Friday, October 19, 2012

Diane Sawyer - Mystery With a Side of History

Diane Sawyer finds inspiration all around her.  Her insatiable interest in people and places, past and present, has spawned several award-winning short stories and five meticulously researched novels she calls “a blend of mystery, romance, and history, where setting plays a vital part.”
Sawyer’s first foray into writing occurred when she was a six-year-old living in Greenport, a small town on Long Island. “I wrote a story, but I don’t remember exactly what it was about,” she says. “I just remember it was scary.” After earning a Bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York, she began teaching near New York City. She went on to get her Masters degree from Seton Hall University and a Ph.D. from Fordham University.
 In 1987, Sawyer moved to Florida and took a job as an educational consultant.  It was here that she took a writing class at a local recreation center. She began writing short stories and submitting them to magazines. After several were published, the success motivated Sawyer to try writing a mystery novel.  Initially, she had difficulty finding her niche. Then she hit on the idea of setting a story on Long Island in a fictional town patterned after the place where she grew up.
Her first novel, Montauk Mystery, is the story of a young woman who joins an archaeological expedition on an island that was home to the Montauk Indians.  A startling discovery puts her life, and the fate of the island, in jeopardy.  The concept for the story grew from Sawyer’s interest in the Montauk tribe. “I’m a research person, and I was surprised by how little was known about them,” she explains. “So I tried to learn everything I could to weave into the story.”  Published in 2000, Montauk Mystery was followed by two more Montauk books – The Montauk Steps (2000) and The Tomoka Mystery (2002) - and a stand-alone novel, The Cinderella Murders (2008).
Sawyer returns to Montauk in her latest book, The Treasures of Montauk Cove, a tale of murder and intrigue sparked by a mysterious bottle of wine.  The plot idea came to Sawyer during a wine presentation on a cruise ship. “The sommelier was talking about the exorbitant price of wine recovered from shipwrecks. He called it ‘Liquid Gold,’ ” she recalls. “So I started researching and discovered that there were lots of shipwrecks along the Long Island coast. I even got into the history of the geography of the area to see how a bottle of wine could make its way to Montauk. I think history buffs will enjoy it.”
Sawyer is currently at work on two novels, both set in St. Petersburg. The first, a fast-paced mystery, involves a jewel robbery gone bad that ends in multiple murders. In the second, a cold case missing-persons case heats up when new information emerges at an estate sale and unleashes a wave of terror. According to Sawyer, "These two mysteries could end the myth once and for all that St. Petersburg is a sleepy little town."
 Although her writing keeps her busy, Sawyer involves herself in a variety of outside activites becaue "you never know who you're going to meet or what they're going to tell you." She volunteers for Friends of the South Branch Library and the Dali Museum, and is an avid traveler and exercise buff.  She plans to fly to Ecuador this fall to explore the cities and towns and hike through the Amazon Jungle to see the flora and fauna. She looks forward most to the people she will meet along the way.
Her hard-cover mysteries, published by Avalon, have recently been published as paperbacks by World Wide Mysteries, and soon all of her works will be released by Amazon as e-books. This success is encouraging her to come up with more mysteries. Sawyer hopes her zest for living will come through in her stories and inspire her readers. "Life is one big adventure," she says. "Take chances, make choices, go for it."

Next: Randy Rawls - Small Town Sleuth

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