Interview with Jacqueline Diamond
Author of more than 100 novels, USA Today best-selling author Jacqueline Diamond currently writes the Safe Harbor Medical® mystery series, including The Case of the Questionable Quadruplet, The Case of the Surly Surrogate and The Case of the Desperate Doctor.
A former Associated Press reporter and TV columnist, Jackie has sold mysteries, medical romances, Regency romances and romantic comedies to a range of publishers, including St. Martin's Press, William Morrow and Harlequin. She is best known for her Safe Harbor Medical romance series (featuring the same setting as her current mysteries).
The mother of two grown sons, Jackie lives in Southern California with her husband of 40 years. She belongs to writers' organizations including The Authors Guild, Romance Writers of America, and Novelists Inc. Jackie has twice been a finalist for the Rita Award and received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award.
You’ve published in a lot of genres—Regency romance, medical romance, romantic comedies, mysteries, even paranormal thrillers. Why not stick to just one?
Writing the same type of book can be fun, but exploring other genres keeps me fresh. Here's an example: writing my Safe Harbor Medical romances allowed me to develop characters and their families over a span of time. Now I'm writing the spin-off Safe Harbor Medical mystery series (three books so far). This allows me to explore new types of plots and characters, including my hero, Dr. Eric Darcy, in the familiar setting with some of my favorite supporting characters.
Seriously, you’ve sold more than 100 novels? How is that possible?
I sold my first novel, a hardcover Regency romance (Lady in Disguise, set in Jane Austen’s era) 30 years ago. Since then, I’ve sold about three books a year, to publishers including St. Martin’s Press, Harlequin, Five Star Mysteries and William Morrow. When you break it down by year—I write fulltime—it doesn’t seem quite as overwhelming. However, my current mystery series (Safe Harbor Medical mysteries) requires a year per book because of the complexity of the storylines and the research.
Smashwords features your self-published and/or reissued books, as compared to the Safe Harbor Medical series you write for Harlequin American Romance. What’s with the reissues?
Over the years, I’ve regained the rights to many of my books, including ten of the Safe Harbor Medical romances (there are 17 in all). I've also enjoyed the chance to revisit and update some of my earlier zany romantic comedies, like Designer Genes and The Bride Wore Gym Shoes. Designing new covers and updating content freshens them, and I like making them available to a new generation of readers (as well as my old friends!).
Did being an Associated Press reporter and TV columnist in Los Angeles affect your fiction writing?
I learned to write very tightly, which is part of the reason my books tend to be short. Also, being a reporter impressed on me the importance of research and fact-checking. It’s a lot easier now with the Internet; I used to do more in-person interviews related to situations and occupations in my books. Also, my experiences as a TV columnist provided much of the background for my dark-comedy Hollywood mystery, Danger Music. In my current Safe Harbor Medical Mysteries, I draw on experience in covering police and crime. Some of the experts I met along the way are kind enough to answer my questions about police procedure, forensics, prosecutorial issues and other relevant matters.
If I decide I really like your books, is there anything I can do beyond just telling my friends?
I’m very grateful to loyal readers. If you like a book and post a review—on Smashwords, Amazon, Goodreads, or all of these—it really helps. Even if there are a handful of reviews already posted, some of the best promotional sites won’t accept ads if they don’t see 50 or more reviews. Ridiculous—they won’t even take the author’s money, which makes it hard to promote new releases. Another thing you can do is click “Like “on my Facebook page. Thanks! If you have any other questions you’d like me to add to this interview, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please visit my website, www.jacquelinediamond.net, where you can sign up for my free monthly newsletter. I often participate in group promotions/giveaways and put books on sale!
What is your writing process?
For me, a book starts with a few ideas or plot twists. Then I jot down questions and further ideas that result. Who would do this? What would happen as a result? What in my main character's background would spur him or her to respond to this situation?
Once I have several pages or more of notes, I begin organizing them. Where does the story begin? How does the character and, in a romance, the relationship develop? What are the key turning points, where something important changes that kicks the action into a higher gear?
Gradually I develop the characters and storyline in more depth. Only when I can really visualize the situation and feel the emotions do I begin writing. As the work progresses, more questions and ideas occur to me. I'm continually reorganizing my notes as the book takes shape.
I also reread my chapters from time to time, and revise the book when it's finished with the help of a critique group and beta readers.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Case of the Desperate Doctor is the third book in my Safe Harbor Medical Mystery series. Each of the two previous mysteries—The Case of the Questionable Quadruplet and The Case of the Surly Surrogate—was complete in itself. However, I did introduce some long-term issues affecting my hero, Dr. Eric Darcy, including unresolved questions about his wife's death. In this third book, I resolve some of those issues while further developing other ongoing characters, including his sister-in-law, a private investigator, and his closest friend, a homicide detective.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It's wonderful when characters come alive on the page, when their dialogue sparks and insights or humor pops up unexpectedly. Honestly, they surprise me!
What do your fans mean to you?
Because I've been published for about 35 years, I've had the amazing experience of meeting or hearing from readers who've followed my books during much of their lives. Sometimes people tell me they discovered my books through a parent or grandparent! It's extremely rewarding to hear that I've entertained people, and even provided emotional support during difficult times. Books meant a lot to me as I grew up, and to be able to fulfill that role for my fans is very, very special.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
As you might imagine, I love to read—mysteries, romance, history, and all kinds of quirky stuff from fantasy to medical science. I'm also an unabashed TV fan, with medical dramas (Grey's Anatomy, anyone?) and mysteries topping the list of favorites!
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