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I cannot remember a time when I didn't have my nose buried in a book.  As a child I would cheat the bedtime curfew by snuggling under the covers with my teddy bear, a flashlight and a forbidden (read "grown-up") novel.  My adored, exasperated mother warned me that I would ruin my eyes, but so far—knock wood—they still work.

I was born and raised in Queens, New York, then moved to Los Angeles and attended college at UCLA.  After graduation, I went on the road and didn't get off for many years.  I was a back-up singer for several night-club acts (Johnny Mathis, Ann-Margaret, etc.), the lead singer in a rock group (The Establishment), and a member of the cast in over one hundred plays at various regional theaters all across the United States and Canada.  Along the way, I also worked as a songwriter, disk jockey, and film critic—and that’s the short list.  I don't feel as restless as I sound; I just like the challenge of having a lot of different things going on at once.

I began doing voiceovers as a way to finally set down roots and start a family, and was lucky enough to establish myself as a top voice actor in the L.A. area.  But all actors experience "in-between times," so about twenty years ago, I began to write for television, selling several scripts, including some to the original THE LOVE BOAT.  I also created a weekly film criticism column for the award-winning Malibu Times, which lasted four years. 

When a friend recommended that I take up romance-reading as a way to heal a recently broken heart, I scoffed, declaring pompously that I didn't want to read about “a bunch of weak women waiting for a man to fix them.”  Obviously, I had no idea what the genre really meant, or how far it had come from the early, “bodice-ripping” days.  I turned down the friend's suggestion, but she persisted—bless her—and I picked one up.  And another, and another, until I was in the grip of a full-fledged addiction (I do nothing half-way, which is the good news and the bad).  About a year and about three hundred books later, I tried my hand at writing one.

Sultry WhispersI sold that book, SULTRY WHISPERS, to the now-defunct Bantam Loveswept Romance line, and it came out in 1992.  Since then, I’ve written and sold a lot more books, straight romance, romantic suspense, and light comedy—more of that restless nature of mine which refuses to be pigeonholed into one category.

SatisfactionThere were five more books for Loveswept; one of them, SATISFACTION, was runner up, Best Short Contemporary of 1993 in the prestigious Oklahoma Readers Choice Awards.  Also in 1993, I got to talk nationally about romance writing when I was interviewed (my fifteen minutes of fame!) by LEEZA GIBBONS on her TV show.

In 1997, I was invited to write for Silhouette books, a happy moment indeed.  I published two for the comedic Yours Truly line, FIRST DATE: HONEYMOON and THIRD DATE’S THE CHARMFIRST DATE: HONEYMOON was a finalist for both the Virginia Romance Writers’ HOLT Medallion and the Phoenix Desert Rose Chapter’s Golden Quill. 

While She was SleepingMy first romantic suspense, a 1998 Intimate Moments entitled WHILE SHE WAS SLEEPING, was not only a finalist in the Colorado Romance Writers’ contest, but was the winner of the Best Long Contemporary for 1998 in the Aspen Gold Contest.  Its follow-up book, THE TOUGH GUY AND THE TODDLER, a 1999 Intimate Moments, was extremely well-reviewed and received and was a finalist in both the “Bookseller’s Best” Awards. and the Colorado Romance Writers’ “Award of Excellence.”

Hot CopyHOT COPY, a snappy, upbeat love story set at a small-town newspaper, was a March, 2000 release for Harlequin Duets, and placed second in the Heart and Scroll chapter's "Madcap Awards."

My personal life interfered with writing for a while, but I got right back into the swing of things a few of years ago.  In April of 2002,  CASSIE’S COWBOY, a Silhouette Romance was released to lovely reviews and great sales.  It was yet another departure, style-wise, a sort-of fairy tale about a pair of magical reading glasses that gives the owner one wish.

The WishI followed that up with THE WISH, (April, 2003), which utilized the same wacky pair of glasses-that-give-you-one-wish.  It was about a klutzy genius who owns a bookstore, her Cinderella-like transformation, and the two unusual men who vie for her hand.  I’m extremely proud to say that THE WISH was a finalist for the grand prize—the “Rita Award” given by Romance Writers of America, for Best Traditional Romance!  It didn’t win, but I was in great company and quite pleased just to be considered.  However, THE WISH was a winner in the “Golden Quill Award,” sponsored by the Phoenix Desert Rose Chapter of RWA, for Best Traditional.

RansomAlso released, in September of 2003, was RANSOM, another for Silhouette Romance.  It was about the lovely curator of a family museum, the hard and sexy new police chief, and a ransom note that changed both their lives.  I’m pleased to say that RANSOMwas a winner for Best Short Contemporary in the prestigious “Orange Rose Contest” sponsored by the Orange County Chapter of RWA.  I feel truly blessed to have so much acclaim given to my writing!

Whispers in the NightIn December of 2004, my dark romantic suspense for Silhouette Intimate Moments, entitled WHISPERS IN THE NIGHT, was released and got a 4½ starred review from the Romantic Times magazine!  By the time wealthy widow Kayla Thorne realizes that the “accidents” on her property are meant to cause her serious—possibly fatal—harm, it is nearly too late.  Moody ex-con Paul Fitzgerald offers help, but with his overly-macho demeanor, Paul is the antithesis of the kind of man Kayla can put her faith in.

Whispers and LiesMy September, 2005, release was a follow-up to WHISPERS IN THE NIGHT entitled WHISPERS AND LIES, another dark tale, this one about mysterious parentage, political lies and one man’s ambition to be the best.  If THE WISH and RANSOM were written in a light, humorous style, WHISPERS IN THE NIGHT and WHISPERS AND LIES revealed my raw, edgy inner life. 

In 2007, I had two releases, both for the Silhouette Romantic Suspense line:  ONE HOT TARGET in March and ONE COOL LAWMAN in May.  They are loosely connected (as is a 2008 book entitled ONE TOUGH AVENGER) by a legal services storefront I’ve invented called The Last House on the Block, which caters to the elderly, the poor, the dispossessed.

One Hot TargetIn ONE HOT TARGET, the sister of the storefront’s founder finds herself a witness to murder (while trying on outfits in a dressing room!) and spends the rest of the book trying to untangle the web of deception and greed that has surrounded her forever.  In ONE COOL LAWMAN, the heroine is a client of the storefront, a woman who pulled herself up from the One Cool Lawmanstreets—and a life of drugs and prostitution—and is making a good life for herself and her kids when her past comes back to haunt her.  Pretty gritty stuff, and I loved writing it!  ONE TOUGH AVENGER is the storefront founder’s story, and it involves a homeless amnesiac with a guilty conscience, a pseudo-religious cult, and murder.  Pretty gripping stuff, even if I do say so myself. 

By the way, I’m still an active voiceover actress, supplying characters on cartoons ("Poison Ivy" on Batman), narrations (“Doctors Without Borders,”) television infomercials, promos (ABC and CBS), and commercials (Kellogg’s Fruit Loops, Radio Shack, Planned Parenthood, Cleveland Clinic, and hundreds more).  The nice part of this life is that there's still plenty of time to write—and not just romances.  There are two screenplays in the works, and I’ve finished the first draft of a long, complicated mystery.

One Tough AvengerNow that my two wonderful children, Morgan Rose and Benjamin (both avid readers) are grown, I travel as much as time—and finances—will allow.  In recent years, I’ve been to London, Prague, Rome and in May of 2007, my guy and I went to Spain.  Next year I’ll be in Washington D.C. for my son Ben’s marriage to Beth, my darling future daughter-in-law.  Note to Ben and Beth: Not to rush or anything, but will I finally get grandbabies?  Here’s hoping.  Once or twice a year, I return to my roots, New York, for a theater blitz of five plays in four days.  I am happiest wherever there's an ocean nearby, and often drive about twenty minutes to commute with the blue waters of the Pacific.

I still live in Los Angeles, in a lovely condo nestled in the hills of Silver Lake, near downtown, and am surrounded by supportive, loving family and friends.  I’m going on eight years with my man friend, Ken, and my two darling cats, Gilbert and Sullivan, are now five years old.  “The boys” I call them when they climb all over me!  I just re-did my entire kitchen and created the space I’ve always wanted to cook in.  And I love to cook!

I’ve taken on some added responsibility for Romance Writers of America, the excellent, ten thousand-member-strong writers group I joined in 1992.  I’ve been on the national Board for three years.  For the 2007-2008 term I’ll be the President-Elect; the next year, the President.  Lots of work, but all for an organization I love.

More and more, writing is filling up my time, my head, and my heart.  I think it's because, as an actress, I get to play only the part I'm assigned to; as a writer, I get to play all the parts—in my imagination, at least.  I intend to continue creating new characters for as long as the ideas come and someone wants to buy them.  I have the delicious sense of being where I belong at last.

I love to hear from my readers!  Snail-mail me at PO Box 67424, L.A., CA 90067 or e-mail me here at Diane@Dianepershing.com.  Thanks for stopping by . . .

Diane

 

Dear Reader

 

I seem to have written a trilogy.

One Hot TargetThe first book was called ONE HOT TARGET, which was released in March, 2007.  The next, ONE COOL LAWMAN, came out in May, 2007.  The last of the three, ONE TOUGH AVENGER, is a January, 2008 book.  The odd thing is I didn’t really expect to be writing a trilogy; in fact, the heroine of the last book was the first character I wanted to write about.  She’s loosely based on my best friend Brenda who is very short, very assertive, brainy as all get-out, and who has more energy than any three toddlers.  I presented this character (AKA Shannon Coyle) in an—I thought—interesting and suspenseful story to my editor, who decided the character was great, but didn’t agree as to the excellence of the story.

One Cool LawmanUndaunted, I came up with a whole different story, this time with Shannon’s sister, Carmen (the total opposite of Shannon, she is tall, flaky and often in la-la land) as a pretty important secondary character.  Again, my darling editor didn’t much care for the story I’d invented, but adored both sisters.  “Start with Carmen’s story,” she instructed.  “We’ll do Shannon’s down the road.”  And that’s when ONE HOT TARGET was born.  Carmen was an unwitting witness to murder, and the entire book was her on the run from an enemy she couldn’t see, with help from her best friend, the male kind, who had been in love with her for years.  It came out, was received well (Romantic Times said “Diane Pershing provides some surprising twists that make for an entertaining novel…”), and I was on to the next book. 

I have a bit of a social conscience and wanted to write about a place where people who can’t afford decent legal help can get it from socially committed volunteers.  The Last House on the Block, the name of Shannon’s storefront in the downscale section of Venice, California, became one of the backdrops for Carmen’s story, and when I was done I was pretty sure I was going to get to write Shannon’s story next.

One Tough AvengerBefore I could begin, however, I heard about this real-life amazing woman who had pulled herself up from being a teenage hooker and drug addict with two illegitimate children to become an educated, gainfully employed role model for those still on the streets.  I just had to write about her, and so ONE COOL LAWMAN was created. Not to brag, but Romantic Times gave it a 4½ stars, TOP PICK! review, declaring, “With the touching ONE COOL LAWMAN (4½), Diane Pershing has created a couple to root for.  This is an excellent story about two people who choose love in spite of the uncertainties they face.”

This time, The Last House on the Block played an even bigger role, and when that book had been turned in, I knew it was—finally!—time for Shannon.  And—finally!—I came up with a story my editor absolutely adored: the hero is a homeless amnesiac, rescued from near-death by Shannon; the bad guys run a pseudo-religious cult; there’s vengeance and bad dreams and guilty consciences.  In other words, lots of yummy elements for suspense.

So, Book Three: ONE TOUGH AVENGER. Shannon’s tale.  I finally wrote about my friend, who may or may not forgive me for the portrait I painted of her in the pages of the book.  I’m hoping she’ll remember that it’s based on her, not actually her.....I mean, that’s why it’s called fiction, right?  In any case, I’m pretty proud of all three books, but if you haven’t read the first two, you can still enjoy the third one without any problem.  The stories stand alone.  There’s an excerpt here on my web page, so why not check it out?

As I pack on the years on this planet, I find myself doing deeper character studies and writing in the gray areas more and more, which perfectly suits the fact that romantic suspense seems to be my current home.  As I write this letter it’s coming to the end of 2007, and I’m working on a darker, more complex book with elements of romance instead of the relationship being the main focus.  Freed more and more from the editor in my head, my brain keeps coming up with these lovely plot twists, and I’m hoping the book will be ready to submit early next year.  But we’ll see.  Maybe there’s another Last House on the Block story to write.  You never know, do you?

And it all started with my very short and very cherished best friend.  Seriously now, isn’t life an adventure?

Love, Diane.

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