PJ: How long have you been writing?
Diane: All my life. 🙂
PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?
Diane: My goals as a writer have changed over time. But back then, I just wanted to see my book on a bookshelf. When I went to my first booksigning at Murder on the Beach in Miami. It was a slow Sunday afternoon in the summertime. I figured no one would be there. But Joanne Sinchuck had put my a huge display featuring my book in the front window of her bookstore. Not only that, but there was actually a crowd of readers waiting to talk to me! Of course, I didn’t have a camera and don’t have any photos — but what a feeling that was!
PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?
Diane: I thought I’d be financially independent, hang out at the Algonquin Round Table with Sue Grafton and John Grisham and James Patterson and Lee Child and Michael Connelly and my other favorite authors every afternoon. 🙂 Otherwise, it’s exactly what I expected — and I love it!
PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?
Diane: No. But then, I’m part of the general public and I have pretty high expectations. 🙂
PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?
Diane: I had the good fortune to be a student in many, many classes while I was learning the craft of fiction. Everyone who shared their expertise with me said something about how writers should respect our readers. To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention. Back then, I wasn’t sure I’d ever have any readers to respect. But now that I do, I realize how much my work should focus on readers and I spend a great deal of time on that one goal. It’s so wonderful when readers tell me I’ve hit the mark!
PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?
Diane: That’s kind of a trick question. The flip answer is “thirty years,” because I’d wanted to write for a very long time before I actually got up the nerve to do it. The more serious answer is that once I put my energy to writing with intent to publish, it took me about four years between starting the novel and seeing the book on a bookshelf.
PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?
Diane: How much time do you have? Sure. I’d do lots of things differently if I could do it again. I’m a life-long learner. I’m constantly tweaking things. I’ve changed this answer four times already. 🙂
PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?
Diane: Ummm, when I manage to accomplish that, can I let you know? 🙂
PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?
Diane: I’m grateful to say I’ve had so many great moments! It’s very hard to choose the single most exciting thing. But surely watching my books climb the bestseller charts is one of the most exciting things. Makes me feel a little like I understand Sally Field‘s Oscar speech, hmmmmm?
PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?
Diane: All writers live through the school of hard knocks, but some of the lessons take longer to recover from than others. For me, the worst was when my publisher went bankrupt. The legal entanglements leave a very long tail.
PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?
Diane: When I sat at a signing table with other authors at BEA and we had a line of 700 + jaded publishing types who had seen and done everything — standing in line for our autographs! WOW!
PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?
Diane: I think the answer to this question is the same for every one of those books and authors – the thing that sets the book apart is the author who writes it. We are all unique. Our voices are unique and even when we try to write in one style or another, that uniqueness comes through. It’s impossible to suppress. But what I write about is a little bit different from those books, too. I like to challenge our assumptions and do things a little differently. I write clean because it’s a challenge (and because my mother reads my books!); I believe all problems can be solved, so my characters believe that, too. They get knocked down, but they get up again. I’m comfortable with ambivalence, uncomfortable with cruelty, and I have a very good imagination, so I assume my readers do, too. It’s not necessary to put everything on screen. And I like upbeat endings.
PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?
Diane: Pre-published writers often struggle with self-doubt and fret over the competitive nature of the business. I tell them that publishing is competitive, yes. Anything worth doing is competitive, is it not? But there are millions of people who have absolutely no desire to write a book — indeed, there are millions who have no desire to even read one! I believe that anyone who has a desire to write has at least some talent for it. Otherwise, we’d have no desire to do that thing. If you doubt me, I can give you a long, long list of things for which I have no talent at all, and no desire to develop skills, either. (I couldn’t possibly be a hockey player, for example!) Thus possessing some talent, the writer’s job is to develop that talent by learning the craft well enough to satisfy readers. Hang in there until you can do that, and you’ll be glad you did. I am.
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?
Diane: That’s a trick question, right? 🙂 The most effective tool is the one that works. The challenge is figuring out what works today, because it probably won’t be the thing that worked yesterday and definitely won’t bet the thing that works tomorrow.
PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?
Diane: I actually like book promotion, so I enjoy learning everything about it and trying it all. But the biggest challenge is finding the time to write, so I look for the most successful promotion techniques I can find that take the least amount of time away from writing.
Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:
NEW: Fatal Distraction – Introducing Jess Kimball
The Hunt For Reacher Begins:
Jack in a Box (short story)
Jack and Kill (short story)
Darla’s Deceit (short story)
Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:
Relentless victims’ rights advocate Jess Kimball and Jack Reacher both deliver justice when the legal system fails. Reacher waits until trouble finds him and then he does whatever it takes. But Jess pursues legal justice and draws lines she will not cross. How can she win against killers who refuse to follow the rules?
Where can we buy it?
All of my titles are for sale from all legitimate online resellers.
What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?
You never see the bullet that gets you. So I hate it that people notice things I missed — despite all the careful research, the editors, proofreaders, beta readers and more editors. I smile and say “Thank you,” but really, I’m thinking, “Good grief! How could we have misspelled ‘deserts’ ????”
LOL Thank you Diane. Entertaining and informative as always. If you haven’t read Diane’s work yet, you’re in for a real treat!