About the Author

“Diane is one of America’s living treasures. She can say in 14 words what it takes the rest of us pages and pages to establish.”

Vance Holmes, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Diane with her parents and
younger brother and sister

The path my life has followed is a bit convoluted but I am pleased with the current result. I was born in Baltimore, Maryland. My maiden name is Butcher. Honest! I was born as Diane Lynn Butcher. Many in my Dad’s family think that I should have written under my original name when I started authoring true crime books. They thought it would be rather appropriate. They did have a point, but I thought if I did a lot a people would think that I made the name up. A book about murder by Diane Butcher?

When I was 6 years old, we moved into a home my father built in Baltimore County. It was while I lived here that one of the most pivotal events in my life occurred. I was 9 years old when a man, asking for directions, stopped his car on a hill in an empty stretch of road. He opened his car door and asked me to look at his map. I approached and he grabbed my upper arm and tried to pull me into his car. At that moment, another vehicle came up over the hill and the driver laid on the horn. The man let go of my arm and drove off with his car door open. As a big fan of Dragnet on television, I knew to memorize his license plate number. I told it to my mother who passed it along to the police. He was picked up and convicted for the sexual assault and murder of an 8-year-old girl the month before. That incident created in me a lifelong interest in the psychology of the criminal mind. When I heard about Krystal Surles, the 10-year-old who exhibited incredible courage, fortitude and determination to bring an end to the two-decade killing spree of Tommy Lynn Sells, her experience resonated with me. She had done so much more–endured so much more–than I. I simply had to write her story. The result of that was my first true crime book, THROUGH THE WINDOW.

After graduating from Perry Hall High School, I went to Lynchburg College in Virginia and majored in Chemistry. I stayed in that area of Virginia for quite a few years writing for radio and television stations and an advertising agency. While doing that, I earned more than 70 Addy Awards for my work including one for Best in Show. At the same time, I free-lanced magazine articles and personal essays on the side.

I didn’t write a book until I moved to Texas—I just couldn’t focus on a major project like that while I had three kids in the house. I know some women can—God bless them—but I just couldn’t. When my little one went off to Texas A&M, I got busy and have been writing books ever since.

For a while, I kept a day job. When I moved to Texas, I started working in non-profit. In my third position in that field, I was the Executive Director of Another Way Texas Shares (now Community Shares of Texas) for ten years before resigning and writing full time.

In the course of that work, the governor of Texas appointed me for three terms on the State Advisory Committee for the State Employee Charitable Campaign. I also served on the executive committee for the Board of Directors of the National Association for Choice in Giving (NACG) and on the Board for Community Shares-USA. NACG awarded their Freedom Fighter Award to me and Earth Share of Texas executive director Max Woodfin in 2001.

The author as a high school nerd.

Diane Fanning and Janet Evanovich at a joint book signing at Borders in Manhattan.

As a writer, I have served on the executive committees of the Writers’ League of Texas and the Heart of Texas chapter of Sisters in Crime. I am also a member of Mystery Writers of America.

My book, WRITTEN IN BLOOD, was nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe award. But the most fulfilling thing for me as a true crime writer was the role I played in finding justice for wrongfully convicted Julie Rea Harper. The story was featured on 20/20. I’ve also been very gratified with the email I’ve received from staff at Domestic Violence Shelters around the country who’ve called GONE FOREVER, an important book for women.

I’m now living in the town of Bedford, Virginia in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains with the best husband in the world.

I love to read and always have a book or two in progress.

You can see the books I’ve enjoyed the most on my favorite reads page on goodreads.com.


Diane holding a starfish while snorkeling off Negril Beach in Jamaica.