The Author Spotlight on Diane Merrill Wigginton – author of The Jeweled Dagger historical romance series
IWIC: Tell us about yourself.
Diane: I write under my current name, Diane Merrill Wigginton. In school I was known as Diane Fraiser, because at fifteen I was adopted by my step-father, Alvin Fraiser, from Yazoo City, Mississippi. I wasn’t close to my real father growing up because he had another family he was raising in Riverside, California and I lived in San Diego, California. I was a shy child and often liked to hang back and watch people before I got involved. Then in tenth grade I took a drama class that changed my life. It was like the world opened up a little and I came out of my shell. I also had a best friend I hung out with and she was anything but shy, which helped to open me up even more. Her name was Gigi Barnier and we were inseparable. I consider her one of my best friends to this day.
IWIC: What prompted you to become a writer?
Diane: I was living in the small community of Herald, California near Sacramento, with my husband and kids in January of 2011, when I got a call that my brother, David was in the hospital and he was asking for me. David and I were thirteen months apart in age and very close growing up. He would call out of the blue just to say hi, and let me know what was going on with him and the girls and we kept in touch when we could. I was surprised to hear that he was very ill, so I left right away for San Diego to be by his side. I had one day with him where he was coherent, followed by two days of him unconscious. My brother passed away that Friday, two weeks shy of his forty-ninth birthday, surrounded by his wife, two girls and loving family. A few months later my father called to tell me he had cancer, and I lost him in early December, eleven months after my brothers passing. I was devastated. When the smoke cleared, I tried to understand why it went down the way that it did, and all I could come up with was, “life was short, too short to wait for it to happen to you. If you have a dream, live it. If you want to do something in life, do it.” I decided that it was time to get off my duff and make my dreams happen. And keeping with that philosophy, I decided to live the rest of my life with gusto, grabbing the bull by the horns and hanging on for dear life, because life truly is too short to wait for dreams to simply happen to you.
IWIC: What do readers like about your writing?
Diane: I have been told that the books are so descriptive that the reader can see the book in their mind like a movie. They are fun to read because they are more than historical romances. The books are full of action and suspense that keeps the reader guessing what will happen next.
IWIC: Is there a message weaved into your writing?
Diane: I always try to leave a message behind in the end. Something the main character learned about life and of themselves. A glimpse of wisdom they picked up along the way.
IWIC: What is it that you want to inspire in others or change in the world through your writing?
Diane: I like to inspire my reader not to give up on their hopes or dreams and I think that comes through in my writing. I also like happy endings, even if it looks like it is going to end poorly, somehow it turns around in the end with enough “stick to it” fortitude.
IWIC: Tell us about your most recent book and why you wrote it?
Diane: I have three books coming out this year. I’ve written a three-book series that I’ve dubbed “The Jeweled Dagger Series“. Beginning with Book one, Angelina’s Secret, which is about a headstrong English girl determined to live life by her own terms. When we begin the book, Angelina is about to turn nineteen and the scene opens with a party held by her mother at their home in the country side, with London’s elite women and you get a good idea about her thoughts on marriage from the beginning. Her and her best friend Sarah discuss Angelina’s upcoming birthday, and then the story really kicks off in the next chapter when she is surprised on her nineteenth birthday with an ocean voyage that she takes with her fun Uncle, Jamie. Along the way, the ship is taken over by a band of pirates, or are they really just privateers? I will let the audience decide. Upon her return home, she is hailed a hero for negotiating the safe return of the crew and ship, but she has a secret which she dares not share with anyone, not even her best friend Sarah. And that is just the first three chapters. There is so much more to the masquerades, intrigue, diplomacy and secret societies, so you will have to read the book to find out all.
Book two, Isabella’s Heart, takes up twenty years later with Angelina and Jude Deveraux’s daughter, Isabella, which launches into a heart wrenching mystery from the word go. Book three, Olivia’s Promise, to be released August 4, 2017, also takes up twenty years after book two concludes, with Olivia, the spirit-seeing child of Isabella and Aiden Townsend. I love this series because it was such a labor of love. Each character, every adventure with its twists and turns was so enjoyable to create. My wonderful editor, Ann Westlake, is already begging me to write a fourth book and continue the saga, and I am considering it. But first I feel I need to write a novel that I have been stewing over for several years, even before I wrote this series. Author website
And I am proud to say that Angelina’s Secret recently won a Benjamin Franklin Award.