The International Guy of Mystery interviewed Lesley Diehl while lying on a psychologist's couch behind a haystack in a cattle field near a gator-infested swamp in Florida. Diehl is a former professor of psychology and was able to quickly diagnose the Guy with various psychological disorders as she answered his questions.
Diehl is also a prolific writer and has published numerous short stories as well as two cozy mystery novel series, always with a strong dose of humor, and always featuring sassy country gals.
IGM: If you had to give a quick, one-sentence description of your novel (or series) to a Hollywood mogul, what would you say?
LD: I never say anything in one sentence. I am a former academic and therefore very long winded. This is the story of a Connecticut fashionista who moves to rural Florida to set up a high end consignment shop with her best friend. She is a sassy, in-your-face kind of gal and she's snoopy with few social graces. That means she's always getting into trouble. She seems to have a knack for stumbling onto dead bodies. In some cases, she’s implicated in the murder. In others, she gets involved in solving the crime because that's just what she does. She is aided in her amateur sleuthing by her business partner and best friend as well as a cadre of friends including a mob boss, a hunky private eye, her ex-husband, a Miccosukee Indian and his grandfather and, sometimes her good friend, a detective with the local police.
A high end consignment shop in the swamps of Florida, you say? Sure, women everywhere like to dress well even when they're wrestling an alligator or herding cattle.
Yep, it would be a comedy.
I know I'm not playing fair so here's one sentence: Connecticut fashionista comes to rural Florida to open a consignment shop, but finds more than second hand merchandise when she finds a body on her dressing room floor. Since this is a series, she stumbles onto bodies everywhere, on an airboat, in the swamp, in a mud bog, and on and on.
IGM: Whew! Remind me not to ask you for a long answer! OK: What inspired you to write this series (personal experience, books you love, real people and events, etc.)?
LD: This isn't the first series I've written, but it is the one closest to my heart. My paternal grandmother was the queen of recycling. She never bought new and she passed this proclivity for bargains onto me. Or maybe it's just genetic. I've furnished my cottage in upstate New York with finds from garage sales, auctions and consignment shops. I only buy new if it's on sale. I am both environmentally responsible with my recycling, repurposing, and reusing, and I am cheap. So, of course, my protagonist, Eve must own a consignment shop.
IGM: What gives you the most joy as a writer?
LD: I write humorous mysteries for the most part and my joy is in being able to entertain myself as I write and hope that others will get a good laugh out of reading what my strange brain creates. If I don't laugh at what I'm writing, then it doesn't belong on the page.
IGM: What is the hardest thing about writing?
LD: I hate doing the rewrites.
IGM: How did you come up with the titles?
LD: My titles for the Eve Appel mystery series are very straight forward, i.e., A Secondhand Murder, Dead in the Water, A Sporting Murder, pretty revealing of what's inside the book, but I love to think up crazy titles such as in my Big Lake Murder mystery series, Dumpster Dying, Grilled, Chilled, and Killed. I love those!
IGM: Tell a little about your process. Do you know how your novels should end before you start?
LD: I used to write by the seat of my pants and never really knew what might happen. Now I write to my publisher's schedule and to meet it, I must outline. Usually I deviate wildly from the outline, but it's there to give me psychological comfort.
IGM: Pretend you are fielding a baseball team with your favorite writers. List them by position.
LD: I have to tell you that I do really hate baseball (I do not know what is wrong with me), but it's a fact that I have never sat through an entire game. But then I dislike most organized sports, so I don't engage in them and I don't watch them (except for golf which I sometimes play very badly and I do watch it on TV, so there!). The only sport I'm mildly interested in is quidditch (from Harry Potter-I like the idea of flying around on brooms), but I know little about it. When I looked it up on the internet, I found it was very complicated, so I tossed out my original idea that I would field quidditch players. I am forced, because of my dislike of team sports, to ignore your question. As you can see, I not only dislike team play, but I am not a team player. I don't follow the rules, although I did color inside the lines when a kid.
IGM: Physician, heal thyself! How could you not like baseball? OK, last question: Pretend your book is being made into a movie. What actors would play the lead characters? (Note: if your book is being optioned for a movie, you may wish to send several thousand dollars to the International Guy of Mystery Foundation as a tax write-off).
LD: My protagonist, Eve Appel is tall, thin and blonde. I think Angelina Jolie with a wig would be perfect. Madeleine, her business partner and friend could only be played by that tiny, blonde gal who does Bernadette in The Big Bang Theory. Eve's grandmother is a round, white-haired woman fashioned after the look of Paula Dean. Do you think she might leave the kitchen to play Grandy, Eve's Grandmother? As for the men in the book, I'm not good with thinking of male actors, so I think we should audition some unknowns. I sometimes think when I'm walking down the street or in a restaurant that there are people with the right look. Who knows? They might have talent. Besides it would be fun to audition handsome, exciting and smart men, well, with the exception of Eve's ex-husband who is good looking, but not so smart.
Please visit Lesley's website and order her books by following the link below: