My Author’s Interview on Rita Lee Chapman’s Website
Rita Lee Chapman invited me to be author of the week on her website
I was so pleased when Rita Lee Chapman invited me to be one of her guest authors on her website. An author’s interview is the perfect venue to talk about my books, what inspires me to write, and some other tidbits about myself, including my writing process.
My guest author this week is award-winning Dianna L. Hagan who writes mysteries, memoirs and plans, one day, to write a ghost story.Rita lee chapman
Here’s the Text; Click on the Link for Full Interview
This week it is my pleasure to interview Dianne L. Hagan. Would you please introduce yourself to my readers, Dianne and share something about your life.
I’m an award-winning American author of mystery and memoir. My current home is in North Carolina, but I was born and raised in Albany, New York, and lived my adult life in Syracuse, New York until 2008 when we moved South. I’m white, and my husband, Ronald, is Black. We met freshman year of college, and we’ve been together for five decades. We have grown twin daughters and a granddaughter. Experiences like having to file a discrimination suit to buy our first house because the seller didn’t want to sell to an interracial couple and being stopped by the police to see if I was in the car with my husband voluntarily inform my writing and the topics I write about. All my books deal with race, culture, ethnicity, and gender equality and social justice.
When did you write your first book and how did it come about?
I published my first memoir in 2018 and came out with a second edition in 2019 because there was new information about some of the events in the book. I didn’t plan to write Another Day in Post-Racial America: To the Mothers of the Black Lives Matter Movement, With Love. I was writing a regular blog post about race and culture in America, and then one day Ronald and I went out to lunch. Five women walked into the restaurant after we’d been seated. I had my back to them as the hostess brought them to a table, but one made eye contact with my Ronald, and he said, “I recognize her from TV.” After they were seated, I realized they were the mothers of sons and daughters who had been murdered by a cop or vigilante. They’d come to the city to participate in a campaign rally for Hilary Clinton. I so wanted to go over and give my condolences and thank them for telling their stories so that no other mothers would suffer that kind of tragic loss over a broken taillight or a bag of Skittles. But I was too emotional, and as a white woman, I didn’t want them to have to see my tears and comfort me. I understood a little of what they experienced because, for the last five decades, I have feared for my husband’s life every time he leaves the house. He’s experienced many police stops for DWB—driving while Black—many of which he’s told me about and others that he keeps to himself because they were that terrifying. When I got home from lunch the day I saw the Mothers of BLM, I decided I was going to write a book dedicated to the women who lost sons and daughters and who spoke out and grieved publicly and to those who grieve in the isolation of silence. The book has been used in college classrooms and was named one of the best Black Lives Matter books of all time according to BookAuthority.
Do you always write in the same genre or do you mix it up?
I’ve written two memoirs and I’m in the middle of writing the fourth novel of a mystery series. When I was ten years old, I started writing a ghost story novel over the summer school break but never finished it, so I think at some point, I’d like to tackle a ghost story.
When you write, do you start with an idea and sit down and let it evolve, or do you make notes and collect ideas on paper beforehand?
I’m both a planner and a pantser. I keep a notebook, where I sketch out my ideas, scene progressions, characterization, relationships, and whatever research I am doing for each book. But as I get into the writing process, sometimes the events and characters take me in a different direction, and I’m open to it.
Who is your favourite character and why?
I love so many of the characters in my mystery series, A Cadence Mystery. The series is about a fictional small, multicultural utopian town that has a tragic racial history and big secrets. It was founded in 1789 by the Todadaho of the Six Nations of the Iroquois, a white sea captain, and his fugitive slave wife. The town was governed by the Onondaga principles of equality, respect, and cooperation. When a white mob enters the town in 1921 and kills hundreds of citizens, the town goes into hiding for one hundred years. My books open in 2020, just before the town reveals its true nature to the world. My characters are diverse in culture, ethnicity, age, race, ability, and gender. But, when the secret is revealed, there are bad actors out there, white supremacists, who want to destroy the town that models equality and acceptance and can teach America and the world that we all have more in common than differences and how inclusion and equality make life better for everyone. If I had to choose one character as my favorite, I would choose Chief Enoch Shenandoah of the Onondaga Nation, Wolf clan. He’s witty, self-deprecating, smart, intuitive, and he has a special relationship to nature, animals in particular—some people might call him an animal whisperer, though he doesn’t like that term. He also carries a deep sadness from the losses he suffered in life, but he is generous of spirit.
Which of your books gave you the most pleasure to write?
Every book I’ve written and the one I’m working on now was a pleasure to write. That doesn’t mean any of them were easy to write. Each had its own demands. I shed tears. I laughed. I got angry. But I absolutely enjoyed the journey on which each one took me. And I hope they do the same for my readers.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m a lot like Marian Greene, the narrator of A Cadence Mystery books. Short with silver hair, glasses, and wonky knees, I’m on the high side of sixty and carry a few extra pounds. I was a records manager and archivist during my career. I’m temperamentally shy, but a tigress when it comes to speaking out about social justice. Also, when I get comfortable, I can talk for hours about anything and everything. My hero, love of my life, and best friend is my husband, Ronald. Together we make quite a team navigating through life together like Marian and her husband, Lester. The only difference is that we haven’t found any dead bodies. The next most important people in my life are our twin daughters, Cara and Mackenzie, and our granddaughter, Eben—she’s a delight! I’m an advocate of social justice and equity. Baking and photographing nature, particularly birds, are my meditations. I think I’m funny, well, at least Ronald laughs at all my jokes. I love to play Scrabble and The New York Times Spelling Bee. And I’m a movie fanatic. My favorite era is post-World War II (Hollywood and British films) up through the very early 1960s. Reading is my superpower. I especially enjoy mystery books and police procedurals, but I am a reader of all genres and all things from newspapers to cereal boxes.
If you could holiday anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?
My mother, Ruth Alison Elliott Liuzzi, was one of the 15,000 Australian war brides who married American soldiers—I wrote about her and my Italian American father in my memoir, American Dreaming: A Memoir of Interracial Love, Estrangement, and Race Equality. She took her first four kids back to Ryde, NSW, to visit family just once, but I was only a year old, and the only memory I have is of kittens in a cardboard box on a porch. My severe arachnophobia was born in Australia when one day I was playing on the floor and spotted a fuzzy spider. I reached out to touch it, and my mother told me that was the only time she ever killed a spider that large by stepping on it. I’d love to go back for a visit, but Ronald worries the spiders would send me screaming back to the airport.
What is the biggest factor for you when selecting a book to read?
The author must be a decent writer and storyteller.
Do you have your own website?
I’m also a Goodreads author.
My books are available through Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle unlimited editions. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B54ZMZH2https://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B07PFSYHSThttps://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B08T8JGY1C
Are you working on a new book at the moment?
I’m working on Stone Coat Man (Book 4, A Cadence Mystery). When Marian Greene discovers a giant kneeling over a dead man in the woods behind the Hill Place resort, the authorities are skeptical about the giant. Soon a second body is discovered, and the authorities come to find out there have been sightings of the monster going back to 1923. The people of Cadence band together to find the killers, a missing police officer, and to uncover yet another secret about the small multicultural town with a tragic racial past.
Stone Coat Man Will Be Released Just Before Thanksgiving!
Catch up on the first three books of A Cadence Mystery series, all available on Amazon. Two are Literary Titan Award-winning books. I’m so excited about Stone Coat Man (Book 4). It’s a fast-paced thriller based on the mythical monster, the Genoskwa, of Seneca legend. Stay tuned!