Monday, October 28, 2013

I don’t write mysteries. I don’t write who-done-its. I don’t write thrillers.


Congratulations to "Taurus" and "Kimberly P", the winners in Suzanne's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated.

I don’t write mysteries. I don’t write who-done-its. I don’t write thrillers. 

What I do write is romantic suspense. Fifty percent romance, fifty percent suspense, all woven together. I came to this decision when I realized I really hate plotting out clues and red herrings. The suspense in my books don’t come from not knowing who the nemesis is. Nope, it comes from putting my characters in situations that leaves you wondering, 1) how are they going to solve the problem and 2) are they both going to survive the situation so they can have their Happy Ever After?


Two things influenced me when I started writing my own books. My love for romance stories and my love of action/adventure books by Robert Ludlum. Mr. Ludlum had such a way of weaving together stories with one, two or three subplots, and turning up the intensity by using shorter paragraphs and quickly changing POV’s as his protagonist got nearer to the danger swirling around him. While in romance you have two characters who do a rather intricate dance, sort of like a tango, until they realize they’ve discovered their soul mate. These two genres meshed with me and I soon found myself using them.

As I worked my way through discovering my voice and “my process” I discovered there was always a dead body somewhere in my books. Even in CLOSE TO HOME, when my heroine and hero are searching for a witness to help in her child custody case, they discover not the witness’ body, but that the man had been disposed of, quite possibly wearing cement shoes in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. In CANTRELL’S BRIDE, the book starts out when my heroine witnesses a prominent senator being garroted. To escape the murderer, she becomes a mail-order bride. In KIDNAPPED, the plot revolves around protecting a little boy who witnessed a murder by the head of a Russian mafia cell. See? Dead bodies everywhere.

Often times I’ll tell you who the bad guys are. Well, maybe not the truly bad guy, but at least some of his henchmen. In HUNTED, you know from the beginning who the bad guy is, a really creepy cult leader. Here’s the opening to that book:

A cold chill settled in her bones. Fine tremors caused her hands and knees to shake. She dug her fingers into the nylon serge of her borrowed suit.

Once again the judge focused his attention on the silent man before him. “Mr. Strict, do you have anything you wish to say before this court, Sir?”

Tense silence filled the assemblage. Women gripped their husbands’ arms tight. Some spectators waited to hear their prophet speak his last free words. Reporters’ pens paused.
For her, time slowed to an eon. She sucked in air, every muscle in her body tensed for flight. Words can’t hurt me, words can’t hurt me. She silently repeated the mantra she’d practiced for years in her head. She just wished her body believed them as much as her mind wanted it to.
The Marshals moved a fraction of an inch closer, reminding her they were there to protect her. Slowly, she exhaled, sat straighter and lifted her head.

Jacob Strict, the Grand Prophet of the People’s Militia Movement, inhaled deeply. Only five feet eight inches tall, he appeared to double his height with the breath he took—a trick she’d watched him practice in front of the mirror for years. Slowly, he scanned the faces on the jury, his throng of supporters, and then the faces of his victims’ families.

Finally, his gaze locked on hers. His eyes narrowed. He’d lived by one simple code for as long as they’d known each other. An eye for an eye—total retribution, no matter how large or how small the infringement.

She returned his stare without flinching. She’d be damned if she’d let him see her fear. From the moment she’d walked into the police station, half-starved and nearly frozen to death, she’d known her testimony would seal her own death sentence.

After a moment that seemed like an eternity, he spoke. “The chains of this illegal government cannot hold me. Soon I will be free. Then nowhere on this earth will provide safe haven for the traitor among us.”

What you don’t know is, who blew her cover in the Witness Protection program and who the hit-man is that creepy-cult-leader sent after her. In CLOSE TO THE EDGE you get more of a mystery, but long before the end of the book you find out who the crazed killer is, but the suspense doesn’t end there. Nope, not with the hero in mortal jeopardy!

One of my favorite movies is SPEED. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock’s characters manage to fall in love while trying to stay alive in a near impossible situation. Despite the sequel that I thought sucked, I like to believe that the first two characters managed to find their Happy Ever After. So, how do you weave the romance into this kind of book? It’s not like you have a whole year to weave the attraction, longing, lust and sex into the story. In SEIZED the whole book takes place in a night, well except for the first chapter, which is like a long prologue. The key for me is to make the characters sympathetic to the reader. The hero very alpha and willing to go into protection mode. The heroine has her own strengths, but is willing to trust the hero.

So, do you like thrillers? Who-done-its? Do you like mysteries? Or are you like me, want to see the romance heavily mixed in among explosions, chase scenes and dead bodies?

Giveaway:
I’m giving away a signed, printed copy of HUNTED to one reader each day of this post.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Oct. 28th. 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.

49 comments:

  1. When there is not a romance with the mystery or the suspense I feel like the ending is flat and kind of depressing.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maureen,

      You are so right, the books do feel flat. Maybe it's because a romantic element or romance itself raises the stakes for the characters?

      Delete
  2. I love these kind of books the ones you cant put down until you find out who did it and when there is romance in the mix it just makes it better.I also love it when i get on here and find new authors thank you all for putting your books up here.Debra Stolhand ( cher123@cableone.net)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Debra! Glad to have a new reader. The Edgars Family novels are my more suspenseful books, The Westen series is a little more hometown, but they're suspenseful, too. Hope you enjoy them!

      Delete
  3. The way you write romance interwoven with suspense is riveting! You are a new author to me (I've only read one book so far) and I am so glad to have found you! Absolutely cannot wait to read more of your books.

    Thank you for sharing your storytelling gift with us!! Blessings to you!!

    Kimberly Perry
    k_kperry@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Kimberly!
      Wow! Thanks. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Which book did you start with? I'm currently working on VANISHED, the fourth book in The Edgars Family Novels. I hope it lives up to the others.

      Delete
  4. I love reading mysteries but they absolutely have to have romance in them or I just feel like something is missing in the story. I haven't read your books yet but will be soon. joanneboykoATyahooDOTca

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Jo-Anne, thanks for stopping by. One of the things I loved about Ludlum and Steve Berry's books is that there is a bit of a romantic thread or interest in the books. Tends to give a third dimension to the characters and the story.

      Hope you enjoy the books.

      Delete
  5. I love reading mysteries but they absolutely have to have romance in them or I just feel like something is missing in the story. I haven't read your books yet but will be soon. joanneboykoATyahooDOTca

    ReplyDelete
  6. And riveting Suspense it is, too. Exciting and well written!

    But I disagree with you a little bit. I enjoy your blend of romance with suspense but I think they do border on romantic thrillers. Especially HUNTED, don't you think? That heart pounding tension of not knowing if she'll survive. Definitely suspense but almost a thriller.

    Whatever you want to label it I really enjoy the emotion you convey in your books and the strong writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Kat!

      I see your point. They do have that ticking clock element that lends them toward thillers, more than who-done-its. And wow, HUNTED was that book that just seemed to twist and turn so much, not to mention the emotions it pulled out of me as I wrote it! Still not sure where some of that came from!

      Delete
  7. I love my romances and I enjoy them with that bit of danger! Give me the mystery and suspense... keep me guessing and keep me glued to see what happens next! :)
    Thanks for sharing with us today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Colleen! I'm very happy to be here today. While I do love traditional romances, especially comedic ones like SEP and my friend Susan Sey write, I, too, really love it when there is that element of danger to force the characters to react!

      Delete
  8. I don't have to have romance thrown in but it is my favorite! I read a bunch of different genres but its just not the same when there is no romantic HEA. I love your books! The first I read was Close to Home and it hooked me! Im looking forward to reading Seized!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Karen! So glad you like Close To Home. We return to the town of Westen in Close To The Edge, with way more suspense in that one! And I'm doing some pre-writing on the third book in that series while I finish VANISHED.

      SEIZED...that book was a hard concept to come up with. The hero and heroine are already married...You'll have to let me know if it worked for you. My e-mail is suzanne@suzanneferrell.com

      Delete
  9. Great excerpt, Suzanne! I write romantic thrillers too, mainly because whatever the suspense, mystery or thriller portion of the book, the tension seems very much heightened when there's a lot to risk emotionally. That's why I add the romance to my thriller-suspense stories. When a person has much to lose, the stakes rise exponentially. I want my readers to feel that fear just like the characters do, both emotionally and physcially.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jo, don't you feel there's an added sense of urgency and possibly desperation when it's a love you're trying to save? I'm at a point in VANISHED when I have to decide whether or not to kill of a secondary character...

      Delete
  10. Suz, lovely to see you here and congratulations on all your wonderful romantic suspense stories. It's a genre I love, having got hooked on it back int he 90s with the marvellous Linda Howard books like Son of the Morning and Now You See Her. Although I think it probably extends back even further to Mary Stewart who definitely wrote what I'd call romantic suspense - and provided a wonderful travelogue at the same time. I credit a lot of my love for travel to her beautiful stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Anna! Always lovely to see you. Isn't Linda Howard great at romantic suspense? I love all her books, but I also love it when she adds humor. One of my favorite books of all time is her Mr. Perfect!

      Delete
  11. My favorite books are the ones that have 50/50 romance/ suspense,thriller,whodunnit. If a book leans heavily to one side I find myself bored or rewriting the book un my head. Thanks for introducing yourself and your books.
    A fellow Speed movie lover
    Julie O
    jo1963jo at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Julie O! Love another Speed movie lover... Don't you think they could've done so much with those two in a book?

      Delete
    2. I think a lot of good books do use those two... just with different names and predicaments. The gritty, tough yet vulnerable heroine and strong, smart, good guy cop are a universal recipe for hot goodness. :)
      Julie O

      Delete
    3. Just so you know... these blogs work. I just bought Seized. Reading another book right now... but, Seized is my next TBR. You had me at the Speed reference. :)
      Julie O

      Delete
    4. Yep, Julie, those are my favorite couples in most books, but especially Romantic Suspense!

      Delete
  12. Hey Suz! *waves from the lair*

    Great to see you here on Just Romantic Suspense! I have to agree with one of the other comments. The ticking clock in your books does lend them a thriller-esque element. But I also think you're right, because you don't let that part overpower the romance. Honestly I think when the books are romance, it's really hard to define "thriller" vs "suspense" because there are elements of both in the other. It's a little easier to define when it's straight thriller or straight suspense, but even then, I think the elements don't stand alone. Love the way you blend yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Cassondra!! Waving madly back at the Bandit Lair.

      Blushing here. So glad you've liked the books. I want them to read how I like them to read... good romance, the ticking clock, danger enough to keep the pages turning, but two people learning to trust, depend on and love each other.

      Delete
  13. Suz, I love mysteries, thrillers, and who-done-its. But I also love romantic suspense, and I think you do a great job of blending tense action, a tight timetable, and romance. Definitely, you write romantic suspense!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Nancy! Another Romance Bandit heard from! Thanks for the kind words. I did learn something from writing SEIZED...when you literally have a ticking bomb, you'd better write tight!

      Delete
  14. like a little of everything

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, BN100, I bet you're an eclectic reader like me. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  15. While I read across genres, romantic suspense is my favorite and those books go to the front of my reading list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, CJ! Thanks for putting my books at the top of your list. I do hope you enjoy them!

      Delete
  16. Hey Suz! I love your books! And I love them all - suspense, thriller, romantic suspense, mystery....I even love writing all of those genres, especially creating and laying out the red herrings. (Difficult to paint them red, you know, but worth the effort....SNORK!) Grins. And your villains are SOOOO creepy! Even when you know the villain in your book, you still manage to keep us guessing about the immediate dilemmas. Love your work, can't wait for what's next!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Jeanne! Another Romance Bandita heard from! LOL on the painting the red herrings...I had trouble finding the little brushes, must be why I don't like doing that! But I do love reading them.

      Creepy villians, huh? Wait til you meet the ones in VANISHED...they give me the willies!

      Delete
  17. Hi Suz! You're a new author for me. :) I like that you write half romance/half suspense. A perfect balance of two wonderful genres. I enjoyed reading this post!

    brookeb811 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Brooke! Nice to meet you, too! It's that balance that makes us cheer harder for both the hero and heroine, isn't it?

      Delete
  18. I find it interesting knowing who the villain is up front. Congratulations on you new book! Please enter me in your draw.
    Jan

    janet_kerr@msn.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Janet! Sometimes I like to see what's going on from the villian's perspective, and I want to say to the characters..."no, don't go there, he's right there", only they don't know that because they're not in his/her head like I am!

      Thanks for stopping by and I believe everyone is in the draw for the books. Good luck!

      Delete
  19. I love all of the above, but when you add romance to the mix it's something rather special.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Mary! Thanks for stopping by and I agree, romance does make them something special.

      Delete
  20. I love them all!

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Taurus! Thanks for stopping by and for loving all the suspense books!

      Delete
  21. I love romantic suspense! I want all the books I read to have romance in them. Your books sound really good. I will be putting them on the wish list. Thanks for the chance.

    mlawson17 at Hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Martha! You're a reader after my own heart, I want all my books to have romance in them, too. Thanks for adding my books to your wish list! Good Luck!

      Delete
  22. I love how your books mix romance with suspense! I'm on the edge of my seats for both the 'will they survive and catch the person' and 'will their love survive.'
    Allie Burton

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  23. Thanks, Allie! Your YA Atlantis series has that kind of romance and thrill ride in spades!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I like a little of everything depending on my mood, but I prefer they have some romantic aspect to them. Of course, your books are totally awesome and I've loved them all!!

    ReplyDelete