I am genetically wired to write. I can’t NOT write. It’s not a choice. My name is Lena, and I am a writer.
Do you have a favorite motto?
Never, never, never give up.
Which fictional character would you hang out with?
Vane from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s book, Night Play. Vane, in spite of his name, is not hung up on looks. The woman he loves is several sizes larger than the typical romance novel heroine. He not only accepts the way she looks, he adores her curves. My kind of hero!
What is one of your favorite book covers, your own or someone else’s?
While I bow to my publisher’s decades of marketing wisdom and experience, the covers on my two novels so far are not covers I would have chosen. For romantic suspense, I prefer covers with dark colors and atmospheric elements like fog, cemeteries, or moss-draped oak trees.
As for my favorite covers overall, they tend to be the ones found on historical romances, like my friend Valerie Bowman’s cover for her upcoming debut - SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT. The background is royal blue and the heroine’s gorgeous dress is the same color. It gives a rich, sophisticated feel to the cover. I could seriously stare for hours at the beautiful dresses on all those historical romance covers. If I thought I had the talent for it, I’d write regencies just so I could have one of those covers!
What would readers be surprised to learn about you?
Probably that, even though I write romantic suspense, I’m afraid of EVERYTHING. I’m still traumatized from a horror movie my sister took me to when I was in high school. Seriously. I may not see dead people like in Sixth Sense, but I do see serial killers - everywhere - in every crowd - or at least I worry that they are in every crowd.
A friend of mine has a house that overlooks the woods. She has giant sliding glass doors across the entire back of her family room, with NO blinds, NO curtains. I am convinced serial killers live in those woods behind her and watch her every night. I would be terrified to be there after dark.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever learned by Googling your name?
Good question. Give me a second while I go Google my name . . . I’m back! Didn’t really find anything strange. Maybe the most notable is that there are only 18 people listed in the US white pages with my name. That would explain why so many people get confused when they meet me and they ask if ‘Lena’ is short for something else. Nope. It’s not. Trust me. I’ve seen my birth certificate.
If you could go backward or forward in time which would you chose? Why?
Forward. My daughter has type-1 diabetes, which means her pancreas doesn’t produce insulin anymore. Without insulin every day she would die. And we have all kinds of side-effects to worry about from this horrible disease. My dream is a day where diabetes is cured. I would definitely take my daughter and go forward in time if I could save her from a life with diabetes. This is where I have to mention Brenda Novak, an awesome romantic suspense author, and an amazing person. If you are interested in helping find a cure for diabetes, you might check out her annual diabetes auction (www.BrendaNovak.com).
Wow - sorry to get so serious there. You hit a tender spot. (Waves dooms and gloom away, pastes smile on her face, ready for more questions.)
Thank you for asking! The ebook version of SIMON SAYS DIE is already out - feel free to buy several copies. I don’t mind. But if you prefer to hold a print book in your hands, the print version comes out April 17th. This book is put out by Avon Impulse, the digital first imprint of Harper Collins. That means the book isn’t available in bookstores, only online retailers. So, to get a copy, just log on to your favorite online retailer and download the ebook or order the print book.
You can read the official blurb (back cover copy) on my website (www.lenadiaz.com), but I’ll state it informally here. Basically it’s a reunion story, between a young widow named Madison McKinley and her former lover, FBI special agent Pierce Buchanan. The story takes place in Savannah, Georgia (back to that atmosphere stuff I mentioned earlier), and Pierce has to step in to try to save Madison from a stalker, and possibly the same serial killer who is stalking Savannah. The title is for the serial killer, because he leaves notes on his victims that say, “Simon Says Die.” The question throughout the story is - is the Simon Says Die killer the same person stalking Madison, or is it someone else? And what is Madison hiding in her past? It’s a book filled with secrets and twists and turns and was tons of fun to write. Madison is independent - too independent - has a gun fetish, and speaks before she thinks. It takes a very special hero to understand why she acts the way she does, and to understand her. Pierce is the exact opposite of Madison in every way, which makes for sparks and lots of interesting situations.
SIMON SAYS DIE is a romantic suspense. What is it about this genre that piques your curiosity?
To me there is nothing sexier than an intelligent, strong man using his brain power to bring a criminal to justice. I love watching the good guys figure out tough cases and put the bad guys away. But I’ve also always been a romance novel reader. I love the emotion and happily ever after endings in romances. So, when I began writing, it just made sense that I would combine my two favorite genres - romance and suspense.
Name one or two fascinating things you learned about FBI Special Agents through your research.
Spoiler alert. If you believe FBI Special Agents are all sexy, body-builder type tough-guys running around saving the day . . . you might be disappointed. The reality is kind of . . . well, boring. Most special agents are office workers. They spend their days at their desks doing research online or making phone calls. Not very sexy or interesting, so I take a LOT of literary license when I write my FBI and other law-enforcement heroes.
Many novels show the FBI getting involved in cases they would never get involved in in real life. The FBI does not swoop in and just take over like they do in fiction. The reality is that your local law-enforcement agencies are usually the best men and women for the job of solving any crimes in their area. And with few exceptions, the FBI can’t just come in on a case unless invited, either by local law enforcement or by the victim’s family.
Pierce crosses his arms and aims his intent gaze on Madison, as if he’s trying to let her know she’d better tell the truth. “Yes.”
Madison squirms in her seat and bites her bottom lip.
Pierce narrows his eyes at her.
“Oh, all right,” Madison says. “Yes, okay? Happy now?”
A slow sexy smile curves Pierce’s mouth and he winks at Madison.
This time both Pierce and Madison shift in their seats and look uncomfortable. They exchange a private glance, and Pierce clears his throat. “Next question please.”
Madison, name the one thing about Pierce that you believe won your heart.
Uncomfortable with all this talk of love, Madison blushes and drums her short-cropped nails on the tabletop. Without looking at Pierce, she says, “He understands me and accepts all my faults.”
Pierce, name one thing about Madison that you believe changed your outlook on love.
He arches a brow. “Let’s just say that before I met her, I never would have thought I would be happy to promise the rest of my life to a woman who can shoot better than me.”
Lena, while you were writing Madison and Pierce’s story was there a scene that popped out the most?
Oh, yes. My most favorite scene in the book isn’t even a scene between Pierce and Madison. It’s a scene where Logan, Madison’s brother, makes a cameo in the book. Logan had made Pierce promise to protect Madison while Logan was on his honeymoon. Logan isn’t happy that so many terrible things have happened to Madison, and he doesn’t think Pierce is treating her the way he should. Let’s just say that Logan decides to give Pierce a lesson in manners. Two angry, alpha-heroes . . . you can imagine what happens next.
Lena, what is more difficult to write: an intense sexual scene or a heart-wrenching emotional scene? Why?
Both are incredibly difficult to write, and honestly, any love scene should be a heart-wrenching emotional scene or it doesn’t belong in the story. How’s that for ducking the question?
“SIMON SAYS DIE” did you have music playing in the background? If yes, what type? Does music play an intricate part in your writing?
If music is playing, I’m singing. It’s hard to type words that make sense when you’re singing. I’ve tried it. Doesn’t work. No music, no TV, just me with my laptop in total silence. That’s how I write best.
Which do you find is most important to you as a writer, voice or story? Why?
The correct answer is probably voice. That’s the writer’s style and is why authors become auto-buys for readers based solely on the author’s name. However, I think story is pretty darned important too. There are some plots that I just do not like. I can think of several books by some of my favorite authors that I’ve never read, just because I didn’t like the back cover copy on the book. So, I guess I have to say - both!
(Lena pictures droves of readers sitting at their laptops, eagerly ready to type in URLs. Cool!)
My author website is www.LenaDiaz.com. That’s really the best place to go. I have all my contact info on there, including Facebook, Twitter, and email links. My website is undergoing a major overhaul this summer. It’s going to be awesome. But for now, everything you ever wanted to know about me and my books is on my website.
Oh, almost forgot. I can also be found on the www.KissAndThrill.com blogging with some amazing other others. And I’m one of the authors on the www.JustRomanticSuspense.com website too. Both of those blogs focus exclusively on romantic suspense authors and books.
I know this is a difficult question with there being so many amazing authors out there to choose from, but who are some of the GOT-TO-HAVE authors in your TBR pile?
Linda Howard. Brenda Novak. Julia Quinn. There are many others, but those are auto-buys no matter what.
What’s next in the works for you? When can readers expect to see it out on shelves in their local bookstores?
Ugh, the dreaded what’s next question. Pressure, pressure, pressure.
I have three books coming out next year - yes, 2013, you read that right - for the Harlequin Intrigue romantic suspense line.
As for more HarperCollins books, I’m working very hard on several proposals right now. I would love to write a series but I want to come up with just the right hook, a high concept idea that my readers will love. I hope to present a proposal to them soon and then I’ll cross my fingers that they say yes!
Lena thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with Over the Edge readers and me; it has really been a blast getting to know more about you and your books.
I had a blast doing this interview. Thank you SO MUCH for having me.