Dumpster Dying by Lesley Diehl
Today I'm interviewing Lesley Diehl, author of Dumpster Dying.
Marilyn: Tell me about your background.
Lesley:I really was a professor of psychology and college administrator in my past life. When I retired, my partner, Glenn, and I knocked around the country in a tiny motorhome (only 28 feet long, no slide-outs) with two cats and a dog with attitude. We finally settled in the Butternut River Valley in Upstate New York where we are renovating a cottage built in 1874. It came complete with our ghost, Fred, who likes to play tricks on us such as starting the truck in the middle of the night.
I have always read mysteries and written poetry and short ditties of some sort since I was an adolescent. Before then, I thought I could write opera although I had no musical training, but only the cows knew of this fancy of mine. Although my English teacher in high school and my English professor in college encouraged me to continue writing (I did publish a story on a beauty salon in the college literary magazine), I went on to graduate studies in psychology and replaced creative writing with scientific writing as required to get tenure and advance in my career.
I did not return to creative writing until I met Glenn, and I did so in self-defense—the man wrote all the time! We are both active in Mystery Writers of American Florida Chapter, attending their monthly meetings in the winter and volunteering for the national conference, Sleuthfest, held each February. In 2009, I won their short story contest.
Marilyn: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Lesley: Roughly, at birth. My mother was an odd person and my father worked all the time. I was an only child. I had things to say and no one to say them to.
Marilyn: What inspired this book?
Lesley: I live in Okeechobee, Florida in the winter. It is an area of Florida that only those interested in fishing know well. There are more cows in that county than people, but the people there are very interesting. This is rural Florida, cowboy country. In some ways I feel almost as if I’ve been carried back in time. I like to hang out in cowboy bars and dance to country western music, but, I’m not kidding, you have to watch out for those spurs! I cannot imagine a writer coming to this area of Florida and not wanting to put the land and its people down on paper.
Marilyn: Tell me and my readers something about your book.
Lesley: Although set in Florida, Dumpster Dying is not just another story about sunny beaches and bikini-clad beauties. In it, Florida natives collide with winter visitors in murderous, yet often humorous ways.
Emily Rhodes, the new bartender at the Big Lake Country Club in rural Florida, lifts the lid of the club’s dumpster one night to discover the dead body of the wealthiest rancher in the county. The authorities are certain they have the killer since evidence at the scene points to Emily’s friend and boss, Clara, but Emily has doubts. She believes Clara is hiding a secret involving the dead man’s family, but unraveling how Clara and the rancher’s lives are intertwined competes with Emily’s own problems.
Emily’s life partner has recently died, and the only will she can locate leaves everything to his ex-wife. Despite the grief she feels over her partner’s death and the money problems it has created for her, Emily sets out to identify the rancher’s killer. She must outwit a vengeful widow, fend off the advances of the man she believes to be the murderer, get to know an adult daughter she’s never met, and flee a fire bearing down on the drought-ridden pastures and swamps of her adopted community. Suddenly, the golden years of retirement seem more like pot metal to Emily.
Marilyn: Where can we purchase it? In your case, probably a better question, is when is the expected publication date?
Lesley: Expected Date: Fall (Oct or Nov 2010)
Marilyn: Anything else you'd like to tell my readers about your book?
Lesley: Think Stephanie Plum surrounded by alligators with a herd of cows bearing down on her.
Marilyn: Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for letting me interview you today.
I retired from my life as a professor of psychology and university administrator to reclaim my country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter I migrate to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office. Back north, I devote my afternoons to writing and, when the sun sets, relaxing on the bank of my trout stream, sipping tea or a local microbrew.
We'll all be looking forward to Dumpster Dying. Great title, by the way.