By: Kendra Elliot
Congratulations to "Janet B", the winner of Kendra's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!
Today’s lesson is on killers. A topic every romantic suspense writer must know inside and out to create that non-stop tension in their books. I have shelves full of books on killers and the workings of their twisted brains. Here’s a basic breakdown and their definitions from former FBI profiler, John Douglas.
1. Serial Killer: Has murdered on at least three occasions. Each event is emotionally distinct and separate. Hunts human beings for the sexual thrill it can give him. Will do it over and over again, believing he can outmaneuver police, never expecting to be caught. Often innocuous to his friends and family. Examples: BTK Killer Dennis Rader, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy.
2. Spree Killer: kills a number of victims at different locations in a short period of hours or days. Has no emotional cooling off period between homicides. Examples: Ted Bundy degenerated into a spree killer near the end. He started off slow and methodical, and then grew sloppy and intense leading to his capture. Charles Raymond Stalkweather who inspired films like Badlands (1973) and Natural Born Killers (1994).
3. Mass Killer: commits himself to a course of action and does not expect to come out alive. Killings are all part of the same emotional experience. Friends and family often comment that something was “off” about the person. Examples: Sandy Hook Murderer Adam Lanza, University of Texas killer Charles Joseph Whitman.
Sexy, right? Now as a romantic suspense writer, my job is to pick one of the types and mix it into a romance novel. The concept is pure craziness, but lots of authors do it and readers love these stories. Blending a killer into my story creates a life and death situation that needs a hero and a kick-ass heroine. Serial killers are prevalent in romantic suspense, because they create an imminent threat that ratchets up the tension. A storyline with a killer produces strong characters who face deadly situations that call for smarts and inner strength to reach their happily-ever-after.
That’s my challenge. To create characters that my readers want to root for. To write suspense that will make the reader turn the pages, wanting to see my heroine face her darkest fears and defeat the bad guy and end up with the honorable hero.
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Kendra Elliot grew up in the lush Pacific Northwest and still lives there with her husband, three daughters, two cats, and a Pomeranian. She left the dental world after sixteen years to write full time in 2012. Her first two books, HIDDEN and CHILLED, spent months on Kindle's top 100 paid best seller list. HIDDEN was on Kindle's 2012 overall top 100 bestseller list.