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A novelist’s heart

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Crime novelist and former Los Angeles Times reporter Denise Hamilton greets folks standing in line to get copies of her books autographed at a writers’ event in Brea, last month.

Writer Denise Hamilton no longer has to limit herself to “who, what, when, where, how, and good-bye.” That’s how Hamilton bottom-lined the format for writing newspaper stories to the audience in her June 14 workshop at the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

During her ten years of pounding the pavement as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, she covered everything from murder to O.J. to wildfires and earthquakes. Eventually, Hamilton says she discovered the “most interesting part of the story … end up on the editors’ floor.” She solved this personal dilemma by becoming a crime novelist where the writing landscape was limited only by her imagination. Also, the “reservoir of stories” from her journalism career has provided great inspiration. Hamilton enjoyed her years writing news stories on deadline but says, “I always had a novelist’s heart.”

Hamilton’s workshop was titled “Cool Dames and High Intrigue,” an appropriate description of her contemporary crime novel series. Like most aspiring novelists, Hamilton says she was told to “write what I know.” So she did. Reporter Eva Diamond is the protagonist of her best-selling crime series. Hamilton sees the crime solving Diamond as “who I want to be.”

The Diamond books are set in Los Angeles and are rich with its diverse cultures and nuances. Hamilton says she decided to “make L.A. a character.” Still, she admits to having a complex relationship with the city, “L.A. is like a bad boyfriend you can’t get rid of.”

It took Hamilton three years to write her first novel, The Jasmine Trade, which was published in 2001 and became a national bestseller. The Jasmine Trade kicked off the Eva Diamond series and was follow by Sugar Skull, Last Lullaby, Savage Garden, and Prisoner Memory.

Also, Hamilton edited the short story anthology, Los Angeles Noir, published in 2007. The anthology has received a great deal of praise, good reviews, and some awards as well.

Now, Hamilton is out on the road doing a book tour to promote her latest novel, The Last Embrace, set in 1949 Los Angeles. It is being called a sexy, seductive thriller and is inspired by a real unsolved murder.

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