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Jackie DiamondJacqueline

Diamond

When 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.

It was a Regency romance called Lady in Disguise (1982), and it sold in hardcover to Walker and Co. for $2,500.  Not exactly a fortune even thirty years ago!  The good news is that I've reissued it on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and on Smashwords, which distributes it widely.

But let's go back and hit the highlights…

I was born in 1949 in Menard, Texas.  My father, the only doctor in town, delivered me and my brother, who's two years older, at home with the assistance of a nurse. 

When I was six, we moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he did his residency in psychiatry, and five years later, we moved to Nashville, Tennessee.  With a psychiatrist for a father and a ceramic sculptor for a mother, I grew up in a very creative environment.

I 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 and book reviews in our local paper.

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 never did get produced, but I had a great time and learned a lot!  I still try to keep my Italian and French (both of which I'd studied for years) reasonably rust-free.

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.  In 1993-1994, I wrote a nationally distributed TV column for AP.  Along the way, I had the fun of interviewing stars including Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, Debbie Reynolds, LeVar Burton, 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 all came back with those painful rejection slips. 

In 1980, I fell in love with a PBS series based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  I read all her books, discovered Regency romances, and got inspired. 

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

I've written under the names Jacqueline Diamond, Jackie Hyman, Jackie Diamond Hyman, and (for Berkley's old Second Chance at Love line) Jacqueline Topaz, as well as one book under the name Jacqueline Jade for Silhouette Desire.  Publishers used to want exclusive names for an author; today, they're more likely to recognize the value of cross-publicizing. In reissuing my books, I'm putting them all under the Jacqueilne Diamond name, but using "writing as" where I originally used a different name.

I'm excited to be revising and releasing my backlist romances and mysteries as ebooks, making them available to a new generation of readers. You can see all of them in the righthand column on my Books Page. 

My husband and I live in Southern California. Our younger son lives and teaches in Tucson, Arizona, while our older son works for Google.  

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! The hardest part is weaving in exposition, or background at the beginning so that the reader doesn't get big boring chunks at one time, but also 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 series, including Patrick Stewart (very charming), George Takei, LeVar Burton and Rene Auberjonois (Odo).  I grew up watching "Perry Mason," so it was an honorl to have lunch with Raymond Burr.  Sadly, he died only a few months later - he hadn't seemed ill at the time.  Two of my "lasts" stand out - the last theater interview I did for the Associated Press was with Donald Sutherland, and he was delightful.  The last TV interview of mine that AP ran was with 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?

My favorites include my self-published science fiction novel Out of Her Universe, I also really love Danger Music, an offbeat mystery that took me ten years to sell.  I had to rewrite it just to update the technology!  Many of the rejections I received indicated the editor enjoyed it, but that it didn't quite fit the mold.  Happily, it was published in hardcover by Five Star and is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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

My hardcover horror novel, Echoes, received terrific reviews. Library Journal said, "Like the best of Dean Koontz's supernatural chillers, this novel forces readers to suspend disbelief… veteran novelist Hyman (The Eyes of a Stranger, St. Martin's, 1987) has written a compelling tale."  I'm pleased that I've been able to reissue it and would love to see it produced as a film, now that special effects can handle what wasn't possible back then! In case you're interested, here are the links for Echoes: Amazon and BarnesandNoble.

Where do you get your ideas?

Writers tend to give silly answers when asked where we get ideas ('I find them under a rock," or "I buy them at the store").  That's because, to us, getting ideas is intrinsic to being a novelist.

But the question deserves an explanation.  After all, writing isn't simply magic...well, not all the time, anyway!

For each book, I can usually trace an initial inspiration.  For example, my Safe Harbor Medical series for Harlequin American Romance was inspired by a situation from real life.

Having babies didn't come easily to my husband and me. We ran into fertility problems and had to enlist the aid of a specialist, Dr. Deryck Kent (I'd interviewed him in my job as an Associated Press reporter and knew I liked him). After several years of trying and some difficult pregnancies, we had two wonderful sons, now in their twenties.

Because of how important this subject was to me, I enjoy keeping up with developments in fertility. When seeking a premise for a book, I naturally hit on creating a hospital that was launching an up-to-the-minute fertility program--especially since Harlequin readers tend to enjoy books that involve babies. I'd actually used a variation on this premise before in a trilogy (Diagnosis: Having the Boss's Baby; Prescription: Marry Her Immediately, and Prognosis: A Baby? Maybe).

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.

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