Meet Dianne Freeman. After leaving a thirty-year career in corporate finance, life-long book lover Dianne Freeman embarked on her dream career—writing fiction. Excited and a little unsure of the road ahead, she embraced the “write what you love” approach, combining a passion for mysteries and her fascination with the late Victorian period. The result? Her first book, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, debuted in 2018, winning the Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel, the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and hundreds of five-star reviews from readers across the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada
Dianne’s journey from aspiring author to internationally lauded novelist included some unique avenues.
An avid reader since the age of nine, Dianne credits her mother and a kind Michigan librarian with introducing her to the wonderful world of books. As years passed, Dianne moved from reading magical books by Edward Eager to Agatha Christie mysteries, Jane Austen novels and stories by Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Edith Wharton. Wharton’s work and the era of her novels also influenced Dianne’s own novels.
Her first foray into book publishing began while Dianne still worked in finance. “Reading and writing have been my favorite hobbies for as long as I can remember. I may have had some conscious thought about growing up to be a writer, but I’ve always been too practical to even think about doing it for a living. So, when it came time to go to college and get a job, I studied business and worked in finance,” she said. “However, reading and writing remained my hobbies. I sold a few articles and wrote lots of first drafts. Since I was doing it for my own amusement, once I’d written the story, there was no reason to revise it.”
Though committed to her business career, Dianne attended numerous writers’ conferences to learn more about the craft. At one convention she met fellow author, Ellen Robson.
“At the time, I lived full-time in Michigan, she lived in Arizona, so we thought something involving travel might work. It’s a very long story, but we ended up writing Haunted Highway, The Spirits of Route 66, which is a travel guide to haunted sites along Route 66,” she said.
“It took about two years of travel and interviews, and six months to write the book. We got very lucky finding a publisher and even though it was published in 1999, the book is still out there. The whole experience was fun from start to finish, but I really wanted to write fiction, so Ellen and I both moved on.” The co-authored project earned enthusiastic praise from readers and authors alike and Haunted Highway, The Spirit of Route 66 remains popular with travel buffs and ghost sighting fans.
Dianne continued to explore writing fiction and once she retired from corporate life, wrote the first draft of the debut Lady Harleigh mystery. “I decided to see if I could revise it and make it into something other people might want to read. It took two years, but there was a kitchen remodel in the middle of that. That was when I learned about PitchWars and I was lucky enough to get in.”
“PitchWars is a contest for writers with a finished, polished manuscript,” she explained. “The writer applies for a mentor by submitting a query letter and the first ten pages. The lucky writers work with their mentors for two months, whipping that manuscript into shape. The contest culminates in an agent showcase—agents get to read a pitch and first page of any manuscript that interests them. You may or may not find an agent, but you’ll definitely become a better writer.”
After polishing her manuscript under the guidance of a mentor, Dianne participated in the agent showcase. She created a 55-word pitch, then submitted the pitch and the first page of her novel. Her submission was shared with the agents invited to participate by the PitchWars organizers. Her pitch immediately attracted attention and twenty literary agents requested partial or full manuscripts from her. Although she received rejections after submitting the manuscripts, she also found the perfect agent for her and her book. “I was fortunate enough to find my agent through PitchWars and the next thing I knew, I had a book contract and a second career—the one I’d always wanted. It’s a lot of work but it’s so much fun!”
In addition to receiving the Agatha Award and Lefty Award, Dianne was a finalist for the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award and the Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award and has been nominated for other national honors. After decades working in the corporate world, Dianne is thrilled to be a fulltime writer and to have her novels so well received. Last month, the internationally acclaimed author debuted the fourth novel in her award-winning Countess of Harleigh Mystery series, A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder.
Born and raised in Michigan, she and her husband split their time between Michigan and Arizona.
To learn more about Dianne and her upcoming projects, visit her at www.DiFreeman.com