Diane Chamberlain is the USA Today and London Times bestselling author of 24 novels published in more than twenty languages. Some of her most popular books include Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane’s background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.
Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.
Congratulations on an incredible career spanning 28 years and publishing 25 novels and three short stories that have been read by millions of readers worldwide. I won’t ask you to tell us about all 25 books, but if you have to pick 5 that you are most proud of, or think best sum up Diane Chamberlain, which books would they be and why?
I’d start with my third novel, SECRET LIVES. First, I love the story about an unusual young woman who lives in a cave (!), but it’s one of my favorites because it was the first book I wrote where I felt as though I found my true voice as an author. Other favorites are: THE LOST DAUGHTER, not only because it’s a good story but also because it finally got me in front of a UK audience; NECESSARY LIES, because it is about a topic—forced sterilization in my home state of North Carolina—that I felt deserved attention; THE SILENT SISTER, because it was a rollicking fun story to write and my readers seem to love it as much as I do, and THE MIDWIFE’S CONFESSION, because it is an intricate tale that kept both me and my readers guessing.
Can you tell us about your latest book The Stolen Marriage which is due out in October 2017?
A. In 1944, Tess DeMello is a young nurse engaged to the man she adores when she makes a life-altering mistake by sleeping with a wealthy stranger. Pregnant and ashamed, she breaks off her engagement and finds the stranger to ask him for money to help her raise her baby. She’s shocked when he asks her to marry him. Tess enters into a mysterious marriage in an unfamiliar town, uncertain who she can trust.
We met earlier last year when you visited London and we had a private tea with some members of THE Book Club which was wonderful and I know that it was the first time you ever ate a scone – have you had any more since and do you prefer to put the clotted cream or jam on first?
. What a fun time that was! Thank you for arranging it. We have scones in the US, but they are very different and never eaten with clotted cream or jam. I’d never even heard of a “cream tea” before that day! What a fabulous treat. I came back to the US in search of clotted cream (which I would put on the scone first). Since then, I’ve gone gluten free—sob! Do y’all make gluten free scones in the UK?
I have described you on THE Book Club as The First Lady of Literature and to me it was like meeting royalty as I have been a fan of yours for years, who have you met that has left you tongue-tied or fangirling?
That’s a sweet compliment, thank you! This will sound kind of goofy, but the first person who comes to mind is an American editor. Nearly years ago, when I was a newbie writer—my first book was about to be published—I’d heard about this editor, Jen Enderlin, and how amazing she was. A goddess among editors. Everyone wanted to work with her. I attended a writers conference and sat next to her at a workshop. I was so unsure of myself back then and intimidated by Jen’s greatness that I couldn’t even introduce myself to her. I’m happy to say that five years ago, she became my editor and she’s every bit as wonderful as I’d imagined.
On Wikipedia you are described as an American author of adult fiction which to my dirty mind conjures up steamy books but obviously having met you I can confirm you are very much a respectable lady, but I want to know is there a naughty side to you and if so, tell me more?
It’s so funny to me how different terms have different meanings in the US and UK. When I arrived in London last year, I was immediately carried off to a radio station where I did eleven back-to-back interviews and I discovered how my ‘Americanisms’ could be misconstrued. It was quickly clear to me that “adult fiction” had a different meaning on your side of the pond. But the worst faux pas was when I said my Rheumatoid Arthritis was under control because now I took “good drugs.” The radio guy who was handling my interview told me all the listeners now pictured me shooting up daily! But back to your question. My early books are far juicier than my later books, but even then, the ‘juice’ was always an integral part of the story. I’d never sacrifice story for the sake of titillation. As I get older, though, the juice seems to have given way to more serious topics. I think my naughty side has dried up.
Can you tell us what an average day in your life is like?
It starts with coffee, of course. I feed the pup and have breakfast and coffee while reading email and checking Facebook and watching the birds at the feeder. Then I buckle down to focus on my work-in-progress. A few days a week, I take the time to go to the gym (Pilates). In the evening, I like to watch some gripping series or movie on TV with my guy, John. But as I get closer to deadline, I do absolutely nothing but write. The rest of my life takes a back seat for those last couple of terrifying months.
Have you got any plans to come back to London as I think several of your fans from TBC would love to meet up again?
No plans at this time but I can’t wait to get back there! I had a blast meeting my readers and I would love to get together with TBC folks again!
Talking about your superfans, I hope you don’t mind but some of your SUPERFANS from TBC would like to ask some questions:
From Kelly Ahmed “‘My favourite book of yours is Necessary Lies’. It really struck a chord with me and it’s a book I often recommend to people. Where did you get the influence for the story? How did you find out about this practice?’ “
When I moved to North Carolina eleven years ago, the horrible history of forced sterilization in the state was in the news and I was captivated. I immediately started thinking of how I could write about what happened, focusing on the human story. I thought telling the tale from the point of view of both the person with power—Jane, the young social worker—and the person with no power—Ivy, the fifteen-year-old girl Jane is supposed to get sterilized—would be the way to go. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to write that book.
From Rebecca Burnton: “Your research for your books seems very thorough, whatever the topic it’s believable and diverse. So for example the midwifery stuff in the midwife’s confession, so how do you manage to do such thorough research especially when you are doing a book a year.?”
It’s not easy! But getting things right is important to me, so I simply make sure I do. I have a research assistant who helps me track down the information I need, and I find experts in the field I’m researching to pick their brains. My work-in-progress, though, is going to test credibility: it involves time travel. Wish me luck on that one!
From Karen Vanderputt: If you had to leave your home and never come back and was only allowed to take 5 things, (apart from clothes,) with you. What would they be?
I will assume that John and my dog Cole come with me automatically. So I would also take 1) My laptop computer 2) old photograph albums 3) my treasure box, which contains things I’ve gathered over my life that have significance to me—a bit of old jewelry, special letters, etc. 4) handwritten notes on my work-in-progress, and of course 5) my ‘good drugs’.
From Michelle Nicholls: I know you support and appreciate bookclubs. Which of your books would you most recommend to bookclubs? . Hint: We’ve read necessary lies already!
I speak with bookclubs all the time and favorite books for discussion (besides Necessary Lies) seem to be Pretending to Dance, The Silent Sister, The Lost Daughter and The Midwife’s Confession. They all involve some moral questions at their core.
Finally, can you tell me a secret that you haven’t shared with anyone else?
Of course not!