Lena Diaz admits to stalking Teresa Medeiros!

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). To celebrate, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to one lucky commenter, and Lena is giving a signed print set of both HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT and SIMON SAYS DIE. (Snail mail address must be in the US or Canada to qualify.)

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 Diaz

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.

~~~~~~~~

Lena:  Enough about me. I’d love to hear from the readers out there. Who are some of your favorite romantic suspense heroes and heroines? What makes them so memorable?

Remember, one commenter will win a signed print set of my books – HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT and SIMON SAYS DIE. (Snail mail address must be in the US or Canada to qualify for the prize.)

Rachel:  And I’m giving one commenter a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Check back on Thursday to see if you are our winner.

About Rachel Grant

Former archaeologist & four-time Golden Heart® finalist, I write romantic suspense where archaeology, politics, and war collide.

Posted on March 27, 2012, in Author Interview, Author Spotlight, Lena Diaz, Rachel Grant and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. Congrats on the new release! (and all the GH noms going around) Can’t wait until I emerge from under the pile of grad school-related work to read it!

    I’m going to be traditional and go with Eve & Roarke from J.D. Robb’s ‘In Death’ series. They both absolutely kick ass, but there’s so much depth and so many nuances to them that reading a new book with them never gets old.

    • Hi Cris. Good luck with the grad school work. That’s tough, but well worth it I’m sure. I may be one of the only people left on the planet who hasn’t read a J.D. Robb book, but I’ve heard enough about the In Death series to get what you mean about those characters. One of my favorite hero/heroine pairs in a Nora Roberts book is Moira and Cian in the Valley of Silence, a paranormal trilogy. The sacrifices both characters make for each other is incredible. Well worth the read of all three books to get to the satisfying conclusion in this book.

  2. Congratulations on the release, Lena!! Only for you (and Donnell, and Sharon, and Carey, and…ok, J.D. Robb) would I scare myself silly. Thank heavens for the guaranteed HEA, it’s the only way this coward gets through suspense. 🙂

    Elizabeth Lowell’s Blue Smoke and Murder is awesome. Heroine Jill is a river guide, and hero Zach is a security consultant/bodyguard who protects her while unraveling her family’s dangerous secret. I love the thought of dialing a “fail-safe” number if you’re in trouble and knowing help is on the way. (Yes, I understand the concept of 911 😉 but the police don’t believe her in this story….)

    Enjoy your day!

    • Hi Gillian. Believe it or not, one of my critique partners is much the same. She doesn’t like to get scared and she curses me as she critiques my books, but she gets through it. A true friend. I love Elizabeth Lowell, but again, I have to admit I haven’t read any of her contemporaries. I’m a fan of her historical romances. But Blue Smoke and Murder sounds like something I’d enjoy.

  3. Great interview. I love it when authors go fan crazy over other authors, just like your readers. The new book sounds like a really good read, just my kind of story. I love Cindy Gerard, Allison Brennan, Roxanne St Claire, and Laura Griffin, just to name a few .. I just love romantic suspense stories. Love to win a signed copy of your book. 😉

    • Thanks Trish. I thought Rachel did an awesome job with the interview questions. Did I mention she’s a Golden Heart finalist (grin)? I’m so proud of her! And also of our other GH finalists on K&T, Diana and Sharon. Regarding your author suggestions, Allison Brennan and Roxanne St. Claire are favorites of mine too. I’ve just recently downloaded my first Laura Griffin book to my kindle (Untraceable). Haven’t tried anything by Cindy Gerard yet. So many great books, so little time!

      • I did know that Rachel is a finalist — and would LOVE to read a book she has written. I have checked out her website and am definately interested. Hopefully she’ll have a book out in the not too distant future ….

        • Aww, thanks Lena and Trish! ::blushing::

          Trish, the readers at Kiss and Thrill will be the 1st to know when I sell, I promise. 🙂

        • I’m with you, Trish! I was lucky enough to be one of Rachel’s critique partners on an early draft of BODY OF EVIDENCE–It’s awesome. I can’t wait till a publisher snaps her up so that I can read it in final form.

          Rachel, I forgive you the taunting if you give me an advanced copy and first dibs on your K&T debut interview 😀

  4. Congratulations on your release, Lena. I am so, so happy for you! I can’t wait to read it even though I get scared too. But I loved your first book and as long as I read SSD during the day I’m okay. 🙂

    So many authors to choose from, but I have to say my favorite RS heroes are any written by Suzanne Brockmann. She’s my absolute favorite.

  5. Yay on the upcoming release, Lena! And great interview both of you. I’m jealous that Rachel got to read SSD first, but I like her, so she can get away with telling me to go suck it. 😉

    Most of my fave couples are from Suzanne Brockmann books (just pick one), but also Cyndi Gerard’s Joe and Stephanie (Last Man Standing). Something about how they are with each other just really strikes a chord in me.

    • With you and Sharon and so many others always talking about Suzanne Brockmann, I’m going to have to break down and add another book to my towering TBR pile. Which one do you think I’d like most?

  6. Congratulations on your new release, Lena! I look forward to the twists in SIMON SAYS DIE if they are even remotely like the chilling HKMHKMN (sounds Hawaiian.)

    My buy-it-the-second-it-comes-out-in-hardback authors are Sue Grafton, Lisa Gardner, Lisa Scottoline (off the top of my head… as soon as I post this another 17 will come to mind.)

    My run-in with fame was attending my first RWA convention in ATL (2006?) and the doors opened to the literacy signing and the crowd rushed into the enormous room. Someone had thoughtfully tucked Nora Roberts away in the far right corner so no one had spotted her!! She just sat there watching the chaos with a faint smile. I fought the steady crush of bodies like a salmon swimming up river and was #5 in line! After she signed my book and said something pleasant, I burst out “OK! Well, I’ll see you soon!”

    She kind of eyed me, whether it was gaging my stalker potential or assessing me as the babbling idiot I actually was I’ll never know, but her handler with the post-its hustled me along. (Which wasn’t necessary because by then I was so horrified I slunk into the crowd willingly.)

    Anyway…good luck with sales…I should go see what Bob Mayer’s doin’ today…
    🙂

    • I’m a total Lisa Gardner fan! And I love your fangirl story. Guess what? I was in that same line in 2006! Only I wasn’t fast like you. I stood way in the back of that long line. But her handlers are amazing, how they put those post-its with the dedication and name to sign in the book so Nora can quickly open and sign. What amazed me was how gracious and nice she was to everyone, no matter how many gushing fans she had to face. Oh, and hey, do go say hi to Bob for me. I just read his blog post about marketing this morning. I still have to get that third book out there before I go nuts, according to his guidelines. 🙂

  7. Even though we are celebrating Lena Diaz today I want to take this comment box to shout:

    CONGRATULATIONS 2012 GOLDEN HEART FINALISTS AND FELLOW K&T MEMBERS:

    SHARON WRAY (3rd time!),
    RACHEL GRANT (3rd time!)
    AND DIANA BELCHASE (2nd time and won last year!)

    I am SO excited for you all and thrilled to be in such talented company.

  8. Good morning ladies. Lena, I hope you are having an awesome release day! All of us here at K&T are so excited to get to help you launch SSD. Off to Twitter now to try to lure Teresa Medeiros into Lena’s trap.

    Thanks for the GH congrats, Cris and Sarah!

  9. Lena, we’re all so proud of you and you’re fast becoming my favorite author!

    I know this book will do incredibly well — Congratulations on your new release. Toasting you with cyber champagne! Then running out to buy it right away.

    Big Hugs!

  10. Lena, I’ve just moved SSD to the top of my TBR pile–psychological thrillers are my favorites. I love dark and twisty tales so I’m sure it will come as no surprise that Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Bloomkvist are my current favorite suspense duo. I’m a huge fan of the GIRL W/ THE DRAGON TATTOO trilogy. Hmm, I wonder if there’s any fan fiction…

    Rachel, great interview (despite the taunting). Congrats on the 2012 GH! And to Sharon & Diana as well!

    • LOL – Thanks! And thanks for being a good sport about the taunting. But seriously, I got to read SSD first. 😉

  11. I was in the minority I think, but I loved Amanda Quick’s crime-solving team of Lavinia Lake and Tobias March. It was a three book series with the same h/h, which is rarely (ever?) seen in a historical.

    And congrats to all the GH finalists! (I’ve already read Rachel’s book, neener, neener.)

    • Darcy, I thought I had all of the Amanda Quick books, but that doesn’t sound familiar. I’m going to have to inventory my library and maybe go buy those! Sounds original and awesome.

  12. Happy Release to Simon Says Die. Cute title by the way. It’s one that I would take notice of and wonder about.I know I must have missed out on a good there because Pierce and Madison’s history is interesting. Any man who’s been kicked in the heart and still shows up when it counts – yep he’s a hero. Wishing these two all the best!

    What really makes character’s memorable to me is their distinct traits and how they put them to use in situations. With romantic suspense there are usually lots of chances for them to stand out. I don’t want their strengths (or weaknesses) to go to waste. Often a good back story on the hero/heroine’s history helps me understand them better. If they have a tragic past I want them to come to terms with it in a realistic way. Some of my favorites are Kendall and John from The Witness by Sandra Brown. They each stood out to me and had a lot to overcome, which they did so growing and getting better. I could easily cheer them on.

  13. Your book sounds awesome. Romantic suspensse is my favorite genre. I’m a big fan of Lisa Gardner and love her character DD Warren. Debra Webb’s new series is awesome and another new to be author I discovered recently that I really enjoyed was Rebecca Forrester. I can’t forget Laura Griffin and Roxanne St. Claire and her Bullet Catchers. And sooooo many more. Thanks for the chance to win!

  14. Congrats on the new release! The book sounds awesome. My must buy right away authors are Lisa Gardner (queen of suspense) and Patricia Cornwell. Her Kay Scarpetta character is one of the best.

    • Thanks Stacy. Oh my gosh, I haven’t thought of Patricia Cornwell in ages. I used to read ALL of her books. Just kind of got away from them because I got more into romance, but I loved her medical examiner angle. Gritty and fascinating. Wasn’t her niece named Lucy or something, a computer expert? I’ve really lost track of that series.

  15. It’s getting late, time for bed soon. Just wanted to thank Rachel again for hosting me. And all of the K&T ladies for being so nice today and for helping make this a special release day. Thank you everyone who showed up on our blog, both the ones who commented and the ones who didn’t. I hope you enjoyed the interview, and of course I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of SIMON SAYS DIE! And if you do, please do email me and let me know what you thought about the book. My contact info is on my personal website http://www.LenaDiaz.com. Hugs!

  16. Happy Release Day, Lena! Great interview! You ladies are too funny. 😉 I love high tension in stories. It keeps my interest in the story. These both sound like great books! I have added them both to my TBR.

    trb0917 at gmail dot com

  17. Congratulations Lena! I would very much like to read this book. It sounds great. I enjoy Debra Webb’s new Faces of Hero series that just came out and the hero & heroine there make a good team.
    Interesting interview Lena & Rachel.

    janet_kerr(at)msn.com

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