Most people wouldn’t associate a classroom with murder and mystery, but that’s because they’ve never read a book by Diane Weiner. This Coral Springs writer has used her 30-plus years in education as the inspiration for The Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mysteries, a delightful series of cozy mystery novels featuring a plucky retired schoolteacher with a penchant for sleuthing.
Weiner has loved reading and writing since she was a child in New York. After graduating from the University of North Carolina with a degree in music, she married and moved to Oklahoma with her husband, Robert. She decided to become certified in teaching and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and a Ph.D. in Teacher Leadership. She taught grades 1,2, 3 and elementary school music. After teaching for five years at an American school in Mexico City, she relocated to Florida where she now teaches Earth Science at Millennium 6-12 Collegiate Academy in Broward County.
It was while working on her doctoral dissertation that she decided to try her hand at writing a book. “I kept thinking about how much fun it would be to write without having to worry about bibliographies and citations,” she says. “I also started writing so I’d have something to do after I retired.” She chose the mystery genre because she enjoyed Nancy Drew mysteries and Mary Higgins Clark’s novels, but her tendency to scare easily and have nightmares made her decide to write cozies – mystery stories without gore, graphic language or violence. She submitted her first novel, Murder is Elementary, to Cozy Cat Press because she liked their name and was thrilled when they offered her a contract.
Murder is Elementary introduces Weiner’s signature character, Susan Wiles, a retired teacher who finds the body of the school’s principal when she returns to her old school for the holiday concert. Susan decides to help the local police, one of which is her daughter, Lynette, while they investigate the crime. Weiner admits Susan is like her in some ways. “Susan looked forward to being retired and being a grandma, and she likes to solve puzzles,” she says. “But she’s bolder and braver than I am. I enjoy being able to get inside Susan’s head when I’m writing because it’s like living the life I’d like to live.”
Murder is Elementary was followed by nine more mysteries featuring Susan Wiles – Murder is Secondary, Murder in the Middle, Murder is Private, Murder is Developmental, Murder is Legal, Murder is Collegiate, Murder is Chartered, and Murder is Homework. The seventh book in the series, Murder is Collegiate, is set in the town of Sugarbury Falls, Vermont. It is currently on the short list for the Chanticleer Murder and Mayhem Mystery awards. It inspired a spin-off novel titled A Deadly Course which won an Eric Hoffer Book Award and is the first book in a new series, The Sugarbury Falls Mysteries.
Weiner’s latest release, Murder, of Course, is the second of the Sugarbury Falls Mysteries. Middle-aged couple Henry and Emily Fox have gotten custody of a teenage daughter, Maddy. While struggling with first time parenthood, Emily and Henry help solve the murder of a young lawyer who was renting their neighbor’s cabin. The motive is elusive, with a surprise ending that ties loose ends together. Weiner is currently writing Book 3 in the new series, Clearing the Course, and then back to another Susan Wiles mystery.
Since her first series involves schools and teachers, it shouldn’t be surprising that Weiner hopes her books will teach readers a valuable lesson. “I hope Susan shows readers that you can be productive at any age,” Weiner says. “There’s life after retirement, and it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. And kudos to Emily and Henry Fox for semi-retiring while in their fifties and reinventing their lives with mysteries to solve and new challenges to conquer, including raising a teenager. It’s never too late to take a new road in life.”
For more information, visit the author’s website at www.dianeweinerauthor.com or visit her Facebook page at dianeweinerauthor.