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you read an author's biography, sometimes it appears that everything went
smoothly. Well, I'm here to report that it took ten years of rejection
slips (that's starting when I graduated from college--I also collected a
few earlier) before I sold my first book, and that was just the beginning.
first successful novel, the Regency romance Lady
in Disguise, sold in 1982 to Walker and Co. for $2,500.
Not exactly a fortune even thirty-five 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.
all started in Menard, Texas, where I was born in 1949. 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, and 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
wrote my first story at age four or five.
By six, I knew I wanted to be a writer. 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.
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.
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.
this time, I was writing plays, scripts and books. Except for a couple of
plays produced locally, they came back with painful rejection slips.
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.
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 the Jacqueline
Diamond name, since it’s better known. I’ve also retired some titles
that I consider too outdated to revise.
many years, my mainstay was writing for Harlequin, which bought and
published a lot of books for modest advances. In 2009, I proposed three
books set in a small California beach town at a hospital specializing in
fertility and maternity care. The Safe Harbor Medical® series launched in
2010 with The
and grew to 17 books.
been eager to return to writing mysteries. Longing
for creative independence and the freedom to take as much time as I
pleased for researching and writing, I decided to self-publish a mystery series. As a
reader, I loved contemporary mysteries featuring a
Why not use Safe
Harbor, where I felt at home? I enjoyed researching obstetrics and
fertility treatments, so it felt natural for my main character to be an
I shaped the characters and storyline for the first book, The
Case of the Questionable Quadruplet. I’m grateful for the
support of friends and fellow writers who critiqued for me, including
retired Orange County Sheriff’s Investigator Gary Bale, who also
reviewed my initial plot outline.
took nearly a year to research, write, revise and launch the Safe Harbor
Medical® mystery series. It’s been an exciting process. I've since
posted the second book, The
Case of the Surly Surrogate, and, as of this writing, am working
on the third.
the personal side, my husband and I live in Southern California. Our
younger son is a science writer in Tucson, Arizona, while our older son works for
Google in the Los Angeles area. Our family also includes one terrific
daughter-in-law and a wonderful future daughter-in-law.
are a few q-and-a responses:
is the easiest part of writing for you?
in which two characters have an intense confrontation. Sometimes the
pages just fly.
the hardest part?
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
any of the celebrities you’ve interviewed stand out in your
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.
having grown up watching Perry Mason, I was honored to have
lunch with Raymond Burr. Sadly, he died only a few months later.
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!
of your books would you describe as your favorites?
The Case of the Questionable Quadruplet (definitely on the
list!), my favorites include my self-published science fiction novel
Out of Her Universe and, among the Safe Harbor romances,
for the Nanny. I also love Danger Music, an offbeat
mystery that took me ten years to sell. Many of the rejections I
received indicated the editor enjoyed it, but that it didn't quite
fit the mold.
my favorite romantic comedies are Cindy and the
Genes and Yours, Mine and Ours.
do you get your 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
ask questions such as: Why would that happen? What would happen
next? Who would do that and why?
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
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.
do you recommend for aspiring authors?
a lot of books in the genre you want to write.
write and write some more. Rewrite. If necessary, start over.
Some books are best considered a learning experience.
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.
blogs and learn about the publishing industry. A great source of
information is Romance Writers of
about writing can be helpful, although there's no substitute for
individual feedback. I put together some insights and
encouragement in a short ebook called How
to Write a Novel in One (Not-so-Easy) Lesson.
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