Message From The Author
Romance Pioneer Diana Palmer's Home Is a Real Animal House
By Diane Snyder
You might think that an author who's published more than 100 books in 24 years would lead a rather quiet existence. In the case of author Diana Palmer (aka Susan Kyle), you'd be wrong. One of Silhouette's first authors, Palmer, has published more than 60 books for the three lines in 21 years. Plus, since 1998, she's been penning romantic suspenses for Mira. Her latest, LAWLESS, hits stores this month. And she's still experiencing career firsts: A reissue of her 1988 book, Diamond Spur, by Mira, has landed her on the New York Times bestseller list for the first time in her career.
The home from where these books originate has its share of lawlessness. Three acres in northeast Georgia, it has almost as many animals as some petting zoos. Certain inhabitants can be heard clamoring for attention as Palmer tries to talk on the phone. But no problem: She's every bit as good an oral storyteller as she is a written one.
The newest addition is a 2-year-old husky dog her son rescued. Unfortunately, Rikku has been relegated to the backyard after a fight with the German shepherd, Moose, that sent both dogs to the vet. (There's also a poodle and a Lab/Border collie puppy.) But Palmer and a neighbor spent a Saturday laying down a patio for the pooch. Oh, and that was after making a Friday deadline for her editor.
But other conflicts are brewing. A new Himalayan kitten (her fifth cat) is turning out to be a bully. "He's bigger than all the other cats put together," she asserts. So she's wary about letting the Amazon parrot out of its cage. Named John Wayne when she was thought to be a he, the prankster has pulled some fast ones on the other cats.
"She'd get on her perch and call, 'Here, kitty, kitty.' The cats would come and she'd pelt them with her lava rocks," Palmer recalls. "They learned very quickly not to come when the parrot called them."
And the dogs soon learned not to mess with the iguanas the Palmers used to keep. "One got too close and almost got his leg brokeniguanas have strong tails," she explains. An iguana once broke out of the house through a window to chase one of the dogs. "But we caught him in time," Palmer says. "Then this guy came to fix the window, and it was a hoot. He said, 'The window got broken by a what?'"
There's also a female emu, Georgewho was thought to be male until she laid an egg. Fences keep her in check. "I had to fence her out of the garden, because she pulls up everything I plantalthough she make good fertilizer for the garden," Palmer swears. There's even a husband, James Kyle, whom Palmer married five days after they met. That was 30 years ago, when they were coworkers at a manufacturing company. It's from James, who grew up on his dad's Colorado ranch, that Palmer gets a lot of the ranching information that frequently finds its way into her books, including her Long, Tall Texans series. "And of course he looks like all my heroes," she adds.
That holds true for her latest, Texas Ranger Judd Dunn (of the law enforcement organization, not the baseball team). Five years ago he married 16-year-old Christabel Gainesin name onlyto save the ranch their families owned, after putting her abusive father behind bars. He swore he'd divorce her on her 21st birthday, which is rapidly approaching, but danger and financial woes may get in the way.
To save the ranch, Judd lets a film crew shoot on the property
and gets involved with the beautiful star. Crissy, meanwhile, hooks up with Cash Grier, an old rival of Judd's (who will be a central character in Palmer's next book). And Crissy must catch the culprit when someone starts killing the ranch animals, while Judd is off investigating a murder. At the same time an enemy from Judd's past turns up to wreak havoc on their lives.
"We've got a four-way thing going," Palmer says. "The point is even if you think someone is the bee's knees doesn't mean they're the proper person for you." That's not the case with her two protagonists, however. "Christabel and Judd have such similar backgrounds in the way they grew up, their attitude toward life and the fact that they're not sophisticated people," Palmer says. "One thing that's kept James and me going for 30 years is that we're best friends, we have common interests, we have a shared culture. Passion is beautiful, but it does fade, and there has to be something there afterwards."
For more on her books, visit www.dianapalmer.com.
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