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 LaterBloomer.com 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 traditionally 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 DianeCapri.com, 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 LaterBloomer.com. You can also find her on Twitter.