Inspirations and Influences The Novella Initiative

KEEPER OF THE DAWN: Dianna Gunn on Inspirations & Influences

“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.

Today our guest is author Dianna Gunn, whose novella Keeper of the Dawn is our inaugural 2017 Novella Initiative title! Last week we unveiled the cover (gorgeous art by Reiko Murakami) over on–today, we are thrilled to invite Dianna to discuss the inspirations and influences behind her LGBT YA fantasy novella. We are so excited to publish it this spring–please give a warm welcome to Dianna, everyone!

Keeper of the Dawn

Roughly ten years ago, I decided to write a parody novel. I wanted to stretch my skills as a writer, and frankly, I wanted to write something less depressing than my typical work (spoiler alert: I only accomplished one of these things). I also adored a long list of parodies, including Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels.

I spent several weeks building a world and the perfect ragtag team of fantasy adventurers, but one of these characters quickly became more real to me than the others. Her name was Lai.

Within a few months I knew two things. First, I was never going to write that parody novel. I simply didn’t have it in me. But the second, arguably more important realization, was that Lai had a powerful story all her own, one very different from the romping comedy I originally imagined.

I abandoned the parody project entirely and dove into this character. She became so strong in my head that I built a new world around her, new mythology, new cultures, new characters.

The story I eventually wrote had nothing to do with my original idea except for a shared character, and little more in common with the book you see today. With every edit Lai’s story expanded, growing from a short story into a novella.

The interesting thing about this process is how it mirrors Lai’s story within the book. In order to understand her story, I had to redefine my entire project. Her entire journey is about redefining herself and her life plan.

In many ways Lai’s story also mirrors the story of my own career. I’ve dreamed about being an author since the age of eight, and as a child I stubbornly believed I would have my first novel published before my eighteenth birthday.

Well, my eighteenth birthday came and went some years ago, and only now is my first book coming out. But I have already been a working writer for six years, writing marketing materials for many different companies and non-profits. More importantly, my dream still came true—just a few years later than planned.

If there is any message I want you to take from Keeper of the Dawn, it is that there are many different paths to becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.


About the Author:

Dianna L. Gunn has known she wanted to be a writer since she was eight years old. She wrote her first novel for Nanowrimo at the age of eleven, but quickly discovered that writing books is not an easy way to make a living. So, she sought out another career that allowed her to work with words and eventually became a freelance writer. She adores freelance writing and is extremely passionate about helping her clients’ dreams come true.

When she isn’t helping her clients bring their dreams to life, Dianna can be found busily working on her own dream of being a successful fantasy author. Keeper of the Dawn is her first YA fantasy novella and she has several more in the works. She blogs about creativity, writing, and life at and can frequently be found haunting the Twitterverse @DiannaLGunn.

About the Novella:


Sometimes failure is just the beginning

All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to their beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she has trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.

From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum—a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.

Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshiping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai’s own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join their sacred order.

Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.

Keeper of the Dawn is out on April 18 and you can pre-order it now:

Kindle | Paperback

Add the book on Goodreads.

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