Interview With Thriller Author Diane Capri

by Guest Contributor

Author Diane Capri

Today’s post is written by Debra Eve

All writers lead double lives.

They create worlds and cook dinner, slay monsters and do a washload, invent starships and stand in traffic, work their dreams and work a day job.

Bram Stoker, PD James, and David Seidler all wrote on the side until they could write full time. Then there’s thriller author Diane Capri, who considers herself a ‘recovering attorney.’ That doesn’t begin to describe her successful first career.

She’s admitted to practice law in two states, ranked in the top one percent of lawyers nation-wide, handled cases around the country, taught law school, wrote two legal career manuals and founded her own law firm.

Her latest book, Don’t Know Jack, revisits Lee Child’s first Jack Reacher novel Killing Floor fifteen years later. It recently hit several of Amazon’s bestseller charts, including No. 1 in three Mystery & Thriller categories.

Here, Debra Eve of interviews Diane on her career transition.

So Diane, how did you make the transition from attorney to author? Was there an ‘aha!’ moment?

Despite what we see on television, lawyering is mostly writing with a bigger pay check. I’ve always joked that most of what I wrote as a lawyer was non-fiction.

There was a moment in 1995 when my biggest client filed bankruptcy and I suddenly had a lot of empty space in my life. My friends told me to fish or cut bait on this fiction writing thing, and they were right! It’s still days and nights at the keyboard moving the cursor around. But now I’m allowed to make stuff up, which is way more fun.

What was the hardest part of the transition?

How long everything takes to get done in the traditional publishing world. Before I started working in publishing, I thought the law was the slowest thing on the planet. But legal cases move at warp speed compared to book publishing.

Your first series features sleuth Willa Carson, a federal judge. It was traditionallyDon't Know Jack, by Diane Capri published, but you recently re-released it. How did that come about?

Indie publishing is very exciting these days and I wanted to be a part of that. I’ve been in business most of my life, so the prospect of owning my own publishing business, serving as chief cook and bottle washer, wasn’t intimidating.

I’d already spent years in the book world, so I understood the process of getting books to readers—which is the hardest part. My Willa books were out of print and I owned the rights. I also had two new manuscripts I wanted to publish, and I was working on Don’t Know Jack.

So it just made sense to revise, retitle, and reissue the backlist at the same time we published Annabelle’s Attack. It’s been a lot of fun so far. Readers have been enthusiastic and sales robust. All good.

Are you a pantser (who writes by the seat of their pants) or a plotter?

I started out the former, but now I’m very much the latter.

Do you currently keep a writing schedule?

I write all day, every day, when I’m not absolutely forced to do something else. Is that a schedule?

Did you have a fiction writing schedule while practicing law?

Back then, every moment I wasn’t doing legal work, I wrote fiction. Nights and weekends and on airplanes and in hotel rooms. I wrote whenever I could, wherever I was.

You were an inaugural member and Executive Vice President of International Thriller Writers, the writers organization that produces the annual Thrillerfest. Is that where you met Lee Child and some of the exciting authors you’ve been interviewing on your blog?

The writing community has expanded quite a bit since I started, but it’s still fairly small, and most of us at least know each other a bit.

I’m not sure when I first met Lee Child, but at least before he was the Guest of Honor at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. Several of my friends already knew him and of course, I’d read his books. Who knew we’d work together on the board of ITW years later? We just hit it off. He’s an easy guy to befriend. Fun to be around. We did a number of ITW projects together and he’s nice to work with, too. He’s a real friend to writers and readers alike.

ThrillerFest was filled with great moments for me and everyone who attends tells me the same. It was a privilege to be involved in all of it, especially right at the beginning. We enjoyed launching so many “firsts.” ITW members are a terrific bunch of people. If you haven’t attended a ThrillerFest, you should give it a try!

What can you tell writers with families and day jobs about keeping the faith?

I often speak to groups of aspiring authors who worry that they’ll never “make it,” because the field is “too crowded” and they’re “not good enough” and it’s “too hard to get published.” I tell them the truth: Believe me, not everyone wants to write a book.

In fact, millions of people don’t even want to read a book, let alone write one. Yes, writing is a competitive business. What work of any value is not competitive? But I believe that desire is a gift; we don’t desire to do things we have no talent for; and if you have a desire to write, you have at least some talent for it.

I can easily prove this to you by demonstrating all the things I have absolutely no desire to do, and even less talent for. (Like football. Seriously? Not only do I throw like a girl, I can’t catch, either!) If you have the desire to write, you have talent, and it’s up to you to develop that talent.

There are so many platitudes out there about never giving up and perseverance. But they’re all true. You can’t succeed if you don’t try. Don’t get discouraged when you hear “overnight success” stories. Most of the time, overnight success takes at least ten years!

The best news in today’s market is that writers can self-publish and actually reach our readers, which gives us all so many more options than we had before. Almost every author I know is self-publishing something. (And I know a lot of authors!)

If you have the desire and you’re willing to do the work, you can be a published author. No extraordinary faith required.

Thank you to Diane Capri for sharing her ‘thrilling’ transition to the world of writing and self-publishing!

Diane Capri is the bestselling author of seven novels world-wide publishing phenomenon Lee Child calls “Full of thrills and tension, but smart and human, too.” Diane’s new ‘Hunt for Reacher’ series begins with the Amazon bestseller and Kindle exclusive Don’t Know Jack. Her Judge Wilhelmina Carson and Attorney Jennifer Lane mysteries are now exclusively available as e-books.

Diane writes mystery and suspense for the same reason she reads: to find out what happens, why people do what they do and how to bring justice to an unjust world. She loves to hear from readers. You can find her at, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Interviewer Debra Eve wrote the Kindle bestseller, Later Bloomers: 35 Folks Over Age 35 Who Found Their Passion And Purpose. She blogs at You can also find her on Twitter.

  • Debra Eve | Later Bloomer

    Thank you, Suzannah, for having Diane and me on Write It Sideways! It’s always a pleasure.

    • Diane Capri

      Let me second that, Suzannah, and also thank Debra Eve for requesting this interview. It was fun!

      • Suzannah

        Diane, the honour is mine for having you here. Thanks so much for sharing your story and experience!

    • Suzannah

      You’re quite welcome! Thanks for such a fantastic interview, Debra!

  • Patricia

    Very nice interview ladies. There are several lawyers, and/or previous lawyers, in my romance writer’s group here in Sacramento. I work as a paralegal so I find this fact interesting. Something about the legal world sure makes you want to escape it – thus fiction writing.

    Congratulations on all of your successes in the publishing industry!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Debra Eve | Later Bloomer

      I’m a paralegal too, Patricia, and agree with you. We’ve actually had two attorneys leave to write in the past year, one specially said she wanted to be a poet. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Diane Capri

      Thanks Jansen! The connection between lawyers and fiction writing isn’t limited to your Sacramento area, for sure. Lawyers engage the world primarily through the written word. The transition from writing legal briefs and writing fiction isn’t a giant step for man or mankind, to plagiarize that famous moon-walker. :-)

  • Prudence MacLeod

    Great interview ladies. I quite enjoyed it. Kudos!

    • Diane Capri

      Very kind of you to say, Pru! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Debra Eve | Later Bloomer

    Thanks for joining us downunder, Prudence :)

  • Karen McFarland

    What a fantastic interview! I loved your questions Debra and Diane, you were very encouraging! What is it about attorneys and writing? Some of the best writers have legal backgrounds. I feel like I should’ve been a lawyer. lol But I am so thrilled for Diane and for the success of “Don’t Know Jack!” Thank you my new cyber friends! :)

    • Diane Capri

      LOL, Karen! You are much too much fun to spend your time toiling “at the bar” and too well suited to your chosen work. We’re glad you’re a writer and not a lawyer!

  • Reetta Raitanen

    Great questions and interesting answers. Thanks Diane and Debra. I loved Jack In A Box but I enjoyed it in a totally new level since reading Killing Floor (had read other Reacher books before, though).

    • Debra Eve | Later Bloomer

      Thanks, Reeta. I’m a bit embarassed to admit I didn’t know much about Lee Child before meeting Diane, so I read Don’t Know Jack before Killing Floor. I wish I’d done it the other way around, because Diane did such a fabulous job of fleshing out Killing Floor and bringing the characters into present day.

  • Diane Capri

    Reetta, thanks for your kind words about my book. The writing was quite a challenge and it’s heartening when Reacher fan readers like you “get it” so well. Debra, I get such a kick out of it when readers of my work decide to try Lee for the first time. Can you see how big headed I’m getting? LOL!

    • khaula mazhar

      Great interview. It is nice to be reminded that published authors are real people who do laundry and cooking and sometimes even a day job. It does get so intimidating, trying to find time to write with all the other responsibilities that come first. And it is such a long process that it gets depressing and seems pretty hopeless, your interview was really encouraging though.

      • Diane Capri

        It does seem overwhelming sometimes, Khaula. I agree. But these days, writers have so many options. There’s never been a better time in the history of the world to be a writer — and it’ll only get better. So take it one step at a time and we’ll all get there (she says as if she wasn’t buried under a mound of chores herself)!

    • Debra Eve | Later Bloomer

      Lee Child wasn’t totally off my radar until I met you, Diane. When you first mentioned him, I thought “Isn’t he that guy I see on the grocery store racks who writes with that other guy?” I had him mixed up with Lincoln Child. lol

  • Lisa

    Fun interview to read!

    While Ms. Capri is an inspiration to those of us who either need or want to have a “day job” this is also a fair reminder that the publishing process takes time and us aspiring fiction novelists need patience. I’ve been doing some freelance developmental editing for a small publishing company (for fun because, Lord knows, the money’s non-existent), and while it’s a long road from completed manuscript to actual paperback, I’ve grown rather Zen about the process. Love for literature, the written word, and especially THE PROCESS (of writing and publishing) are so, so important. All this coming from a very busy, very happy, unpublished, aspiring novelist :)

    Thanks again, ladies, this site provides my favorite procrastination (it’s educational, that counts as “part of the process”, right?)

  • Debra Eve

    Lisa, anyone who writes a blog called “Married to Wine” definitely has a story to tell! I’ve got a novel on the shelf, but got detoured by nonfiction. Recently, the characters in my novel have started whispering behind my back. As you said, it’s the process, the love of the written word. It’s never too late :)

  • August McLaughlin

    Fabulous interview, ladies! Writers sure do lead double (or quadruple, quintuple…;)) lives. It’s always inspiring to gain insight from an author who manages it all with success. From the short bit I’ve read so far, Diane’s work is a treat!

    • Debra Eve

      Thanks for stopping by, August. You’ve had quite a double life too! Diane gives away one of her short stories if you sign up for her blog updates. Highly recommended.

  • Julie Hedlund

    I was THRILLED to see this interview of the fantastic Diane Capri!! Loved learning more about you Diane.

    • Debra Eve

      Great fun all around. Thanks, Julie!

  • Bobbi Emel

    Wow, what a great interview with a dedicated author, Debra! And Diane, I so admire your chutzpah in jumping into your own publishing business. You’re a great role model!

    • Debra Eve

      Bobbi, thank you so much for the support! Diane has been a phenomenal role model to all of us who hang out with her online.

  • Lori Lynn Smith

    Loved it! It is great to see such awesome role models for up and coming authors! I can’t wait until I can say “I write day and night”

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Debra Eve

    Thanks for stopping by, Lori! I’m not at the “day and night” stage yet since I’ve still got a day job, but it’s definitely the dream.

  • Diane Capri

    What lovely comments from all of you! I’m glad you found something in my responses to Debra’s great questions to be of interest. Thank you for reading!

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