Please give a warm welcome to Naima Simone, author of Secrets and Sins: Gabriel. After the interview, please make sure to enter Naima’s giveaway! Details below.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Naima Simone] Ooooh. Okay, I can do this… Wife, mother, romance author, a twin, lover of all things Vin Diesel-even Babylon AD, a PK, Yankee transplant & destroyer of Cherry Cokes
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Secrets and Sins: Gabriel?
[Naima Simone] You bet! Private investigator Leah Bannon reopens the twenty-year cold case of her beloved uncle’s disappearance, never expecting Gabriel Devlin, her best friend—and the man she secretly loves—to hinder her at every turn. Gabriel is one of four people who know the truth about Leah’s uncle’s disappearance, and now he must protect her and keep a pact made long ago even as a hidden enemy is willing to kill to bring the secret to light.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Naima Simone] I love—like, love, love, love—“girlfriend” movies, shows and books. Like Sex in the City, Girlfriends and Nora Roberts’ Montana Sky and Born In trilogy. I can go on and on. LOL! So I started thinking, what if I did a “girlfriend” series but with men? And we get to discover the women who are worthy of the men who’ve captured our hearts? And since I wanted it to be a romantic suspense and a little dark, why not throw in a secret that tie the men together thicker than blood ever could? Kind of like Sex in the City meets Stand by Me. Except without the whole break up via post-it, Lard Ass and puke fest…
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Leah?
[Naima Simone] Survivor, protective and go-to-the-mat-for-you loyal.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Gabriel had a theme song, what would it be?
[Naima Simone] Demons by Imagine Dragons. Since his wife and son’s deaths, there’s a new darkness inside him that originated from grief and anger. Even though the intensity of those emotions has dimmed a little in the past two years, there’s still a dark hole inside him.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Leah is never without.
[Naima Simone] Peppermints. She used to be a cop, and since she was often in the faces of perps and witnesses, she carried peppermints with her all the time. Though she’s no longer on the force, the habit remains.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Gabriel’s bathroom?
[Naima Simone] LOL!! This is one I’ve never been asked before and it’s so cool! Okay… Hair gel, tweezers and loofah. He does the bare minimum in grooming so anything beyond shaving and a comb is out.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Leah’s greatest regret?
[Naima Simone] She loves Gabriel with all her heart—has since she was a teenager—but if she could bring his family back, she would in a heartbeat. She regrets the loss that has crippled his spirit.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Naima Simone] My first love is reading. So the many authors I love stir my creative flow, no matter the genre. Awesome writing is exciting and inspiring. Then there’s music. I wrote my last book to the Instant Star soundtrack. LOL! Yes, the Canadian teen series? Love that show… Also, believe it or not, conversations with my father stir all kinds of ideas in my head. We’ll get into discussions about love, forgiveness, redemption, salvation—did I mention he’s a pastor? True story! At the core of most love stories are some kind of healing, acceptance or sacrifice. And talking about those topics with him gets my mind churning about broken, wounded characters that find their absolution and healing through love.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Naima Simone] An outline. Plotter! *waving hand* Music. Haven’t written a book to date without it! 80s, LOTR soundtracks, Yanni, Wicked soundtrack, whatever… I need music to write. And coffee! Whew! Who am I kidding? I need coffee to stand up straight. LOL! But yeah, coffee. Lovely, lovely coffee. Breakfast blend, blonde, McDonald’s…hold on a sec. Gonna go brew some! Be right back!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on Secrets and Sins: Gabriel?
[Naima Simone] That #&&^%^@@!!$ cell phone! Oh my Lamb! I was so close to deadline, and at one point I had to “lose” the phone because it kept ringing! Or the email notification would go off, and of course I HAD to check it. Or I’d have to FaceBook. Finally, I had to go to my mother’s house—she didn’t have wi-fi at the time—leave my phone at home and get the book finished!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Naima Simone] Nalini Singh’s Heart of Obsidian. Oh. *fluttering hand in front of tearing eyes* Beautiful. Haunting. Heart-wrenching. Amazing. She drew every emotion out of me from anger at Pure Psy’s bigotry, to sorrow for the pain Kaleb and Sahara endured in their lives, to wonder at the staggering love story she created out of two broken people. Talk about redemption, salvation and the power of love. And her world-building? Nalini Singh is like the Khalil Gibran of romance. Not a word wasted. Every word draws a breathtaking, beautiful image and a visceral reaction. She is, simply put, awesome! One day I’d like to ask her that. How does it feel to be so dang awesome?? I’d probably be escorted out by security, but it would so be worth it!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Naima Simone] Hands down, C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I remember sitting on my grandmother’s porch one Saturday afternoon—because once again my grandfather was hogging the television watching Tarzan, and I couldn’t turn to cartoons. He loved Tarzan… But I digress. Anyhoo, I went hunting through the cartons of books on her porch—the lady she worked for always gave her boxes full of Harlequins, Encyclopedia Browns, Nancy Drews, and Sweet Valley Highs. In there I found this box set that hadn’t been opened yet. It was the complete Chronicles of Narnia collection, all seven books. The first one I read was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And I fell in love. Absolute love. And to this day, it is my favorite book of all time. It also made me want to one day write stories able to mimic that feeling I experienced so strongly I can still describe it today. Awed. Fascinated. Lost. Enraptured. Yeah…
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Naima Simone] Read! And watch my guilty pleasures on TV: Real Housewives of Anywhere, Hardcore Pawn, Castle and The Big Bang Theory! And drink coffee. Did I mention I love coffee? Hee-hee!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Naima Simone] And please feel free to contact me! I love hearing from readers! Here is everything but my home address, and that’s only because chances are my house is in a state of domestic, uh, upheaval. Snicker!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
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About the book:
Twenty years ago, Leah Bannon’s beloved Uncle Richard vanished without a trace. Leah, now a private investigator, begins to suspect it was murder. When she reopens the cold case, Gabriel Devlin—-the man she loves but can never have—-inexplicably stands in her way.
Only four people know the truth about Richard’s mysterious disappearance—-Gabriel and three childhood friends…who have all sworn to take that secret to the grave. But a hidden enemy wants those shocking secrets brought to light…even if he has to kill to make it happen. After experiencing an unimaginable loss two years ago, Gabriel refuses to put himself through the pain of loving someone who could be gone in an instant. But as he thwarts Leah’s investigation at every turn—-both to keep his friends’ pact, and to keep her safe from danger—-the sexy PI makes it impossible for him to protect his secrets. Or his heart…
About the author:
Naima Simone is a multi-published author in contemporary and erotic romance. She’s a member of RWA’s Southern Magic chapter, mother of the Dynamic Duo, lover of everything Vin Diesel and wife to the fabulous husband who tolerates this affair. Come visit Naima on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.