Diane Meier is an author from Pennsylvania, who wrote No Kill Station: Murder at Rehoboth Beach, a murder mystery novel. It’s her first book and it tells us the story of the investigation of a town’s animal shelter director’s brutal murder.
Diane with her granddaughter
Her book actually passes on royalties to Home For Life, a no kill sanctuary in Minnesota, who houses nearly 200 animals! Sierra (in the picture below) is one of the lovely dogs that have made it to this home thanks to Diane, as the shelter Sierra was at, was getting shut down. You can read Sierra’s story on Diane’s website, in the links below this interview.
What made you want to write?
Since I first scratched out the alphabet, I’ve been fascinated with the power of putting words on paper. My career required that I write about public policy issues, but I have always devoted every spare moment to reading novels. I love to escape into other people’s lives.
I wished that I could write a novel, but every time I tried, I gave up in frustration.
I’ve heard the expression “write what you know.” My great passion in life has been animal rescue. I didn’t want to write a memoir because some of the experiences were so painful. It really got to me in Schindler’s List when he can’t even accept the thanks of those he saved because he wishes that he had saved more from the death camps. The hardest part of animal rescue is that you can’t save all the dogs and cats on death row. I’m not equating people to animals, of course, but animal rescuers constantly have to choose whom to save. The dogs and cats that I helped to save are just a handful compared to the millions killed in shelters every year. I believe that we could be saving almost all of them if shelters turned to the strategies of the no kill movement but that’s another topic.
I had blogged for years about shelters and the no kill movement, but it seemed to me like rescuers and animal advocates are always preaching to the choir. I started to think about how a novel might reach a different audience. I wanted to create a story that would not only engage and entertain people but also spread the word that we can save more homeless dogs and cats.
I started thinking about a story involving an animal shelter and then I realized that I had the perfect victim in mind for a murder mystery – an animal shelter director who kills, neglects and abuses dogs and cats. That’s not a spoiler because the murder happens on page one.
What is your favourite book to date?
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is the novel that comes to mind. The characters and the setting in the circus are fascinating. Joining a circus was always a fantasy of mine when I was a child. As I grew older, I had to stop going to the circus because I worried so much about treatment of the animals. Water for Elephants tackled that issue with characters and a plot n that are riveting.
What was your favourite book growing up?
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck was my favorite book. I was fascinated by the story of the dust bowl in the 1930s . The characters inspired me with their will to survive and help each other in the toughest times.
Your first book: where were you when the idea came to you?
I thought of the plot for my novel while I was swimming laps, which may be one of the world’s most boring activities. I do the backstroke so I don’t even hear other people at the pool. There are no distractions at all so I use the time to ponder life. I started thinking of who I would like to kill if I wrote a murder mystery. That got my juices going. I quickly settled on killing off the animal shelter director. When I started to think about the other characters in mystery, one turned out to be a ghost. I don’t know why. She certainly could have been alive in the story, but that’s not what she wanted. It’s funny how characters just seem to compose themselves when one starts to dive into writing fiction.
Where is your ideal writing space?
I write in a room that is filled with light and photos of my family. I like to write in the morning after I’ve walked the dogs and they settle down for naps. Because I was in rescue work, I ended up with five dogs. It seems to happen to every rescuer. We keep the dogs who are the hardest to place.
Which author(s) inspire you?
If there was a gun to my head and I absolutely had to pick a couple of authors, I would say Anne Tyler, John Grisham, Dennis Lehane and Barbara Kingsolver. I try to read every book they have written.
Anne Tyler’s books inspire me because of the quirky characters she creates and the circumstances in their lives that make the story. . I love Breathing Lessons and The Accidental Tourist. John Grisham inspires because of the way he weaves stories around crimes and the law in every single novel. Barbara Kingsolver’s books always appeal to me because of her themes of social justice and community. The Poisonwood Bible is incredibly powerful. Mystic River by Lehane is a great favorite of mine because it is a book about faith and family.
If you were to go to any library or bookstore in the world, where would you go?
At the moment I’m looking forward to visiting the Cornell University bookstore. My granddaughter just started there and I can’t wait to visit her. The photo I provided for this interview is with her just before she left for school. My grandchildren are such a great joy in life.
If you were to find someone reading your book anywhere, where would it be?
Absolutely anywhere except when driving a car or handling other heavy equipment. I’m just delighted to have someone read the book.
What do you love about reading and/or writing the most?
I recall hearing or reading a saying about how we should read a novel like the Bible and the Bible like a novel. Stories are a way of trying on other people’s’ lives for a while and then thinking about how their experiences apply to my life.
Thank you Diane for being a part of this interview.
If you’d like, you can find Diane’s novel here on Amazon.
Matt wants a quiet life with his son at Rehoboth Beach after surviving the dangers of big city policing and the chaos caused by his addict wife. When the town’s animal shelter director is brutally murdered, the Mayor insists that Matt join the investigation. His obsession with the case threatens not only his job but also his new relationship with Clara, his beautiful landlord.
Catch Diane on these links below:
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Goodreads: No Kill Station