Interview with Jacqueline Diamond

Published 2020-01-18.
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 (3 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) thirty 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 jdiamondfriends@yahoo.com. 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.
How do you approach cover design?
A cover needs to reflect the genre and mood of the book, to engage the reader's interest and to be visually striking or effective. That's asking a lot! With my new books and reissues, I design my own covers (except for the Regencies, which were done by customgraphics.etsy.com. Creating a cover, for me, is a complex process including an overall sense of what I want to achieve as well as the need to "brand" a series. My romantic intrigues such as Touch Me in the Dark look very different from my romantic comedies like Designer Genes, while Safe Harbor Medical romances have their own look.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords helps me in a variety of ways. It distributes my books to many channels, including Kobo and iTunes, as well as providing other opportunities to reach readers. On the Smashwords site, I like being able to generate coupons to give away or discount books, and the occasional site-wide promotions are a great chance to offer value.
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 thirty-five 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!
What do you read for pleasure?
My reading tastes vary. To mix things up, I tend to switch between romances--right now, I'm especially enjoying Western romances of the late 19th century--and light or historical mysteries, like Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series. I also read a lot of nonfiction in the medical field, a favorite being The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. And don't forget the daily newspaper (The Orange County Register), including the Jumble and the crossword puzzle!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in a small town in Texas (Menard), moved to Louisville, Kentucky when I was 6 and then to Nashville, Tennessee, at 10. As a result, I have a great fondness for the great variety of people and cultures in my country, which grew even larger when I traveled and lived for short periods in France and Italy. While it's true that people are fundamentally the same everywhere, they have quite different perspectives about events and challenges in their lives. I draw on this understanding to create unexpected twists in stories and insights into characters.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When I began to regain rights to some of my novels, including my popular Regencies, a friend (bestselling author Debra Holland) encouraged me to explore self-publishing. Since about 2010, I've been able to reissue about 60 of my romances and mysteries, with updated content (as much as reasonably possible) and new covers. A few years ago, I decided to start writing directly for indie publishing, including my Safe Harbor Medical Mysteries, and have really enjoyed the creative freedom. I'm now working on a new trilogy about heroes and heroines over 50 finding love & new directions in life.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

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The Doctor's Accidental Family
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