DO: My first series is the Maternal Instincts Mystery Series. I had the idea for the series when my first child was six months old. I’d always wanted to be a novelist. I studied playwriting in school and have an MFA in Playwriting, but part of the process with theater is being present at the theater and, of course, in front of the audience. With a new baby, I wanted to be at home with her, not to mention I was sleep deprived, pajama bound, and in no shape to face an audience!
So I decided to write a novel. I was inspired to write a protagonist that felt the same as me, wanting to work but still be home with her new baby. And as far as the mystery piece, well that was just was just elementary. I’ve always been a Nancy Drew, Hardy Boy, Agatha Christie fan! I wanted to create something that would be enjoyable to all the mystery fans out there. Your readers can grab a free copy here.
Another series, that I enjoy writing is my Love or Money Series. It spoofs reality TV (like the Bachelor) but in the book, some men are on the show looking for love, and others are there for the money. It’s up to my sleuth, Georgia, to figure out the intentions of contestants, but things turn deadly or and it’s more than the cash prize that’s on the line. I think the subgenre labeling help readers to understand the type of book/story/adventure they are about to embark on. I always want the experience to be worthwhile for the reader.
KO: Your mysteries cross sub-genres. I’ve seen them described as cozies and as thrillers. How do you balance doing something original with the genre and giving readers what they expect from their favorite subgenre? Where do you see your mysteries falling on the cozy to thriller spectrum? How do you feel about curse words?
DO: Reader expectation is very important to me. My aim is to deliver a satisfying mystery that is suspenseful. So far, the mysteries I’ve published have comedic elements which tends to get them classified as “cozies”.
When I got my MFA, my professor would say, “No tears for the playwright, no tears for audience. No laughter for the playwright, no laughter for the audience.” The book I write is my journey, but when the reader picks it up it becomes theirs. We are like traveling companions and like traveling, it’s nice to know the general direction and type of travel, but still be open to some pleasant surprises.
KO: In addition to a bestselling mystery writer, you’re also a “book doctor” and editor. What are some of the recurring problems you see in the books you “doctor”? Based on your experience as an editor, what advise do you have for writers?
DO: Some recurring problems are pretty general, like plotting and pacing. Some are more subtle, like delivering on genre and reader expectations, but the one I see that is hardest to overcoming is character development and/or emotion. Some writers, especially the introverts, have difficulty showing emotion on the page and without that the reader will lose interest in the character and/or story.
My favorite quote is Hemingway, “There’s no friend as loyal as a book.” I always want my readers to feel that. To feel my friendship and my love for them through my writing.
There’s another famous saying that goes, “Writing is easy, just open up a vein and bleed on the page.” That’s it. That’s the part that most writer’s have trouble with, having the courage to put themselves on the page. That’s what I was trained to do in the MFA program that I attended and that’s what I help author do in my Writing Retreats and in my Creative Courage Program(click here for more info).
KO: What’s next on your plate?
DO: Right now, I’m working on a psychological thriller that will be quite a bit darker than the other mysteries I’ve published. One of my all time favorite authors is Patricia Highsmith. I love her work, especially the way she gets the reader to root for the villain (like the Talented Mr. Ripley). The narrative of my thriller is more complex than what I’ve completed before in my mysteries as there are two different points of view and flashbacks intertwined in the story.
Can’t wait! Thanks so much Diana!
How do y’all go about “bleeding on the page” in your stories?