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Diana Pharaoh Francis
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Diana Pharaoh Francis   Diana Pharaoh Francis is the author of the Path series (Path of Fate, Path of Honor, Path of Blood), Crosspointe series (The Cipher, The Black Ship, The Turning Tide, The Hollow Crown), and Bitter Night: A Horngate Witches Book. Path of Fate was nominated for the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award and Bitter Night was nominated for Romantic Timesí Best Urban Fantasy of 2009. Diana teaches at the University of Montana Western.

Buy Diana Pharaoh Francis's Books at the following locations: (downloadable audio books) (independent bookstores)
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This episode originally aired on 01/14/2010 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Diana Pharaoh Francis

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Matthew Peterson: Welcome back, everyone! Youíre listening to The Author Hour: Your Guide to Fantastic Fiction, which can be found at Iím your host, Matthew Peterson, author of Paraworld Zero.

My next guest is Diana Pharaoh Francis author of two high fantasy series: Path and Crosspointe, as well as a new urban fantasy novel called Bitter Night: A Horngate Witches Book. Diana is one of my online buddies, so Iíve pretty much followed her writing career from the very beginning. Iím so glad to have you on the show today, Diana.

Diana Pharaoh Francis: Thanks for having me.

Matthew Peterson: You know, when I first met you, you were right in the middle of the Path books. Your first book, Path of Fate, had been nominated for the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award and your next book, Path of Honor, had just been released. Letís first talk about those books. Tell us a little bit about the Path books.

Diana Pharaoh Francis: Well, they are epic fantasy and it focuses sort of on the journey of a woman by the name of Riesil who kind of gets called to, you know, the higher calling business, where the goddess kind of calls her to serve, and itís a great honor. And Riesil says, ďNo thank you.Ē

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Diana Pharaoh Francis: Which nobody is supposed to do, but she does. And then she kind of gets sucked in anyway.

Matthew Peterson: She has some healing powers and those kind of go away. And she has some various things, but one of the unique things also in this world that youíve created... they have animals that they bond with, donít they?

Diana Pharaoh Francis: Yeah, she bonds with a goshawk, and the goshawk has lots of personality and her name is Saljane. Sheís really offended by the fact that Riesil has refused to bond with her and so sort of makes Riesilís life difficult for a while--in a way that only somebody who shares your mind can do.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yep.

Diana Pharaoh Francis: And somebody with big sharp talons can do. So they have to work that out together, kind of coming to terms, but kind of sharing this connection, especially after Riesil has said, ďNo thanks, I donít want you.Ē

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah. Now your next series, The Crosspointe series, that was a little different. I mean, itís still high fantasy, but in a completely different setting. Thereís boats and sailing and so forth. The first one is called The Cipher, and that came out in 2007. Tell us a little bit about the Crosspointe books.

Diana Pharaoh Francis: Well, theyíve been fun to write. Crosspointe is this island in the middle of this very strange magical sea. And the sea itself changes constantly. Where it was shallow a moment ago, it could be very deep. Things thrust up out of the water, rocks. And thereís vicious beasts that live in the waters, and the currents are never constant; they change all the time... these terrible storms. And so only pilots from Crosspointe can actually navigate the sea.

And so any country living on the surroundings of the sea has to essentially use Crosspointe ships and Crosspointe pilots. And so it puts Crosspoint in a position of great economic power. And thatís been going well for them for quite some time. Only now thereís some trouble, because thereís people who are against having a monarchy anymore; they want to get rid of the monarchy. Thereís other people that are working with enemies to undermine the whole country and allow for an invasion. And the fourth book, The Hollow Crown, is coming out in June, and it has different characters altogether. And itís kind of... all of this sort of intrigue thatís been building, kind of comes together and takes a very bad turn for Crosspointe.

Matthew Peterson: Well, do you have any other plans for additional books after that one?

Diana Pharaoh Francis: Yeah, Iíve got two more in the series... hopefully, Iíll be able to write for my publisher. I donít have any titles for them at this point, but it would wrap up the characters and tie up all the outstanding intrigue. Each of the books tends to stand very much alone. Itís a complete story, in and of itself. But the larger intrigue of whatís been happening politically, I want to wrap up.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah definitely. What made you decide to write about these books, Ďcause I know you had to do a lot of research dealing with boating, and what made you decide to take this route?

Diana Pharaoh Francis: Yeah. You know, it was just these pieces of ideas that had been kind of floating in my head for a while. Iíd been thinking about an island country and Iíd been thinking about the way the power would work and the strange sea, and I just got to thinking about who would live there and what their problems would be and what the issues would be. And then I started kind of putting the stories together from there. And the characters kind of grew out of the place. Whatís ironic, of course, that you mentioned the sailing is that I had never sailed before.

Matthew Peterson: Ohh! [laughs]

Diana Pharaoh Francis: I donít know anything about... well, I didnít know anything about sailing. I know far more now. And I did. I had to do a lot of research. I went and I sailed on this two-masted tall ship out of Seattle. And it was all of a little 3 hour cruise, but it showed me how the masts work and how the sails work and what the pin rails look like. And then I did a lot of research on MySpace. Thereís a group devoted to tall ship sailing and I met a captain of a tall ship. He sailed on the Hawaiian Chieftain and he captains them and heís sailed around the world on tall ships. So I picked his brain quite a bit and then I found all kinds of books and did a lot of research that way. But yeah, thereís a lot of research that goes into all of these books, surprisingly.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, back when I was a teenager, I was in Boy Scouts. And I remember getting my motorboat merit badge and my sailing and canoe merit badge and having to learn all of that stuff. But, you know, that was just on little lakes. [laughs] Nothing like a big huge boat on the sea.

Diana Pharaoh Francis: You know far more about it than I did when I started. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] Well, itís been a long time since then. Well, thatís some great fun. Now you do have another book that just came out, Bitter Night: A Horngate Witches Book and this one has changed, I mean, from your normal high fantasy. This one has moved over to more contemporary urban fantasy. Youíve got witches and different types of supernatural entities. Tell us a little bit about Bitter Night.

Diana Pharaoh Francis: Itís kind of an apocalyptic book. What I was doing with it is, I had a character in mind, and I knew some things about her. It all started kind of with the mud volcano--I think itís called Lusi--in Jakarta. And itís this amazing volcano that started erupting a number of years ago, and it hasnít stopped erupting. And itís this mud that keeps pouring out and pouring out, and I think thereís something like the equivalent of 50 Olympic size swimming pools a day worth of mud--hot mud.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, wow.

Diana Pharaoh Francis: And it just keeps coming out and they donít know when itís going to stop. It could go on for decades. So that one kind of tied together with some other stuff thatíd been happening. And I got to thinking, ďWhat if all of this stuff that was happening in the world wasnít just accidental? What if it was on purpose? Well then, what would the purpose be?Ē And that sort of brought me to one of the things going on behind Bitter Night.

And what we have here is these covensteads that are run by a witch whoís more powerful, but she keeps a coven of other witches with her--or him, a male witch too. And they serve as sort of the generals of this new army that the guardians of the Earth have decided to call on. The guardians of the world have decided that humanity has been killing magic for long enough and so theyíre going to do something about it.

Matthew Peterson: Time to fight back.

Diana Pharaoh Francis: And what theyíre going to do is theyíre pretty much going to kill--annihilate--85% of humanity and sort of rework the world and change it. And my main character, Max, kind of ends up in this battle because sheís been made to be a special kind of warrior for a witch. So sheís kind of stuck in the middle of this battle, but she hates her witch and she lives for revenge for turning her into this creature. And she has to kind of decide whether or not... well, does she take her revenge or does she try to save what humanity she can save? So Max is the leader of this witchís shadow blade. And she just doesnít like doing it.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, yeah. I can imagine. ďHey, and go ahead and kill mankind while youíre at it.Ē [laughs] ďNow that Iíve turned you into this creature.Ē [laughs]

Well, thatís all the time weíve got for today. Iíve been speaking with Diana Pharaoh Francis, author of the Path and Crosspointe series, and now Bitter Night: A Horngate Witches Book. Thanks so much for being on the show today, Diana.

Diana Pharaoh Francis: Thank you for having me.

Matthew Peterson: Well, thatís it for today. Make sure you visit to listen to the bonus questions that didnít make it onto the live show. Next week Iíve got one of my biggest episodes ever with Dean Koontz, Christopher Paolini, R. L. Stine, and Todd McCaffrey. Combined, theyíve sold around three quarters of a billion books. Yeah, not a million... a billion! Wow, thatís a lot of books. Enough for everyone in the United States to own 2 or 3 copies. See you next week everyone!

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