Friday, January 29, 2010
Meet Diane Chamberlain
She was an insatiable reader as a child, and that fact, combined with a vivid imagination, inspired her to write. She penned a few truly terrible "novellas" at age twelve, then put fiction aside for many years as she pursued her education.
She grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore, two settings that have found their way into her novels.
In high school, her favorite authors were the unlikely combination of Victoria Holt and Sinclair Lewis. She loved Holt's flair for romantic suspense and Lewis's character studies as well as his exploration of social values, and both those authors influenced the writer she is today.
She attended Glassboro State College in New Jersey as a special education major before moving to San Diego, where she received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in social work from San Diego State University. After graduating, she worked in a couple of youth counseling agencies and then focused on medical social work, which she adored. She worked at Sharp Hospital in San Diego and Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in adolescents. She reluctantly closed her practice in 1992 when she realized that she could no longer split her time between two careers and be effective at both of them.
It was while she was working in San Diego that she started writing. She had a story in her mind since she was a young adolescent about a group of people living together at the Jersey Shore. While waiting for a doctor's appointment one day, she pulled out a pen and pad and began putting that story on paper. Once she started, she couldn't stop. She took a class in fiction writing, but for the most part, she "learned by doing." That story, PRIVATE RELATIONS, took her four years to complete. She sold it in 1986, but it wasn't published until 1989 (three very long years!), when it earned her the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel. Except for a brief stint writing for daytime TV (One Life to Live) and a few miscellaneous articles for newspapers and magazines, she has focused her efforts on book-length fiction and she is currently working on her nineteenth novel.
Her stories are often filled with mystery and suspense, and–she hopes–they also tug at the emotions. Relationships – between men and women, parents and children, sisters and brothers – are always the primary focus of her books. She can't think of anything more fascinating than the way people struggle with life's trials and tribulations, both together and alone.
In the mid-nineties, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a challenging disease to live with. Although her RA is under good control with medication and she can usually type for many hours a day, she sometimes rely on voice recognition technology to get words on paper. She is very grateful to the inventor of that software! She lived in Northern Virginia until the summer of 2005, when she moved to North Carolina, the state that inspired so many of her stories and where she lives with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca. She has three grown stepdaughters, three sons-in-law, three grandbabies, and two shelties named Keeper and Jet.
For her, the real joy of writing is having the opportunity to touch readers with her words. She hopes that her stories move you in some way and give you hours of enjoyable reading.
You can read more about Diane and her work at her website: