What's in Store

Meet the Authors, Writers Doing Right, Book Reviews and More!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why Author Diana Dempsey is HAPPY!

After an education that included time in Belgium and Japan, Diana Dempsey applied her Harvard degree to a job with Toyota. Seeking more exciting work, she landed a job at CNBC where she anchored the Financial News Network in Santa Monica. Several news jobs later, she began writing her novels full-time. Ms. Dempsey writes the Celestial Novels as well as the Ms. America Mysteries. Welcome, Diana!



Diana, I’ve completely fallen in love with the Happy Pennington “Ms. America” mystery series. I’m wondering how a former journalist and news anchor wound up writing about beauty contestants! And with such great detail, too.

The inspiration for the Ms. America series came while brainstorming for another writer.  I’m fortunate to have a great group of author friends with whom I gather every few months.  We were trying to come up with a lighthearted mystery-series concept and the notion of a beauty-queen sleuth popped into my head.  The idea didn’t resonate with Carol—fortunately—but I loved it!  Maybe that was because I have fond memories of watching beauty pageants with my family while I was growing up.  We would gather in front of the TV, pick our favorite contestants, and see how they fared.  Also, like Happy, I enjoy fashion, beauty tips, and performing in front of a camera, all of which played a role in my first career as a TV newswoman.
There are so many things I love about Happy. She loves her husband and honors her marriage vows even when there’s sexual tension with the delicious Mario Suave; her need to stay slim does not make food the enemy; and though she wants people to understand she has a brain, she’s not ashamed to be a beauty queen. What a fun, strong female character! Is she a compilation of people you’ve met? A reflection of your experiences?
I’ve never known anyone quite like Happy.  I liked the idea of a character who is exceptional in many ways yet longs for a type of recognition she rarely receives.  To my mind, Happy is an interesting mix of contradictions, like most of us.  Though she is confident and has a strong sense of self, she’s defensive about her lack of formal education and being stereotyped as an airhead.  She’s perceptive, loving, and kind, yet must struggle sometimes to be patient with her parents, her husband, and her daughter.  As the series progresses, she will find Mario Suave more and more of a temptation, yet her strong moral core will guide her way.  And while she gleefully embraces girly pleasures like fashion and makeup, she’s keen to improve her mind and driven to prove her adeptness as a crime-solver.
The Celestial Novels all have different protagonists. Are these stories standalones? Or is there a running theme that ties them together? And for readers who started out with the Happy Pennington mysteries and might be interested in branching out, what are the similarities and differences?
The celestial novels are standalones.  They’re not screwball comedies like the Ms. America mysteries: I think of them as happy-ending women’s fiction.  I always put my protagonist through a really tough time but you can count on her eventual triumph (though it may not take quite the shape you expect).  Thematically the novels are similar in that all of them feature strong women at a professional and romantic crossroads.  They differ from much women’s fiction in that work matters a great deal to my heroines: the ups and downs of career loom large.  I do lots of research to bring detail and texture to the professional settings.  All that said, romance is big, big, big in these books.  Though it may look hopeless at times, my heroine will find a man who’s as complex and wonderful as she is, and who loves her with all his heart.
CHASING VENUS begins with the murder of a mystery writer. There’s a serial killer on the loose, murdering mystery authors with methods from their own novels. What a great idea! Do you simply have a wicked imagination or do you scan the news for possible murder devices and twisted plots?
I fear you’ll think I never get an idea when I’m not with my author friends because the concept behind Chasing Venus grew out of a brainstorming session, too.  We got to thinking how space might free up on the bestseller lists if some of the most popular writers were no longer publishing.  What wicked women we must all be … J  As it happens, the character of Reid Gardner was inspired by John Walsh, the host of television’s America’s Most Wanted.  I do indeed find inspiration in news events and in the lives of real people.  I am keen on reading obituaries.

Your books are currently carried on Kindle. Will they be released in paperback?
My books are available on Kindle, Nook, Apple devices, and all electronic platforms.  I am in the process of formatting them for paperback release.  Visit my website at www.dianadempsey.com to sign up for my mailing list so you’ll be notified when they’re available in paper.
With such an extensive travel history in your resume, will we see exotic and foreign locations in future books? Perhaps a character living in Japan?
Absolutely.  I’m enjoying sending Happy around the U.S. during her reign as Ms. America and at some point she’ll compete overseas.  I haven’t settled yet on where that pageant will be held.  Perhaps in Rio?  That sounds fun!  In Too Close to the Sun, winemaker Gabby DeLuca travels to Italy.  I expect to feature exotic locales in future celestial novels.
What’s next on your agenda?
Right now I’m writing the third installment in the Ms. America series.  Happy is in Miami.  Here’s a sneak peak!
HAPPY CAN’T SAY NO WHEN HUNKY REALITY-SHOW HOST
 MARIO SUAVE ASKS HER TO STEP IN AS A LAST-MINUTE JUDGE
FOR THE TEEN PRINCESS OF THE EVERGLADES BEAUTY PAGEANT
IN WHICH HIS DAUGHTER MARIELA"IS COMPETING.

BUT IN GLITTERY MIAMI—THE LAND OF THE TANNED,
THE TONED, AND THE TREACHEROUS—PAGEANT PREPS SCREECH
 TO A DEAD HALT WHEN THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS …

… ONE OF HAPPY’S FELLOW JUDGES IS FOUND
STRANGLED BY HER OWN STRING BIKINI.




I, for one, can't wait!  Thank you so much for taking the time to visit, Diana!

You can find Diana's books on Kindle, and  Nook, as well as for Apple devices. Don't forget to check out Diana's website!  And don't forget to check out my review of "Ms. America and the Villainy in Vegas"at http://jacquelinevickauthor.blogspot.com/2012/06/three-new-books-to-love.html .

2 comments:

  1. Great "meeting" you, Diana! Your series sound like so much fun, and love the way you're enjoying your writing and your character's adventures. Your books are now on my list! Thanks, Jackie. You're a great author supporter!

    Madeline

    ReplyDelete
  2. Madeline, with great authors like you and Diana out there, it's an easy job! It makes me glad I decided to move into this century with my reading list.

    ReplyDelete