Gothic Novels with Teeth: An Interview with D.M. Pirrone

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By Helen Kossler

Reading Between the Lines

Diane Pirone-Gilman, who writes under the name D.M. Pirrone, appeared at Centuries & Sleuths on Sunday March 6 to talk about her debut novel, No Less in Blood. I was not able to attend the appearance, but we had an opportunity to chat a few weeks ago at Panera’s about her writing.


Pirrone had done a lot of writing and editing before deciding that she would like to try her hand at the novel too. She currently edits manuscripts for two publishers, 5 Star and Allium Press, and she writes for a games manufacturer.  She was enthusiastic as she talked about her book and her writing influences.


She admits to liking gothic romances and to wanting to write one where the heroine is not helpless but spunky and capable.  She described her book as “having teeth”.  She also said that it was not intended to be a thriller.  She says she is most interested in the how her characters react to situations.


Her book jacket bio says that she’s an adoptee and the protagonist in her book is adopted too. I asked her about the influence of that experience on her world view. I was especially interested because I have two adopted children who have not expressed much interest in finding their biological parents.  In the book, however, Rachel Connelly feels that part of her is missing because she lacks information about her birth family despite having had a reasonably good childhood with her adoptive family.


Pirrone says that family identity and self-identity are important themes for her. She said she does not have the same drive to find her birth family as Rachel does and that she feels herself to be connected to her adoptive family emotionally and culturally.


She thinks that the secrecy that often surrounds adoption is what makes it ripe for the novelist as a plot device. With secrecy, the past has effects on the present that are very real but the impetus is hidden and the outcomes far more unpredictable and understandable. She wanted to explore these effects in her book.


Which in part accounts for her interest in history.  She says that Barbara Tuchman is a favorite author and we agreed that her books, A Distant Mirror, and The Guns of August are both readable and intellectually challenging.  Pirrone sees herself writing more historical fiction than mysteries. In fact, she is currently working on an historical novel.


Despite having the advantage of being an editor as well as a writer, Pirrone admits to paying her dues to get published. Like most authors, she has the rejection letters from editors and agents but said that she decided to take a chance and send it to her current publisher.  As they say, the rest is history.


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