Chant of Death: Interview with mystery writer and poet Diane Marquart Moore
By Isabel_Anders on June 16, 2011
“Chant of Death is a remarkable piece of storytelling: grounded in the real and the observable but connected as well to the magical and the ineffable. Diane Marquart Moore and Isabel Anders are rare intelligences in the world of mystery writers. They have woven a tale that is at once a traditional mystery with nods here and there to the best of the writers in the genre. But they have also written a thoroughly contemporary work that explores the medieval church as well as the challenges faced by the post-modern church, the vagaries and varieties of every kind of love imaginable, the consolations of both philosophy and modern psychology, the lures and temptations of both monastic life and life on the outside. This work is engrossing and satisfying, a tapestry one can more easily enter than leave behind. Rich, expansive, masterfully plotted to please the broadest spectrum of readers.”
—DARRELL BOURQUE, Poet Laureate of Louisiana.
“Set in a Benedictine monastery in Louisiana, Chant of Death is one of those rare novels that examines contemporary issues of the church with candor, erudition, and spiritual insight. It is also an exploration of what it means to live a holy life in the face of spiritual and physical assaults. In the end, Father Malachi becomes not merely an amateur detective in pursuit of a killer, but a consummate investigator of the human heart, probing the failings and frailties of all who surround him.”
—LISA GRALEY, Poet, Writer, and Professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Interview with the Publisher of Chant of Death:
PINYON editor/publisher Gary Entsminger: Why did you and Isabel decide to write a novel together?
DIANE: I think that my friend Victoria suggested it. I had never collaborated with anyone but thought it might be a good adventure. Isabel had an agent and that was something I had never had, so I welcomed that idea. Isabel represented a genre of writing that I had not ventured into—non-fiction Christian writing, and I thought perhaps we were a good match for collaboration. We experienced a kind of mystical connection almost immediately that inspired the idea of co-authoring a mystery.
PINYON: We know that both you and Isabel write poetry and personal essays, both genres that depend on individual insights. So when writing a novel together, how did you reconcile the writer's natural independence with working (and perhaps compromising) with another writer's views and style?
DIANE: You know, I never did think about that too much—it seemed that the writing became seamless in the revising. I did not compromise my style.
PINYON: Did each of you lead specific parts (or chapters) of the novel? Or did you work together on most parts (or chapters)?
DIANE: We had certain characters to develop, and Isabel dealt with the chants a lot. She is also a storehouse of quotations and supplied most of them. She is a master at presenting red herrings. I think the only place we differed was in that I did not think we could produce a novel that carried the spiritual weight of something like a Charles Williams or Dorothy Sayers mystery. Isabel did. She has believed in the publishing of Chant from conception to completion, and this kind of optimism and persistence helped me past one very negative review by an editor and ultimately resulted in Chant finding a home.
PINYON: What process did you use for exchanging information? A storyboard? Chapter revisions through a word processor? Conversations in cafes or on the telephone?
DIANE: I think I presented the initial storyboard, and we revised it together, sending it back and forth to get one another’s approval. We never communicated by telephone. It was solely an email process.
PINYON: Is working solo or co-authoring easier? One can imagine co-authoring meaning half the work. But perhaps not?
DIANE: Co-authoring does not mean dividing up the writing. It becomes a process of ideas, writing, revisions, additions, reworking a storyboard, asking questions about syntax of each other, but one person probably carries the narrative forward with the help of the other. We respected each others ideas, editorial suggestions, and writing.
PINYON: Do you have any advice for other writers?
DIANE: Don’t think about marketing when you have an idea, love the process, and invite the Muse. Make writing a way of life.
Diane Marquart Moore is the author of children and adult fiction, journal articles, and poetry. She is a native of Franklinton, Louisiana, and now divides her residence between New Iberia, Louisiana, and Sewanee, Tennessee. She is the former archdeacon of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, director of Solomon House Outreach Center Mission in New Iberia, LA, and deacon at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, New Iberia.
See the complete interview with Diane at:
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