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New York Times bestselling author shares success stories

By Sheila R. Simpson, for the SNAP

Friends of the Library members heard from New York Times and London Sunday Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain at their annual author dinner Sept. 26.

In addition to speaking briefly about her book, “The Dream Daughter,” Chamberlain provided the audience with insight into how she became a writer and what moved her to relocate to the state in which many of her novels are set.

Growing up in Plainfield, N.J., Chamberlain was an avid reader. This love of reading — which began with E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web, led her to discover her passion for writing.

As a child, she wrote a number of stories, illustrated them and bound them into little books. She loved developing characters and creating worlds in which they lived.

However, when it came time to choose a career path, writing did not seem to be a profession at which she could make a living so she chose to go into the field of social work.

She began her studies at Glassboro State College in New Jersey before moving to San Diego where she completed degrees at San Diego State University.

After graduation, she worked with a number of youth counseling agencies before turning to medical social work in San Diego and in Washington, D.C. It was there she found her second passion — working with adolescents. She opened her own private practice in Alexandria, Va., where she specialized in working exclusively with adolescents.

In San Diego, she returned to her first passion. While waiting for a doctor’s appointment, she took out a pen and paper and began writing a story she had kept in her mind since the days of her youth on the Jersey shore.

Four hours later, still waiting for the doctor, she had the beginnings of what would eventually become her first book, “Private Relations,” which earned the RITA Best Single Title Contemporary Novel award after its publication in 1989.

In discussing her 26th and latest book, “The Dream Daughter,” published in 2018, Chamberlain spoke specifically on the element of time travel.

Because the book deals with time travel, it is slightly different from many of her books. However, Chamberlain told the audience that its use was necessary to get the story to its destination.

She said she was surprised when she read the comments by readers who recognized this fact and lauded praise upon it. She said many of these readers reported they had initially been reluctant to continue reading when the element of time travel was introduced.

In the late 1980s, she purchased a vacation home in Duck and over time fell in love with its beauty and people, which led her to set many of her books in cities and towns across the state.

Fourteen years ago, she made the permanent move to North Carolina, settling in to a home in Raleigh. She now splits her time between there and Topsail Island.

At 69, she says she has thought about retirement, but has no idea what she would do other than write, so it doesn’t make much sense to do so. However, she did admit she has slowed down in recent years.

Her 27th book, “Big Lies in a Small Town” will be available Jan. 14, 2020. Set in Edenton, it follows two artists, one chosen to paint a WPA mural in the 1930s who mysteriously disappears, and a second artist chosen to restore the mural years later, who discovers clues to the first artist’s disappearance contained within the mural.