Monday, April 9, 2012

WRITING THE SUSPECT HERO


By: Patricia Rosemoor

From SKIN:

           “Looking for company?” came a male voice from behind her.
            She started and whipped around to stare at a beard-stubbled face, whose attractive owner seemed interested and, unless she was now imagining things, quietly amused at her expense. Her quick impression of him: lean strength; dark, slicked-back hair a shade too long; a beat away from fashionable; spooky gray eyes.
            “I’d prefer my own company, thank you,” she said, picking up her drink and sipping.                                          
            His eyebrows lifted fractionally. “Strange place to pick if you want to be alone. Or do you really?”
            “I said I did.”
            He took the empty seat next to her anyway, the deliberately perverse action irritating Lilith, even though he scooted his stool in the opposite direction and gave her plenty of breathing room. So why did she feel like she had just run up a flight of steps?
            Everything about Club Paradise made her a little uneasy.
            “You’re alone,” the stranger assured her. “I’m not here.”
            Her hold tightened on her drink, and her gaze wandered about the room in every direction but his. Still, she was aware of him ordering a beer, which no doubt meant she was stuck with his company unless she moved. Only he’d taken the last vacant stool at the bar.
            “But if I were here,” he suddenly went on, “I would introduce myself. Michael Wyndham.”
            He didn’t seem to require an answer. He certainly seemed laid-back if perverse.
            “And I might speculate as to what it is about a place like this that appeals to a woman like you.”
            At that she flashed him an angry glare.
            “Well, come on, you’re not the usual customer,” he clarified, paying for the beer.
            “Look,” Lilith said, “I’m certain plenty of women would be charmed by you–”
            “Knowing why people do things is kind of a hobby of mine. No offense, but you really aren’t the typical Club Paradise patron. Yet you must want something.”
            “Peace and quiet.”
            “Like I said, you’re in the wrong place.”
            “Then try breathing room.”
            “I thought I gave it to you.” He slid off the stool. “But if I was mistaken, I apologize.”
            Saluting her with his beer bottle, he strolled away from the bar and over to a small empty table in the back of the club.
*** 

            One of my favorite things to do in writing romantic thrillers is to create a hero in doubt, a man who attracts the heroine but is also a suspect in the crime piece. I especially like to make my heroine have reason to doubt the man she’s falling for after she’s slept with him.
            No, I’m not sadistic. I just see real life and real relationships as being far more complex than we’re usually allowed when writing category romantic suspense. I have been able to write the suspect hero a few times in my Intrigues, but not to the degree that my edgy mind truly appreciates.
            Or maybe it’s just that, when dating (decades ago), I never chose men because they were “safe.” “Exciting” was far more interesting. Most of my female friends made similar choices. So I tend to like doing the “what if’ about a fictional relationship. What if the heroine isn’t sure of the hero, learns to trust him and then is faced with something that makes her fear she’s been wrong about him?
            In SKIN, Lilith sees an ad for Club Paradise, a gentlemen’s club,  in the paper. The featured dancer could be her. It’s not, of course. It’s her sister who ran away from home as a teenager. Though she’s hired PIs, Lilith has never been able to find Hannah. Now she goes to the club to do just that and is horribly uncomfortable with this unfamiliar world she dislikes.
            Originally, the above scene when Lilith and Michael meet was also the first time the reader met him. My intention was to make Lilith uneasy with him, but also to show that he was edgy. I knew I was taking a chance, so I brought it and a few other scenes to my critique group. The consensus was that readers wouldn’t like Michael and I could never redeem him in the reader’s eye. So I wrote a new scene from Michael’s POV with the bartender and placed it directly before this one. The reader now knows he’s been shooting a documentary called SKIN about the girls in the club. His goal is to analyze why they do what they do – he felt compelled to do this after meeting his birthmother, a stripper with no desire to change her life.
            So, my questions to you are these: How do you feel about a hero in doubt? What is acceptable? What is going too far for you? And the big one – if the scene above is the first time you met Michael, would you be too creeped out to accept him as a hero?
            Yes, I really want to know.
***

With 90 novels and more than seven million books in print, Patricia Rosemoor is fascinated with "dangerous love" – combining romance with danger. She has written various forms of romantic and paranormal romantic thrillers, even romantic horror, bringing a different mix of thrills and chills to her stories. SKIN is her first original indie thriller.




                                                

10 comments:

  1. I always dated exciting (uh maybe dangerous too) types of guys, so on a personal level I love this scene. I would be hooked and want to know more about him. Attracted to the alpha that just walks away. And I would know that he's obviously not the typical patron in a club like that either, but your heroine might not. For me, there's very few things that would be going too far. He reads like a hero to me :). Can't wait to read Skin!

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  2. Whitney -- hope you like it. It's a fun read, and I must say the most exhilarating book I've written in a long time, probably because I wrote fast and by instinct. Though the story had been brewing for years. :)

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  3. He does come across a bit creepy, but I am intrigued. He could be hero material if I found out more about him.

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  4. I already like Michael after this. There is something about him speaking his mind and not playing games I guess (or so it seems). I love to read about the bad boys and I always fall for them over the nice guys. I bet Michael is definitely hero material. You need to be assertive like him to be hero material I think. You need an edge. I will put this book on my TBR list!

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  5. Wow. I really want to read this book now. The scene made the little hairs on my neck tickle. I wouldn't be creeped out. But I like edgy heros.

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  6. This scene was very intriguing. I don't object to a hero being in doubt, whether concerning his guilt or his intentions, as long as it plays out that the heroine was right with her instincts. I have recently become obsessed with the romantic suspense genre and I find that he edgier the hero, the greater the attraction. I've always played it safe (really safe) in my life and I find I am drawn to edgy suspense with hot, almost bad guy kind of heroes.

    I would like to add this book to my wishlist. Is it available at Barnes and Noble or somewhere else? Tried to find it on the B&N website with no luck.

    Heather E
    hregtvedt@aol.com

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  7. Okay, I just realized why I don't read excerpts, and it's not the reason I thought. It's because I immediately have to add the book to my "buy this" list! LOL

    I liked Michael right off the bat from this scene. He made me smile, and he seemed like something the heroine needed, even if she didn't think so. But then I read the rest of your description and I'm more than hooked!

    I definitely like the suspect hero. It adds a deeper layer of conflict and therefore several different kinds of tension.

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  8. Hi, all, sorry I was gone half the day. Glad you find Michael intriguing. That was the idea. I love playing with heroes to make them unexpected. And I know a lot of readers like reading them. Heather, I think you have a great point -- I think a lot of women who like safe in real life enjoy reading about women being attracted to edgy men. :) And Natalie, if you've added SKIN to your to buy list, then you've made me smile.

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  9. Heather --

    I must realized you asked if SKIN was available at BN -- not yet. It's part of the Amazon KDP program until June. It will be available at BN and at other digital outlets by mid-June.

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  10. This was a great excerpt. I will definitely be purchasing when it's available on B&N. And I do agree, wondering if the hero had something to do with the crime makes for a great read. Heightens the suspense, and that's always a great thing.

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