Kiss and Thrill Takedown

Lena DiazToday it’s my very great pleasure to take down…I mean interview…Kiss and Thrill’s very own Lena Diaz. Lena is a master story-teller whose stories will rev your heart and melt it at the same time. If you haven’t tried one of her books what are you waiting for? Her latest release, TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN is one of my personal favorites. The story opens with an electrifying office shooting and then never lets up. It’s a thrill a minute coupled with a luscious love story. I adored TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN. Please don’t miss it! (Print release is Jan 21st! Ebook release is Feb 1st!) And now for the interview. Don’t forget there’ll be a giveaway for commenters. More on that later, but now here’s Lena:

Carey: What’s your favorite way to kill a character?

Lena: My favorite method is whatever works but doesn’t leave many clues for the police. Wait, CHARACTER? Sorry, Um. Okay, I admit I’m quite the fan of a good gunfight. There’s just something sexy about the hero diving to avoid a bullet and doing that mid-air maneuver where he twists around and returns fire before he even hits the ground. (shiver) I’ve also used poison, knives, even fire. And in one of the stories I’m writing right now the hero is very dark with a tortured past. His weapon of choice? His hands.

Carey: Shivering back! Let’s talk hunks- who would you want to play Dillon in Tennessee Takedown, the movie? And who for Ashley?

Lena: A younger version of Jeffrey Dean Morgan would be the PERFECT Dillon. (swoon) He’s the actor who played Denny in Grey’s Anatomy. I love his physique–solid, without being a body-builder type. And he has that sexy stubble I love so much, with a voice that could melt butter and eyes that invite you to try him on for size. LOVE him. And since I’m on a Grey’s Anatomy thread here, Chyler Leigh (Lexie Grey) would be a great foil for Dillon. She’s smart, funny, and has that all-American girl-next-door appeal.

Fun Fact Alert regarding TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN: The fictional town of Destiny, Tennessee is one county over from fellow Intrigue author Paula Graves’s fictional town of Bitterwood. And the hero even mentions the Bitterwood sheriff in my book.

Carey: What’s your secret ingredient for an unputdownable book?

Lena: I wish I knew! If I did, I’d bottle it and sell it and make a blasted fortune! I do think the hero is the most important part of a love story, so I put a lot of work into making my heroes smart, funny, sexy and super-alpha. And when it comes to plotting my stories, I constantly ask myself what would most likely make sense to happen next at the end of a scene–and try to do something else. I like to be surprised when I read, so that’s what I try to give my readers.

Carey: Oh I love that twist of the scene! You’re so good at it. Do you prefer writing an action scene or a love scene…and why :-)?

Lena: Action, action, action! Action scenes are just plain fun because they show off some of the best qualities in an alpha male. They add tension and drama and get the heart racing. Love scenes can (and should) get the heart racing too. But, honestly, they are so incredibly difficult for me to write. I agonize over them, for many reasons. Mainly, they are an important turning point in any love story and have to occur at the right moment(s) to ratchet up the tension and change the conflict. I also don’t want to write anything “crass” that would turn off my readers. I want to treat this important part of a relationship with the dignity and respect it deserves, while drawing out every ounce of emotion that I can. It’s never easy, but when it works, it can elevate the story to an entirely new level.

Carey: I love both your love scenes and your action scenes. Guess that explains why! Can you tell us about the Deadly Game series and give us a sneak peek at Take the Key and Lock Her Up?

Lena: The Deadly Game series has that name because the titles of all the books are twisted versions of real childhood games (He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not; Simon Says Die; Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead; Take the Key and Lock Her Up.) Each story focuses on bringing down a serial killer, and the heroes are all Buchanan brothers, except for Logan who is a best friend of one of the brothers.

“Take the Key” comes out this July and features Devlin, known as “Devil” to his brothers. Whereas the other Buchanan men come from law-enforcement types of backgrounds, Devlin has a dark, secret past that, well, let’s just say he avoids police every chance he gets. He’s a super tortured hero who walks a tightrope between his devil-may-care side he shows his family and the darkness that truly lurks in his soul. He’s definitely a reluctant hero, drawn into helping solve some abductions where women are imprisoned for years before ultimately being killed. This book goes back to my roots with the first book in the series in that it’s much more serious and darker than the other two books. Crossing my fingers my readers will love it as much as I do. Redeeming a seemingly unredeemable hero was a really difficult challenge but so worth it in the end.

Carey: I’m hopping with anticipation, Lena. And for good reason! Please tell us about your upcoming series with Avon.

Lena: I’m so thrilled to have sold a three book print series to Avon! The first book probably won’t be out until late 2015, and I can’t really share much about the series yet. But I will say that I sold it based on the tagline “The Bourne Identity meets The Firm.” And I can tell you that this series is a natural spin-off from Take the Key and Lock Her Up. Devlin’s past is integral to the basis for the entire series. He plays an important cameo role in the first book. And readers shouldn’t be surprised if other Buchanan men show up in these books as well!

Time for Lightning Round questions: 

Name your favorites:

Fast food restaurant – Outback! Love their green beans.

TV show – Law and Order SVU

Christmas gift you received this year – My son graduated from college! Best present ever.

Place to vacation – Gatlinburg, Tennessee. LOVE the Smoky Mountains.

Book of all time – I’ll let you choose one or your top three – Straight suspense-Coffin Dancer by Jeffrey Deaver. Romance-too many to name! Two classics I adore are Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard.

Song on your ipod (go to most played and spill the actual song you’ve listened to most)  – Merry Go ‘Round by Kacey Musgraves.

Carey: Lena thanks for being such a good sport! And now I have to check out Kacey Musgraves. She’s new to me.

Lena: Thank you so much for hosting me, Carey!

Readers, for a chance to win TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN please leave a comment. Lena says: What I’d love to know from the readers is this: How dark is too dark for a romantic suspense? Do you enjoy stories where the hero is almost an anti-hero and has to be redeemed by the heroine? Examples of favorite dark heroes or stories would be awesome!  

You can find Lena on the web here: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Join her mailing list.

About Carey Baldwin

Carey Baldwin is a mild-mannered doctor by day and an award winning author of edgy suspense by night.

Posted on January 21, 2014, in Author Interview, Author Spotlight, book recommendations, Carey Baldwin, Lena Diaz and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. I don’t like them too obvious. I don’t want to know right away that a certain man is the one who is going to be with the “victim”.

  2. Carey, thank you so much for creating this fun post and making release day special and fun! I am a bit under the weather so I won’t be able to pop in as much as I’d like but will try! Thankfully I can’t spread these germs via the internet so you are safe. Hugs.

  3. Lena: Hope you feel better soon! I can’t wait to crack open TT, it sounds awesome. When it’s done well, I love a redeemed hero. I know there are better examples that I can’t think of right now, but the book that jumps to mind is Linda Howard’s Death Angel. Very gothic, hero is an assassin who’s supposed to kill the heroine.

    Also, I think every playboy hero is a bit of an anti-hero, and nothing is more fun than watching those guys finally meet the one woman they can’t walk away from. 😉 Happy release day!

    • Thanks Gwen. Spending the day on the couch, napping and coughing but feeling a bit better right now. Wasn’t Death Angel an amazing book? The premise is crazy – a hit man and a “mistress” (using the nice word here). It’s one of those books that rolls around in your head for a long time after reading it. It’s amazing that Linda Howard did what she did – taking two such unredeemable people and making us root for them. Extraordinary.

  4. Hi Lena and Carey! Such a fun post. As for dark, I’ve been trying to find some dark RS!!!! Always hard, b/c I think a lot of people assume the more disturbed the serial killer is, the darker the book. Not true! It’s got more to do with the personal demons the hero and heroine face and certainly the tone or voice of the writing. I can’t think of a near villian redeemed at the moment. But happen to be reading a hot, sexy, funny contemporary right now (Michele Mannon’s KNOCK OUT) and the MMA fighter hero is waaaay tortured, dealing with PTSD, and some other SERIOUS guilt issues, and so as many good laughs as I’ve had, and touching lines, this book also has some dark, heart-wrenching moments. Really fantastic, and the mix keeps it from getting toooo dark. I’ll be interested to see what your other readers suggest! Feel better, Lena!

    • Hi Jenna! Interesting perspective. I hadn’t thought about “dark” for so many authors meaning the villain and maybe how graphic or at least “bad” his scenes are in the book. But I can certainly name quite a few books like that. I’m in your corner on this – prefer the dark be more emotional and the overall serious tone of the book. To me it means angst-ridden with deep internal conflict. (And thanks for the well-wishes – sleeping a lot is helping!)

    • Great point, Jenna. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I think you’re right. A troubled hero or heroine is what makes the book dark. Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects comes to mind -talk about the protagonist from dark. Shiver.

  5. I like mysterius hero, you even don’t know actually he is a good hero or has something he keep/dark side from the heroine.

    Congrts on your new release Lena 🙂

    • When it’s done right, I totally agree. I can’t say that I remember too many books where the hero seems bad and turns out good. It’s a challenging kind of hero to write, but when it works, it’s amazing. Thanks for the congrats! I hope you’ll give Tennessee Takedown a try. NOT a dark book like the Avon book I’m writing. But not a comedy by any means. It’s mainly an action-adventure that will get your heart going, with a really sweet love story woven in.

  6. Good morning, Lena! CONGRATS on release day!! Can’t wait to read your newest offering.

    Take care,


    I wish there was a ‘function’ key on the computer that would automatically type those 2 words since you’re so prolific I use them over and over again. (Microsoft-take note!)

    Like all your other books I am looking forward to TT. I know this was one of your fav’s to write which means it’ll be superb.

    How much dark RS is too much? Detailed torture-the-female-victim scenes and any rape (on page or off screen, doesn’t matter.) Love, love, love Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent series because of how dark her hero is, but I gotta tell you– when she cuts to the torture scenes I can barely make it through. Goes to show how powerful her writing skills are to hold my interest just to get back to Will’s scenes. (Chime in, Manda.) 🙂

    Like Gwen- my hottie hero needs to be an alpha playboy who gets his emotional clock cleaned.

    • Thank you so much, Sarah, for your very kind words about my books. I’m with you on the on-page stuff – kind of hard to get through, but sometimes I think some of it is necessary to ensure the real-feel and tone of the novel. It’s a fine line.

  8. Well, I don’t know why I always come back to Jane Eyre, but Mr. Rochester is the ultimate dark hero for me. OMG. That man. That love story. That suspense. Wow.

  9. Congratulations Lena! I started Tennessee Takedown and am absolutely loving it. I know your readers are going to love this book.

    Okay, I’m going to be really cheesy. My favorite dark hero is probably Barnabus Collins. He was so good, so bad, so tortured, so innocent and so evil all at the same time. Considering how old the actor who played him was,, it goes to show how good writing can overcome a lot of things.

    Big hugs for release day!!

  10. Cannot wait to devour TT!!! 🙂

    I’m more a lover of the “anti-hero”, the enigmatic ones that hang in the shadows. Jericho Z. Barrons from KMM, Gregori Daratrazanoff and Jack Norton from Christine Feehan, Savitar from Sherrilyn Kenyon…those are prime examples of the swoon-worthy for me. They are alpha to the bone and passionate.

    Congratulations on your new release!!!

  11. Congratulations Lena. Your books sound very interesting!

    Don’t laugh now. Capt. Jack Sparrow happens to be a very dark anti-hero to me. There is just something about him that makes me want to bring him home,…but never due I want to change him!

  12. Happy release day, Lena!! Sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well and hope you are taking a much needed break!

  13. Congratulations, Lena! Tennessee Takedown sounds fantastic! I love a dark love story, and I agree with Jenna’s comment above that darkness in a story doesn’t always have to be about more and more disturbing violence from the villain. I actually prefer the kind of darkness that gets right in between the hero and heroine–secrets and suspicions that keep them from fully trusting each other until they’re so deeply in love that they are willing to risk anything. Alfred Hitchcock made magic with novels like Winston Graham’s “Marnie” and Daphne DuMaurier’s “Rebecca” on that principle. And then there’s Vera Caspary’s “Laura,” which Otto Preminger made into another of my favorite movies. Something about watching a tortured hero suffer for a love he can’t quite get hold of…*sigh* (Does that make me a bad person? In my defense, I only enjoy fictional emotional torture!)

    Carey, I’m totally with you about Jane Eyre! Perfect example of the kind of psychological darkness I love to see between the hero and heroine! Also Wuthering Heights, in a way, even though it’s not really suspense. Hmmm. Oh, Heathcliff…

    Lena, I hope you feel better, and enjoy your release day!!

  14. Congratulations Lena and thanks for a wonderful interview Carey! I have TT on my bedside table and I can’t wait to start it.
    And there is no such thing as a too-dark RS hero! One of my favorites (besides Heathcliff, of course) is John Smith from the Jessica Bird (JR Ward) An Unforgettable Lady. It was a Signet reissue in 2010.

  15. too much abuse; yes; no favs

  16. Happy release day, Lena. Mary Balogh’s Slightly series has some wonderful, complex dark heroes, particularly the Duke of Bewcastle.

  17. Congratulations on the new release, Lena! Looking forward to it…and I like dark romantic suspense, so long as the hero is still deserving of the term!

  18. Reblogged this on DIANA BELCHASE and commented:

    I wanted to share this terrific post about one of my favorite authors.

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