Books Exclusives Interviews

Exclusive Interview: Diana Rodriguez Wallach on LIES THAT BIND and Anastasia Phoenix

Diana Rodriguez Wallach talks about ramping up the thrills in LIES THAT BIND!

Badass latinx teen spy Anastasia Phoenix is back from more international adventure as the fight for freedom ramps up in Diana Rodriguez Wallach‘s Lies That Bind, the sequel to last year’s Proof Of Lies!

The novel sees Anastasia and her pseudo-boyfriend, Marcus, risking their safety to find Marcus’s missing brother, Antonio. But once they find Antonio, they realize how much danger they’re really in. Antonio is mixed up with their old enemy, Department D, and the three begin a deadly mission to take down the organization once and for all. But who can they truly trust and who’s out to stop them?

We talked to Diana Rodriguez Wallach about why she loves writing Anastasia and living in her world, world travel, the location of the third novel (that she’s visiting right now), the new bad boy in town, and more! Take a peek to see why this author holds her heroine so close to her heart.

What was it like jumping back into Anastasia’s world to craft a new adventure? Was the sequel easier or harder to write?

Honestly, I feel like I’ve never left Anastasia’s world. I’ve been immersed in this story for several years now, and Anastasia and I spend every day together. We’re besties. But as for writing a sequel, it’s always a challenge, because you need to find a way to recap the first book in your opening chapters. My novels come out a year apart, so it’s likely readers will have forgotten important details. Weaving in that backstory without it feeling like an info dump is hard. So I’m thrilled to see reviewers say they appreciated how I worked in the recap, and even a few who said they read Book 2 first (without having read Proof of Lies), and they were able to enjoy it alone. It makes me happy that the books, while much better if read in a series, can still stand alone.

When you know your characters will be world-hopping to stop an evil entity, how do you choose the locations you’ll feature?

I love to travel! In fact, I am leaving for Krakow and Prague in a few hours! Seriously! (Hint—you might see some of these settings in Book 3, End of the Lie.) All of the scenes in this series—from Boston, to Italy, to England, to Rio de Janeiro, to eventually Eastern Europe—are set in places I’ve visited. That’s my starting point.

I also like to include holidays or festivals. The whole plot of this trilogy stems from a Mother’s Day Eve bash Anastasia and her sister host in Proof of Lies. So for Lies That Bind, I wanted to feature another holiday. The book begins in November, and one of the characters, Julian, is British; so Bonfire Night on November 5th seemed like the perfect choice. For End of the Lie, I always knew the series would end in Prague. I just pictured them on the Charles Bridge with the fog rising off the river, so that’s why I’m heading there this week. Everything I describe is based on my exact experiences. When Anastasia stops for fish and chips in London, you can bet I ate there. When she goes to a lavish wedding in Brazil, I can describe the exotic floral arrangements and gorgeous bartenders, because I attended a wedding there myself. My settings are real, vivid, and authentic, down to the salty humid air in Rio and the smoky fire festivals in Lewes, England. One of my favorite compliments is when a reader says my settings feel like a character in their own right. Big smiles for that one.

Can you tease any new characters or characters we’ll be seeing a lot more of this time around?

There are a lot of new characters in Lies that Bind. Anastasia and her friends embark on a dangerous plan that involves many of the Dresden Kids they’ve met in their pasts. So you’ll see a lot of new faces. But my favorite new character pops up in Chapter One, Marcus’ brother Antonio. If you think Marcus is a bad boy, you haven’t met his brother.

In your opinion, what makes Anastasia and Marcus’ relationship so interesting?

Emotionally, Anastasia is a tough nut to crack. Her parents died in a fiery car wreck immediately after an argument where she told them she hated them. She also spent her life moving around so much, she never had any close friends let alone a boyfriend. Then her sister disappears. So learning to trust Marcus, and possibly even love him, is hard for her. While she’s attracted to him as soon as they meet, her emotional journey is slow. It’s definitely not insta-love, but that’s what makes it special. In the midst of all this chaos and danger, she’s still an insecure teenager.

Which character in the Anastasia Phoenix series has been your favorite to write, so far?

Anastasia Phoenix. Period. I know, in interviews like these, I’m supposed to name a minor character (and I do have readers who rave about Charlotte and Julian), but for me, it will always be Anastasia. She’s Nancy Drew meets Buffy Summers in the world of Spy Kids mixed with The Da Vinci Code. She’s a kick-butt heroine who can deliver one-liners in four languages, as she travels the world unravelling conspiracies and searching for answers about her family. Plus to me, Anastasia is an honest-to-goodness, real-life person. I’ve spent years with her. I think about her all the time, and she and I hang out daily–how many people in your life can you say that about?

These books are spy thrillers filled with twists and untrustworthy characters. Do you plan out the twists and deceptions from the start or do they come to you as you write?

I’m a major plotter. I have outlines upon outlines in my Scrivener file—I joke that even my janitors have backstories. So yes, I plot out all twists, but with a focus on each character’s point of view. I have a linear timeline of events, along with character motivations, from the bad guy’s perspective, the friends, the parents, the boyfriend and ultimately all of those outlines put together create Anastasia’s story. However, I’m still human, and a writer, so usually when I get to the midpoint of a book, I’m convinced it sucks. Then I spend a day pacing around my office, talking to the “notes” feature of my iPhone until I figure out how to fix the plot. I can tell you that for Book 3, End of the Lie, I didn’t truly know “who did it” until I was about 75% of the way through the novel. But when I figured it out, man, that was a good moment!

Lies That Bind (Anastasia Phoenix #2) is available in bookstores everywhere now. You can order it via…

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Entangled Publishing


What if saving yourself meant destroying everyone you love?

Still reeling from everything she learned while searching for her sister in Italy, Anastasia Phoenix is ready to call it quits with spies. Then she and her friends learn that Marcus’s—her kinda boyfriend—brother, Antonio, has also gone missing. Luckily, they track down Antonio in a fiery festival in England, only to learn he has been working for the enemy, Department D, the whole time. But Antonio wants out. And so does Anastasia.

But before any of them can leave espionage and their parents’ crimes behind them, a close friend turns up dead. No one is safe, not while Department D still exists. So Anastasia and her friends embark on a dangerous plan to bring down an entire criminal empire, using every Dresden Kid they can find.

As their world becomes surrounded by spies, and the children of spies, Anastasia starts to question who she can really trust. Including her best friends…


Excerpt: LIES THAT BIND by Diana Rodriguez WallachDiana Rodriguez Wallach is the author of the Anastasia Phoenixseries, 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 SecretsAmigas 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. In 2010 Diana was named one of the Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch by, and she placed second in the International Latino Book Awards. She is an advisory board member for the Philly Spells Writing Center, and is a Creative Writing instructor for Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth. She holds a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University, and currently lives in Philadelphia.

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By Kait

Kait is a New Englander, a YA book and adaptation lover, and a Slythindor, as well as a red velvet and red wine enthusiast. She likes to like things. Catch her on Twitter: @kaitmary