Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
I am an Edgar-nominated author of 11 mystery novels and 15 True Crime books. Seven of my mystery novels are contemporary police procedurals featuring Lt. Lucinda Pierce. Three of them are historical mysteries set in World War II at a Tennessee government facility. (I attached a bibliography)
I have been a consultant for 48 Hours and appeared as a crime expert on many other television shows including 20/20, the Today Show, Snapped, Forensic Files and as a regular on 12 seasons of Deadly Women. I live in Bedford, Virginia, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge mountains with my husband and my sheltie.
What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
My historical mystery series is based at the Manhattan Project facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee during World War Two. My protagonist is a female chemist who is working to process the uranium that went into the bomb that fell on Hiroshima. My true crime books are non-fiction and, thus, are real-life stories.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
In short, life. For example, my inspiration for my first novel Bite the Moon, arose when I was sitting in Gruene Hall in Texas. Watching a performance on stage, I wondered if you could kill someone with a guitar string and that became the basis for the opening scene. In my Lucinda Pierce series, I found inspiration from bits and pieces of comments from killers, law enforcement and victims’ family and friends I interviewed. The historical mystery series arose from the research I did for Her Deadly Web, featuring a woman who spent her teen years at the government facility in Oak Ridge and then went on to murder two husbands. The research I did for that True Crime book stirred up my interest in learning more about the past of that corner of the Manhattan Project.
How do you deal with creative block?
My first method is preventative. When I am writing, I never stop at the end of a chapter or scene. I always write an additional sentence or paragraph to make it easier to get started the next day.
When writer’s block strikes anyway, I switch how I am writing—from pen and paper to laptop to voice recognition software—to where I write—my writing studio, the kitchen table, my porch, etc. Changes tend to make the creative engine crank up and run.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
With my first few books, I was devastated. I fell into a dark, hopeless place. In time, I gained perspective.
First, I acknowledged that there are books that I didn’t enjoy that were loved by many and visa-versa. Not every book is right for every person.
Secondly, I realized that many detractors were simply jealous—they wanted to be writers and were not successful.
Finally, with my true crime books, some people had a different viewpoint on the crime than I did which colored their opinion. Now, I just ignore the bad reviews and feedback.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
My first true crime book, Through the Window, kept surprising me all along the way because I had to learn everything by doing it. I chose the topic for it because a man who attempted to abduct me when I was nine-years old resonated with the story of a serial killer’s surviving victim.
I was surprised again when I asked Ann Rule a question I had while writing it. She said, “You’re writing about that case? They asked me to do it, but I turned it down because it would have been too hard to do.” No wonder I was having problems.
The biggest surprise of all, though, was when the serial killer confessed to me about a murder. At that time, the mother of the ten-year-old was found guilty and sentenced to 65 years for that murder. I wrote about his confession and once the book was published, I was drawn into a legal battle involving the Innocence Project and the Center for Wrongful Convictions. Basically, I served as a catalyst to the women getting a second trial, being acquitted and receiving a Certificate of Actual Innocence from the State of Illinois.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
While I am writing the first draft, I am focused on creating as good of story as I can. When I am editing, I am searching for ways to improve the manuscript to keep the interest of readers, eliminates any roadblocks to understanding and creating plot and characters that fill them with surprise and satisfaction.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
Emotions are vital to creativity in two different areas. First of all, you can’t evoke emotions in your readers if you do not feel them as you’re writing about them. You need to feel the happiness, the fear and the bewilderment of your characters as you construct the scene.
Secondly, if you are in a positive mood, you will get into flow much more easily. It becomes
much more difficult to break through creative blockage when you are in a negative mood. If you’re like me, you must force yourself. I find it easier at times like that to take a character through a trauma or difficulty. When you break down that wall that urges you to just give up for now, your negative mood will rule your day no matter what you do. If you persist and write, no matter how forced or crappy your sentences seem, they still give you a sense of accomplishment that elevates your mood.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
I don’t know if I would call them tricks but walks and yoga both churn up my creative juices.
What are your plans for future books?
I am currently writing a novel that has the potential to be a new series and looking for the perfect true crime case to make my senior editor happy.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I write different lyrics to existing songs and sing them to my dog while we walk.
My first draft is written in pencil.
Books by Diane Fanning
Texas Hill Country Mystery
Bite the Moon (Five Star Mysteries, July 2007)
Lucinda Pierce Virginia-based mystery series
The Trophy Exchange (Severn House Publishers, July 2008)
Punish the Deed (Severn House Publishers, March 2009)
Mistaken Identity (Severn House Publishers, May 2010)
Twisted Reason (Severn House Publishers, January 2011)
False Front (Severn House Publishers, April 2012)
Wrong Turn (Severn House Publishers, January 2013)
Chain Reaction (Severn House Publishers, March 2014)
World War II series
Scandal in the Secret City (Severn House, November, 2014)
Treason in the Secret City (Severn House, August 2016)
Sabotage in the Secret City (Severn House, July 2018)
Through the Window (St. Martin’s Press-April 2003)
Into the Water (St. Martin’s Press-June 2004)
Written in Blood (St. Martin’s Press-February 2005) Edgar Award finalist
Gone Forever (St. Martin’s Press-February 2006)
Baby Be Mine (St. Martin’s Press-August, 2006)
Under the Knife (St. Martin’s Press-April 2007)
Out There (St. Martin’s Press-October, 2007)
The Pastor’s Wife (St. Martin’s Press-November, 2008)
A Poisoned Passion (St. Martin’s Press-September, 2009)
Mommy’s Little Girl (St. Martin’s Press-November, 2009)
Her Deadly Web (St. Martin’s Press, January, 2012)
Sleep My Darlings (St. Martin’s Press, April 2013)
Under Cover of the Night (Berkley Books, October 2014) (Bedford County case)
Bitter Remains (Berkley Books, January, 2016)
Death on the River (St. Martin’s Press, April 2019)
Red Boots & Attitude (Eakin Press, February 2002)
Also published in: USA Today, New York Post, Baltimore Sun and other smaller periodicals