Friday, November 16, 2012

Mal Olson's Take On Suspense in Romance




Congratulations to "Amy R.", the winner of Mal's giveaway. Thank you to all who participate.

Romantic suspense: Technically, according to top authorities, for a novel to be truly a Romantic Suspense, the blend of the two genres must be equal. Not to say an author can't write a suspense with elements of romance or that a romance can't have a touch of suspense.

Since Romantic Suspense is where it's at for me, there's good news and there's bad news. Besides juggling the already numerous balls a writer must juggle—plot, setting, narrative, dialogue, goal-motivation-conflict, action-reaction, scene-sequel, voice, character arc, story arc, the list goes on—the  romantic suspense author must add to the act the weaving of two story threads: romance plot and suspense plot. Nora Roberts in her article "Crafting Romantic Suspense" published on www.thewritingcorner.com says this weaving must be done perfectly, the two plot lines must be dependent on each other, and the construction must be meticulous. Whew! That's a pretty tall order. Not too much romance, not too much suspense, but as in Goldilocks, the brew must be just right.

On the plus side, the instant tension created when an author drops the hero and heroine into a pot of boiling water, allows for a great hook. What better way to pump up a reader's adrenaline than by giving them the promise of romance blossoming on the edge of danger. The other good news is, writers who are passionate about romantic suspense are ravenous readers of the genre. A lot of the "dos and don'ts" become ingrained subconsciously. Instinct helps the writer get it right. In my case, I'm not obsessing over measuring exactly the balance between romance and suspense. It all works out, almost naturally, since I've been steeped for years in the works of Linda Howard, Suzanne Brockmann, Tara Janzen, Cindy Gerard, Elizabeth Lowell, Ann Stuart, Brenda Novak, and many other excellent RS authors like the ones in the archives of Just Romantic Suspense. :)

When an author writes what she loves to read, she's well on the road to writing what others may love to read. It's simple, right? As long as the writer keeps juggling those balls—keeps things moving at a lightning fast pace, and by the end of the story the villain has suffered retribution, the hero and heroine have made some kind of commitment, and along the way, the reader has been treated to edge of the heart romance and edge of the seat suspense—voila, the author has succeeded in producing a true Romantic Suspense novel—in three words: Shadow of Deceit, my debut novel. (Mal Olson, author of adrenaline kicked romantic suspense)

The following excerpt from Shadow of Deceit focuses on the romance and the growing sexual tension.  

Minutes later, he reappeared, weaponless—so to speak—the streetlight’s glow illuminating his face, gold beams glistening in his hungry eyes. “It’s all clear.”    
            His powerful hand clasped hers, and he led her inside. When she tried to reach for the light, his fingers tightened. In the darkness, he trailed his thumb across her cheek. 
            The practical side of her brain hammered a warning.
            “Tony, maybe we almost made a mistake.” She’d be crazy to take such a big step, to become intimate with him, simply because her estrogen was running rampant. She had to think this through. Tony was an FBI Agent. He was investigating her dead husband. Maybe he was investigating her. 
            “Maybe this is a little too fast.”
            “I can do slow.” His index finger stroked her upper lip, languorously, delicately, as soft as a butterfly’s wing.
            She swallowed. 
            Earlier, when they’d almost made love, they hadn’t been here, at the house she had shared with Tyler and Casey. 
            “I don’t think I can do this. Here. Maybe you should go back to the hotel.”
            His hand stilled. “I understand. But do you think I’m leaving you here alone?” 
            On a sensual level, she’d be safer alone.
            Alone. She had managed just fine alone since she’d been discharged from the hospital after Tyler and Casey…Tears stung her eyelids. 
            “Sometime you’re going to have to let go, Shannon…of the past and grab on to the here and now…I just want to make you feel good for a little while.” He twirled a strand of her hair around his middle finger and exhaled, his warm breath so close to her ear it turned her shivers to waves of need.
            Her heart pounded. She licked her lips, but she forced herself to push away from him.  She wasn’t thinking straight.   
            “Tony, I’m sorry. Not tonight. I can’t…” Probably never. She looked down and concentrated on her boots. If she risked looking at him, she might crumble.
            He cupped her chin and tipped her face toward his. Kissed her right eyelid. Her left eyelid.
            Maybe never. 
            Trailing the tip of his tongue over her lower lip, he somehow ended up with his arms around her.
            Practically thinking, she knew if she locked him out of her house, he would spend the night in the cold keeping watch from the rental car. And dear God, if she allowed him inside…it was still going to be a long cold night. For both of them. 
            She wiggled out of his arms and slipped away, hurrying down the hallway without looking back. She dare not let him see how much she wanted him. 
            “You’ve got the couch, Crazaniak.”

Amazon:   
B & N:   

Which element of romantic suspense draws you in the most? Hot, sexy law enforcement heroes? A thrilling plot? Touching romance? Scare-you-to-death villain? Stop by and say hello. I love to meet readers. 

Join in on the comments, and one of you will receive a free e-copy of Shadow of Deceit. And, everyone can take a fifteen minute ride into the Danger Zone at Amazon, B &N,  Smashwords, or on my website. It's free!

Air Force pilot Katrice Kennedy is a woman with nerves of steel capable of flying an F22 at supersonic speeds. Ex-Delta Force operative Benjamin Thigpen is a Homeland Security specialist immersed in national safety issues twenty-four-seven. They're strangers when they board a 747 in Washington D.C. But are they destined to become kindred souls when they survive a rock 'n roll landing on an icy Milwaukee runway and chase a could-be terrorist into the Danger Zone?

Look for my next romantic suspense, on track to release early in 2013.

Too Sexy For His Stetson – contemporary set in the west:
Fighting a forbidden attraction to her sexy training officer, a street-smart rookie sheriff investigates a homicide related to her mother's wrongful murder conviction, only to discover her prime suspect is said training officer's best friend and father figure. (I'll do a cover revel the next time I blog here on JRS.)

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Nov. 17th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

37 comments:

  1. I love the romantic tension as the stakes are high and the hero tries to be honorable while protecting their lives. Thanks for some great books.
    grandmabkr at yahoo dot com

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    1. Yes, Brenda, that's what draws me to RS too. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. Mal, I constantly struggle with the balance. I tend to be heavy on the suspense. I love this genre so much I never think about it when reading. Great excerpt. BTW I think you and I are twins separated at birth. We both write and love strong heroines.

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    1. Nice to know I have a twin! I always wanted a sister. :)
      Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. I read a lot of thrillers (romantic or otherwise), so I don't tend to notice if a purported RS title is weighted toward the suspense until I glance at my Kindle's progress bar, see I'm ~80% of the way through, and sexytimes have yet to happen! :) I'm easy when it comes to "RS-- give me a bloke with a gun, a kickass heroine, some dastardly villain that gets his comeuppance, and a HEA and I'm in heaven. What draws me to RS is the presence of a plot that drives the characters' development and their relationship; I read contemporaries as well, but the fact that NOTHING HAPPENS and the focus is solely on the characters leaves & their emotions me itching for some running-for-our-lives after a few novels :)

    stalkers00(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Oooo...you're my kind of reader. Great comment, Chris. :)

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  4. This sounds like a really good book.I will have to get on barnes and noble and look up your books.I love getting on here and finding new authors and new books.Thank you all for keeping us book reader dreaming.Debra Stolhand (cher123@cableone.net)

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    1. So nice of you to stop by and make a comment. I agree, JRS is the greatest!

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  5. I read Shadow of Deceit over the summer. It was very good and I highly recommend this book. I look forward to reading more of Mal Olson's books!

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    1. Oh, wow! It's to wonderful to hear from a "fan" who I don't even know. Thanks so much for your kind words.

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  6. I love romantic suspense... the bit of danger mixed with the connection the two main characters have... seeing the relationship grow through their journey and at the same time dealing with whatever "bad" is out there.
    I do not mind if the balance is off... I just want to see things come together nicely at the end! Thanks for sharing! :)

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    1. Thank you, Colleen, for commenting. I agree, I love reading every combination of romance and suspense no matter what the balance is.

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  7. I read romance for the HEA, but I love RS because of the adrenaline high you go thru to get there. Throw a sexy hero, a strong heroine and suspense filled plot and I am in heaven. Your book sounds perfect.

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    1. Yep, that's the way I feel too. Thanks, Trish, for your comments. Don't forget to attach your email address for a chance to win a copy of Shadow of Deceit.

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  8. Loved your excerpt, Mal. Your book is waiting on my Kindle--and not so patiently, either. LOL Getting that balance right between romance and suspense is sometimes a chore. I love strong heroines, especially when the hero can bring out more strenth in her than she ever imagined she had. Great post.

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    1. So nice to hear from you, Vonnie! Storm in your RS Storm's Interlude was a great example of a strong hero, who because of his over-protectiveness, made the heroine stronger. Can't wait to read Mona Lisa's Room.

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  9. Good post! The more romantic suspense books I read the more I realize it doesn't matter what the hero or heroine do. It is all about the story. I read a RS recently where the hero broke out of jail and kidnapped the heroine (Fever by Joan Swan). Now that was not what I expected. However, she made the story work so well and did an amazing job balancing the romance and suspense. If the story/plot flows well then I enjoy all of it. I do have to have romance though for just about any type of book I read. I can't read just thrillers. I need some romance in there and a HEA. :) Thanks again for your post!

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    1. Glad you liked the post, Amy. Joan Swan is an amazing author who does a great job blending suspense and romance. I'm so with you, that it's the mix of both suspense and romance that draws me to a book.

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  10. Mal, your description of writing romantic suspense is really interesting. Sounds like a tough job! Then again, you pick your poison...

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    1. Ha, ha, Andrea--you're right about the poison! There's not anything easy (for me) about writing, and I'm sure your area of expertise--historical romance--is every bit as challenging as RS. I'm so glad you stopped by for a visit.

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  11. The story is what matters the most to me, regardless of the genre.
    Loved your story Brad And Me and looking forward to checking out more of your books.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad you liked Brad and Me. And it's so nice that you commented. Thanks for stopping by.

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  12. Shadow of Deceit sounds like my kind of book!
    The plot is the best part of any book to me,
    especially when intrigue and love are combined.
    I read so much, but the genre of romantic
    suspense is my favorite!

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    1. I enjoyed your comment, and it's nice to know other's love the combination of love and intrigue as much as I do. Thanks for visiting me here.

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  13. I have been reading romantic suspense and have enjoyed them. I love a little bit of excitement in my life. Shadow of Deceit sounds like a wonderful book to read.

    kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hi, Kai, nice to have your comments about romantic suspense. We all need a little bit of excitement. :) Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. Thanks for the great post and congrats on the upcoming release! Your books sound right up my alley :)

    I'm a sucker for a thrilling plot and a touching romance. I've always felt that the romances were deeper and more heartfelt in romantic suspense.

    efender1(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you, Erin, for commenting and for the congrats. :)
      I agree that the romances become so much deeper when combined with a suspense. So nice to have you stop by.

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  15. It's the mix of elements that I appreciate & love to read. I want the thrills & spills and edge of my seat adventures. Toss with some steamy romance and I'm happy.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Ah, yes, Mary, I guess the same things keep both of us happy when we're curled up with a good book. Thanks for commenting!

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  16. Wow, I think that I like the combination of all of those elements. Romantic suspense is my favorite genre, and now that you have explained the difficulty of writing such books, I will appreciate them even more. Congratulations. annpa@gmail.com

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    1. Thank you, Ann, for commenting. It's nice to see so many readers who love what I love. And I must admit, everything about writing is difficult for me. I always strive to get everything right, so it's lots and lots and lots of revisions before I'm ready to deliver "my babies" to the world. :)

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  17. I like everything you mentioned in my romantic suspense. Your books sound awesome and I can't wait to read them. Thanks for the chance.

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

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    1. You are so welcome, Martha. I'm happy to do the give-away, and so pleased that you stopped by. Doubly pleased that you think my books sound awesome. :) Help yourself to my two free short stories. (On my website, or at Amazon and B &N.)

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