Award-winning author Diane Sawyer is a mystery writer extraordinaire! Published by Thomas and Mercer – the mystery division of Amazon – her novels include The Montauk Mystery, The Montauk Steps, The Tomoka Mystery, The Cinderella Murders, The Treasures of Montauk Cove. Her latest novel, “Trouble in Tikal,” is about to be released by Southern Yellow Pine Publishing. Who says crime doesn’t pay?
Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.
I grew up in Greenport, a tiny resort town located on the eastern tip of Long Island, 100 miles from New York City. I graduated from Greenport High (K-12, salutatorian of the class; SUNY at Albany, cum laude, (New York State Regents Scholarship) Latin major, French minor. Seton Hall University (M.A.) in French. Summer Program in French pronunciation at the Sorbonne, France. PhD in Medieval Studies, areas of specialization: French, Latin, and History, Fordham University, New York City.
What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?
I saw a classical musical production featuring the Florida Orchestra two years ago. The solo instrument was the “erhu,” often referred to as a Chinese fiddle. I had never seen nor heard nor heard of an erhu, but the program stated that many people when hearing the erhu for the first time, thought it sounded like a woman…a woman crying. By the time I left the theater, I had an idea for a story, about a musician kidnapped after a local concert. Tons of research and a desire to write a story with two heroines kept me busy creating and writing for many months.
What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?
My biggest challenge was finding motivation for each and every character to complete his or her role in the story. In my opinion, it was worth the effort. I wanted believable characters and an emotional reaction from the readers. And on top of that, smart and capable heroines who could tell their story and win over every reader. I apparently received that and more because the FAPA (Florida Authors and Publishers Association) awarded “The Tell-Tale Treasure” first prize in all three categories: adult mystery, thriller, and suspense.
What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?
My biggest aha moment or success was when I received that FAPA award. I was immediately inspired to do as well on my next novel.
What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I read across the board, often following the advice of friends. Most of my favorite books have a strong heroine. I once won a writing award (as an adult) for an essay/short story about Anne of Green Gables.
Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?
Yes, I write every day. I wouldn’t say I have rituals, but I often find when walking that I think of my characters and what will they do next to get out of the jam I left them in. When I get home and to the computer, I try to advance the story to keep the momentum going. Basically, I answer the age-old question, “What happens next?” However, anything, no matter how unrelated to my story it seems to give me an idea and I try to work it in. An example: While I was writing The Tell-Tale Treasure, a competitive Chinese boat race was held here in St. Petersburg, not far from where I live. That gave me an entire scene, one of my favorites, set near USF and the former Dali Museum.
What are your interests outside of writing?
I enjoy fitness, friends, family, movies, being outdoors, travel (especially alone but with a tour group to find out everything I can about a country.)
Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.
If I could recommend one major thing that would help your writing, is to (helpfully) critique another author’s work. When I started writing in Florida, I took a writing class and three of us – Grace, Peggy, and I – critiqued every word the other two wrote. All three of us improved drastically and began to win writing awards. I have a critiquing partner now too. We are both happy with the results.
Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers. To suggest an author interview, email her: firstname.lastname@example.org