'Primal Fear' Author Diehl Dies at 81 - washingtonpost.com: "ATLANTA -- William Diehl, best-selling author of 'Primal Fear' and other novels, has died at Emory University Hospital. He was 81.
Diehl died Friday, said Sarah Carter of H.M. Patterson & Son funeral home in Atlanta. Two longtime friends, Michael Parver and Don Smith, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Diehl died of an aortal aneurysm.
He started on his first novel, 'Sharky's Machine,' while serving as a juror. Diehl, then 50, was bored by the trial and started writing fiction on a notepad. The book, published in 1978, became a best-seller and _ later _ a movie starring Burt Reynolds.
Diehl was unemployed when he got the news that the book was going to be published, Parver said. When his agent first called to tell him, the phone line went dead. Diehl hadn't paid the bill, Parver told the Journal-Constitution."