Luis R. Diaz is a Puerto Rican author residing in Fernandina Beach, FL. He currently works as an air traffic controller after serving four years in the Navy and contracting in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay for almost three years. He is a world traveler, having visited over 25 countries and loves to learn and embrace other cultures while also being very proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and representing it across the globe. He is married to his high school crush, Krystal Diaz and they just welcomed their first child, Gabriela Rose, in April 2022. Their family is also accompanied by Rocky, a golden doodle who also loves books…as chew toys.
His book, WHAT’$ ¥OUR NUMB€R?, was released in March 2022 and has been a major success with its readers and is set for its re-release under the Fly The World Publishing banner in March 2023. Luis is currently working on his next psychological thriller The Connected.
Let’s get started with a quick rapid fire.
Q1. If you could be transformed into one mythological creature, which one would you choose?
Phoenix. I actually have a large tattoo of one in Australia that wraps around my shoulder onto my chest and my back. I got it during a turning point in my life where I knew it was time to leave the past behind and step into a new beginning. Just like the phoenix that burns and rises from the ashes.
Q2. What time do you usually go to bed at night?
My 11 month old, Gaby, decides that.
Q3. What are the least-likely three words someone would use to describe you?
Selfish, boring, asshole.
Q4. Where did you go on your last vacation?
Costa Rica. It was the first trip my wife and I took without our baby and it was soooooo much needed. This summer we’re all going to Zurich and Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland and Madrid, Spain.
Q5. Would you rather find your dream job or win the lottery? You can’t do both.
This speaks right into my first novel, WHAT’$ ¥OUR NUMB€R? Where the main character, my alter ego, hits the lottery. Soooo…dream job?
Q6. What is one thing you regret spending money on?
Q7. What object do you misplace or lose the most?
Remote control, without a doubt.
Q8. If you were a spy, what would be your codename?
Chameleon. My appearance has been confused for many different ethnicities, I blend in well.
Q9. What secret about the universe would you most want to learn?
Who’s really out there? And would they like a Coors Light?
Q10. What never fails to make you laugh?
My daughter’s laugh.
Q11. What was one “before” and “after” in your life?
Before hair and after hair.
Q12. What do you think people misunderstand about you?
I truly aim to inspire and be inspired. I don’t like to brag, show off or take things for granted. I really believe that most things in life are attainable if you make the sacrifices that others won’t.
It’s time for a more detailed conversation, Luis.
You’ve answered our rapid fire brilliantly, Luis. Now, it’s time for our readers to know more about the person behind the book.
Q. Tell us about your journey.
My name is Luis R. Diaz and I am a Puerto Rican author residing in Fernandina Beach, FL. I’m a Navy veteran who now works as an air traffic controller and I absolutely love what I do, even though I would probably trade it all to be a beach bum in Bali with my family. That kind of thinking is what got me into writing. I’ve traveled to over 25 countries, mostly on my own, then with my wife, Krystal, and now with my 11 month old daughter, Gabriela. I was inspired very early by Anthony Bourdain to see the world and embrace other cultures so when I finally got the opportunity, I booked a trip to Australia when I was 25 and haven’t looked back ever since. I have taken something from every place I’ve been to and have also left something behind, mostly money. But the memories and stories have been unimaginable. That’s why I decided I NEEDED to write. I want to inspire someone to travel. I want to tell my stories. I want to tell others’ stories, but mostly I want Netflix to adapt one of my books into a movie or a series someday (in case you’re reading).
After releasing my debut novel, WHAT’$ ¥OUR NUMB€R? on KDP in March 2022, right away I learned of the negative taboo of taking that publishing route when I approached local bookstores. Therefore, I opened my own publishing company this year, Fly The World Publishing, which will serve as a platform for myself and other authors who want to share their travel-related works of art. I’m very excited to re-release my novel under my own company this March and continue this journey that I hadn’t imagined just a year ago.
Q. So, what books have you read more than once in your life?
I haven’t read anything more than once. I have a pretty good memory and when I read something impactful or entertaining, I tend to remember it pretty well so I rather dedicate the time to something new.
Q. Interesting. Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing?
My wife. The process is so time consuming and she was also pregnant when I wrote my first novel. Not to mention, I used our names in the book, a fictionalized version of us, so I had to explain the vision of it a few times but ultimately she supported the idea. She also loves to read so when I would write a plot twist, I’d let her read it so I could see her reaction, and she’d give me feedback. She even gave me a few ideas that were included in the book. I’m very excited for the sequel because she will be much more involved, for reasons you will know once you read the first book.
Q. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Oh, a lot. I love catching scenes and quotes that foreshadow in books and movies so I made sure to tie in a few things throughout the book. Especially in the Epilogue. Sometimes it might be a short phrase or sentence that’ll come back around and it fills me with joy when my readers come back to me and ask about it. It shows they were truly into the story and that I succeeded in my efforts to entertain them.
Q. Now comes the most anticipated question that every author must answer. How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?
I received a 2 star review from someone with no explanation as to why! It’s my first novel, so I expected mixed reviews, but I would’ve loved to know how I could’ve improved. I also understand that my book may not be for all audiences, so negative reviews will happen. I’ve even read books from my favorite authors that I disliked. I’m still new to the scene so my answer will probably change in the future, but for now every time I see a negative review, I will cringe slightly, fix myself a drink and toast to the reader for having given me some of their time…and a their money.
Q. What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
I’ve never really considered this, but I would have to say characters. If you make the reader fall in love, or completely hate the character, they will continue to read the story no matter how it plays out. They either want to see the character succeed greatly or fail miserably. I definitely spend a lot of time in their development because I want you to know who they are, I want you to feel what they feel, be able to predict their next move and just when you think you have them figured out…BAM! I throw you in for a curve ball. Sorry, not sorry.
Q. How do you develop your plot and characters?
I’m of Puerto Rican descent and growing up, I never read stories with characters that were from where I’m from. So I decided that most of my stories will include characters of Puerto Rican backgrounds. Our culture is so rich and full of traditions, and also so diverse! I want to celebrate that and introduce it to a reader across the world and maybe entice them to visit our beautiful island one day. In my characters you will see habits, trends and mentality that either myself or some friends and family members will have, whether good or bad.
As for my plots, they are very random, but I usually find a trending topic at the moment in society and think of a bunch of what if’s? What if I did hit the lottery? What if that therapist doesn’t really have your best interest at hand? Oh that’s a teaser into my next book, The Connected. I have a wild imagination so I trust it to develop the rest of the plot. Outlines are not safe in my world, as every ending I had drawn up has never come to fruition.
Q. You got 100 points. You need to divide them on the basis of how relevant and important they are to you as a reader and a writer for your book or someone else’s as a reader. Your options are Plot/Story, Book Cover, Marketing, and, Reviews.
Plot-35 , Dialogues-20 , Book Cover-9 , Marketing-1 , Reviews-35.
The story HAS to be good. Readers HAVE to love it. That’s why they hold the most weight in my opinion. Although marketing is extremely important, a well written story will sell itself. Also, get multiple cover ideas. I learned from that with my book as I am changing it to something that appeals more to the story.
Q. So, now, about your book. Talk to us about it. No major spoilers.
An upper middle-class family man has it all. A beautiful wife, two wonderful kids, a great career and is living what is known as The American Dream. But then a conversation at work about the massive lottery jackpot, $684 million, prompts him to go buy a ticket and you know what happens next. He has all these grand illusions of what he wants to do with his family and all the money, like traveling endlessly and living a dream life. But after going on a celebratory guys’ trip with his best friends, he meets a wealthy top model and entrepreneur, Jasmine, who piqued his interest.
After returning home, his views begin to skew, now that he’s seen what the luxurious lifestyle can offer. He’s then lured into temptations that he’d never had before as he fights a battle of morality with himself while jetting off across some of the most luxuries cities across the world. This story will take you on a euphoric joyride of a family man who already had it all, but now faces obstacles that are clouded by his newfound lust and desire for more.
Q. What part of the book did you enjoy the most while writing?
All of the traveling. I love to travel and it serves as my fuel for writing. I purposefully go into detail with my travel scenes because I want you to be there with the characters. I want the reader to be enticed into going to those locations someday and thinking about a part in my book and saying, ‘this is exactly what I had imagined!’ Traveling changed my life and it all began with me reading about it, through Elizabeth Gilbert and others and seeing it on TV watching Anthony Bourdain and Samantha Brown. Had I not been inspired by them, would I have ever gone anywhere? Would I be writing?
Q. What is your kryptonite as a writer?
Time. I have so much I want to write but never enough time, so I have to counter it with patience and a ton of notes so I don’t forget my ideas.
Q. Would you and your main character get along in real life?
I’m the main character, so yes, he’s a pretty chill dude. Although I wouldn’t follow him down the path he chose. I like things the way they are right now. (Wife peeks at me)
Q. What risks have you taken with your writing that have paid off?
Using our actual names in the book and giving them a fork in the road that is frowned upon in real life. I knew who my first audience would be, my friends and family. So right away I had them hooked to the characters and I even included some of my best friends along with their personalities in the book. Think HBO’s Entourage. Of course they’d want in on that! I got people that don’t normally read to actually read my book because they were in it or because they knew us. Then they’d call me telling me how mind-blowing the story was! I’m not sure how the story would’ve played out with different character names but it was a risk I think has paid off.
Q. Let’s talk about the process of writing. Do you do research while writing a book to add more authenticity? What kind of research?
I definitely do a ton of research. I’m a stickler for the details. The locations I wrote about, I had either already been to and others I had researched because I had planned on going. I watch tons of YouTube travel bloggers, documentaries and other movies that feature the locations. In one scene from WHAT’$ ¥OUR NUMB€R?, for research, I actually reached out to my mother who was a financial advisor amongst many other things for a particular scene with an investment banker. It was probably my proudest dialogue scene because she said I sounded exactly how they would’ve sounded.
Q. What was your hardest scene to write?
The ending. So much happened when I was writing the last chapter, not just because of all the drama that ensues, but because I was actually finishing my first book. It was quite emotional on both fronts and after you read it, you will comprehend why. Just imagine also turning a dream into a reality while you read it. That’s what happened to me, it was quite emotional.
Q. Well, this has been great. Now, before we wrap this up, do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
This isn’t a paid promotion, I promise, but sign up for the Masterclass app! I took courses from David Baldacci, Dan Brown, Walter Mosley, James Patterson, Neil Gaiman, and Margaret Atwood. I learned so much from them individually and also took notes when they repeated things so I could make those my own habits. After taking my time and doing all of their courses, I wrote my first novel in just three months with a full time job and a pregnant wife! It was the best way to start my writing journey.