Helpful + (Un)Helpful Writing Advice (Guest Post by SJ Kincaid, author of The Diabolic)



The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2016. If you haven’t heard of this new epic YA novel, The Diabolic follows Nemesis, a humanoid created to protect one person no matter the circumstances. As part of a plan to save the life of her charge, Nemesis gets dragged into a complicated world of deception, excess and politics. As Nemesis navigates the world of the elite, she comes to realise there is more to humanity than being born human.

As always – this book is so much better than I’m making it sound. Fans of The Hunger Games, Spark by Rachael Craw and The Jewel by Amy Ewing will love The DiabolicThe Diabolic is an exciting page turner with plenty to keep audiences guessing right up until the final page. And then there’s Nemesis. She’s just one of those characters who are somewhat alien and incredibly compelling.


As part of the Australian Blog Tour for The Diabolic, I’m delighted to be sharing with you a guest post by S.J. Kincaid with some helpful and less so advice she received whilst writing her newest novel.

Helpful and (Un)Helpful Writing Advice I Received While Writing The Diabolic

by S.J. Kincaid

Image result for good bad neutral

  1. tickStop thinking about the market.

This was fantastic advice, because the entire time I was writing The Diabolic, a thought kept beating through my head: I am wasting my time. After all, according to conventional wisdom as I understood it, the characters with appeal to the market were generally those easy to relate to… The sort of girl that, but for a quirk of fate, you could imagine as you. And Nemesis was not like that. At all. And my sci-fi galaxy? Surely this wasn’t something that would sell in YA. I couldn’t imagine this book selling, so I was wasting my time writing… Even if I was enjoying it. But my sister gave me this advice, so I heeded it. Thank God I did.

  1. minusWrite what you know

Ambiguous on the helpful meter. I did not know how it felt to be a natural born killer with little conscience in the far-distant future. I did know how it felt to be an outsider who wasn’t sure how to blend in. That was how I felt all of high school, whether it was accurate or no! So I did partially write what I knew. Partially.


  1. tickIt’s a marathon, not a sprint

This was the advice given to me long ago by author Aprilynne Pike about having a career as a writer. As soon as INSIGNIA finished, I panicked about not having a book contract already. I panicked about INSIGNIA not smashing my way onto bestseller lists, thus paving an easy path ahead for me. I worried about a lot of things.
I hurried through a few manuscripts.
Then with The Diabolic, I slowed down. I took my time. I wrote only when I cared to write. Only when inspired. Only when interested in writing more. And something obviously went very right, because I sold to an amazing house. A marathon, not a sprint. Conserving some energy leaves energy ahead for a little later in the race.


  1. crossIf I were you, I’d just sit down and write book after book after book

Not helpful. Not at all helpful. Love the mother who gave me the advice, but I find my writing quality does not increase with output. Rather, waiting and holding off until inspiration hits is entirely necessary. Days off give you the fuel you need for days on. I cannot produce like a machine. Some can – and I applaud them – but I cannot.


  1. tickDon’t give up so quickly

Helpful. Also given by said mother, since I am inclined to self-doubt. I am a glass half-full person, and though this sentiment was often expressed to me at times when I said I doubted I’d ever get published again, when I said I would never have a book that really appealed to people, and at other times, I think the most notable was right before The Diabolic was shopped. I told her I would be very lucky – extremely lucky – if one editor happened to be a bit interested. She was more optimistic. She was right.


  1. crossYou must get Voodoo Donuts

Not so helpful. With all due respect to the people of Portland – where I lived for a brief time while writing THE DIABOLIC – I tried your famed Voodoo Donuts after waiting a very long time in line for them. Delicious? Yes. But donuts always are. Worth the wait? I would not have waited an hour for them. I am sorry. This was not helpful advice.

Thank you so much for sharing your lessons learned whilst writing The Diabolic! And I have learned something – doughnuts are not always the right option! I loved reading this post – it is good to know that authors with morally questionable characters aren’t always just writing what they know! 😀

For anyone wanting to learn more about The Diabolic, S.J. Kincaid and writing in general – be sure to check out the rest of the Australian Blog Tour!


About S.J. Kincaid

S.J. Kincaid originally wanted to be an astronaut, but a dearth of mathematical skills turned her interest to science fiction instead. Her debut novel, Insignia, was shortlisted for the Waterstones prize. Its sequels, Vortex and Catalyst, have received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Booklist. She’s chronically restless and has lived in California, Alabama, New Hampshire, Oregon, Chicago, and Scotland with no signs of staying in one place anytime soon.

Helpful + (Un)Helpful Writing Advice (Guest Post by SJ Kincaid, author of The Diabolic)The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Published by Simon and Schuster on November 1st 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction, General, Science Fiction, Thrillers & Suspense, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Click here to buy the book from AmazonBooktopiaBook DepositoryAngus and Robertson
A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for. Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe. When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.