Diana Sobolewski leads a double life: Wine Agent and Author of sophisticated sexy romance novels.
When I reached out to her to do this interview, she embraced it with open arms. She is passionate about writing and loves what she does, which was obvious through all of her responses. This is something we can all hope to relate to, as the ultimate goal is to find something you love and fill each day with purpose (and a lot of good wine).
Whether you are a long-time fan of Diana’s or this is your first introduction to her, I am sure you will enjoy the interview as much as I did!
Ivy: What genre do you write and will that ever change?
Diana: My novels have adult content, but the steamy love scenes are pertinent to the story and there’s always a happy ending, so they fit the “Erotic Romance” criteria. I made a deal with myself at the beginning: I’d go all out with the sex scenes, but they would always be part of an intriguing story with compelling well-developed characters that lead extraordinary lives but are still believable. Most of the time, I refer to them as sophisticated sexy romance novels.
I should mention that within the genre, I write strong independent heroines and my heroes are billionaires with heart. They all have some life experience, but still have room for growth. I tend to drop them into some very glamorous venues and humorous situations – for the reader’s amusement, and mine.
Never say never, but I think I’ll continue writing my style of erotic romance. It works with my naughty side.
Ivy: What was your writing inspiration? How did you get your start?
Diana: In my heart, I’ve always been a writer. Writing has been a part of my studies and all of my job functions. And I have wanted to write a book ever since I can remember, only I didn’t have a story to tell. But, of course, I did. And it lent itself well to my preferred genre, erotic romance.
I’m the owner of a wine agency and have worked with legendary producers of rare and prestigious wines since 2004. I’ve stayed in famous wine-producing châteaux (castles/estates) and attended fabulous black-tie galas in Bordeaux, for example. As an insider, I’ve had a front row seat to this glamorous hedonistic world and the bigger than life individuals that pass through it. An idea started to germinate. My heroine would be the owner of a wine agency specializing in upscale wines. And it would put her in the path of a European billionaire industrialist — not unheard of in my business.
One of my wine producers suggested that I write a series and continue the wine theme. I thought it was a great idea. And besides, I kept writing supporting and minor characters that demanded their own stories. They wouldn’t leave me alone. I had no choice. That’s how the Desire & Luxury Wine Series was born. By the way, the titles of my four books in the series were borrowed from the wine industry but hint at a different meaning.
Book 1 Private Reserve and Book 2 Maximum Yield are my published novels; available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle. Book 3 Master Class and Book 4 Late Harvest are underway.
(Click here to view books on Amazon)
Ivy: Where do you see your writing career in five years?
Diana: Well the series will be complete and I would love for it to be picked up for foreign rights and in the process of being translated for French and German-speaking markets. I would also like to have a couple of stand-alone mid-length contemporary erotic romance novels under my belt by then.
Ivy: It looks like day job plays into your novels? Tell me more about that.
Diana: My upscale wine business has added authenticity and texture to my erotic romance novels. It has the greatest impact on my first book, Private Reserve because my heroine owns such a business. I was able to use my knowledge and experience to infuse the story with all sorts of wonderful first-hand details.
The heroine in my second book, Maximum Yield, is the author of erotic romance novels. I can’t resist adding that the hero could easily be the alpha male out of her latest book. Anyhow, this time I left the wine industry behind in favor of the publishing business (something I know a little something about again), but we find her broadening her knowledge about wine throughout the book and readers get to share in her discoveries.
In Book 3 Master Class and Book 4 Late Harvest, my heroines also appreciate fine wine as part of their lifestyle and I’m bringing the wine industry back into these stories in a gentle way, but this time from the export and marketing perspective.
Incidentally, my heroes are also wine savvy.
Oh, one last thing. Thanks to my day job, I’m able to write about exclusive wine events, five-star hotels and fine dining in Europe and my home city of Montreal to frame my stories.
Ivy: How long does it take you, on average, to write one of your novels?
Diana: Too long. I love the wine business, but it’s pretty demanding. And then there’s all of the ongoing promotional work to do for my brand. I do enjoy it and it’s necessary, but it too takes time away from writing. My first novel is quite long because it set up the series. It took about a year and a half to write. My second novel took under a year because the characters and story line had been developed in the first book and it is shorter in length.
Ivy: What is something not many people know about you?
Diana: Late at night some years ago I was admiring the Uffizi Gallery Museum in Florence from the outside. It was beautifully lit up with flood lights and nearly deserted. Then I heard this solo violin playing. It was plugged into an amp and the acoustics were incredible. Those strings tugged at my heart strings. I just stood there with tears streaming down my face. I wrote the experience into my first book. To this day when I hear a violin “weep” as I call it, there’s a good chance that I’ll be balling my eyes out.
Ivy: Are you a big reader?
Diana: I am. I love to read for entertainment mostly, but you can always learn something from any book. It may be that you’re being informed on a subject you previously didn’t know much about. It can also be a way for a writer to evaluate what works about the book or when it doesn’t and why, so that’s a side benefit.
Ivy: What other author do you really admire and why?
Diana: Diana Gabaldon and not only because we share the same first name. I love her Outlander series because I’m interested in Scotland and its history. But it’s more than that. Her books are so well researched and the descriptions are so vivid and rich. And the idea of passing through ancient stones to go back in time is a fascinating way to bring the past into the present and vice versa. Plus the chemistry between the hero and heroine is off the charts.
Ivy: As a writer, what is your biggest pet peeve when you read other novels?
Diana: I admire all writers for pursuing their passion, but I have come across things that have annoyed me. If I take my genre, my biggest pet peeve would be a lack of chemistry between the hero and heroine and boring sex scenes. I want to feel the heat.
Ivy: Most famous person you have ever met?
Diana: For the time being, I can only speak to my wine industry career. I’ve worked with some of the rock stars of the wine world. Unfortunately, it won’t mean anything to anyone who isn’t involved in the business or who isn’t an oenophile: Alain Vauthier, owner of Château Ausone, one of the most coveted wines in the world. Hubert de Boüard, co-owner of Château Angélus whose 1982 vintage appeared in the train scene of Casino Royale with Daniel Craig as James Bond. I saw the film with Hubert’s daughter Coralie, we “Bonded” (ha ha) and I attended her wedding in Bordeaux a short time later.
Ivy: What is the best money you have spent as a writer?
Diana: On a professional editor who has worked in my genre and on a professional communications team for the cover design, layout, and production. Getting a professional headshot that I use across social media, my website, my Amazon Author Page, my biography and my business cards also paid off.
Ivy: Do you write under a pen name and why?
Diana: I write under my own name because I can cross-promote wines and my books. I truly do understand why some authors choose to write under a pen name, but I think it presents certain challenges when it comes to the marketing end. And marketing is already difficult enough. Also I like the notoriety. I use it to my advantage.
Ivy: Do you mentor, or do you have a mentor?
I don’t mentor and I don’t have a mentor. But I do have a network of supportive author friends and we exchange all kinds of useful information and help each other out in a variety of ways. I’m also a member of the Romance Writers of America, Passionate Ink, Toronto Romance Writers and Ottawa Romance Writers Association, so I have access to resources and shared experiences. And I read blogs and newsletters with writing and publishing tips to either learn from, or reinforce what I’m already doing correctly. I also look to my editor for wisdom.
Ivy: What do you do in your free time?
Diana: What free time? You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you? Some days it doesn’t seem like I have any, but I do. I guard it jealously. I feel less guilty about “free time” when I’ve been productive, but sometimes doing something outside of work, can make you more productive for when you get back to work. So I do believe in making the time for “free time”. If that makes any sense. Simple pleasures include enjoying the outdoors with my dogs and reading or watching a film in the comfort of my home. But I do like to indulge my love of fine wine and fine dining. Although I’m perfectly content to write in solitude for days at a time, I do enjoy socializing. New experiences feed my writer’s imagination, so I don’t mind being plunged into the unfamiliar when it comes to social activities.
Ivy: Any current works you would like to discuss?
Diana: People can go on Amazon and read the descriptions of my two published books, but I don’t have much opportunity to get the word out about the other half of the series.So, thanks for asking. I’ll use the elevator pitch version; short and sweet.
In Master Class a nearly broke unemployed school teacher enters into an unorthodox contract with a mysterious stranger. It’s a sexy modern version of My Fair Lady.
In Late Harvest, a small town girl’s connection to a high-class escort brings glamor and excitement into her life and puts her in the path of a man who’s dangerous to cross and even more dangerous to love.
Ivy: Brag section, what are you most proud of?
Saying that I was going to write a book, which turned out to be a series, and doing it. I now have two published novels and two on the way. But I’m equally proud of writing these novels in my own voice: Luxury travel and fine wine guide meets steamy romance!
The majority of my readers are women, but there are enlightened men reading my books too, much to my delight.
I’ve been told lovely things that any writer would love to hear along the lines of “I stayed until 2:00 a.m. reading because I couldn’t put your book down”. But what’s really amazing… Like my heroine in Book 2, the author of erotic romance novels, I’ve been told several times by readers that my books have spiced up their sex lives — there can be no greater compliment for someone who writes in my genre, as far as I’m concerned (ha ha).
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