Dianne Neral Ell

Caesar and his mom Dianne

Biography

In the Beginning
Through my grandparents and parents I was introduced to books at an early age: H. Ryder Haggard, Joseph Conrad, Helen McClure, Zane Grey, and of course Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen. Liking books was in my blood. But not writing.

The piano was the focus of my early life. From five years on, I was at the keyboard after school and on weekends. I performed in small recitals at first locally then eventually out of state. By the time I got to high school I was involved in competitions in Pittsburgh where I grew up as well as concerts in New York and Boston. I went from solo artist with no accompaniment, to solo artist with orchestra.

Photography was my other great interest. My father was a designer and an artist and some of that rubbed off on me. I took up photography ending up doing some award winning auto racing photos in the Formula 1 series.

My Writing Life
Writing came late. It wasn’t until after earning a BA from the University of Florida and an MBA from Baruch College that I looked for means other than piano and photography to express myself. I attended a semester-long writing program at New York University taught by author and editor Marvin Kaye on mystery writing. That was the impetus I needed to get thoughts onto paper. But it wasn’t a straight run forward. Life intervened. Finally, a draft of a novel emerged followed by other novels, ideas for other novels, scraps of thoughts for short stories and essays.

Being involved in writing and wanting to help others, I helped found the Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, and Sleuthfest, the FMWA’s mystery and crime writers conference. I chaired the Florida Heritage Book Festival Writers Conference for several years in St. Augustine and I currently serve as a co-leader for the Florida Writers Association, St. Augustine Chapter.

Along the Way
I moved from Pittsburgh, to Gainesville, (the UF) to New York City/​Manhattan where I met my husband David. In time we moved to south Florida where my parents had lived for years. From there, we made a few stops along the way eventually arriving in St Augustine, the nation’s oldest city. I had a career in marketing and advertising and have used that background in some of my stories.

Cats have also played an important part in my life. A version of our white cat, Puddy, appears in The Exhibit. At Long Last Love, a finalist in the FWA Royal Palm Literary Awards, is about Melissa and her love. Caesar, “He Ran with Lions, Swam with Dolphins”, appeared in Snowbird Volume 1 Anthology.

I am a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, and the Florida Writers Association.