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Jackie DiamondJacqueline

Diamond

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It took ten years of rejection slips (after I graduated from college--I also collected a few earlier) before I sold my first book, and that was just the beginning. My writing grows and changes as the years go by.

My first successful novel, the Regency romance Lady in Disguise, sold in 1982 to Walker and Co. for $2,500.  Not exactly a fortune even that many years ago! The good news is that I've reissued it as an ebook, along with four other light-hearted Regencies set in Jane Austen’s era.

From the age of four or five, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I was born in 1949 in Menard, Texas, where my father, Maurice Hyman M.D., was the only doctor in town. He delivered me and my older brother, Paul, at home. When I was six, we moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where Dad did his residency in psychiatry.

Five years later, we moved to Nashville, Tennessee. With a psychiatrist for a father and a ceramic sculptor (Sylvia Hyman) for a mother, I grew up in a creative environment.

My early publications included an essay in the old American Girl Magazine as well as stories and poems in my school literary magazine. I attended Peabody Demonstration School, now University School of Nashville. 

After graduating from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, I spent a year in Europe on a writing fellowship from the Thomas Watson Foundation. The play I wrote about Lorenzo de' Medici was never produced, but I learned a lot about writing, culture and myself, as well as improving my French and Italian.

My next move, at age 23, was to Southern California, where my brother lived. I worked briefly in public relations, then for two newspapers and The Associated Press bureau in Los Angeles. I covered a variety of news stories as well as theater from 1980-1983, when Ieft to write novels and start a family. In 1993-1994, I wrote a nationally distributed TV column for AP. Along the way, I had the fun of interviewing stars including Debbie Reynolds, Dick Van Dyke, Pearl Bailey, Lily Tomlin, James Garner and many more.

All this time, I was writing plays, scripts and books. Except for a couple of plays produced locally, they came back with painful rejection slips. 

In 1980, I fell in love with a PBS series based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Reading her books led me to discover Regency romances. 

A year later, I sold my first two Regencies (the second was Song for a Lady, also now available as an ebook). Over the next few decades, I sold a paranormal suspense novel (Echoes), a fantasy novel (Shadowlight), two mysteries (The Eyes of a Stranger and Danger Music), a paranormal romantic suspense (Touch Me in the Dark) and romances in subgenres ranging from medical romance to screwball comedy.  My publishers included William Morrow, St. Martin's Press, Berkley, Five Star, Walker and Co., and Harlequin.

I've written under the names Jacqueline Diamond, Jackie Hyman, Jackie Diamond Hyman and Jacqueline Topaz, as well as one book as Jacqueline Jade (romance publishers used to demand exclusive names for an author). In reissuing my books, I've put them all under Jacqueline Diamond, since it’s better known. I’ve also retired some titles that I consider too outdated to revise.

For Harlequin, in 2009, I proposed three books set in a small California town at a hospital specializing in fertility and maternity care. The Safe Harbor Medical® series launched in 2010 with The Would-Be Mommy and grew to 17 books. 

I’d been eager to return to writing mysteries. Longing for creative independence, I decided to self-publish a mystery series featuring a doctor. Why not use Safe Harbor, where I felt at home? This four-book series launched with The Case of the Questionable Quadruplet. I’m grateful for the support of fellow writers who critiqued for me, including retired Orange County Sheriff’s Investigator Gary Bale.

More recently, a half-dozen authors from my longtime critique group decided to write loosely coordinated romantic comedies featuring couples over age 50. My first book in the Better Late collection is Really? At Your Age?

On the personal side, my husband of more than forty years and I live in Southern California. Our younger son is a science writer,  while our older son works for Google. Our family also includes two terrific daughters-in-law!

Here are a few q-and-a responses:

What is the easiest part of writing for you? 

Scenes in which two characters have an intense confrontation. Sometimes the pages just fly.

What’s the hardest part?

Weaving in exposition, or background so the reader doesn't get hit with big boring chunks (known as a data dump), but isn't left clueless with inadequate information.

Do any of the celebrities you’ve interviewed stand out in your memory?

I'm a big Star Trek fan, so it was a thrill interviewing actors from those TV series, including Patrick Stewart, George Takei, LeVar Burton and Rene Auberjonois.

And, having grown up watching Perry Mason, I was honored to have lunch with Raymond Burr. Sadly, he died only a few months later. 

Two of my "lasts" stand out—the last theater interview I did for the Associated Press was with the delightful Donald Sutherland. The last TV interview of mine that AP ran featured Michael Caine, who was so much fun to talk to, I'd love to do it again!

Which of your books would you describe as your favorites?

I'd certainly include The Case of the Long-Lost Lover, my self-published science fiction novel Out of Her Universe and, among the Safe Harbor romances, Falling for the Nanny. 

Among my favorite romantic comedies are Cindy and the Fella, Designer Genes and Yours, Mine and Ours.

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas spring up everywhere—from news stories, from conversations, from chance comments in TV shows, books or movies. But developing the germ of an idea or a single plot twist into a full-blown novel is the challenge.

I ask questions such as: Why would that happen? What would happen next? Who would do that and why?

The next step is outlining the characters and plot. Then, finally, comes the actual writing, creating scenes in which the reader can immerse herself or himself. Much of what I’ve learned about writing, I’ve assembled in a short ebook, How to Write a Novel in One (Not-so-easy) Lesson.

Writing is always a voyage of discovery for the author. Thanks to my readers for taking the journey with me!

The Safe Harbor series consists of books that stand alone and can be read in any order. You can find a complete list at Safe Harbor Series Page.

What do you recommend for aspiring authors?

  • Read a lot of books in the genre you want to write.

  • Write, write and write some more. Rewrite. If necessary, start over. Some books are best considered a learning experience.

  • Take classes, join a critique group, find an online loop or site and listen carefully. Not all advice is good, but authors have to be prepared to learn and revise.

  • Read blogs and learn about the publishing industry.  

  • Books about writing can be helpful, although there's no substitute for individual feedback. 

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