Inside the Literary Mind of Diane Rapp

Writing is not a choice, it is a compulsion.
Diane Rapp became an entrepreneur when she started her own dog grooming salon in Santa Barbara, California. She spent the next thirty years as a small business owner; she sold real estate, started an office supply/copy center, and performed free-lance advertising design. During all those years Diane wrote stories as a cure for insomnia.
After writing a tour guide book to the Caribbean together, Diane’s daughter gave her the idea of writing a mystery set on cruise ships in the Caribbean. “Murder Caribbean-Style” and “Murder on a Ghost Ship” are the first two novels of a High Seas Mystery series. Readers meet the main characters of the series and learn about life aboard a ship while solving murders. There is danger and romance mixed in with the action. The third book in the series, “Murder for Glacier Blue” was released in August of 2013. The novel takes the reader on a cruise to Alaska with an art heist, murder, and a wedding planned for Glacier Bay.
The Alphas is the prequel to the Heirs to Howl of the Wolf, book 1 of the Heirs to the Throne trilogy. The novel introduces the dogs and wolves that eventually formed a pack that travels through space to inhabit Drako. The story is also a mystery. The heroine solves the murder of an old friend and discovers why her beloved German Shepherd was stolen.Howl of the Wolf introduces the planet Drako, telepathic wolves, and the crew of the space ship that took sanctuary on a planet that banned technology. In “The Havenshire Resistance”, the second book of the series, Queen Krystal’s teenage daughters learn to use their special inherited powers. Krystal and her daughters lead an army of Samurai women, telepathic wolves, and commoners to save the kingdom from an evil usurper in a dramatic battle. The third book of the trilogy is “Dragon Defense”. The planet is under threat by an Institute battleship. King Donovan must train teenagers to operate forbidden defense technology while his daughters make friends with a flock of wild dragons. Will his crazy defense tactics save the planet from destruction?

Dragon Knight: and the Heart’s Blood Curse. It is a modern fantasy that adults will enjoy reading to their kids or read for themselves. When a witch turns a magnificent dragon into a puny human knight, he must complete a quest to regain his powerful dragon form. A demon is stealing dead musicians from the mundane world and forcing them to perform songs that change people into evil beings. Now he plans to steal a living musician, Jimmy Buffett and destroy the barriers between the worlds. The underworld will rule supreme. Dragon is the only creature who could destroy the demon. Wizards in the mundane world use smart phones as wands to protect Buffett from capture while dragon and the young sorceress, Robyn, fight the demon in the magical realm.

Golden Legacy blends historical adventure with modern-day mystery in two time lines. Embarking on a harrowing treasure hunt, two daring heroines tackle the hazards of gold country more than a century apart. Ginny is a “modern” English gentlewoman traveling alone in the year 1888. Ginny is summoned to Ouray, Colorado, to attend her injured brother in hospital. The gutsy woman strikes out to deliver supplies to a dear family friend in a hidden gold mine, armed with courage, a fountain pen, and two sharp hatpins. Switching to modern day action, Kayla must decipher clues inside Ginny’s journal to pass an inheritance test to prove her courage, ingenuity, and honesty and qualify for a golden legacy.

Now readers may “play” games based on Diane’s High Seas Mystery Series in a new game book. No lines to learn or parts to play. Three games designed for home or large parties are included in this full-color print edition. Use the games for fundraisers or pot luck parties and have loads of fun.

Diane Rapp

Question: Tell me about your newest book and what was the inspiration behind your writing it?

Diane: My most recent novel is GOLDEN LEGACY, which is a blend of historical adventure and modern mystery. Of course I included some romance in both stories as well. Readers of my popular High Seas Mystery Series will recognize the modern characters, but I took them to Colorado to find a family gold mine.

Kayla must follow clues in Ginny’s journal from 1888. Ginny is Kayla’s ancestor, and she traveled from San Francisco to Gold Country near Ouray, Colorado. As a female heir, Kayla must use the journal to pass a stringent test to qualify for her inheritance. Courage, ingenuity, and honesty are all tested as Kayla and friends search for the hidden gold mine.

I wove two stories together within one novel, including danger and romance. I once lived in the mountains surrounding Ouray so I include descriptions (as well as photos) of real places including the grand Beaumont Hotel that was recently renovated.

My original inspiration for the historic part of the story was a real journal written by a plucky Victorian travel writer, Isabella Lucy Bird. She dared travel alone on horseback from Denver Colorado into the rugged mountains now part of Rocky Mountains National Park. On her journey, Miss Bird met a fellow Englishman and readers hoped that a romance might develop. Real life accounts often disappoint readers, and the romance did not occur. I imagined a story with a much happier ending, and then I twisted it all around by involving modern characters from my mystery novels. It took a year of research and writing to complete, and I hope readers enjoy the combined stories.


Question: Why and when did you decide to become a writer?

Diane: Writing is not a choice, it is a compulsion. I’ve penned stories all my life but usually kept them hidden in files. When I sold my last business, I got serious about publishing so the real work began. I gathered several old stories and started rewriting, studying the craft, and I finally allowed people to read my work. I sent one to my sister who called me and said, “I’ve known you all my life and never knew your mind worked like this! It’s wonderful.” Her words were a real gift.

Later, my daughter and I wrote a book proposal to write a travel guidebook for cruise ship passengers. We sent the proposal to twenty publishers and got one positive result. With a signed contract we set out on a four-month research trip to eleven islands in the Caribbean. After we published the travel guide, my daughter decided to write a mystery book based on the islands we visited. She soon discovered that she hated writing fiction and turned the idea over to me. It seemed like a good idea to use my fresh knowledge, so I wrote MURDER CARIBBEAN-STYLE. Of course I incorporated my daughter’s personality into the main character. It was the first book in my mystery series.

I enjoy writing mysteries but my favorite genre is science/fantasy. I wrote a series of books that include humans and telepathic wolves interacting on a distant planet. The settlers on Drako rejected technology and reverted to a feudalistic society. Modern spacers who escaped from an evil government must integrate into the backward society to survive. The telepathic wolves decide if these “two-legs” deserve their help. Heirs to the Throne became an epic tale told in three parts, but each is a standalone story. Later I wrote a prequel THE ALPHAS to explain the back story of the telepathic wolf packs that migrated from Earth to Drako.

I took time out from writing mysteries and science/fantasy to pen a fractured fairytale. It is a humorous tale about a dragon who is cursed by a witch and becomes a knight. He must complete a strange quest to save the world from a demon before he can return to his own magnificent form. The story includes famous dead musicians, zombies, ghosts, vampires, and enough fun to make adults chuckle while reading the story with kids. One reviewer said it was a “laugh out loud” story. I include three short stories designed to introduce my other novels to new readers.


Question: What book has been the greatest influence on you and your writing and why?

Diane: I can’t pick out one book as I was influenced by several authors who wrote a series of books. My favorite was Ann McCaffrey, who wrote the Dragon Riders of Pern series and spurred my love of science/fantasy. Her books are based on scientific principles that get spun in fantastic ways. They verge on magic but never quite cross that boundary. The books are character-driven showing regular people solving incredible problems. Of course the dragons are the best characters in her books. I read almost any book that features dragons!

My mystery influences are Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. I read and reread their books. When I plan to write a mystery I choose and old favorite and read it again to get my mind in gear. In Sherlock Holmes, the smallest crimes are often the most interesting and not always murder.


Question: Where do you find ideas for your books?

Diane: News stories, nature films, and real life characters I meet often spur my imagination. I heard about heart transplants on the news and asked myself, “What if doctors figured out how to transplant a patient’s mind into a cloned body rather than constantly transplanting organs? How would that invention change society?” It became a central idea in my stories. Also, I’d see my dog staring into my eyes like he was trying to send me a message. I thought, “What if our dogs could send us mental messages?” The idea for the telepathic wolves and dogs developed.

I am fascinated by nature. Real animals can be more extraordinary than anything a writer could imagine. I saw a U-Tube clip about a flamboyant cuttlefish that sent waves of color through its “wings” and body. When I imagined the dragons in my third book about Drako, I decided that they communicated with color in the same way the cuttlefish did. It was more fun that creating another telepathic species.


Question: Where do you find ideas for your characters?

Diane: People I meet, actors I see on screen, and memories become characters. I imagine a character and think about how they look, move, talk, and what they do in the story just before I fall asleep. My subconscious works to make the character real for me while I sleep. Often a new character takes over the story without my planning it. I introduced a great villain half-way through one book, and he was so interesting that I rewrote the beginning. He had to appear sooner in the story.


Question: How would you describe your writing style?

Diane: My writing is character-driven. I think of an idea, but I can’t write the story until the characters I dream about come to life in my mind. They basically tell me what will happen in their part of the story. I try to plan out a plot but the character might take me down a path I had never seen coming.  That’s more like real life, isn’t it?


Question: What do you consider the most difficult part of writing a book?

Diane: Rewrites are tedious but necessary. They are not much fun and take a lot of time. I can’t believe how many errors I discover after I start reading my own book on a Kindle. The typos pop out and vibrate on that little screen. Therefore, before I read the file on my Kindle to reveal many pesky problems before I publish. I also have several Beta readers that are fantastic.


Question: What are your current projects?

Diane: I am getting to know the characters in a new science/fantasy novel. We met Dr. Alexander (a surgeon and empathic healer) in Heirs to the Throne trilogy. Now, I’m exploring what happened to the three other scientists who worked alongside Dr. Alexander to invent the “Transfer” process.

By transferring a patient’s mind into its own clone, these men created a type of immortality. They prevented disease and birth defects, but they lost control of the process and people became indebted to the Institute.

Who were the three other scientists and where did they go when the Institute tried to kill them? Here is a brief description of each man:

An expert in genetics, Dr. Jerome helped correct fatal birth defects in the clones of Transfer patients.  Upon escaping from the Institute he took refuge on Lydia, a water-world developed by oceanographers to study aquatic species. He used his skills to help the survivors of a world-wide flood and learned about a threat to humanity.

A psychiatrist specializing in astral projection, Dr. Stewart settled on the desert planet Klaatu.  Robotics became the prime industry on the planet where venturing outside protective domes could prove fatal. Using astral projection techniques, Dr. Stewart taught people to project their minds into the brains of their robots. He discovered how the planet was stripped of life centuries ago and the threat might return.

An expert in artificial life-support systems, Dr. Hartman fled into the Dark Zone of space where he built a successful business servicing spaceships and trading in contraband.  Hartman is part pirate and part mechanic, able to brawl with rowdy customers and flaunt the technical skills needed to design ground-breaking equipment.  He might become the link to bringing the four scientist back together as they face a potential threat to life in the galaxy.

These characters are “speaking to me” and letting me know how important each one must be to the overall story. I think that mankind will not really work together peacefully unless there is an outside threat to fight against.

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