Friday, August 12, 2011

Lena Diaz

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 As an unpublished manuscript, this story was a finalist in the 2010 RWA Golden Heart®, and won both the 2009 TARA and the 2010 Daphne du Maurier awards.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.


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?


If you were a t-shirt, what color would you be and why?


Red, because that’s my favorite color.


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.


  1. Good morning, Lena, we're so happy you're with us at GLIAS, and huge congratulations on He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not. And yes I got your joke, too cute. Oh, gosh, romantic suspense, never heard of it ;) There are so many authors I love I would do them a disservice not to name them all, but in reading your account of why you love it, my experience might mirror yours.

    Although I'll read paranormal, I particularly love romantic suspense when the heroine is called from her ordinary world and forced to do something extraordinary, and if a strong silent type is around to help her, all the better.

    Best wishes on your release!

  2. Cat, thank you SO MUCH for hosting me today on this awesome site.

    Donnell, it's great to 'see' you! I'm looking forward to your upcoming debut! Sounds like we both like those strong, silent types of heroes!

  3. Hi Lena!
    One of my first RS books was Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare and boy, did it blow me away! :) I still love it and reread it regularly. The chemistry between hero and heroine in her books is great and I so love her heroes. They always have a dark side to them but are still so loving and caring. Since then, I've read all of her books as well as Roxanne St.Claire's and Shannon McKenna's books. I've only recently discovered Jill Sorenson's books and I absoluteley love her books, too. I love it how she can create a whole little world of her own in only a category-length book.
    I'm looking forward to reading yours now!

  4. Claudia, I'm so excited that you've given me some new suspense authors to try. I will have to check them out. Roxanne St. Claire is a gave we both have in common. I love how she combines suspense with a super sexy romance. In category I love Paula Graves and Delores Fossen, just to name a few.

  5. Smart-phone spellchecker got me again! I meant Rocky is a FAVE of mine in my previous comment!

  6. Lena, welcome to GLIAS. I absolutely love the tittle of your book! Can't wait to read it! I love romantic suspense because of the extra tension it adds to the story. Emotions are heightened by the life and death situations. And I'm all about putting the characters in danger!

    So glad you could join us today!

  7. LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love what you said about your husband and the reviews. I think that's an AWESOME idea! Oh, and Alan Rickman? *swoon* My favorite role of his is Col. Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. Not a villian, but, geez, it's Alan Rickman!

    Love your picture, too. :)

  8. Cat, thanks so much! I'd like to also shout out to one of the other GLIAS authors Angie Morgan! I neglected to mention her in my category suspense comment, but Angie is another great Intrigue author who is a must buy for me.

  9. What a fun interview Lena! What I love about romantic suspense is heart-pounding fast pace, high romantic tension, and the promise of a happily ever after. I read inspys and my favorites are Susan May Warren's Team Hope series and anything by Margaret Daley. I'm halfway through your novel, forcing myself to work instead of read, and wondering how you're not going to make the bad guy the person I think he is...since you promised a twist :) Oh, and GLIAS authors, I love the sunset over the ocean background to this blog. I want it behind my word processor!! Very inspiring.

  10. Hi Abigail and Sandra! Thanks for stopping by. Sandra- I don't even remember anymore what version of the story you read, so I hope you aren't disappointed with the resolution of the conflict (who the villain is!) in the final book!

  11. Hi Lena!

    Your new release sounds like a great read! Love the title.

    One of my favorite RS novels is Linda Howard's ALL THE QUEEN'S MEN. And here's the really weird part: I found the villain more intriguing than the hero! (For those who have not read the book, he is an arms dealer with a daughter who is very ill.)

    I know, I'm weird! Lol!

  12. Gillian, I think that may be the only Linda Howard book I've never read. I'm not sure why it never caught my interest. Now you have me curious! I'll have to check it out. Thanks about the title. I was so thrilled that I got to publish with the original title. I couldn't imagine this story under any other title.

  13. Abigail - Congratulations! You are the randomly drawn winner of a set of Romance Trading Cards for He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not. Please email me your snail mail address and I'll put them in the mail to you.

  14. Cry No More by Linda Howard. This is one book that has just haunted me for years. I really enjoyed Linda's Dying to Please, Mr. Perfect and Open Season. Linda writes with a bit of a sense of humor and you are not quite sure who the bad guy is until near the end. Plus there is not too much sex, which turns off of a story because i find it distracting. Some is OK but please some to the imagination!!!

  15. LilMissMolly - Mr. Perfect and Open Season are both some of my all-time favorites from Linda Howard. I also love Now You See Her.

    Congratulations! I also drew your name to receive a free set of romance trading cards for He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not. Please email me (Lenawrites @ Bellsouth . net) your snail mail address and I'll pop them in the mail to you.


  16. Sandra - Congratulations! I drew your name to receive a free set of romance trading cards for He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not. Please send your snail mail address to me (Lenawrites @ bellsouth . net) and I'll pop them in the mail.

  17. Sorry I didn't get to stop by and say hello ON your day Lena! Hope your visit was a good one.


  18. Miss Lena!!!!!!!!!! My real name is Erika,
    My favorite suspense book is chelsey and the green-haired kid by Carol Gorman,its the first book that i have ever read and i liked it very much!Its not really romantic but nonetheless, i still loved it! I envy those who readers who have lots of free time! If i could just do reading for a living.. My favorite color is brown! if anyone is interested! And ALlan Rickman? i love him especially in Harry Potter!:)..Have a good day!