Diehl has always enjoyed writing. As a youngster, she wrote poems and short stories. In high school, her writing was encouraged by her English teacher. In spite of her literary inclinations, she decided to forego writing and study psychology instead. By the time she’d earned her doctorate, her creative side had taken a backseat to the sciences. But throughout her career as a psychology professor, Diehl’s creativity continued to bubble beneath the surface. When she retired, it returned with a vengeance, in part because her husband, Glenn Nilson, is also a mystery writer. Diehl and Nilson travelled the country in a small motor home with two cats and a dog before discovering the Florida Keys. Finding the Keys too pricey, they settled in rural Okeechobee. The setting got her creative juices flowing. “There’s something about living in Florida that stimulates the imagination,” she says.“Being born on a dairy farm in Illinois, I’m a country girl at heart, and I love that I’m still living around cows. And where else can you go to the post office and run into real-life cowboys?” Fortunately for Diehl, Okeechobee has a thriving writing community. She joined a writer’s group and found a critique partner that encouraged her work.
All the support and encouragement paid off when A Deadly Draught was picked up by a publisher. The story tells of Master Brewer Hera Knightsbridge who discovers her closest competitor's dead body on his brew barn floor. Since Hera found the body, the authorities, including an old lover, suspect she is the killer. Diehl notes that her book differs from other “cozy-style” mysteries because the protagonist has a very unusual job. Researching the character was fun for Diehl and enabled her to meet “a great group of brewer friends.”
Encouraged by the success of A Deadly Draught, Diehl went on to pen Dumpster Dying, the tale of Emily Rhodes, a down-on-her-luck bartender who discovers the body of the town’s wealthiest rancher in the dumpster. When her friend becomes the prime suspect, Emily sets out to find the real murderer. Along the way, she comes up against small-town mores and is joined by a colorful cast of friends and family. Diehl draws on her background in psychology to give depth to the characters, and she peppers the story with humor.
Diehl released three books in 2012: Poisoned Pairings,” the sequel to A Deadly Draught; Grilled, Chilled, and Killed, the follow-up to Dumpster Dying; and Angel Sleuth, a stand-alone e-book. In 2013, Camel Press published her newest book A Secondhand Murder. Also set in rural Florida, this is the first book in the Eve Appel murder mystery series. “Eve’s last name is my grandmother’s maiden name. I learned about buying secondhand at my grandmother’s knee. She repurposed, reused, and recycled before it was popular. The book is a kind of homage to her influence.” The book features a Connecticut Fashionista, Eve Appel, who moves to rural Florida to set up an unusual consignment shop with her best friend. The shop carries high end merchandise consigned by wealthy Palm Beach matrons who need a little spending money after their lives have been downsized by Bernie Madoff schemes. The shop seems to be a success until one Palm Beach customer is found stabbed to death on the dressing room floor. Will the murder affect their business? Will Eve be charged with killing the woman? Can Eve leave a philandering husband and find true love among the cowboys of rural Florida? Diehl provides the answers to these questions and many more.
Diehl also wrote short stories appearing in the three Thanksgiving anthologies published by Untreed Reads. “I’ve mined my Thanksgiving memories and reshaped them into what can go wrong at the holidays. My relatives won’t complain because they’re all dead,” says Diehl. In addition, next year will see the release of her self-published mystery, Murder is Academic the second in the Eve Apple mystery series; and a short story for the Untreed Reads Detective anthology. And who knows what else may tickle her writing fancy?
Even though her writing keeps her busy, Diehl wouldn't have it any other way. "I love letting my mind go into absurd places and situations," she says. "It's a lot of fun because it's so different from my real life."
For more information, visit the author's website at www.lesleydiehl.com and her blog at http://anotherdraught.blogspot.com.