Monday, November 26, 2012

Dying in a Dumpster

Today Wild Women Authors are pleased to welcome Lesley A. Diehl, author of Dumpster Dying, a January 2011 release from Oak Tree Press. Its sequel, Grilled, Chilled and Killed, will be released in upcoming months.
Dumpster Dying, a mystery set in Florida, 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.
Where are you from, Lesley? I divide my time between upstate New York and rural Florida and set my books in both locations. This one, the first in the Big Lake mystery series and its soon to be released sequel, Grilled, Chilled and Killed is set in rural Florida.
What is Dumpster Dying about? My protagonist, retired preschool teacher Emily Rhodes, is a winter visitor to rural Florida. She finds a body in the dumpster behind the place where she bartends. When her best friend is accused of the crime, Emily tries to find the killer, but runs into difficulties in a community where winter visitors are looked upon with some suspicion. In the sequel, Grilled, Chilled and Killed, Emily again stumbles over a dead body, this one in a beer cooler truck at the Big Lake Barbeque festival and cook-off. Her attempts to find the killer lead her into the swamps of rural Florida where she encounters wild pigs and wilder moonshiners.
What made you choose writing mysteries as a profession? Mystery writing is my second career. I retired as a psychologist and college professor, but thinking and writing about murder is much more exciting.
Knowing what you know now, if you had it to do over again, would you stick with psychology, or do something different? I think my background in psychology provides great insight into developing believable characters and understandable motivations.
What is your biggest fear? That I have too many ideas for books and I’ll not find the time to write all of them.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Any character created by Elizabeth George is tops with me. All her characters are so real, so multi-dimensional and psychologically complex.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Don’t expect to get rich at writing.
Which writer or character from either books or movies have had a major impact on your writing? I like to write mysteries that are humorous with sassy and funny and adventurous characters, so I love Janet Evanovich because she seems to feel the same way I do. Nothing is too over the top for her, a message I’ve taken to heart in constructing my protagonists.
With regard to research, where did you start for this novel? Did that lead you down different paths, thereby changing the original concept? I spent a lot of time in cowboy bars watching folks dancing and observing the bartenders concocting their drinks. I also eavesdropped on conversations. I was part of a writers’ group, many of whom were from families who had lived in rural Florida for generations. Because this is a big bass fishing area, I drew on what the natives here told me about fishing the lake. For my take on winter visitors, I had only to talk with my friends from the north who spend the winter here. You can say most of my research involved getting some insight on the people who live in rural Florida the winter months.
Let's take a look at an excerpt for Dumpster Dying:
Emily Rhodes, the new bartender at the Big Lake Country Club, blew damp tendrils of sun-bleached hair out of her face as she kicked and dragged three plastic trash bags across the sun-baked asphalt lot behind the clubhouse. A full moon illuminated the area’s lone palm tree under which sat a metal beast waiting for its nightly feeding.
Here you go, big boy,” she said. She let go of the bags and, with one hand, lifted the dumpster’s lid on the side closest to her. The usual stench of rotting garbage assaulted her nostrils. She ignored the smell and tried to heave the bag into the container, but it tumbled back out. Too full. She shoved back the lid on the other side, and mentally crossed her fingers that she wouldn’t have to hop in there and stomp around on that stuff to make room as she did the other night.
By the glow of the security light she spotted a white object lying at the far end of the dumpster, a cowboy hat, a very special cowboy hat, a Silver Belly, expensive and worn by very few men. She’d encountered just such a man earlier in the evening. The circumstances of their meeting were not pleasant.
What the hell was that doing here, she wondered. Emily leaned in as far as she could. Her feet left the ground, and she teetered on the rim of the dumpster. She struggled to reach the hat, tugged at it, and almost went head first into the bin, head first onto the man’s face hidden beneath the hat.
Ugh! She fell back and dropped the metal lid, the clang reverberating off the side of the building in the still night. She covered her mouth with her hand, and leaned against the dumpster. That can’t be. I didn’t see that, did I?
She turned, opened the lid once more, gingerly pushed a garbage bag to one side, and peered in for another look. She remembered him from earlier in the evening when he had grabbed her blouse and tried to pull her across the bar. He had worn a brilliant white cowboy shirt with roses appliqu├ęd on the front yoke. Now the shirt front was as dark as the blood-red flowers.
She gulped hard to hold back the bile working its way up from her stomach and looked around the lot. It was empty. Help. She needed help.

This sounds like so much fun—and being two wild authors from upstate New York, we're always interested in different publishing houses so we can share the news with other authors, both experienced and pre-published. How did you hear about Oak Tree Press? What influenced your decision to submit to them? Tell us a bit about their submission process. How long did it take from query to release? The publisher of my series set in upstate New York was a regional publisher and not interested in a book set in Florida so I sent it to Oak Tree Press, a press in Illinois open to submissions from unagented writers. It was reviewed, accepted for publication and released in about a year’s time. They are particularly supportive of writers who already have a presence on the internet, and they ask for a marketing plan with the submission.

To learn more about Lesley A. Diehl and the stories she creates go to:

Thanks for for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit us today, Lesley. We wish you much luck with Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Chilled and Killed.
Kat and Veronica


  1. Hey, Wild women! Great post on a great blog! I am working on Grilled, Chilled and Killed now...another fun story from Lesley! Of course, the idea of a break sounds wonderful. Maybe we can meet down at the club and Emily can whip us up some refreshing cocktails....!

    Billie Johnson
    Oak Tree Press

  2. Enjoyed the interview. Great excerpt. Hope you have great sales.

  3. Emily makes killer pomegranate cosmos and really tasty mojitos, so I'll meet all of you at the clubhouse. We can check out the dumpster there together.

  4. I think you chose a terrific part of the book to highlight and I thoroughly enjoyed your BLOG. Awesome interview, thanks for sharing!

  5. Creepy excerpt. And I mean that in the most complimentary of ways. Sign me up for the clubhouse meeting! I can do snowbird.

  6. Great interview and the book sounds like so much fun!

  7. Okay, let's all of us gather in the clubhouse this coming Saturday. Emily will do the drinks. Who will bring the snacks?

  8. I'll bring the snacks. I've read both of the books in this series, and you're all in for a treat with the new one. :)
    Marja McGraw