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Award-winning LENA DIAZ 
shares how her series was born

When I wrote my first book for Avon Impulse, I wrote it as a stand-alone novel and named it HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT, based on the "signature" or routine that the serial killer villain used with his victims. He plucked thorns off a rose one by one while chanting, "He kills me" and "He kills me not", letting chance decide the fate of each victim. I came up with the idea while brainstorming ways to make a serial killer villain unique.

I never intended to write a series, but readers emailed me wanting Pierce and Madison's story (they were secondary characters in the first book). I then wrote THE WIDOW'S HUSBAND. When I presented that to Avon, they wanted me to change the title to something similar to the first book's title, something like a nursery rhyme or child's game, to tie the two books together. I came up with SIMON SAYS and my author friend—Valerie Bowman—told me to add DIE onto the end. My editor loved that, so SIMON SAYS DIE became the new title. (I then revised the story to match the title!) After that, it was a no-brainer to keep writing more books with connected characters, using variations of child's games as the titles. A series was born!

Lena Diaz & Chelsey Emmelhainz
Booksellers Best Award Winner 2014
Originally we called the series The Nursery Rhyme series. But we recently changed it to the Deadly Games Thrillers series. It just seems to match the dark tone of the series better and ensures that no one mistakes these for children's books!

My new release in this series—TAKE THE KEY AND LOCK HER UP—introduces EXIT Inc., which poses as an Extreme International Tour company to cover its main function, running a team of assassins. Beginning in the summer of 2015, the first official book in my new EXIT series will be released. This is my first print contract with Avon, meaning that these books will be in bookstores and won't have to be ordered just online. I'm very excited and eager to see how the series is received by readers!
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Book Four
The fourth installment in my Deadly Games Thrillers series with Avon is out today. Isn’t that creepy cool? I’ve had such fun with the titles in this series. This story is about Devlin “Devil” Buchanan and is the darkest story I’ve every written. The hero is more of an anti-hero who does some really bad things. Did I mention it’s dark? And that he’s an assassin? It was a real challenge to write because I wanted Devlin to be a true bad boy hero with a tortured soul but redeemable. This is also an introduction to my new Avon print series about EXIT Inc., the company Devlin works for. But that’s all I’m saying about that! Here’s a draft of the cover. It’s close to what the final one will be. I adore the colors. All of my Avon books will have new covers soon. They’ll all have the dark background like this one so they look more alike.

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Book Three
This nursery rhyme will keep you awake.

What she doesn't remember ...

One by one the letters arrive at the FBI office in Savannah, Georgia. Inside, each bears a name--a victim of a twisted crime--and the singsong phrase Ashes, ashes, they all fall dead. Special Agent Tessa James becomes obsessed with finding the killer whose victims are crying out to her for justice.

Will kill her ...

When sexy, brilliant consultant Matt Buchanan is paired with Tessa to discover who's sending the "Ashes" letters, he discovers a serial arsonist who is leaving nothing but murder in his wake. Inexplicably, the clues point to Tessa herself, forcing her to realize that if she can't remember the forgotten years of her past, the name on the next letter will be hers.

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Book Two

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?

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?

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Book One

Four years ago, Amanda Stockton wasforced to play a serial killer’s twisted game ofchance. Since then, she has retreated from the world, bearing the scar from her ordeal and theburden of a terrible secret. But when anotherwoman is found dead, clutching a long-stemmedred rose, Amanda knows she can hide no longer.

If there were any other way, Chief Logan Richards would never ask the only surviving victimfor help. But it’s clear this killer will not bestopped and Amanda is the only link. Torn between catching a madman and winning the trust of thewoman he’s come to love, Logan is caught in adangerous game with Amanda. And there’s noguarantee they’ll come out on top.

Caro Carson & Lena Diaz
Booksellers Best Award Winners

Beacon Finalist
Golden Heart Finalist
Daphne du Maurier Winner
TARA Winner
National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award Finalist (twice)
Carolyn's Reader's Choice Award Finalist
Booksellers' Best Award Winner

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Find Lena's Harlequin Intrigues on her Previous GLIAS interviews  
 ~ ~ ~
ANGI'S back next week with
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or @GetLostInAStory  #GetLostStories

LENA IS GIVING AWAY one digital copy of any of her books-winner's choice (must be Amazon or Kindle).

LENA WANTS TO KNOW: What's your favorite thriller movie or series?


  1. Apologies to Lena for getting her blog up late today...I'm blaming it on the Novocane.

    I hope everyone will rush out and get her book today, shooting her up the lists!!!

    1. Hugs on the Novocain and no worries here! Thanks Angi!

  2. Don't have a fav

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    1. It's hard to choose isn't it? I love Kay Hooper's psychic FBI series. I think she calls it Bishop/SCU.

  3. I love most of the CSI series. :)

    Congrats on your book!

  4. I soo agree that this was your darkest book yet and not just because of the hero :) I cannot wait for the new series!!

    Humm best thrillers - The Sixth Sense (only the first time you see it though), Seven - that killer was creepy and I loved how Kevin Spacey played him once he turned himself in. The Silence of the Lambs (again the first time watching it was the best) Road to Perdition - you could say Tom Hanks caracter was a bit like Devlin... Books - I love Karen Rose but as romantic suspense is my fav genre I have alot of series/author I like - Including you :) (do not enter me for the giveaway - I own all your books)

    1. Cindy, thank you so much! I agree with all of your movie choices, although I have to say that I enjoyed The Sixth Sense the second time too so I could look for clues after knowing the big secret. Really appreciate the awesome review you left for my new release. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Take care.

  5. This series sounds great, Lena! Good to have you on GLIAS today! :)

    1. Thanks Lara! Always good to be here.

  6. Don't know that I'd call them thrillers, but I liked the Die Hard movies with Bruce Willis. I also liked the Law & Order, SVU {special victims unit} tv series.

    1. OMGosh, LOVE the Die Hard movies. I loved all three of them even though the second one paled compared to the other two IMHO. The first was of course the best. And I love SVU, and Criminal Minds, but I can't watch many of them like in a marathon because they are so dark. Have to take breaks.

  7. Hi Miss Lena!
    So sorry to be late to the party--but I had to come zipping in even tho' I'm slow. I LOVE your books and I'm so excited for your new series. I have to admit I'm not the biggest horror/thriller fan when it comes to movies, but I do like the classic old Hitchcock films. The Birds, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho. Sometimes the old masters did it best! Good luck, my friend--hope the books are super-successful!

    1. Hi Liz! Thank you! Ditto! I love the Hitchcock classics too. I included the MacGuffin concept in Simin Says Die and even named a bar MacGuffins but sadly no one has caught that.

  8. Donna E is the winner of a book of mine (Kindle or Nook). Donna please visit my website to see all if my books and email me via my Contact page to tell me which book you want and Kindle or Nook. Congrats! Http://www.lenadiaz.com