Monday, June 11, 2007

The Fanning Inspiration

Yesterday I went to a book signing by Diane Fanning. She talked about each of her seven true crime books, as well as her first mystery which will be out July 18 and her next true crime called Out There about astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak.

Diane always has fascinating stories to tell about her experiences researching and writing true crime. And the audience had lots of questions about her books and about cases they know of and would want her to write about. She said she doesn’t have to look for cases any more since her agent or editor usually has cases lined up for her.

My questions focused more on the writing and publishing aspect of what she does. For instance, I asked her about the extremely fast turnaround on the astronaut book. The story broke in early February of this year. The day after the news, her agent called to ask if she wanted to write the book. Within just a few days of that, St. Martin’s had bought the proposal. Within a week or so, the movie treatment had been optioned. Since then she’s been writing and researching. I knew all that already. What was new to me was that Diane had a sign up saying that the pub date for Out There is early October (the 10th, if I remember correctly). That’s basically eight months from the event to book publication. Wow! Most fiction books with a big publisher take 18 to 24 months to come out – after the publisher gets the manuscript.

Diane said true crime books come out faster than fiction, but she agreed this was a very quick turnaround.

She also mentioned that her first mystery did not take the usual 18 to 24 months, but that’s because she and her agent went with a smaller publisher, Five Star Mysteries, for it. Her true crimes are all with St. Martin’s.

Diane said she felt true crime is a little easier to break into, but she had tons of rejections before she found her agent, whom she’s been with since the beginning. She got her agent with the help of another true crime writer, who offered to recommend her to her own agent. Diane sent in a chapter and the agent immediately signed her, saying it was the best murder scene she’d ever read.

Diane’s first book was Red Boots and Attitude. She’s published seven true crimes. Has a mystery coming out next month and another in the works. She has the astronaut book coming out later this year and is working on another true crime. Plus, she updates all the true crimes every year or so, as things develop. Although she now writes full time, she wrote the first four while holding down a full-time job.

Someone else asked about her daily schedule. She said she gets up about 4:30 and gets caffeinated. Then she goes to work. In the morning, she writes. In the afternoon, she may do phone interviews or research. In the evening, she often continues working on writing or editing. She also does quite a bit of traveling to do interviews and research, as well as talks. I also happen to know that she makes time to exercise – she’s the friend who inspired me to get an elliptical trainer.

If you get the chance, go hear her speak. She may just inspire you to write.

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