How did you get into writing?
I blame my husband. He knew I enjoyed creative writing and that I toyed with the idea of writing a novel “one day”. But life and my non-writing career always took priority, so I never seriously pursued writing. After my sister got breast cancer (she’s fine now) and I reached a milestone birthday, my husband told me life is too short and we don’t know how long we have. He pushed me to chase my dream and finally write a novel. So I did! Now I have 19 books published and have written more that will be published soon. I thank my hubby every day for encouraging me to do what I love.
What is your writing process?
I used to plot every scene on a spreadsheet. Sometimes I still use spreadsheets. But that’s typically during the edit process to help me see timeline or plot errors. I’ve also used writing software like Scrivener and WriteWayPro to help me organize my novels. But nowadays I typically just use Word. I need four things when I begin a new story: a title, character names, the beginning, and the end. Once I have those, I just sit in front of my computer and start writing chapters. I try to write as fast as possible to get a first draft. Then the fun begins. I love editing and revising. That’s because I don’t know my characters very well until after the first draft. Then I can go back and layer in details and dialogue that make sense for the characters and make the story come alive. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Stranded with the Detective, your June 2018 Harlequin Intrigue title, just came out, and SWAT Standoff, your July 2018 Intrigue book, will be released very soon. Can you tell us a little bit about these books and what inspired you to write them?
These are the last two books in my Tennessee SWAT series and were a complete joy to write. I began the series with a stand-alone book called Tennessee Takedown back in 2014. Relying on my own southern roots, I created a full cast of police detectives who were also part-time SWAT officers in a rural Tennessee town in the Smoky Mountains. I fell in love with them. There’s just something about southern charm, manners, and humor that draws me in. Lucky me – it drew readers in too. Tennessee Takedown is still one of my best-selling books. After receiving emails from readers for years asking for more stories about the Destiny, Tennessee police department, I pitched the series idea to my editor and voila! A series was born. If you count Tennessee Takedown, there are five books in the series, each one featuring a SWAT officer. The last book, SWAT Standoff, is a real treat because the entire ensemble of officers is included in the story. And the most fun part of all? The heroine and the hero are both SWAT officers.
How do you motivate yourself when you don’t feel like writing?
Since writing is such hard work, even though I love creating stories I do sometimes have to force myself to sit down and write. What motivates me? The knowledge of how blessed I am to be writing Harlequin Intrigues. Many writers would love to be Intrigue authors and I don’t take that lightly. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I don’t want to let my readers down by ever giving a book less than my best.
What authors do you admire? What book(s) are you currently reading?
Aside from all of my fellow Intrigue authors, right? Because their talent just blows me away and I love reading their stories. Some of my favorites outside of Intrigue are Julie Garwood, Linda Howard, Vanessa Kelly, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lisa Gardner, and Karin Slaughter. I read everything from historical romance to thrillers. As for what I’m reading right now, in paperback I’m reading A Princess in Theory, by Alyssa Cole. On audiobook, I’m listening to Sometimes I Lie, by Alice Feeney.
What advice do you have for writers?
Be yourself. Trust your instincts. Have fun.
For more about Lena Diaz, visit her at lenadiaz.com
or say hello to Lena on Twitter @LenaDiaz
Watch for SWAT Standoff, the final book in Lena Diaz’s Tennessee SWAT series, which will be released in July, and make sure to check out Stranded with the Detective, available now from Harlequin Intrigue!