“The world is a violent place” Krista Diamond offers as an explanation for the often gruesome ends characters in her short stories suffer. We’re sitting in Lofti Café, enjoying iced beverages on another sweltering Vegas afternoon. She talks about “the feeling of dread that follows you around…as a woman, the world is a violent place.” When she repeats the last sentence her voice is steady and calm but a little softer than it was the first time. As if the addition of the word ‘woman’ demands compensation in tone.
However, Diamond’s writing is not limited to reflecting the punishing anger women endure. She writes a combination of nonfiction as well, in the form of articles with subjects that vary from the plight of burros to the best alcoholic milkshakes on the Vegas Strip. Her background in National Parks and love of dramatic natural landscapes has led to extensive work on Death Valley and the many ways to better enjoy the great outdoors. Readers, however, can follow a common thread woven throughout Diamond’s work.
“They camped within view of the jagged Sawtooth Mountains, awaiting that moment when the moon lined up with the sun along the path of totality.” From What It’s Really Like To Live In An RV Full-Time written for KOA
She writes an engaging and evocative narrative in fiction or nonfiction by treating the environment as another character. This creates an enveloping experience for the reader, safely ensconced in her words, but walking in someone else’s shoes.
“The city had a fever. Even after midnight, the streets were on fire. Girls in sequined skirts tumbled out of nightclubs, kicked off their high heels and recoiled as their feet hit the smoldering sidewalks.” From Hot Vegas Nights written for DTLV
Diamond attributes this practice to having lived in “a lot of strange places.” She calls the desert a “misunderstood place” and describes Death Valley with a reverence normally reserved for a favorite sibling who was there for you when no one else was. Although originally from New Hampshire—with a last name like Diamond—it seems inevitable, almost predetermined that she end up in Las Vegas, where “the coolest things…are in strip malls.”
As one of her influences, she sites Matthew O’Brien, Las Vegas literary darling and nonfiction maven. It’s him, and other fellow writers who Diamond is grateful for in her career. As a freelancer, she has had her share of obstacles, but those were overcome with the help and guidance of others who were more experienced at the time.
Advice such as “focus on the work” has helped her manage the never-ending parade of rejections we writers contend with. She takes it a step further and adds “that is the most important relationship” in a writing career. More specifically she feels freelancers must identify their niche, and pitch to the publications in that arena, keeping pitches concise for editors’ sakes.
I ask if the current political climate has affected her writing. Diamond explains in one word, “fearless.” In the past there may have been plotlines she wouldn’t pursue or boundaries she wouldn’t cross, but now…Now she seeks out the uneasiness, saying “I wanted to write something that made men feel uncomfortable.”
This is particularly evident in her short story “Three Pints of Blood”, a heart wrenching, and deeply painful account.
“The blood on my hands is sticky. The space between my legs feels hollow and I’m not sure, but I think the flow has stopped. I am almost empty now. I feel stabs of panic when I look at the city and realize that no one can see me, no one can save me…” From Three Pints of Blood written for After Happy Hour Review
The reader is completely immersed in this character’s physical and psychological agony. This is done via simple sentence structure, lending the voice authenticity. A feat not easily accomplished as she drifts in and out of consciousness and reality. Powerful, concise imagery keeps the narrative grounded.
I sincerely hope that Diamond continues on this disconcerting path. In my opinion, a lot of us have been too comfortable for too long.