Kerry Hammond is back to follow-up her Exit Strategy book review with a Q&A with the author, Lena Diaz.
Exit Strategy by Lena Diaz is the first book in the EXIT Inc. Thriller series. It was released on June 30, 2015, in Mass Market Paperback and Mystery Playground reviewed the book. I caught up with Lena Diaz to ask her a few questions about her book and her writing.
Your chase scenes are very detailed, and some of your characters get into some interesting situations. How do you research for this? Did you wander in the Carolina mountains for inspiration?
Nearly every summer that I can remember as a child was spent in my home state of Kentucky visiting relatives. Those relatives lived in rural parts of that beautiful state, surrounded by hills, woods, and rolling farmland. My cousins and siblings and I would spend hours wandering those woods with my grandma’s gorgeous collies. It was incredible and inspires a lot of the outdoor scenes in my books. I have vacationed in the Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains several times, which included white water rafting, so I have that to draw upon too. Of course, Google Earth is also my friend, so I spent many fun hours of research traveling back roads and speeding down zip lines in the virtual world to come up with ideas for the outdoor chase scenes.
Do you know how everything will turn out before you get to the end of the novel, or do surprises pop up as you go?
No matter how hard I try to plan a book (I’m a plotter for sure), it NEVER turns out the way I expect. In general, I know what’s going to happen. But the details always change. And that’s good. It’s those unexpected surprises that pop into your head while working on a scene that often become the most fun and interesting parts of the story.
If you had to cast Mason or Sabrina for a movie, do you know who you would pick to play them?
Yes! As part of giving information to the HarperCollins art department to help them design the cover, I told them that Mason should look like Joe Manganiello (minus the mustache he sometimes has) and Sabrina should look like Zooey Deschanel! In all honesty, I can’t say that either character really looks like those particular actors on the cover. However, I’m extremely pleased with the couple that they chose. They look perfect together and the hair length, color, etc. is all spot on.
What does your typical day of writing look like?
I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a “typical” writing day. It really depends on what’s going on--whether I have edits to do, revisions, a new book to start, how close to deadline I am, and whether I’m in the middle of other non-writing types of business such as website updates or designing promotional giveaways. Plus, writing is my second full-time job, so how much time I have to write varies wildly depending on the projects going on at work. During the week, I try to write every chance I get. So if things are going well and I can spend time writing (and not editing etc.), I write during my lunch break and then for a couple of hours at night after getting home and having dinner. If a deadline is coming up, I may get up at 4am to write before the day job and stay up until midnight or 1am. Weekends are all about writing. I generally spend Friday nights really late writing, until I basically fall asleep. Then I’m up before dawn writing until early the next morning. Sunday I write sunup until about 10 and then I go to bed. In other words--I write every chance I get. Every once in a while, when the house gets so dirty that I can’t stand it, I clean. And when I run out of clothes, I do laundry! Or try to bribe my husband to wash the clothes!
You’ve written quite a few series. Do you have a favorite?
Oh, this is such a hard question. The Deadly Games series--which currently consists of four books--is close to my heart because it was so organic. It didn’t start as a series and morphed into one. Mainly I love it because of the Buchanan brothers and their dad, Alex. They’re all such good, wonderful men and I love the interplay between them and how fiercely they protect one another--and the women they fall in love with. BUT--my EXIT Inc. series (which starts with EXIT Strategy)--is near and dear to me too, since it’s my newest series, and the first one I really planned as a series. I’ve learned so much about series arcs while writing these books and I just adore the heroes of each story. I guess I can’t settle on one series! I love them all.
Who are your favorite authors to read?
There are so many! I love the masters, which to me are Kathleen Woodiwiss, Julie Garwood, Linda Howard, Julia Quinn, and Sherilyn Kenyon. You can’t go wrong with their books. And there are dozens of other auto-buy authors out there for me, too many to name. I will give a special shout-out to Vanessa Kelly, who writes incredibly smart heroines and unique stories as part of her historical romances. Just love her. And Carey Baldwin is my favorite “thriller with romantic elements” writer. Of course, for thrillers in general, I have to bow down to the king, Jeffery Deaver. I love his Lincoln Rhyme books! They’re so clever and twisty and unexpected. If I could write half as well as him, I’d consider myself a success.