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Feb. 2006
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Q & A With John Peel
Conducted: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 12:52:02

Diadem Related Questions:

Other Questions

Q. What inspired you to write the Diadem series?

Well, what happened was that an editor I'd worked with before (on my "Shocker" series) asked me if I'd create a fantasy series. He said he wanted it to be like the computer game "Myst", where bits are revealed at a time. So I went off and created what I thought would be interesting. The idea for the Diadem itself was because too many series run out of steam very quickly and just repeat themselves. I wanted a setting where I could avoid doing that. So I came up with the idea of linked worlds. That way, I could just transfer my heroes from one to another, and each time they would face something different.

The characters were fairly obvious, I think - past, present and future. Score would be the "wise guy", Helaine the fighter and Pixel the enquirer. Somebody asked me if I based Helaine on Xena, but the connection had never occurred to me!

Q. How far are you planning on continuing the series?

I was hoping to write one a month for years and years! But I've only got as far as an outline for book eight.

Q. Why did Scholastic stop publishing Diadem?

They didn't think it was selling well enough. That was mostly because they didn't print enough, and it completely sold out. Which is why it's so hard to find books you may have missed. I've been trying to get them to either reprint the books or else give me the rights to do it and go to somebody else.

Q. Who owns an Amethyst jewel? Helaine or Score? In different books the answer is conflicting.

Yes, I noticed that! When I write my stories I do sometimes forget things... Okay, officially, the gems are:

Score: emerald, chrysolite, amethyst & jasper

Helaine: sapphire, onyx, agate & chrysoprase

Pixel: ruby, topaz, beryl & jacynth

Jenna: carmelian, obsidian, citrine & aquamarine

That is unless I lose my list and forget again in the future! Oh, more on Jenna later...

Q. Who is your favorite character from Diadem?

I know I shouldn't have favorites, but among the humans it's Helaine, and the non-humans it's Blink.

Q. Who is your favorite villain from Diadem?

Another hard one... Destiny. She was originally going to be a good girl, but my editor thought she'd make a great villain - and he was right!

Q. How is it that everyone speaks English in the Diadem?

Maybe they don't. The unicorns "speak" directly to minds, so they can speak any language. As for the others - well, it would have become very boring if I'd had to have their speeches translated, so I took the easy road and ignored the problem of languages! (The magical spells are spoken in some other language, of course.)

Q. Did you base any of your fictional characters on people you know in real life? If so, who?

Not really. But some of the names are from elsewhere. "Rawn" is named after the writer Melanie Rawn, for example. And Shanara probably came about because of the "Shannara" series of books, though I didn't do it consciously.

Q. Can you tell us anything about Shanara and Blink's past?

Not really, because I haven't actually worked it out. I tend to add to my background as I go along. For example, the way Shanara's hair changed color. Originally, it was just a mistake that I caught, because I'd forgotten the color of her hair in book 2. Then I thought, "Hey, she's the sorceress of change anyway!" After that, her hair is a different color in every book. As to her past, I'm kind of torn between making her really, really old and she just uses her spells to make herself look young, and making her really beautiful, and she uses her spells just for fun. I haven't decided yet!

Q. Did you do any research for the mythology used in the Diadem series?

I mostly invent it as I go along - but I love mythology, so I've read tons of it in the past, and a lot of it has stuck with me.

Q. What exactly happened to Score's mother? How did she die?

I don't want to quite give that away yet. It's a continuing story that won't be resolved for a more more stories yet. You learn more about his mother in book 7, for example. And then there will be a "Book of Time", where Score goes back in time and meets his mother before she's killed, but I've not really worked out the details of that one yet.

Q. What involvement, if any, did you have in the very creative cover design?

Absolutely none, other than adoring it when I saw what they did! I think they're the best covers any of my books have had, and I could never wait to see what they'd done for the next one.

Q. Did/Do you intend any romantic pairings between the three main characters?

Absolutely! I'm a romantic myself, so I like stories with a bit of romance in them. Pixel meets a new magician, Jenna, in book 7, "Book of War". She thinks he's wonderful, and he's completely smitten. Meanwhile, Score and Helaine... well, you just *know* they're going to have to kiss sometime (and mean it), but she's so pig-headed and he's so full of himself that it might take a while before they realize what everybody else already knows!

Q. Does Helaine have a mother who is alive? If not, how did she die?

Her mother is dead. In "Book of War", we meet her father (again) and some of her other family. Her mother died in childbirth.

Q. Was Borigen punished for supporting Helaine's "Renald" identity?

Yes, but I do kind of side-step that one.

Q. Anything else you want to tell your fans?

Only that I hope I can find some way to keep going with the series. I really don't want to stop writing them. They're the most fun stories I've ever written, and I love the characters.

Q. Describe your writing process:

Hmmm... I sit down and write an outline for my stories, and then I write each day. I usually start slowly, but by the end of the book I'm often writing 20 pages a day because I'm so excited. My number one rule is that anything I write should always be fun, so that I *really* want to get back to work each morning.

Q. What schools did you attend?

Carlton le Willows Grammar School, in Gedling, Nottingham, England. (It has it's own web-site, so you can look at pictures if you wish!)

Q. When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Oh, when I was very young. I started writing stories when I was about 10. It's all I ever wanted to do. My teachers tried to talk me out of it, convinced it was a bad idea!

Q. How would you describe your childhood?

Very odd! I had anemia when I was very young, which meant I would get tired very quickly. I wasn't allowed to play sports (I've always been really bad at them as a result), and had to stay in class and read instead. So I lived a lot in my imagination, and that's probably why I can be so inventive with my stories nowadays.

Q. What/who has influenced your writing?

Lots of people. Definitely C.S. Lewis, with his "Narnia" stories. And Eric Frank Russell, who was an English science fiction writer who wrote very, very funny stories. He influenced my crazy sense of humor. H. Rider Haggard, with his wonderful adventure stories, like "King Solomon's Mines" and, especially, "She".

Q. Who are Howard and Debbie Margolin (the people you dedicated the 2nd Diadem book to)?

Howard is a friend of mine. He runs a science fiction radio show here on Long Island called "Destinies", and has interviewed me for it several times.

Q. Do you like my Diadem website?

Yes, I think it's terrific!

Q. Is there any content on my webpage that you want altered, corrected, or removed?

No, I think it's fine. I especially like the fan fiction page, because it lets me see how my readers see my characters!

Q. Is there additional information you would like me to have under my "John Peel Biography" page?

Well, we now have ten dogs, not eight... We rescue miniature pinschers, and find good homes for them. Sometimes that "good home" ends up as our home, so we seem to have a lot of them! Other pen names are "John Vincent", "Rick North" (just one of "his" books) and J.P. Trent.

Q. May I have a picture of you to post on my "John Peel Biography" page?

Are you trying to scare people off? Well, here's one of me from last winter. I love going on the Disney Cruise Line, so this is me on the ship.

Best wishes,

John Peel

This site was created by
DiademGrl Luna
DISCLAIMER: This site is a fan site, entirely unofficial, and has no affiliation with John Peel or Scholastic or Llewellyn Worldwide. All characters and story elements pertaining to the original Diadem series by John Peel belong to John Peel and/or Scholastic and/or Llewellyn Worldwide. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit is being made off this site.