Interview with Diana:
What inspired THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE?
I knew I wanted to write a story about a woman who was terrified around sexy men—pathologically shy. So it made sense to make the man not just anyone, but literally THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE. It made the conflict huge—which of course makes it more exciting.
Amy, the gypsy psychic who can tell you the name of your One True Love. She’s the villain. Very manipulative and self-absorbed. Characters like that are fun because they can be outrageous and say things that no one else will say. I was in big trouble when the book was done, though, as the next book, Hungry for More, is about Amy. I had to rehabilitate her so that readers would root for her. It wasn’t easy.
Describe the book in three words
Fun, funny, sexy.
If the SEXIEST MAN ALIVE was turned into a movie, who would the perfect cast be?
Gerard Butler as Josh Toby, the Sexiest Man Alive. (Yeah, I know Matt Damon won that honor today from People magazine, but I’m still going with Gerard.) Someone very funny as Jasmine. Maybe Jennifer Aniston? But she’s probably WAY too old now. I’m terrible with movie stars. I don’t watch TV or movies, so I’m way in the dark on this one.
How long have you been writing?
What’s your favorite part of your writing process?
What’s your favorite part of your writing process?
The easy part. Only, there is no easy part. I struggle the entire way. I’m terrified to get started; mortified as I go; horrified when I’m done. Oh, okay—I do like to edit. I edit like mad. I tear out whole sub-plots and characters. No sentence makes it through a draft intact.
What’s next for you?
I just turned in Hungry for More to my editor last week. It’s the last book in the One True Love series. I have one more book on my contract with Grand Central Publishing, and I’m really excited about it. It’ll be a straight contemporary romantic comedy. I think there’s a real lack of those out there, and I have an idea I hope will be really fun.
SEXIEST MAN ALIVE Synopsis:
Jasmine Burns has always wanted to know the name of her one true love. Her sister Amy is a psychic who can read the name of a person’s true love, but she’s always refused to tell Jasmine hers…until one day Amy needs Jasmine’s help bad. When Amy finally gives it the name, Jasmine can’t believe it. How is it possible that her one true love is People Magazine’s SEXIEST MAN ALIVE, one of the biggest box office movie stars around, and a fixture on the red carpet? Shy by nature, Jasmine envisioned warm nights spent cuddling in front of the tv with her beloved, not the frightening flash of a paparazzo’s camera as he chases her down the street. This can’t be true!
For once in his life, Josh Toby wants to be taken seriously as an actor. He’s sick of playing either the boy toy or the action star—he wants parts he can sink his teeth into. So he’s done the scariest thing he can imagine—he’s accepted a part on Broadway in “Romeo and Juliet”. The problem: no one can know it’s him or it will turn into the second coming of the Beatles. The solution: an undercover disguise at the hands of budding fashion designer Jasmine Burns, the most charming, genuine, and delightfully eccentric woman he’s ever met.
Before long, chemistry sizzles between the shy wallflower and the most recognizable movie star in the world. But can true love really blossom between two polar opposites?
SEXIEST MAN ALIVE Excerpt:
“Hi! I’m Jasmine Burns!”
The naked man stared up at Jasmine blankly.
Great. She sounded like a cruise ship director on crack. She cleared her throat and adjusted her black teddy. “It’s great to meet you!”
Ugh. This was definitely not working.
Jasmine met her eyes in the mirror on the far (okay, not-so-far) wall of her tiny Upper West Side studio. This only looks crazy, she silently assured her reflection.
She looked down at the tiny naked Ken doll perched on her couch.
Okay, it was crazy. Call-the-cops nuts, even.
She paced. Seven steps. Pivot. Seven steps. Pivot. Exercise #12, page 127 in her Goodbye Shy! workbook had made sense in theory: practice job interviews with a doll to focus on until the panic is gone. For best results, rehearse the interview with both parties naked to achieve optimal vulnerability. Jasmine just couldn’t get completely naked; she settled on a black lace teddy for herself. Ken wasn’t so shy. He went all the way without complaint.
The mind controls the body. Let the panic wash over, then continue. Repeated exposure to the object of fear will dull the emotion.
So why was her terror growing? Her interview was three days, seven hours and twenty-seven minutes away and she was getting more panicked by the second.
She flopped onto her bed and stared at the ceiling of her shoe-box shaped apartment. The heel end was crammed with her elaborate double iron bed, centered between the door to the hallway and the door to her tiny bathroom. The toe end was dominated by a lead-glass window that stretched four feet across and from the ceiling to within two feet of the floor.
And what a window. If she stood outside on the sidewalk and craned her neck to the fifth floor, it reigned proudly between two identical, grand windows. Once, they had let light in on one expansive room. Sometimes Jasmine would imagine she still heard the muted footsteps of the maids hurrying over the hardwood floors from the days before the brownstone was sliced into tiny studios. She’d smell the pipes of the long-gone men in dressing robes reading the New York Saturday Post.
Wonder what those guys would have made of Ken?
Despite her exhaustion, she forced herself off the bed and back to the “living room”—a flea-market, white-boned couch, one white over-stuffed chair, and a white coffee table rescued from a curb-side trash pile all arranged neatly at the foot of her bed. She flopped next to Ken on the couch and toyed with a scrap of black wool (worsted, Italian) that she had scored the day before from a sample table on 37th Street. Salsa music and car horns floated up from Amsterdam Avenue below, a melody of the city she barely noticed anymore.
This job was the chance of a lifetime. After all, her tailoring business she ran out of her apartment was an accident, not part of her plan. A hem here, a tuck there and within weeks she was in demand. She became known as a miracle worker who could make a cigarette hole in silk pajamas disappear, take in a suit better than anyone west of Hong Kong, rescue your mother’s mildewed wedding gown. It wasn’t a bad way to make a living. She rarely had to leave her apartment.
But now that her graduation (M.A. in costume design from N.Y.U.) was five months past, her ex-classmates were out hitting the pavement, interning and networking, sometimes in theaters, sometimes even getting paid (she let the wonderful possibility of one day being in their shoes spread through her).
And she was playing with dolls.
Maybe that was the problem. Naked Ken was too much. After all, if Ken were impersonating a famous costume designer, shouldn’t he have amazing clothes?
She carried Ken to the white-washed plywood door balanced on two white wooden saw horses next to her window. Her 1949 Singer nine-stitch sewing machine gleamed in welcome. She ran her hand down it, her steel and chrome kitty. She settled at the table next to it and began to sketch.
What would Arturo Mastriani, New York’s top costume designer, wear to interview her, Jasmine Burns, his next brilliant new assistant?