Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Perils Of Pauline

We’re all familiar with the concept of “Pauline” – the woman-in-jeopardy story. The original 1914 silent serial had Pearl White getting out of many hair-raising adventures, many caused by her “dastardly” guardian. A terrific brief summary of this serial is available here: An interesting tidbit: the most famous scene was of Pearl tied to the train tracks, however, that episode has never been recovered.

I’ve never seen more than a few snippets of this classic, but in reading the summaries and additional material, I came to realize that Pearl White was one of the original suspense heroines—she got herself out of more trouble than she was responsible for getting in. Tim Dirks at Film Site wrote, “Pauline (Pearl White) evaded attempts on her life - she fought pirates, Indians, gypsies, rats, sharks, rolling boulders, and her dastardly guardian.”

Basically, she was the first kick-ass heroine. I wish more people remembered her as such than tied helpless to the railroad tracks!

Pauline is considered the epitome of a female-in-jeopardy story, even though she is often responsible for getting herself out of the jams she finds herself in. We see these themes running through romantic suspense books, and they can make good stories. But one of my biggest pet peeves is the TSTL heroine who gets into tight spots because she wasn’t being smart.

SILENCED, Lucy Kincaid’s fourth book came out yesterday, and as I’m deep into writing book five, I began thinking of Pearl’s perils. How many times is Lucy going to get in and out of trouble? I have a bit of leeway since Lucy is embarking on a career in law enforcement and solving crime is her specialty, but at the same time I don’t want her comically in jeopardy. She’s been in and out of many scrapes, from being kidnapped to nearly being tossed down a thousand foot mineshaft. She’s been shot at, drugged, and held hostage at gunpoint.

But it wouldn’t be a thriller if there wasn’t danger to the characters we care about, and Lucy carries the series. She’s willing to risk her life to save innocent people from a tragic end, like so many of the real-life, every-day heroes in law enforcement.

In SILENCED, Lucy grows more as an investigator and a woman than in the previous three books. She’s always struggled with confidence, because even though she has sharp instincts, she’ll never be able to shake the huge mistake she made when she was 18. Doubt and diligence propel her, and she must continue to learn to trust herself in order to be the person I know she can become.

I was very happy with the decisions Lucy made. She was brave but not stupid, and any flashes of peril were solely because she was protecting others.

What’s your favorite woman-in-jeopardy story? Do you have a pet peeve in romantic suspense today?

New York Times and USA Today bestseller Allison Brennan is the author of eighteen novels and several short stories. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, she lives in Northern California with her husband Dan and their five children.

Crime fiction, mysteries, and romantic suspense have always been Allison's favorites, so it's no surprise that her romantic thrillers have a dark suspense edge. Reviewers have called her books "terrifying," "mesmerizing," "fast-paced," "pulse-pounding," "wonderfully complex," "layered," and "a master of suspense - tops in the genre." Lee Child called LOVE ME TO DEATH, "A world-class nail-biter" and Lisa Gardner says, "Brennan knows how to deliver."

Writing three books a year is more than a full-time job, and so is raising five kids, but Allison believes life is too short to be bored. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, watching old movies or new television shows, driving to or attending volleyball / basketball / football / soccer games, and on occasion even makes it to the gym where she enjoys people-watching more than exercise.

Allison is currently writing the Lucy Kincaid series about an FBI recruit. The third book, IF I SHOULD DIE, is on sale now. SILENCED will be out on April 24, 2012, followed by STALKED on 10.30.12 and STOLEN in spring 2013. Also look for THRILLER 3: LOVE IS MURDER, an anthology of romantic suspense edited by Sandra Brown, on sale 5.29.12


  1. Thanks for having me here Maureen! I'll pop in throughout the day if anyone has any questions:)

  2. Hi again Allison,
    I feel so fortunate to have found you & your writing. I plan to read the whole Lucy Kincaid series.
    My pet peeve about female heroines is when people have to comment about how she does it "like a man" instead of appreciating that she just "is" a heroine!


    1. Oh, that's a good one Jan! Like the way a man does it is automatically better .... :)

  3. Thanks for a fun post! Your series is top of my wishlist! Wow... you're already writing book 5. How many books are you planning for this series?

    1. Hi Erin -- right now I'm contracted through book #6 (STOLEN.) After that ... I don't know. I'd like to write a few more in the series, but I don't want it to get stale and I don't want to be bored. I'd like to write 10-12 books total. I think that will give me a good character arc and take Lucy from FBI trainee through her rookie years and then a seasoned agent. And it gives Sean and Lucy time to grow in their relationship as well.

  4. Thank you for being here, Allison. I agree with Janet. I like strong women, but I don't want to see them bench-pressing a tow-truck. :)