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June 27, 2016 / peoplesbookprize

Diane Chandler⌈ Vote Now ⌋

In the lead up to The People’s Book Prize 2016 we caught up with author Diane Chandler to talk about Her novel

The Road to Donetsk


Before writing The Road to Donetsk, Diane Chandler worked at the European Commission in Brussels for several years, where she managed overseas aid programmes in Ukraine just after the fall of communism. Ukraine soon worked its way into her heart, and she travelled there extensively. Back in London, Diane married and gave birth to her daughter. With the few hours she could find, Diane was able to pursue her passion for writing, choosing Ukraine as the setting for her first novel. Her second, Moondance, about a career woman going through the trials of IVF, will be published in November by Blackbird Books.

When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing for around 15 years since I was lucky enough to give up work. At home with a baby, I used to snatch the hours I could and lock myself in my study to write.

As an Author, What Influences You the Most?

I think it’s in my bones! Writing is a passion, something that absorbs you so completely, that you have no notion of time passing. It’s like having a virtual reality helmet on and entering another world, walking around in it, seeing, feeling, smelling. Nothing comes close to writing.

Where did the idea for this book Originate?

The Road to Donetsk is a tribute to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. I used to work on overseas aid programmes there in the 1990s, just after the fall of communism. I fell in love with Ukraine, and I missed my job when I gave it up to have a baby. Writing the novel took me back there again and I was able to relive my experiences. I also wanted to bring the daily reality of overseas aid to life, as few people know much about what it entails.

The nominees for The People’s Book Prize are voted for by the readers, how important are your readers to you?

I love meeting readers and have attended several book clubs, which have chosen The Road to Donetsk for their monthly read. I’ve received so many comments from readers it’s been fascinating to hear the completely different takes on my novel. For example, some have loved my main character, the idealistic Vanessa, while others have found her patronising! Funny how a story can provoke such diverse reactions in readers, but then I guess you bring your life experience to a book.

Blackbird-Books publish a variety of brilliant authors, what is it like to be in the company of talented writers?

I was bowled over to be published by Blackbird. I’ve read most of the books they’ve published, and it’s an honour to stand (or fly!) alongside other authors like Tanya Bullock and Susie Kelly. Blackbird is like a family and we’re all very supportive of each other.  Their ethos of “authorpower” means they’re alongside us every step of the way, and we split the royalties 50:50, which is unusual in the publishing world.


What book influenced you most as a writer and what are you reading at the moment?

I’d have to say We Need to Talk about Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. It’s a profound read, and so well crafted, hurtling along to a climax I for one never saw coming. Currently, I’m reading Solar by Ian McEwan, and loving the way he has created such an unlikeable but engaging protagonist!

What can we expect from you in the future? What are you writing at the moment?

My next novel, Moondance, is to be published by Blackbird in November. It’s a novel about a high flying career woman who finds herself and her marriage unravelling as she battles with gruelling fertility treatment.


Find Diane

Facebook:  theroadtodonetsk

Find More Finalists at


home pageThe People’s Book Prize is the unique literary competition that is judged by the nation and open to all UK publishing companies.

You Be the Judge: The People’s Book Prize – “The home for new and undiscovered works.”

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