The Kiss and Thrill blog, where this was originally published, will soon be disappearing, and I am republishing my Kiss and Thrill posts here to keep a copy. This one is from March 2012.
Does tweeting “I love GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART by Teresa Medeiros” over and over count as stalking? Maybe. Read on for more details about Lena Diaz, her new release SIMON SAYS DIE, and her stalking problem.
Today is an exciting day for us here at Kiss and Thrill, because SIMON SAYS DIE, by our very own Lena Diaz, is being released today in ebook (you can also order it in paperback if you prefer, but you have to order online).
I am super lucky to be the Kiss and Thrill team member who gets to interview Lena, because it meant I got to read an advance copy. Gwen, Krista, Carey, and the rest of the Kiss and Thrill team can suck it…I got to read Lena’s book first!
There is so much to love about this book. Pierce, who was kicked in the heart by Madison but still drops everything to help her when he realizes she is in danger. Madison, who doesn’t know whom to trust or what to believe. She reacted in fear by pushing away the one person she cares about the most.
SIMON SAYS DIE is a reunion story with two strong-willed protagonists who have to find their way past old hurts. It’s also an intense suspense with a scary killer who is a master manipulator.
Rachel: I usually start out by thanking my guest for joining us, but since you are one of us, instead I’ll say, I hope you don’t mind being in the hot seat.
Lena: Rachel, can I just take a second and congratulate you again on being a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist? I’m so thrilled for you!
Now, back to this post. Thank you so much for your kind words about Simon Says Die. I’m so glad you liked it! And I don’t mind being in the hot seat. It’s an honor to be interviewed by you. And if you ask really hard or embarrassing questions, hey, I’m willing to return the favor and interview you some time. (Insert evil laugh here.)
Rachel: Thanks Lena – it’s an honor to be a finalist and I’m thrilled our own Sharon and Diana also finaled in the same category, but today is about YOU! ?
This is your second book, and Pierce and Madison both appeared in HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT. Were you burning to tell Pierce and Madison’s story from the start, or did those characters jump out in the writing process and demand their own book?
Lena: First, let me emphasize that even though these books have some shared characters, you do NOT have to read the first one to understand and enjoy the second one. They each stand alone, by design. With that being said, the idea of writing Pierce and Madison’s story didn’t occur to me until the end of HKMHKMN (can I pick long titles or what?) The scene is where Pierce is speaking to Amanda, and Madison comes up in the conversation. It was literally while I was writing that scene that I started thinking that maybe Pierce and Madison should have their own story. Then my agent mentioned it, and I decided that must mean I really should write their book. I was halfway through writing SSD when HKMHKMN came out. Immediately readers began asking me when Pierce and Madison’s book would come out. Thankfully, I was able to tell them there would indeed be a book featuring those two characters. I think I may have had a mutiny on my hands if I hadn’t written this book!
As I write this blog post, there have been several reviews already on SSD (really good reviews, yay!) A couple of those reviews mention Pierce’s brothers, introduced in SSD, and that they should have their own books. I never really planned on writing more books for the brothers, although I do have a novella (basically a short story) idea for one brother and another character from SSD and may write that sometime. We’ll see. It depends on reader reaction and what next big idea strikes me I suppose.
Rachel: I wondered if you were planning sequels for Pierce’s brothers too! You realize you’re never going to get to write outside of this series unless you stop introducing yummy characters.
Okay, moving on to some of my favorite questions, what published author (any genre) turns you into a total fangirl? Is there a particular book or is this based on their entire body of work?
Lena: I’m a total fangirl of so many authors. It’s embarrassing, but for some reason when I actually meet ‘big’ name authors who are my idols, my hands start to shake, my face flushes, and my brain takes a vacation. I have actually forgotten my own name when speaking to one of my author-idols. Why? I think it’s because the characters and stories those people created mean so much to me. When I read a book that I love, the people in that story stick in my mind and become family to me. I mean, seriously – you are never going to convince me that those sexy, Dark Hunters Sherrilyn Kenyon writes about aren’t real.
When some friends and I were at the Atlanta Romance Writers conference and we invited some other attendees to sit with us for dinner, I was totally okay and acted like a normal person. Really, I did. Until I found out one of those people at dinner with us was Susan Carroll, the author of The Bridefinder, one of my most favorite books ever. God bless her that she didn’t run or call the police when I literally jumped to my feet and let out a little squeal of surprise when I realized who she was.
For me, it’s all about the characters, the stories. I go nuts for authors because their stories mean so much to me – just ask Teresa Medeiros. As you said in the title of this blog post, I’m practically her stalker. I tweet about her book Goodnight Tweetheart all the time. I love that book so much that I just can’t help it. But, hey, did you notice she just became a 2012 RITA® finalist for that book??? Obviously I’m not the only stalker…I mean…fan of that book! (Congrats on the final, Teresa!)
I’m also a fan of Julie Garwood, Linda Howard, Brenda Novak, Karen Rose, Roxanne St. Claire…and on, and on, and on. I’ve met all of the women I just named, many times in some cases. I admire these women because I love their books, they’ve made such an incredible mark on our industry, and they are classy. They always treat their readers with respect, no matter how crazy I…er…I mean…the readers…act.
Rachel: I think turning into a blithering idiot when you meet an author is pretty awesome praise. The only thing better might be fan fiction, which brings me to my next question, have you ever written fan fiction, and if so, what work was it based on? If you haven’t, what would you be tempted to write fan fiction about?
Lena: Yep, that’s me. Blithering-idiot. Gee, thanks Rachel (grin). I’ve never read any fan-fiction and am not that familiar with it. I’ve heard some people really enjoy it, and that some authors have even had their start by writing fan-fiction. I can certainly understand the appeal of wanting your favorite characters to live on and continue to have more stories. And if someone liked my world-building and characters so much that they wanted to continue writing more stories for my characters, that’s kind of cool. It tells me my stories had a big impact on those people and touched them emotionally. And, really, there can be no bigger compliment to an author than that.
Rachel: Tell us one guilty pleasure.
Lena: Grey’s Anatomy. It’s killing my productivity right now. My daughter put it on TV on Netflix a few weeks ago and got me totally hooked. I had to go back and start watching the entire series – we’re talking like seven or eight seasons. I’m literally stuck in the middle of a Grey’s Anatomy marathon/illness right now. I’ve quit struggling against it because I’ve finally realized the only cure is to just give in and watch the entire series. Hopefully I’ll finish in a few days. Then I can move on!
Rachel: A TV marathon sounds like fun! I’m sure you can justify it as research, right? There, no more guilt. ?
What is the strangest weapon you’ve used to kill off a character, either on or off-scene?
Lena: Ha! Thanks for the no-guilt card. I’ll play that card. ? Hmm. Strangest weapon I’ve used to kill a character? Probably something I used in Simon Says Die, but I can’t tell you what that is because it would be a spoiler. In my first book, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, the weapon was an ordinary knife. Nothing strange about that, really. What was strange was the three-day ritual the killer had, and his use of roses and thorns. But again, I don’t want any spoilers so I can’t go into that either. Let’s just suffice it to say that I don’t focus a lot on the murders in my books. I focus on suspense – that ever-present feeling of danger, of wondering what’s going to happen next. The murders usually happen off-page, and if they are on-page it’s very brief – no horror stuff in my books. Again, it’s all about suspense. Whether you know who the villain is or not, the point is to keep you on the edge of your seat wondering how the hero and heroine will overcome the bad guy, and how they will overcome whatever is keeping them apart and find true love that will last a lifetime.
Rachel: I love edge-of-your-seat reads and SIMON SAYS DIE delivers! What do you want to tell us about this book?
Lena: Thanks! Edge-of-your-seat is a huge compliment. Both of my books are psychological thrillers that focus on the suspense element, but SIMON SAYS DIE is a bit more twisty. There are so many secrets between the characters, and enough surprises that the reader will (I hope) question what they think they know as they read the book. Neither of my books are mysteries, but I try to make readers wonder what’s the truth and what’s a lie. My goal is to keep the tension high and make them wonder how the characters can possibly survive and how they will ever overcome all the terrible things life throws at them and somehow end up in a happy, committed relationship.
While I loved writing this story, I’ll admit it was rather difficult to write Madison’s scenes. She has an incredibly strong, independent personality and is quite snarky at times. Keeping her sympathetic but true to character without her coming off as unlikeable was a balancing act. Hopefully I succeeded in showing her motivation, why she acts the way she does, so the readers will empathize with her.
This story also has more humor than my first one. I don’t write comedies, not at all. But Madison’s act-first-think-later personality gets her into some crazy situations. There are some places in the novel where I laughed out loud writing it. Hopefully my readers will enjoy those scenes as well. Okay, now for the official back cover blurb below.
Simon says: I’m watching.
Madison McKinley knows someone is stalking her. The police tell her she’s imagining things, and they’re too busy trying to find the “Simon Says” killer to investigate. But day by day, hour by hour, Madison’s terror grows stronger, and not even the return of FBI Special Agent Pierce Buchanan into her life can calm her fears. Besides, how can she ask Pierce for his help after the way she ended things between them?
Simon says: I’m coming.
Pierce still wants Madison’s love, and his drive to protect her is more powerful than ever. He believes she’s in danger, even if the cops don’t. Finally, as more people start dying and the evidence mounts, the police turn their attention to Madison—as a suspect. Was Pierce a fool to trust her again, or are they both caught in a complex game that neither will survive?
Simon says: Die.