You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Guest Blogger Lena Diaz

on September 24, 2013

I’m thrilled to introduce romantic suspense author Lena Diaz to Murder She Writes! I’ve known Lena through the Kiss of Death chapter for … years. 🙂 … I love how close the writer community is, especially our romantic suspense chapter. Lena herself was a Navy Brat, moving around the country following her father. Now, she resides in Florida with her husband of more than 20 years. Wow! Please welcome Lena …

Readers often ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” Do they come from all those research books sitting on my shelf (see picture above)? Do they come from dreams? Do they come from websites like FBI.GOV (super cool website, check it out)? I really don’t know. “What if” scenarios pop into my mind and I go with it. Or so I thought, until some creepy coincidences happened.

First, I wrote a story with a serial bomber villain. The book released right around when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. I was horrified at what had happened, and also spooked by the timing.

Then I wrote a story with a serial arsonist villain. What happened next? The awful explosion in West, Texas, which still hasn’t been explained and may very well be arson.

Two books, two real-life incidents happening after I wrote the books. Weird. Creepy. But it’s not like I make stuff happen by writing about it…right? And I can’t conclude there’s a pattern with only two data points.

But how about three data points?

My next story, the one I’m working on now, was contracted and sold months before another major tragedy hit the news—about three women in Cleveland who’d been kidnapped and held hostage for years. So what’s my book about? You guessed it. Women who are kidnapped and held captive for years.

These eerie coincidences started giving me a complex. I know I can’t really predict the future, but is there something “bigger” going on here? I looked around for the answer and concluded the following.

Bad things happen. A lot. Not just when I write about them.

Bombings, arson, and kidnappings happen more often than you may realize. They just don’t all make a big splash in the news.

So maybe the question to ask isn’t, “Where do I get my ideas?” Maybe the real question is, “Why write about the tragedy that happens every day, all around us?”

Now that’s a question I can answer.

In real life, I’m powerless to stop the bad things that happen every day, which can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, helplessness. But when I sit in front of my computer and create a story, I’m the one in control. I’m the one with the power. My stories are a way for me to feel hopeful again about the human spirit, about good triumphing over evil, about the future. In my stories, the good guy always wins, the bad guy always gets punished, and people are transformed by the power of love. Together, they become better, stronger, and happier than they ever would have been apart.

The ideas? They come from all over. But the real power in fiction is in making people feel good. If, at the end of a story, you have a smile on your face and the satisfaction of knowing that good can and does triumph over evil, and love really does conquer all, then the author has done their job.

Now it’s your turn to answer a question. Why do you read romantic suspense? I’ll give away a copy of my newest book—Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead—to two commenters who answer that question.