in New York City on June sixth. there are a bunch of other events on the schedule,a nd I’ll be announcing three right here in the DC area tomorrow.

Q: Ooh! Ooh! Like what?

A: Patience, young paduans. Padoowans? I have no clue how to spell that. Also, in passing, Sailor Boy got a totally random hankering to read some Star Wars Book so he got the one that the general fandom thinks is one of the top ones and is reading it and it was written int eh early nineties and so doesn’t have any of this “paduan” or “Sith” or “metachlorians” nonsense. When they mean “Sith,” they say “dark Jedi.” You know, like the Dark Side Of The Force.

Q: Is For Darkness Shows a Stars really, truly a standalone?

A: Yes. Ish. I have a forthcoming announcement about that, too.

Q: Ooh! Ooh! What is it?

A: See above. Also, it’s actually spelled “padawan.” Thank you, Google.

Q: I would like to interview you or have you come do a guest blog regarding your recent release. May I?

A: Yes! Please! And Thank You! Email me at diana AT dianapeterfreund DOT com. I would love to guest blog/be interviewed/etc. I shall even give away fun swag. (Hint: it’s sparkly.)

Q: How did you make the book YA in such an adult world?

A: This is probably one of the questions I get asked the most. The short answer is I don’t know if there’s such a thing as an “adult world.” Every world, with the exception of the kind in a Michale Grant novel, has people of all ages in it. Any kind of YA that isn’t contemporary American YA is not going to be the kind where the kids are in high school and worried mainly about how they’ll afford Prom (and even that isn’t really accurate — look at books like Coe Booth’s or Laurie Halse Anderson’s or Ellen Hopkins or even just the fact that there are teen gang members or teen moms or teen soldiers and you’ll see that even in our world, teens sometimes have to grapple with really “adult” issues).

But teens act like teens, whether that’s in a post-apocalyptic future or in Jane Austen’s time. Look at the impetuous behavior of the fifteen and sixteen year old Lydia Bennett and Georgiana Darcy, who are willing to run off with the older Wickham at the drop of a hat. Look at seventeen year old Catherine Moreland, who wants to believe that life is just like her favorite novels, or seventeen year old Marianne Dashwood, who goes into the queen of all emo dramas when she gets her heart broken. Anne Elliot is a teenager when she accepts Wentworth’s proposal, and also when she accepts the decision of those older and wiser and in charge of her to break it off. What could be more teenage than letting your dad and your godmother tell you who to date?

And what could also be more teenage than the immature revenge fantasy Wentworth plays out when he comes back into town? He ignores Anne, he insults her behind her back, he flirts wildly with any woman younger than she is in her presence, and he drops pointed comments about their history whenever he can use it to embarass her. It’s so VERY high school.

It’s true that the teens in my book have more on their plate than the average contemporary American teen. But it’s also not out of the realm of experience, even today. Many teens, even those with what my friend Justine Larbalestier calls “picket fence lives” know someone who is a runaway, who joined the military, who has been forced to become responsible for children –either their own or younger siblings, who have to deal with the illness of their parents, who is responsible for his or her family getting food on the table, who has to take a leadership role at home.

And though these teens do have all kinds of responsibilities, they are still teens. In my novel, there are many adult characters around who form different functions. Kai, who lost his father at a young age, is close to the Admiral and Mrs. Innovation, who are his bosses but also his caretakers, and reign him in whenever his youthful exuberance endangers their mission. Elliot is still very much under the control of her horrible father, and even though she has a higher status than the adult servants on her estate, they aren’t idiots. They know she’s a teenager and can’t handle the weight of the world on her shoulders, so they step in when they’re needed as well.

Okay, that’s probably enough FAQ for the day. If you have any more questions, leave them in the comments.


Contest runs through Friday.

Posted in Faq, giveaways, PAP

92 Responses to April For Darkness Shows the Stars FAQ (and Giveaway!)

  1. Bárbara says:

    Hi Diana!

    I got all teary-eyed reading the teaser! I can’t wait to read the book, I love Jane Austen and Persuasion is one of my favorite stories ever!

    I don’t know if you have answered this already, but I’d like to ask if there is any part or character of Persuasion that, initially, you wanted to maintain or adapt somehow but ended up having to leave it out.

    • Diana says:

      There were some parts I left out on purpose, because they didn’t fit the kind of story I wanted to tell, but one character I really miss is Mary Musgrove, because hypochondriacs are really fun to write about. But she didn’t really fit the story. In my version, Elliot only has one sister.

      • Bárbara says:

        And they are fun to read to! But I can see why you left her out…
        Also, I forgot to tell you that I loved what you said about Wentworth’s behavior being “so VERY high school”, because that is exactly what I thought while reading the book! Thank God he makes up for that! ; )

      • Diana says:

        Thanks. Wentworth totally acts like a jerk for a lot of that book. Anne is actually way more mature, for all that, IMO.

  2. Erin says:

    Besides Persuasion, what’s your favorite Jane Austen book?

    One other question: I happened to be re-reading Tap and Gown the other day. What do you envision now for Amy and Poe, 3 years later?

    • Diana says:

      Pride & Prejudice. I go back and forth about which is my favorite.

      In all honestly, I’m not sure they’re still together. Long distance is hard.

  3. Marcia Bento says:

    Can international readers get an ARC too?

  4. Shanella says:

    I’m very excited to read this book. I haven’t read Persuasion, but it’s on my list of reads … I do love Jane Austen.

    What is your favourite Austen book would have been my question, but I see it’s already asked above, so, I’ll go with …

    What made you decide to write For Darkness Shows the Star, and how did you decide on its title?


    • Diana says:

      The title was decided upon after a long and frustrating search. For the longest time, we called it “Post Apocalyptic Persuasion” and then eventually my agent told me enough was enough with that one, because it was a big tongue twister.

      I started looking at some of the big themes and motifs of the novel — like the plants and the technology and the idea of humans purposefully limiting themselves and the stars and compasses and idea of celestial navigation… and I came up with a bunch of over titles which for one reason or another weren’t quite “it” but actually worked really well as section titles. And I ended up landing on FDSTS, which is based on a quote I ran across and sort of captured the idea of a ruined world and stars and new directions and hope in one little package.

  5. sarabara081 says:

    I love that teaser! I have heard great things about this book so I can’t wait to read it!

    As a reader who has not read Persuasion by Jane Austen, would you recommend I do so before I read For the Darkness shows the Stars?

    • Diana says:

      While I will always recommend that people read PERSUASION, because I love it (or watch the movies — the 1995 version is my fave), I don’t think it’s necessary, It’s its own thing. I hadn’t read Emma when I first saw Clueless or Romeo and Juliet when I first saw West Side Story and that was fine.

      There are also some people who aren’t into Austen at all and that’s fine — her style is very different than what appeals to a lot of readers today.

  6. *squees with glee knowing that you’re going to be at BEA*

    Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I can attempt to speak like a somewhat intelligent adult.

    I will totally be emailing you after I get my hands on the book and read it! I’m planning to to do an all dystopian month in August and want this to be part of it and an interview would be some awesome sparkly icing on the review cake.

    Which is your favorite Austen novel? Which heroine is your favorite? Which hero?

    Many people seem to have a strong feeling on Bronte vs. Austen. Do you have a preference for one?

    • Diana says:

      That sounds like so much fun. Be sure to contact me about it.

      My fave Austen novel is a toss up between PErsuasion and P&P, with Persuasion mostly winning these days because of how much I studied it while writing this book. And that goes for heroes and heroines, too.

      Which Bronte? They’re actually really different, I think. It’s too bad they’re always lumped together (no one does that with the Shelleys!). That being said, I think I still prefer Austen.

      • I totally will! I generally don\’t email authors requests, because I don\’t want to come off as a crazy spammer/stalker, but now that I know you\’re amenable, I\’m going to be all over it!

        I think it will be fun! So much dystopian. I\’m planning to read around 30 books.

        My Austen love is the same, only with Northanger instead of Persuasion. Torn between P&P and Northanger for my favorite novel. Lizzie\’s my heroine and Tilney\’s my favorite gent. Persuasion\’s my third favorite, though. And I LOATHE Mansfield Park (except for the movie). I wish I could find something to appreciate in it.

        Charlotte, primarily, although I said the general Bronte, because they do generally get lumped together that way. I think it\’s misleading too. I\’m not a huge Jane Eyre fan (I liked the first half, but abhor Rochester), but I enjoyed Wuthering Heights, and suspect I would like Anne Bronte\’s books. Austen will probably always have my heart, though.

        Funny you should say that about the Shelleys, since I just heard about a YA novel called So Shelley (a modernized drama-filled revisioning of the lives of the Shelleys, Keats and Byron), and apparently the two Shelleys are one character. Weird.

      • Diana says:

        The “romance” of Mansfield Park kind of ruins it for me. (Or lack thereof?) I find the story fascinating. I think I need to read NA again.

      • Also, the romance in MP = cousins. NOT OKAY!

  7. Allison says:

    To be a totally annoying Star Wars geek, the term “Sith” was used in the original trilogy era too – it just wasn’t prominently featured in the movies. But if you got Vader trading cards back then you’d see him titled “Dark Lord of the Sith”. I’ve always disliked the term “Dark Jedi” (which was invented for the books) because it’s an oxymoron; Jedi specifically follow the Light Side of the Force; calling someone a Dark Jedi would be like calling them a Violent Pacifist. Doesn’t work! ;]

    Anyway! *Love* the teaser. I can’t wait to get my hands on this! And thanks for the FAQ – I especially appreciate your answer to the “YA in an adult world” question. (What does “an adult world” mean, anyway? We all inhabit the same world – kids, teens, adults, old folk.)

    My question would be: how did you enjoy writing SF, and how did creating an SF world differ from creating a fantasy world like the one in Killer Unicorns?

    • Diana says:

      That Sith thing is totally fascinating! I thought it was weird, too, because SB plays the online game also and the Sith there are like a race or an ethnic group or something — like I think the guy from Phantom Menace was actually of the race of “Sith” which I guess were original practitioners of Dark Force before it was all whatever (I’m a bit iffy on the details, but it was fascinating). But I will pass on the info.

      Metachlorians, though, that’s still B.S., right? 😉

      Okay, where was I? Right. SF. I love writing SF. From a writing perspective, I don’t actually feel like there’s much of a difference, since for me, whether I’m writing SF or fantasy or contemporary, it’s all about worldbuilding and making a believable world for these characters to inhabit. With Secret Society Girl, it was about properly presenting a culture that’s very inside baseball and has all these weird, arcane rituals and that’s just talking about life at college, before we even get into the secret society stuff. 😉

      With Killer Unicorns, I actually had to do a crazy intense amount of research because I was retrofitting this existing mythology and history to my fantasy world, so I had to look at all kinds of “real” stuff — real histories of nunneries and Alexander the Great and ancient Rome and weaponry and pharmaceuticals — as well as all the established rules about unicorns,a nd figure out a way to make this giant jigsaw hold together. I was reading books about extinction and venom and bovid biology and the way horns work and how pharmaceutical companies develop drugs from natural remedies and I’ve got all these fun little factoids squirreled away about why some mammals are poisonous and how long things live and what it looks like when caribou give birth. Fun.

      So even though those books were “fantasy” — I wasn’t making it up whole cloth. I wanted to ground it in real stuff, because I’m a big believer that truth is stranger than fiction. So for FDSTS, even though that was going to be science fiction, I was doing the same thing. So what do we know now about genetics and epigentics and mutation? What do we know about weaponry and biotechnology? What kind of processes and events could wind up inventing the world that I wanted to write about? I think one of the things that might trip people up is that there isn’t one thing that made the world as you see it. There was this genetic accident, yes, but there was also wars — many many wars, which devastated the world and stranded these people and made a lot of their technology no longer work, and the characters in the book, isolated as they are, don’t even know a lot of it, so it never ended up in the book, even though I know what happened to them and why.

  8. camille says:

    YAY! It’s almost there. I can pratically smell the book (does it sound weird that I can smell books, because that’s why I love books much more than Kindle, the smell of freshly written paper). Anyway, my question would be: there are many many interpretation or continuations of Jane Austen’s novels out there? Do you have a personal favorite?
    Can’t wait to read FDSTS

    • Diana says:

      I like the smell of books, too. I actually can’t wait to see what they finally did with the cover of my book because there was a question about the finish… and the design for the book is so gorgeous and different with the different font for the letters.

      My fave Austen retelling movie is Clueless. My favorite Austen retelling book is Bridget Jones’s Diary (I also like the movie of that, but not as much as the movie of Clueless). And oh my gosh, there are SOOOOO many spinoffs/sequels/etc. these days. I know I’m going to forget some if I start trying to list them. For books, I also really recommend Janet Mullany’s vampire Jane Austen series.

  9. Im such a Jane Austen fan so Im really excited to read your take with scifi touches 🙂 Cant wait to read FDSTS!

    I hope you come to either ALA or Comic Con…Im such a nerd but Its my 12th year going to comic con and I always love to meet authors there. Plus scifi books fit in perfectly!

    My Question: I’m a graphic designer and absolutely love your cover. I know most authors dont get a say in the design but did you? or how did you feel with the ending results, does it reflect your novel the way you want it?

    Tahnk you!

    • Diana says:

      I’m not sure about ALA or Comic Con (or any events on the West Coast) at present, though I certainly would like to try. (I haven’t been out west since my brother’s wedding in 2007). I will be at Dragon Con, though.

      Thank you for the kind words on the cover. I love it too, especially the title treatment with the fire behind. They really don’t give you a lot of say on your covers. My editor asked me what I was thinking and I was totally in love with the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES cover at the time and was like “pretty font treatment! I want a pretty font treatment!” because one of the things we thought stood out was the long title — most YA books had (and still have) one word titles, so we thought focusing on the long title would be cool. And we knew we wanted to go for a sort of “lush and romantic” feel as opposed to a lot of the dystopian titles at the time which were very stark and wrecked (think ASHES ASHES or THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH), but apparently we weren’t alone in that, way back in 2010… LOL

      So yes, I love the final cover. the only thing I don’t necessarily love is that it’s given a few people the weird impression that it’s set in space.

      • I really liked the typography they did for Beautiful Creatures. You are so right about the titles, everything is very one or two words, I never really thought about that. I love the title and the treatment of the lettering, its elegant and really stands out. I can see where people would think it was set in space 🙂 But hey you’ll catch the attention of a wider audience.

        Thank you for answering my question!

  10. Andrea T says:

    Great post! I love your answer to the last question. Teens go through many of the same issue/trials no matter the setting. What is the biggest challenge (if any) in writing from a teen pov? Thank you for the giveaway!

    • Diana says:

      It’s definitely a challenge when you’re writing a book where the teens are forced to take on adult roles and you don’t have the set pieces (school, parents, laws) that mark them as minors. One thing that I thought was really interesting in The Hunger Games (esp. int eh first book) is that it was made clear that it’s the TEENS in that world who are in the most danger. Once they grow up and are no longer eligible for the games, they are freed from that. (And there’s this interesting corollary where those who are chosen for the Games, like Haymitch and the other tributes) NEVER escape and are trapped in this sort of permanent adolescence that destroys their lives. But I digress.

      I’m doing a revision now and one of my editor’s notes is to really focus on the YA elements of the story. One of my go-to tricks for that is actually giving adults a bigger role. When you see what adults are, what they can do and juxtapose that with the teens, it really does draw into starker relief what the difference is between them. In Rampant and Ascendant, I presented adult figures, both good and evil. as various paths that my characters could take. Marten, Lilith, Isabeau, Neil, and (in Ascendant) Phil all take on more adult roles and they are drawn in contrast to Astrid — though ASTRID is the one whose life is at stake.

  11. Connie Onnie says:

    Persuasion is my favorite it seems like I have been waiting for this book for forever!!!

  12. alaska says:

    i am very excited about this book coming out. so excited. i love the cover, i love that it has austen ties, and i love everything post-apocalyptic. been waiting forever it seems!

    why no west coast? queenie would love the pacific! 😉

    and as for a question: i’ve noticed you’ve mentioned buffy before on the blog. how much of an influence do you think buffy has had on contemporary YA? did she/the show influence FTDSTS? it seems some of the most creative writing is done in YA rather than “contemporary adult” section. do you agree? there seems to be a nice community – does that help? what made you switch from romance to YA?

    • Diana says:

      West Coast is just a really long trip with a toddler. Never say never, though. (tell you what: if not this year, next year.)

      I *love* Buffy soo sooo soooooo much. I think he’s had a huge impact on both YA and more than that, on the entire genre of urban fantasy, whether adult or YA. I think all these kick ass, monster-fighting heroines owe a lot to Buffy. I think the whole “paranormal boyfriend” genre also owes a lot to Buffy.

      I certainly thought a lot about Buffy when I was writing Rampant. One of my favorite Buffy characters is Xander, because he has no magical abilities whatsoever and yet he’s hugely strong and effective and, what’s more, he’s totally cool with it, unlike, say, Riley. I liked the idea of non magical people who were actually really cool with their non-magical status and explored that a lot in Rampant with Giovanni, Neil, and Phil. While a lot of readers of Rampant like to compare the Cloisters to the “potentials” in S7 (or whatever goes on in S8 comics, which I’m not actually familiar with) I think that the biggest steal from Buffy (aside from badass powerful blonde teen fighting magical monsters) is the exploration of how non-magical people deal witht heir loved ones being magical and living in this world where they are being attacked by magical things.

      I love YA. I think there are a lot of YA readers doing really interesting and mindblowing stuff, equal to anything you see in adult fiction, whether that’s experimental fiction like Lauren Myracle, unreliable narrators like Justine Larbalestier, books in verse like Ellen Hopkins (who is also doing adult) or really blow you away writing and worldbuilding like John Green, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.

      I don’t like to think of it as a switch as much as what I succeeded in being published in. 😉

  13. michelle says:

    Persuasion is my all-time favorite Austen ever–I’ve even read all of her alternative chapters that were not included in the final publishing. So, to the question: Did you also use that stuff as inspiration, or did you stick primarily to the published novel? Also, Jane Austen is known for some pretty epic letters, and the one in Persuasion is just the best ever. Was it difficult as a fan of Persuasion to tackle ‘the letter’?

    • Diana says:

      I used a little bit of everything — Persuasion, the other novels, the non fiction writing ABOUT Persuasion, Jane’s letters, movies… all of it.

      The letters are certainly one of my favorite part — I was inspired by Wentworth’s famous letter to structure the book as partly epistolary. That letter was one I worked really hard at (in fact, I rewrote it after the ARC came out, so even the people who have read the ARC haven’t read the “final” letter)

  14. Enna Isilee says:

    Squee! I really want to interview you for my birthday bash again this year, but that’s not until September and I’d like to wait to write interview questions AFTER I read the book. Will that sparkly-swag offer still be good in late June?

  15. Rachel says:

    Hi Diana!
    I absolutely love your secret society girl series so I am going to ask a question about that wonderful series.
    Was it hard adjusting to writing Jamie instead of Poe during Tap and Gown?
    What is your favorite book in the series? Mine is Rite of spring break!

    Now for my FDCS related question.
    Is Persuasion your favorite Jane Austen book?

    I would love to interview you sometime!

    • Diana says:

      Yes, it was SO HARD to start thinking of him as Jamie. Thank goodness for “find and replace”. Funny story: to this day, when I mention “Poe” in conversation to Sailor Boy, he goes “Real Poe or your Poe?”

      I don’t know if I have a favorite book so much as favorite scenes.

      My favorite scenes (in no particular order):

      From SSG:
      * The tapping/wandering scene
      * The scene with Brandon, Lydia, and Amy and the gumdrop drops
      * The scene with Poe and Amy on the steps
      * the bar scene

      From UTR:
      * When Amy finds out about Josh and Lydia
      * George and Amy in the tomb
      * Amy tracking down Poe
      * the train
      * the revenge scheme

      * The opening scene
      * Brandon coming back
      * Poe and Amy outside the Library
      * the boat
      * The cabin
      * The swimming lesson
      * The SHOWER!!!!!
      * The rescue

      * meeting Michelle
      * Basically all the final conversations about where the various people are in their lives (Jenny, Josh, Lydia, etc.)
      * The fencing sequence
      * the party at Clarissa’s and afterward
      * tap night
      * the scene with George in the hospital
      * The final scene

  16. jpetroroy says:

    How many times have you read Persuasion?

    • Diana says:

      I don’t know! A more representative question might be “How many copies of Persuasion have you gone through?” The answer to this is: six.

  17. Valia says:

    Ok, now I definitely want to schedule you on my blog!!! i have to say you made me fall in love with unicorns…and now you took my favorite Jane Austen novel and adapted it??? *SQEEE* sorry, I\’ll be mature now…well…err…anyway, what was the hardest part about creating a world based on a beloved story?

    • Diana says:

      Because I’m such a huge fan myself, I think the hardest thing is getting my mind wrapped around the idea that there were going to be fellow fans who hate me for doing it or hate what I did with it. I’m also glad that Jane’s dead, because I keep thinking about that scene in Julie & Julia where Julie finds out that Julia Child doesn’t think much of her or her blog and… eek. Just eek.

      I cried over all the changes, even though I know I totally made them for the right reasons. I’m still disappointed it’s not a funny book, because Jane is always so funny, but I couldn’t make it everything.

  18. Vikki P says:

    Do you think part of the success of YA books is due to the fact that most of us fifty somethings are actually still 13 years old in our hearts 🙂

    • Diana says:

      Oh man, absolutely. What’s that famous quote about how the best part of getting older is we get to be all the ages we’ve ever been before?

      I love this photo project: http://www.pdnphotooftheday.com/2010/07/5725

      And I think it’s so true. Part of us are still everything we were before — we’re the six year old riding a bike for the first time and the twelve year old getting their first crush and the eighteen year old high school graduate and the twenty five year old having their first professional disappointment and everything that continues to happen for all of our lives. It’s so much fun being with my daughter right now, because she’s getting to the point where he’s really recognizing all these “firsts” — I read one of my very favorite children’s books to her last week (THERE’S A MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK) and she was actually scared until she got to the end and then she laughed and laughed, and I was taken right back to when my mom read me that book.

      We want to remember those times in our lives.

  19. Because YOU KNOW everyone is dying to know the following!…

    Legend or The Last Unicorn?
    Chocolate or vanilla?
    Pepsi or Coke?
    Tom or Jerry? ;)~

    • Diana says:

      The Last Unicorn (Sorry, Tim Curry.)


      Pepsi, especially the kind with real sugar

      Jerry (he’s the mouse, right?)

  20. Samantha R. says:

    Hi Diana,

    First, let me tell you how much I adore your Secret Society Girl series. Completely blew me away how much I loved it; I think I devoured them all in a 48 hour period last summer.

    I’m most definitely going to take you up on your offer to do a guest blog post. I’ll be shooting an email your way very shortly!

    For now, I’d like to ask you, since you switched genres from classic literature to dystopian for FDSTS, which YA release from the past year would you do the opposite to (switching a UF, dystopian, steampunk etc to classic or contemporary)? Thanks so much!

    • Diana says:

      Oh, wow…. that’s a tough one. I know which classic works of genre I’d like to remake as non-speculative contemporaries (The Odyssey!), but trying to imagine a *recent* fantasy as a contemporary — I don’t know what the twist would be that would make the redo worthwhile. I honestly have no idea. I think that’s part of the fun of retellings — you take something that has been considered X for a long time, that’s part of the popular imagination — and you make it into Y. I don’t know if it would even work in the other direction.

  21. Jax says:

    Lovely teaser! Can’t wait to read FDSTS. Your novels are wonderfully creative. When I was reading Rampant for the first time last year, friends would ask what it was about. I’d start by saying, “Well, there are killer unicorns and…” Their expressions were always priceless!

    When you start dreaming up new stories, do you ever share your ideas with your friends/family to act as a springboard? How do they usually react to your ideas?

    • Diana says:

      Thank you so much! That expression you mention is one I know well. I’ve been getting it for years re: killer unicorns. People are either really intrigued or they think you’re nuts. There’s no middle ground.

      Sailor Boy has the dubious privilege of hearing all my half-baked nonsense first, and he’s really good and helping me brainstorm. With FDSTS, he was instrumental in figuring out what caused the apocalypse. He’s also amazing at titles (“Errant” was his) and killer last lines. Then, oddly enough, he usually doesn’t read anything again until it’s all put together. Aside from SB, I usually dark room my ideas until I have a synopsis or a proposal put together, and then I talk to my agent/crit partners/editor etc. about it.

  22. Emilia says:

    Ooh I am so excited to read this!

    So here are my question(s):

    1. If you could be any Jane Austen heroine who would you choose?

    2. Which is better Zombies or Sea Monsters?

    3. who do you like more Mr. Darcy or Mr. Bingham?

    • Diana says:

      1. Lizzie. Lizzie has had the happiest life, and I think she’s happiest after the book ends, too. Plus, she’s probably the most like me, in general.

      2. Ooh, sea monsters, because they’re so underutilized. But I do love zombies.

      3. I assume you mean Mr. Bingley? But I still choose Darcy.

      • Emilia says:

        Oh yeah it is Bingley isn’t it? Shows you how long its been since I read P & P now isn’t it?

        I think there is someone at my school named Bingham…that must be where I got it…sigh…that awkward moment when you are thinking of one thing and typing another…

        But I agree Mr. Darcy all the way. I named my dog Fitzwilliam after him…But I only call him Fitzwilliam if he is being very good.

      • Diana says:

        There was a famous scientist I studied in college named Bingham. They named a building after him at my school and everything. Hmm, maybe I should have chosen him. 🙂

        What do you call your dog when he’s being bad? We named our dog Rio after a Duran Duran song. We’re not quite so classy!

      • Emilia says:

        Well his full name is Fitzwilliam Duke of the Plains (we live in the midwest and it looks cooler on the AKC form if you give them a long name) so normally I call him Duke.
        And when I am mad at him I call him Duke. In a loud voice. Then I throw him outside and threten to not give him bacon for two weeks. Then he gives me the look. So I just cut his beard off.
        My dog has some pretty amazing facial hair. Until I cut it off.

  23. Jasmine Rose says:

    Your little question and answer super fun :]

    1) Zombies or Unicorns (this is important, business, by the way)

    2) Do you like jello? I, for one, hate the stuff!

    • Diana says:

      1. UNICORNS.

      2. I’m not anti jello, but I wouldn’t say I *like* it. I mean, in the panoply of desserts, it’s pretty far down there.

  24. Jessy says:

    Do you have any more books in the works?

  25. Tez Miller says:

    Have UK/Australian rights been sold to any publisher yet? (Yes, I ask selfish questions 😉 )

    • Diana says:

      It’s not selfish — I’m on pins and needles myself. And, unfortunately, no, not yet. Foreign has been really sluggish on this title so far, which baffles me.

  26. Kate & Zena says:

    1. How did you go about interpreting some of the more traditional Georgian characters into modern, everyday characters for this book as I know it’s based up Austen’s Persuasion?

    2. If you could spend a day as ANY animal (any that exist in today’s world, like a wolf or a dolphin or a domesticated dog), which would you choose? Why?

    • Diana says:

      One of the best things about Austen — and the reason I think she’s still so widely admired today — is that she could write about characters in a way that was truly universal. The characters weren’t necessarily strictly Regency characters, even if they’re situations were — we all know busybodies and hypochondriacs and romantics and snobs and etc. The reason they can make modern bollywood movies out of her stories is that her characters exist in every time and place. They’re people we know.

      I think either some really lithe sea creature like a dolphin (though not in the Gulf!) or a big strong bird of prey, so I could know what it’s like to swim like that or to fly. Yeah, bird I think. Flying would be cool.

      • Kate & Zena says:

        I would be a wolf or an adopted Greyhound. A Greyhound because I would love to know what it’s like to zip at 45 mph (that’s flying ON THE GROUND and outrunning the fastest horse alive) and being able to have a warm place to sleep at night; a wolf because I would like to know what it’s like to be the ancestor of all dogs. I’d probably pick a Greyhound though because I owned one and they are far too adorable and all they have two speeds – 0 mph and 45 mph. Ha ha.

  27. Alexandra the Great says:

    If you could only take one book with you to a deserted island, would it be an Austen or a Bronte?

    • Alexandra the Great says:

      (Personally I would choose Jane Eyre :P)

    • Diana says:

      Definitely Austen, but which one? Hmmm…

      Actually, if was stuck on an island with only one book, it probably would be something longer than what any of them wrote.

  28. Rachel Chan says:

    OMG, I’m very excited right now 😀
    I was first attracted to this book when I spotted the gorgeous cover, but I fell in love with the plot-line and idea behind it.
    One Question: You’ve published quite a multitude of books so far, so here it goes: How exactly do you write a full-length novel? Do you find it challenging to do sometimes? I used to write in my spare time, but I never CAME CLOSE to finishing a full-length novel because I either got bored or ran out of ideas. And also, did you always want to be a writer (I mean, since you were a little kid or teenager) or is it a choice you made when you were an adult?

    • Diana says:

      I find most books really challenging to write — it’s very hard to have the discipline to stick with a story page after page, so I sympathize. The thing is, every single story is written one page at a time. One thing that I always like to keep in mind is that if you write one page a day — just 300 words — at the end of a year you’ll have a whole book. There are a ton of writers — famous, professional writers — that do it that way. Stephen King. Neil Gaiman. Write one page a day and don’t rush yourself.

      Also, don’t rush yourself in general. I never seriously attempted a novel until after I finished school, because I knew I didn’t have the discipline for it. I wrote short stories and fanfiction and stuff. When I was a kid and a teenager and a college student, I started dozens of books I never finished. I know there are some people who wrote books as kids (SE Hinton and Jennifer Lyn Barnes and Christopher Paolini come to mind) but it just makes the rest of us look bad. 😉

      So even if you have always wanted to be a writer, don’t beat yourself up to much about not finishing things yet. Just keep at it. It’s very rare that you can just up and run a marathon. Sure, some people have done it, but most people need a lot of training first.

  29. Alexa says:

    LOVED that teaser, I seriosuly can not wait for FDSTS. So exciting.

    What’s the best book you’ve read lately, for yourself and to Queenie?

    What’s your favourite part of writing a book, the first draft, re-drafting, line editing?

    And how to your revive yourself when your enthusiam for an idea starts floundering?

    • Diana says:

      Thanks, Alexa!

      And kudos for recognizing that most books I’ve read lately are for Queenie! For me, I haven’t read much, but I just finished The Scorpio Races, which I found very beautiful and unusual. For Queenie, I finally read her one of my favorite books from when I was a kid, THERE’S A MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK, and it as just as good as I remembered! She was actually really scared the first time, but now she ADORES it. She’s also currently obsessed with FIRST THE EGG, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, which is a new Caldecott and Seuss Honor book. I keep trying to get her into Knuffle Bunny, but she might be still a tad young for it.

      My favorite part of writing a book is the synopsis or proposal. Yes, really. Really really really. Because it’s this shiny brand new project and I can imagine it’s going to be perfect and exactly the way I picture it in my head, with no truculent characters or dragging scenes or anything that needs to be fixed. I pretty much hate all the other parts. 😉

      And I don’t know how to revive myself. It’s something I struggle with all the time, especially since my life started getting complicated. If you hear of any good tips, let me know!

  30. Tiff says:

    The teaser is wonderful. Thank you. And it definitely spawned a question. I know I already asked you about voice before, but I was still floored when I read the teaser – my brain kept thinking, “Is this modern? Is this Austenian?” So I guess this is a follow up question. How much did you work to develop the third-person, not-quite modern/not quite Austenian voice of the novel, and was it difficult to do that after writing two books set in a contemporary period in first person?

    Second question is a sort of journalistic question – after writing several books that were sort of entirely your own (SSG, KU series) and then Morning Glory, which had a lot more constraints, how does the experience of an adaptation like FDSTS compare? Did you like it and would you do it again?

    • Diana says:

      For the voice question: usually when I’m writing, I’m not thinking so much of “is this the voice of the story” as “is this the voice of the character?” Elliot’s voice (even in third person, since we’re in her third limited POV, hearing things through her filter) is different from Amy’s or Astrid’s because she’s had such a different life, is such a different personality. She’s a dreamer and a romantic — far more so than any other of the characters I’ve written, and that’s been sort of her response to her difficult life. The “historical” tone — the sort of Austenian formality — that’s part of it as well. She doesn’t have pop culture to fall back on, and the life she lives — one without text messages or media onslaught or fast-moving news, one in a very limited place where things are hardly ever allowed to change — it makes for a more formal tone. But it’s not straight up “historical” either — because they’ve passed through all these other periods of history. I tend to think of the world they live in as a sort of dark ages – there’s a lot of forgotten knowledge and such there.

      Also, I wasn’t just writing the SSG books or just Rampant (and even in Rampant, I have characters that speak from a “historical” perspective, such as when Astrid has visions of Bucephalus or Clotilde. But I’d also written two historical short stories (“Errant” and “The Hammer of Artemis”). To make a long answer short, I just try to write in the voice that’s appropriate to the story I’m trying to tell and the character I’ve created.

      MORNING GLORY was its own animal. I don’t think I can liken it to anything else I’ve ever done. FD was an adaptation, yes, but I was able to make all the rules that governed it. I was able to choose what to keep and what to toss.

  31. Tiff says:

    Oh wait, I have one more question. I managed to convince my fiance to watch the 1995 P&P adaptation, and I’m finding his comments FASCINATING. Has SB seen/read any Austen or Austen adaptations and does he like them?

    • Diana says:

      Oh yes. He’s seen them all. I think he likes Ang Lee’s S&S best. Or maybe Clueless. He knows what he’s gotten himself into. Same with my Dad.

      What is your fiance saying? And when is the wedding?

      • Tiff says:

        Ha, I think my fiance is still learning what he’s gotten into. A lot of the comments he’s making are playing right into Austen’s hands (“Why does Darcy even hang out with these dudes if he hates them so much?” “I wish the mother wasn’t in this.”). I think he also feels like he needs to suspend disbelief on certain things: “Am I really supposed to take it as fact that the ugly blonde chick is prettier than Elizabeth?” – I keep trying to explain about modern sensibilities, but he’s not really getting that.

        So far, he’s been amused by Mr. Collins, likes Colin Firth as Darcy (although, after I commented that Colin Firth is really good in this, his response was, “It’s not hard to look cool among these idiots”), and was actually surprised that Wickham ended up being such a cad. That said, I don’t know if he cares about the characters at all. I think he just doesn’t like stories about people dealing with “stupid social norms.” He feels that a big problem in P&P is the basic premise that the Bennet girls need to find a rich man/way/means to keep up their own standard of living. He feels that all of the girls are bowing down to social pressures to stay within their own level of society, instead of actually entertaining the possibility that they might not need to stay within their own social circle, that they could become scullery maids who work in London or whatever. That was pretty interesting to hear.

        Wedding is in June 2013. =)

  32. Aurora Celeste says:

    Do you worry that an adaptation of such a class-based, puritan-values story won’t resonate in today’s culture, let alone a future one? How do you deal with things like changing values and acceptance of things like kissing as less serious than it was in the original story?

    • Diana says:

      Honestly, I just ignored it. 😉

      Persuasion, unlike a lot of other Austen novels, doesn’t actually have a “propriety” plot. Lydia Bennet is in danger of being “ruined” by running off with Wickham in Pride & Prejudice, which drives Lizzie and Darcy’s separation AND their final reunion (he saves Lydia to impress her).

      Willoughby’s inheritance is called into question after he fathers a bastard child in Sense & Sensibility, which forces him to abandon Marianne.

      Maria Bertram’s adultery and divorce create a huge scandal that almost tears the family apart in Mansfield Park, and frees Fanny from the family pressure over his proposal AND is the driving force for separating Mary Crawford from Edmund. Edmund and Fanny would not have gotten married without it.

      The closest Austen comes to any hint of a sexual scandal in Persuasion is the widower Mr. Elliot having an affair with the widowed Mrs. Clay — which isn’t particularly scandalous at all, since there’s no married people or virgins involved. Besides, Anne wasn’t going to marry Mr. Elliot, whether or not he slept with Mrs. Clay. Oh, and I cut Mrs. Clay anyway. And added my own sex scandal.


      So I could and did make up whatever sexual mores I wanted to in my imagined future, as regency ideals of sexual propriety aren’t important to the story as class differences.

      If you look at another Austen retelling, Clueless, obviously those sexual mores are also really different. They even change the reasoning behind Frank Churchhill/Christian’s behavior toward Emma/Cher. In the original, he’s flirting with her to hide a secret engagement. In Clueless, she’s his beard.

    • Diana says:

      Oh, and I just wanted to add that having just written a series where the sexuality of my characters was really important to the story (killer unicorns), I was kind of done with all that for a little while.

  33. Carol says:

    Loved the FAQ, specially when you say you don’t believe there’s an “adult world”. I sooo agree with you!

    My question is, will you be at BEA this year? 🙂

    • Diana says:


      When: June 6, 2012; 1-1:30 p.m.
      Where: Signing area, Javits Center, NYC
      What it is: Diana will be signing copies of For Darkness Shows the Stars

  34. How do you pronounce your last name “Peterfreund”?

  35. Beth says:

    Did anything inspire you to write about a future in which there was no technology? Is there an issue in today’s society or a trend that makes you think there would be a good reason for people to turn their back on it in the future? Or was it just a good vehicle to retell Persuasion? Also, I’m moving to Washington DC in the fall. Do you have any advice/ tips for living in the area? Thanks!

    • Diana says:

      Initially, I wanted to recreate a society that had the same sort of rigid class structure (and imminent breakdown) as Persuasion. A lot of my brainstorming was about how to get there from here. One of the ideas I played around with for a while was actually the opposite of the one I ended up using — a society where the people who DID have genetic enhancements ended up being the upper class. But the story clicked much better going the other way. And with my creation of the world and the events that got the world to this place, out of that grew the Luddites, who they were, and the stances they took not just on genetic enhancements, but on all sorts of things. I was inspired by people who do turn their back on modernity, even know, like the Amish and off-the-grid survivalists and etc. I was also inspired by the idea of the “dark ages” — where great civilizations sort of fell into nothing and knowledge was lost and abandoned.

      The lack of technology was sort of a lucky break, since it helped cement the Austenian “country house” sort of feel to the story.

  36. Virginia says:

    In one of your earlier replies you said that you changed the letter after the ARCs had been printed. I was always under the impression that ARCs are to catch typos and get reviews before the book is actually published. Is it typical that the writer can and does rewrite/edit various parts of the story so late in the publication process?

    • Diana says:

      I’m actually writing a whole blog post about that soon. The short answer is, yes — ARCs are generally for catching typos and such. However, the reason that all ARCs have a warning not to quote without checking with the publisher is becomes sometimes writers do make changes. In this case, after some distance, there were a few things my editor and I decided needed a bit more clarity. This is not a SUPER unusual occurrence. But authors are encouraged to only make changes at that stage if strictly necessary.

      Sometimes, contracts stipulate that if an author makes more than 10% changes in ARCS, they have to pay for pages being reset, but I’ve never heard of anyone being charged, and I know a couple of authors who have rewritten huge chunks in proofs. (i think it’s less of a big deal in the computer age).

  37. ashley says:

    Thanks for the teaser!!

    And what is your favorite color and least favorite color?

    • Diana says:

      fave color is probably that super deep teal — like navy blue would be if it were teal. least fave is probably neon yellow. WHich is weird because i bet they look stunning together.

  38. Madison Calhoun says:

    Hey there! I love your writing style and I can’t wait to read this! I was wondering, are there any other books from older novelists that you’ve wanted to create a spin off of? If so, which books?

    • Diana says:

      So I don’t know if the kids today know about Duck Tales (woo-ooh!), but Duck Tales was this totally awesome cartoon I watched when I was a kid, starring Huey, Duey, and Louie, and their Uncle Scrooge McDuck. And my favorite episode of Duck Tales was the one that was like The Duck Tales Odyssey. I would totally love to do an Odyssey-like book. But, you know, nothing like Ulysses.

      Other than that, I plead the fifth.

  39. How do you come up with your characters’ names and personalities? I’m dying to review your book for my own blog once it’s out 🙂 I loved your first series!

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