Lena is a romantic suspense author. Her debut novel, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, was released by Avon Impulse (an imprint of Harper Collins) on August 9th of 2011. As an unpublished manuscript, this story was a finalist in the 2010 RWA Golden Heart®, and won both the 2009 TARA and the 2010 Daphne du Maurier awards.
Lena grew up a Navy Brat, but while two of her three siblings followed her father's footsteps and joined the Navy, Lena loosely followed her musically talented mother's footsteps by choosing a more creative path, writing. Her first novel-length manuscripts were paranormal romances ranging from contemporary vampire stories to medieval druid tales. Since dead bodies kept creeping into everything she wrote, she eventually turned to romantic suspense. Today Lena can be found in North Florida with her husband of twenty-plus years, her belly-dancing daughter, her mud-bogging son, a tri-colored Sheltie named Sparky, and a pair of Beta fish named Rocky Bal-Beta and Mr. T.
HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT
Four years ago, Amanda Stockton was forced to play a serial killer's twisted game of chance. Since then, she has retreated from the world, bearing the scars from her ordeal and the burden of a terrible secret. But when another woman is found dead, clutching a long-stemmed red rose, Amanda knows she can hide no longer.
If there were any other way, Chief Logan Richards would never ask the only surviving victim for help. But it's clear this killer will not be stopped and Amanda is the only link. Torn between catching a madman and winning the trust of the woman he's come to love, Logan and Amanda are caught in a dangerous game. And there's no guarantee they'll come out on top.
CAT: How often to you get lost in a story?
LENA: While I’m writing a novel, I am very careful to not read any books in the genre I’m writing. I don’t want anything I read to subconsciously creep into my story. But I’m always reading. So, while writing a romantic suspense novel, I’ll read paranormal or historical romance. In between writing romantic suspense novels, I’ll allow myself a week or two of downtime. That’s when I fly through my RS, TBR (to be read) pile. Reading one or two books a week is pretty standard for me.
CAT: What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?
LENA: I prefer a dark, emotional story with an alpha hero who is gorgeous, intelligent, and who will do anything it takes to win the love of the heroine and to keep her safe. Juxtaposed against that strong alpha, I like the heroine to seem ordinary in the beginning, but to draw on reserves of courage and strength she never knew she had in order to defeat the villain and win the hero’s love. The story can be in any genre. I particularly enjoy romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and regency historicals.
CAT: What’s the first book you remember reading?
LENA: Sweet, Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers. Oh. My. Gosh. Hot, hot, hot. The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss is also one of the first romances I read. I totally fell in love with the hero in that book. Neither of those stories would work in today’s market because the heroes, quite honestly, are a bit brutal. And the heroines are extremely meek. But these stories are so full of conflict and emotion that they tug at your heart strings and suck you in.
CAT: What’s your favorite cartoon character?
LENA: Eeyore, the purple donkey from Winnie the Pooh who keeps losing his tail! He’s so poignant and sad and so darn cute. He has emotional baggage and he makes me want to help him. Confession here – I have five Eeyore stuffed animals and one Eeyore statue on the desk in my home office.
CAT: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
LENA: Armageddon! This movie has everything – a strong hero (Bruce Willis), lots of action, suspense, conflict, and a killer sound track from Aerosmith. I have lost count of how many times I’ve watched this movie. Love it!
CAT: Who’s your favorite villain?
LENA: I’ll choose a movie character for this one – actor Alan Rickman in any film where he plays the villain. He’s the sexy bad-boy you love to hate. And his accent is so delightfully upper-crust.
CAT: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
LENA: I’m a debut author, so I don’t really have history behind me to answer this, but I wanted to speak to this question. I had lunch with my editor, Esi Sogah, and the main piece of career advice she gave me is to NOT read my reviews. As she explained, everyone has different tastes. Some people will love my book, but some people will absolutely hate it. That’s just the way it is. And since you can’t do anything to fix your story once it’s been published, there’s no point in crying over bad reviews. They can cripple your confidence. So, my strategy is to have my husband cull through the reviews. He will only share the really good ones with me!
CAT: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
LENA: Like most writers, I’m an introvert by nature. I’m extremely extroverted once I know you, but when we first meet, it takes a while for me to warm up. So, you might find it surprising that, for me, the best part about being published has been meeting so many amazing, terrific people. My writing has allowed me to connect on so many levels with editors, agents, fellow authors. I’m looking forward to connecting with my readers as well! I guess it all makes sense if you think about it. Romance novels at their heart and soul are about relationships. So, connecting with people and establishing relationships as a result of my writing is a dream come true.
CAT: Tea or Coffee? And how do you take it?
LENA: Neither! I hate tea and coffee equally. I love Diet Cherry 7-UP and Diet Dr. Pepper. When I’m not in the mood for soda, I go for Strawberry Kiwi Crystal Light.
CAT: What’s your favorite kid joke?
LENA: How do you catch a unique rabbit? U-nique up on him. How do you catch a tame rabbit? The tame way. Get it?
CAT'S GOTTA ASK
If you were a t-shirt, what color would you be and why?
LENA'S GOTTA ANSWER
Red, because that’s my favorite color.
GOT A QUESTION YOU’D LIKE TO ASK YOUR FANS?
What do you love about Romantic Suspense? Name some of your favorite RS books and tell me why you love them so much.
Lena would like to send a set of Romance Trading Cards to three winners. Each set contains 4 cards featuring characters from her debut release, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not.