An interview with Diane Capri

Diane Capri was one of my very first clients. I loved her work then, and I love it now. It’s wonderful to have a friend like this and be able to watch the career she’s creating for herself.

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:

Don’t Know Jack

Jack in a Box (short story)

Jack and Kill (short story)

https://www.amazon.com/author/dianecapri

Attorney Jennifer Lane Case series

Annabelle’s Attack

Darla’s Deceit (short story)

Judge Wilhelmina Carson Case series

Carly’s Conspiracy

George’s Game

Harper’s Hell

Kate’s Killing

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!

An interview with Reed Farrel Coleman

Reed Farrel Coleman is one of my favorite hardboiled authors, and he’s a genuinely nice guy. I love the character of Moe Prager and look forward to reading anything Reed puts his hands to!

PJ: Reed, how long have you been writing?

Reed: I started writing poetry when I was thirteen and got my first thing published at fifteen. It was the usual angst-ridden, melodramatic stuff about unfulfilled love and death, but I guess I had a way with words. I always have. In my family, we were screamers and writing was another way for me to finally be heard and recognized. I continued writing and publishing poetry into my thirties. At some point I took a night class at Brooklyn College. That class was in American Detective Fiction. Within the first few weeks, I knew I had found what my purpose in life was. I was meant to write crime fiction. My first novel was published twenty-one years ago and I don’t see me slowing down anytime soon.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Reed: When I was fifteen and my first poem was published. Taught me an important lesson. You have to judge success for yourself. Don’t ever let others or outside standards judge success for you. That’s a trap a smart writer stays out of.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Reed: It’s very different than I could have imagined. For one thing it is much more difficult. You work very hard for very little reward in terms of financial reward or notoriety. I refer to my previous answer in that you have to learn how to judge success for yourself. As I tell my writing students: If you’re going into this business to make millions and expect people to throw roses, forget it. That is not to say it isn’t an enormously rewarding life. That’s the flip side. I can’t imagine a life in which I would find a deeper level of satisfaction or accomplishment. Also, the people I’ve come to know, the community I’ve become a part of is simply amazing. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Plus, with the evolution in publishing, it’s become a very different business that offers new and exciting chances.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Reed: My first advice to new writers is to marry up. No kidding. I’ve been fortunate to be married to a woman with a good career and great benefits. I have had some years that have afforded me a nice income and others where I have had to scrounge. This profession ain’t for the faint of heart. I guess I went into this not expecting to be rich. I went in expecting to be a good writer. No one should go into the arts as a way to make a fortune. It can be done. It has been done, but art should be your motivation, not wealth, not fame.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Reed: By the end of this year, I will have published sixteen novels, like twenty short stories, numerous poems, essays, novellas, etc. I tech writing at Hofstra University and for Mystery Writers of America University.  But the thing that I’ve learned is that getting published isn’t the end of things, it’s only the beginning. Staying published, getting better, expanding your horizons … those are the things this kind of career is about.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Reed: It took me two years to find my way to finish my first manuscript. It was published as my first novel—Life Goes Sleeping—in 1991. I was very lucky.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Reed: No. I’m not a regretter or ruer by nature. It is silly to waste an ounce of energy on if onlys or should have dones.

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?

Reed: Fortunately, I’m at the stage where I have a very good agent to represent me. But even so, I believe that the vast majority of your energy must be spent on producing the best possible writing and work you can. To do less is pure foolishness.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Reed: Hard question. Getting nominated for the Edgar for The James Deans was amazing, but winning my first Shamus Award wasn’t shabby either. I think when I saw Walking the Perfect Square reviewed in the New York Times was the most exciting.

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Reed: That’s easy: losing my contract with Viking.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

Reed: Oh, I think we all have memories of signings where no one shows at the bookstore. You figure it comes with the territory and you carry on. My favorite was when Michael Connelly—one of the kindest, most generous people in the business—called me to ask if it was alright if he did a few signings with me. Like I was going to say no, right? Those were great signings.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Reed: See, I try not to worry too much about that because we all have such limited control over it. I prefer to let professional marketing people figure that out. Fortunately, I have a small but loyal fan base and publishers who believe in marketing.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Reed: Here are my best pieces of advice: Write the best thing you can write every time. Fall in love with writing, not with what you’ve written. Editing and rewriting are as important as writing.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Reed: I think blog touring is very cost-effective. When I have the budget for it, hiring an indie PR firm is also a good idea.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Reed: I enjoy Facebook, but otherwise don’t enjoy promoting on social media.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

The Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan, but I also have to mention Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis and wish them happy 25th Anniversary.

PJ: Both great stores! Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

Dylan Klein Series:

Life Goes Sleeping

Little Easter

They Don’t Play Stickball in Milwaukee

 

Moe Prager Series:

Walking the Perfect Square

Redemption Street

The James Deans

Soul Patch

Empty Ever After

Innocent Monster

Hurt Machine

Onion Street (Tyrus Spring 2013)

Joe Serpe-Bob Healy Series (Written as Tony Spinosa)

Hose Monkey

The Fourth Victim

Gun Bunnies (Tyrus e-book 2012)

Detective Jack Kenny Series:

Bronx Requiem with John C. Roe (Hyperion e-book Fall 2012)

Stand-Alones:

Tower with Ken Bruen

Gun Church (Audible.com now, Tyrus Fall 2012)

 

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Gun Church:  Fight Club meets Wonder Boys meets Hunger Games with guns.

Where can we buy it?

Audible.com now or in bookstores and online in the fall of 2012.

Reed, thanks for sharing your time and your wisdom with us. I look forward to reading more of your work for a long time to come!