Diana Muñoz Stewart is the award-winning, romantic suspense author of the Band of Sisters series, which includes I Am Justice and I Am Grace and I Am Honor (Sourcebooks Publishing). She lives in eastern Pennsylvania in an often chaotic and always welcoming home that—depending on the day—can include husband, kids, extended family, friends, and a canine or two.
When not writing, Diana can be found kayaking, doing sprints up her long driveway—harder than it sounds–practicing yoga on her deck, or hiking with the man who’s had her heart since they were teens.
Hobbies and Interests: Writing, Reading, Hiking, Kayaking, Weight Lifting, Flying, Running, Gluten-Free Cooking, Traveling
Diana is represented by the wonderful Michelle Grajkowski of Three Seas Literary Agency.
2015 Golden Heart® Finalist Romance Writers of America®
How long have you been writing?
I started writing bad poetry in high school. I’ve written off and on since that time. But it wasn’t until I completed my first novel and was accepted into my MFA program in 2007, that I finally began to take the idea of publishing seriously. Might’ve been all that money I doled out for the Stonecoast program. I wrote three other novels after the one that earned me my acceptance into the program, and it was the third of those, I Am Justice, that landed me my first publishing contract.
Why do you write?
I write to have a voice. My favorite Disney movie is The Little Mermaid. Something about how she gives up her power, goes quiet, and then must search for a voice that was hers all along that really gets me. If there’s one thing I learned from Ariel, and Ursula too, it’s that making noise is better than keeping silent.
What would a perfect writing day look like to you?
I’d be on my computer by eight, after coffee and breakfast. Some news, some social media, check my inbox, and begin either researching, writing, or editing until about noon. At noon, I’d make a protein shake, digest, and work out. After a shower, I’d be back writing around two. If there were no family obligations, there usually are, I’d write uninterrupted until 5:30. After dinner and a few hours hanging with my family, I’d get another hour of writing in before I’d shutdown my computer and pick up a book to read.
Realistically, my day is a bunch of running around, checking social media, bouts of writing, phone calls, reading articles online, guilt about not working out, and more writing squeezed in a day that drags me through it by the collar.
How do you know when a book is over?
When I have no choice but to let it go. So, basically, when I can’t stand it anymore or my editor expects it on her desk. Otherwise, I might sit with the same story for ages. I’m stubborn that way. Dog with a bone. Before I was published, I wrote three other novels. It was hell leaving them. I still think about those novels. I still wonder how to make them work. I hate to give up on anything. Maybe…
Do you always know the whole story, including the ending, when you begin?
I know the beginning and the end. Always. The end is usually a bright shining object that draws me to it. The middle part is often less clear. So the road to get to the shiny end can be a confusing and exciting puzzle.
Do you have a favorite character in your own novels?
I think my favorite character is the point of view character that I’m writing at any given time. And, yes, that can include the bag guys. As creepy as it sounds, I have to find something redeeming, something human about the villains in order to write from a place that is genuine and empathetic.
How do you recommend new writers get started?
Before getting published, I’d often read advice from the published, multi-published, and best-selling authors. I wanted to discover if I was on the right track or if I had what it took or if I was doing all that I should be doing. And though those authors had interesting and intelligent things to say, things that helped my writing, nothing ever helped me as much as my own dogged-determination.
If you want to write, write. Write when people criticize your writing. Write when you come to understand how much you have to learn. Write when people tell you to give it up. Write when people tell you your wasting your time. Write when a comment or criticism strikes bone and hurts you to your core. Write. Don’t stop. You got this.
How do you come up with your ideas?
It’s different for every novel. I’ve gotten my ideas in dreams, while running, after reading something, or hearing an absolutely bizarre fact. And then there are the ideas inspired by something deep and personal. My first book in the Band of Sisters series, I Am Justice is that kind of novel.
And despite the traumatic event that motivates Justice, this novel isn’t about trauma. It’s about women who rise up from pain and abuse to fight back. That’s the whole premise of the League of Warrior Women, the vigilante organization in the series, a group of women who others might see as damaged or broken, but who are strong and capable and fighting for their sisters, those who can’t fight for themselves.