Lesley A. Diehl

When it comes to Lesley A. Diehl this lady gets lost in Beer, Books and Brouhaha! Lesley writes country gals who stumble into sleuthing. Like Lesley, her protagonists choose to live their lives close to nature. From the deep, green river valleys of upstate New York to the palm-treed pastures of the Big Lake Country in Florida, these women have found their homes and their hearts in rural America.
Emily Rhodes came to rural Florida for the cowboys, the cattle, and to do a little country two-step, not to fall head first onto a dead body in a dumpster. Ah, the golden years of retirement in the sunshine state. They’re more like pot metal to Emily, who discovers the body of the county’s wealthiest rancher in the Big Lake Country Club dumpster. With her close friend accused of the murder, Emily sets aside her grief at her life partner’s death to find the real killer. She underestimates the obstacles rural Florida can set up for a winter visitor and runs afoul of a local judge with his own version of justice, hires a lawyer who works out of a retirement home, and flees wild fires hand-in-hand with the man she believes to be the killer.
DONNELL: If you could live anywhere on earth, where would it be?
LESLEY: If you had asked me this question several weeks ago, I would have said that my cottage on the Butternut Creek is exactly the place I want to live, but since recent flooding has devastated the location, I’m not so certain. That’s not because I fear another flood. I know one will happen, but my stream bank has so changed—the lovely willows have been swept away and so has the vegetation, leaving an undercut bank of dirt and gravel. It’s no longer my paradise, and I’m mourning its loss. We are determined to bring all of this back if we can and, if we do, it will once again be the perfect place to live. We are aware we cannot make it the same, but we hope to restore the tranquility that was once there. I hope so because my muse, Fred the Ghost still lives here, and I don’t want to abandon him!
DONNELL: What/Where’s your favorite room in your house?
LESLEY: I love my kitchen because I love to cook. It is the only room in the cottage we haven’t done work on, so it is very primitive. None of the appliances match in color, the floor is made of broken, cracked, and mismatched tiles over which I’ve laid a 5x8 outdoor carpet. There is no cupboard room and no counter space, but it does have a window over the sink where I watch the stream and the wildlife in my backyard… or the river rising.
DONNELL: Have you ever written a character who wasn’t meant to be a hero but he wouldn’t go away?
LESLEY: Oh yes. My bad cop, Toby Sands from my second mystery was such a skeevy, but fun character, I put him in the sequel to Dumpster Dying. Like his appearance in Dumpster Dying, he’s still full of ways to make money, none of which are legal. He underestimates the bad guys’ badness and their conniving brilliance and overestimates his own ability to outwit them. He’s loyal to no one, and he still has the disgusting habit of chewing tobacco and spitting in the coffee can he carries. He’ll be around for a while.
DONNELL: Do you read reviews of your books?
LESLEY: I read all of them. I try to forget the few bad ones, but they stick in my craw only if I perceive them to be unfair. I expect some bad reviews because most of my work uses humor, and a writer knows that not everyone sees the same things as funny. In some cases, a reader may not even see the humor as humor.
DONNELL: You’re trapped in a building about to be demolished. Who do you want with you?
LESLEY: If it’s this house, then I want Fred, my writing muse and resident ghost at my side. He’s been through a lot in this place, floods, fires, winds storms, and frequent changes of residents not all of whom were kind to him. Besides, as long as I have him, I have my writing.
DONNELL: What’s in your refrigerator right now?
LESLEY: Well, after I confessed above to loving to cook, I guess I’d better fess up to what my fridge contains. Here’s the list: plain and flavored yogurt, half and half, skim milk, cheese of many kinds some low fat, all kinds of fresh veggies, an apple, some grapes, a large container of homemade lentil soup (yum!), condiments including soy sauce, worcheshire (oh you know what I mean) sauce, Frank’s hot sauce, Dijon mustard, spicy brown mustard, honey mustard, catsup, smoked turkey breast, sliced ham, some green things in a green container which I think may be broccoli, a foil package of vegetable lasagna (it has another day before it grows something), several kinds of beer (of course since I write about a brewer), a box wine (pinot grigio), pom juice for my cosmos, V-8 juice not yet opened, and finally several plastic bags filled with catnip for seeding the cats’ scratching posts. We also store our bread in the fridge because our cottage is old, and we are sometimes visited by mice. I have a bag of potatoes I should move into the fridge soon or plant the sprouted things in my garden. Oops, I forgot the onions, red and yellow.
DONNELL: Would you consider yourself organized? Or are you a packrat?
LESLEY: I’m very organized, so much so that when I can’t locate something I blame my husband immediately. He must have moved it, I say. That’s usually not the case, but it gives me someone to yell at until I locate the new place I’ve organized the item into, then forgotten about.
DONNELL: What was your proudest moment as a writer?
LESLEY: The protagonist of my second mystery Dumpster Dying is a woman with the name of Emily Rhodes. When I did my book launch at the library in the town In Florida where I spend the winters, a girl about ten or so came up to me and showed me her social security card and her birth certificate. She wanted to prove to me that her name was also Emily Rhodes. She was so thrilled at having a character in a book with her name. I was touched at her excitement as if I had given her the best gift ever. Actually her showing up was my best gift.
DONNELL: What do you do when you finish a book?
LESLEY: I whip up an extremely large cosmos and down it, then I start another book or continue on one I haven’t finished.
DONNELL: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
LESLEY: I never had the problem. Stories just seem to pour out of me. I’m not saying they are all good, but they sit in my mind waiting for their turn to appear on my computer.
DONNELL: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing/researching a book?
LESLEY: Where we live in the winters is rural Florida. At night, especially when the train comes through the area, I hear the coyotes howling. I became interested in them and started to research coyotes in upstate New York because I wanted to set another mystery in the area and thought I’d include something about the coyote population. I found that most of what we think we know about them is myth. For example, it is part of lore around here that coyotes breed with domestic dogs to produce coy dogs which then run in packs threatening children and killing off livestock. The truth is that coyotes raise their pups in a family and wouldn’t consider breeding with a dog who wouldn’t say around to parent the offspring. I found the northeastern coyote particularly interesting because of how adaptable they are. There are documented sightings of several who live in and around Central Park in NYC. Wherever I’ve lived there have been coyotes. In New Mexico where I had a home for a while, the coyotes were small like those in rural Florida, but here in upstate New York, the northeastern coyote is large and males can go to fifty pounds.
I have had to set the manuscript featuring the coyotes to one side for a time, but I will go back to it.
Lesley, thank you for those in depth answers. Now it’s your turn to ask the Readers a Question.
LESLEY DIEHL’S QUESTION FOR READERS. As a writer I consider writing humor into a mystery a lot of fun, but I’m wondering if readers like humorous mysteries of if they think humor detracts from the plot or is disrespectful of the murder victim?

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  1. Hi Lesley,

    I enjoyed your interview and your books sound great. I love humorous mysteries.

    Tammy Y

  2. Lesley, welcome to get lost in a story. Wow, this book and you have everything a mystery reader could want. Beer, food, great characters, murder and bad cops. Plus the titles are awesome. Can't wait to read them. Thanks for being here and letting readers learn all about you!

  3. Welcome to GLIAS, Lesley. Love the title of your book, it sounds great.

    I just commented the other day about how I'd really enjoy more humor (not just snark) in stories. Maybe because that's the way I like my day to go...with lots of laughs.


  4. Welcome Lesley! I don't think humor is disrespectful in any type of novel. Just sets a different tone. Hey, some books/movies even combine humor with violent or graphic crime or mystery stories.

    I like that readers (movie audiences) have lots of choices and it's all okay to me. :)

  5. Great interview! I love humor in my books and it doesn't matter what type of books I am reading.

  6. Lesley, what a wonderful interview, and this is such a wonderful blog. The name alone...

    Your creekside spot sounds idyllic--I'm so sorry about the damage the flood caused. I hope you can (or nature can) repair.

    My answer to the question is that I am not a fan of humor in mysteries/suspense. I admire the heck out of anyone who can write it--I cannot. But I think I read suspense to get lost in a very dark world, and for me humor detracts (unless the character uses humor as a defense against those dark circumstances).

  7. There are so many books where murder is graphic and serious and heinous. A little humor does not hurt and is not disprespectful. The author can write it in a way to have fun. Look at a lot of the TV shows where normally the murder is serious, but every now and then the writers will do a tongue in cheek episode.
    Stephen Brayton

  8. I think you gotta have the fun stuff along with the murders--not so much fun. You work both into your books.

    Gary R.

  9. Great interview, Lesley.
    In answer to your question, I don't think humor detracts at all from the plot in a mystery novel nor do I think that it's disrespectful to the murder victim.
    What I do believe is that humor can add another dimension to the characters, making them seem more real and just plain human.

  10. I'd say a little humor can round out a character. Even the most serious people have their slapstick moments.
    I also found your comments on the coyote interesting. They are an intriguing specie.

  11. Thanks for your comments on humor in a mystery. It seems I can't help writing humor, so I'm stuck with that as part of my voice. I'm glad many of you like a little humor with your murder!


  12. Great interview, Lesley. YOu came up with fine, imaginative answers to all those fine, imaginative (and probing) questions. As for humor in mysteries, bring it on! Just don't make it cornball.

  13. Okay, I had to put on my glasses and reread the part about what's in your refrigerator. I read "pom juice for my cosmos" as "porn juice" and just about fell out of my chair. I do thoroughly enjoy the humor in your books and look forward to the next one.

    What a unique and fun interview!

    Marja McGraw

  14. Lesley, I loved the interview...humor heck yeah...brings realism to a character. augie