A Conversation with Diana Rodriguez Wallach, Author of PROOF OF LIES (Anastasia Phoenix)

Thanks so much for agreeing to be with us today, Diana! What 5 things should readers know about you?

  1. I love to travel, and I have a goal to visit every country in Europe before I die. I’ve already made a solid dent. All of my books have settings both in the U.S. and abroad, and all are based on places I’ve visited. So PROOF OF LIES is set in Boston, Tuscany, Rome and Venice. Book Two is set in England and Rio de Janeiro. And Book Three, well, you’ll have to wait and see.
  2. I have two kids, ages 2 and 5, and I dedicated PROOF OF LIES to them and my husband.
  3. I used to be a reporter, so the topic of disinformation that comes up in PROOF OF LIES (and on CNN lately—hello, “alternative facts”) is near and dear to my heart.
  4. I’m going to the U2 Joshua Tree concert this summer, and for a long time lyrics from U2’s song “One” were the epigraph for PROOF OF LIES.
  5. In PROOF OF LIES, Anastasia describes eating the local cuisine everywhere she goes. I actually do this; and yes, I have eaten snails in Paris and they do taste like buttery pencil erasers.

Hmmm. I’ll have to take your word for it, because pencil erasers—buttery or not—just don’t appeal to me 😉

 

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

Oddly, the first spark of inspiration for Anastasia Phoenix came when I was in high school. I was attending a college fair at the now defunct Adams Mark Hotel on City Line Ave., and I was listening to students talk about Boston University. One kid was going on and on about the knowledge depth of his professors—how he was learning journalism from Pulitzer-prize winning reporters from the Boston Globe, The Washington Post and The NY Times. Then he spoke about a very unusual professor, one who was a former communist spy for Czechoslovakia during the Cold War and who now taught budding journalists how to tell if they were being fed false information. Not only was I hooked by the story and utterly impressed by the faculty, but for some reason the tale of the rouge spy stuck with me long after I left Conference Room B that day.

By the time I ultimately got to BU, Lawrence Martin Bittman, the spy-turned-journalism professor, had since retired. I never had the pleasure of taking his course. However, years later when I decided to attempt an international thriller packed with super spies, that story came back to me as if it had always been waiting there. I wanted my world of espionage to be focused on a unique specialty that offered me some creative freedom, and disinformation fit the bill.

Eventually, I got to meet the spy who inspired me, and we had a fascinating conversation in his home that led to many of the espionage elements in PROOF OF LIES, as well as the name of the CIA agent that appears at the end of the novel, Martin Bittman.

That is SO cool!

 

How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

I’ll warn you, it’s kind of strange. I started writing my first novel because I had a dream one night that I was a young adult author, and I dreamt the concept for an entire series of books. Seriously. When I woke up and told my husband, he reminded me of a vacation we took five years earlier through New England.

We had stopped in Salem, MA to see the witches’ houses. While there, I decided to visit a psychic (when in Rome, right?). So I sat down and the psychic immediately said, “You’re a writer.” And I was; at the time, I was a reporter. I told her this, and she asked what I wrote about. Intentionally trying to be cryptic (I mean, she is a psychic, shouldn’t she already know?), I told her that I wrote about “business.” She swiftly said, “No. I see you writing books, little books, like children’s books.”

I had never considered writing a book before. But after the dream, and my recollection of that encounter, I figured it was “a sign.” So I sat down and started writing my first novel. I published the first book in the Amor and Summer Secrets series in 2008, and now I’m about to publish my fourth novel, Proof of Lies.

And OMG—that is even COOLER.

 

What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

I’m working hard on Books Two and Three of the Anastasia Phoenix series! Book Two, Lies that Bind, comes out in March 2018, and its first chapter appears at the end of Proof of Lies. Book Three comes out in March 2019. I’m also working on a draft of a children’s picture book, but that’s still very much in the early stages.

Fantastic! So much to look forward to 🙂

 

What are you currently reading, and what are your thoughts about it so far?

I’m currently reading the YA thriller With Malice by Eileen Cook. I’m only 15% of the way in, so I can’t comment too much other than to say it reminds me of the Amanda Knox story, which I was obsessed with, so I’m enjoying it. The two favorite books I’ve read recently are A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis and The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. Both are dark psychological YA thrillers that kept me hooked not only by the plotlines, but also the gorgeous writing. I could read them again and again.

Annnnd my TBR grows…again! Thanks for the recs!

 

If you had to “sell” your book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

Are you kidding? Do you know how many tweets I’ve written about this book? J Lately, I’ve been posting collages on Twitter to showcase my characters.

Here’s a tweet, with a collage, I posted for my main character Anastasia Phoenix:


Since I’ve been marching & protesting so much, seems fitting I get to write about a kick butt, Girl Power teen. #anastasiaphoenix https://twitter.com/dianarwallach/status/830093431074648067

 

Here’s a tweet, with a collage, I posted for Anastasia’s love interest, Marcus Rey:


The making of a book boyfriend–1 part leather jacket, 1 part motorcycle, 1 part Spanish accent & a heaping dose of mystery. Stir & swoon. https://twitter.com/dianarwallach/status/827203394532159488

That is awesome! I’ve seriously never had anyone already have tweets at the ready, let alone tweets with collages!

 

About the author:

Diana Rodriguez Wallach is the author of the Anastasia Phoenix series, three YA spy thrillers set to debut beginning in March 2017 (Entangled Publishing). She is also the author of three award-winning young adult novels: Amor and Summer Secrets, Amigas and School Scandals, and Adios to All The Drama (Kensington Books); as well as a YA short-story collection based on the Narcissus myth, entitled Mirror, Mirror (Buzz Books, 2013).
In 2011, she published a highly regarded essay in Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (HarperCollins). It was the only essay chosen from the anthology by Scholastic to be used in its classroom materials. Diana is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses (Twilight Times Books, 2015), and she is currently on staff as a featured blogger for Quirk Books.

Proof of Lies
Anastasia Phoenix #1
Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Anastasia Phoenix has always been the odd girl out, whether moving from city to international city with her scientist parents or being the black belt who speaks four languages.

And most definitely as the orphan whose sister is missing, presumed dead.

She’s the only one who believes Keira is still alive, and when new evidence surfaces, Anastasia sets out to follow the trail—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy. Now she isn’t sure who she can trust. At her side is Marcus, the bad boy with a sexy accent who’s as secretive as she is. He may have followed her to Rome to help, but something about him seems too good to be true.

Nothing is as it appears, and when everything she’s ever known is revealed to be a lie, Anastasia has to believe in one impossibility.

She will find her sister.

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