Julie Leto - Dirty Little Lies

I've written quite a bit about how I got the idea for my Marisela Morales series for Pocket. In a nutshell, I had just read Alisa Valdes Rodriguez's DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB and was intrigued by her Latina characters. Since I'd never been very in tune with my Latina side (having grown up much more close to the Italian side of my family, but my paternal grandmother was Cuban-American), I found the whole idea of exploring that ethnic side of me intriguing. Also, I'd been itching to write a real kick-ass heroine. I loved the characters Eve Dallas and Anita Blake. Bombshell was just launching. I wanted to do something along those lines, but with my own gritty, super-sexy spin. Thus DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS was born.

The follow up book, DIRTY LITTLE LIES, was a little harder to wrap my mind around because it was important to me that Marisela experience a big dose of character growth in each book. In the first book, she is recruited to work for Titan International because she's lethal and because she speaks Spanish and can easily move into the Puerto Rican gun-running circles they need her to. In DIRTY LITTLE LIES, I wanted to go completely opposite. This time, I threw her into the upper-crust, elite Boston society. I hinted at that theme in the first book, but in the second, jumped in full force. Marisela is now a fish out of water, which totally ups the conflict. Also, she has quite a few prejudices against wealthy people and I wanted her to face those feelings head on.

Ethnicity and culture are important to the Dirty books. They give them a flavor that is unique from other romantic suspense novels. But you don't have to be Cuban-American or Latina or anything to enjoy the stories. Marisela's ethnicity is part of who she is, but it does not define her. She is defined entirely by her actions. She's a do-er. Even when she does the wrong thing.

The idea for the third Dirty book came from something a friend said to me at lunch. Hopefully, I'll be back some time to tell you more about it!

For more information about Marisela Morales and her "Dirty" series, go to http://www.readmarisela.com/. For more information about Julie and all her books, check out her main website, http://www.julieleto.com/.