Romantic suspense is one of our most popular sub-genres, and, anecdotally, the request I get most often from readers. However, I was getting what I call Suspense Fatigue – it seemed the only thing that I could find were serial killers, and in order to make them fresh, they had to get gruesome. And then more gruesome. And then nightmare inducing. I was over murder, and I thought I was over suspense.
Turns out, I just needed an escape (heh. See what I did there?)
Escape currently has two romantic suspense titles published, and one that is coming soon. None of these titles have murder as the main crime. Instead they explore different areas of intrigue. I’ve invited the authors to introduce themselves, their stories, and tell you why murder is not the only mayhem that you can put a character through!
Caitlyn Nicholas, author of The Danger Game:
I write about geeky-girls. The smart ones, who are one step ahead of everyone else. Give them an algorithm to write and they’re on it, a cyber-war to stop, no problems, a hot guy helping them out of trouble… er…Okay, so the hot guy slows them down a bit! If only there was some kind of formula they could apply.
Crime in the cyber world fascinates me. Reliance on the internet and computers is part of our modern lives, but it makes us vulnerable in many scary ways – and that’s why I like to write about it.
I also have a source of inside information… My husband. Geek-extraordinaire.
He works every day to keep essential computer systems up and running. From defence to banking to airlines. My stories are based on thorough research and occasionally real world situations in which he has been involved. Or course all ably embellished by me. But there is always a kernel of truth (or conspiracy theory) in there somewhere.
I wrote The Danger Game over Christmas 2011. The idea sparked when I read an article about cyber-war, and it inspired a plot about an unstoppable cyber-weapon. By early February I had the first draft done. It was also the first story I’d based in my home city of Sydney, and it was a real pleasure to write about the city I love. The Danger Game was one of those sweet stories that just come together nicely. I wish all my stories were as easy to write!
Lee Christine, author of In Safe Hands:
I dig romantic suspense (no pun intended). My love affair with crime began in primary school, while reading The Famous Five, Nancy Drew, Donna Parker and Trixie Belden. I moved onto Agatha Christie, Mills and Boon and Kathleen Woodiwiss in my teens, quite an eclectic mix I’ll admit, and a real deviation from the prescribed texts.
I joined a soft rock band at sixteen, and played semi-professionally around the club and pub circuit in my home town of Newcastle, New South Wales. This is where my love of writing began. Most authors remember writing or telling stories from a young age. I remember penning song lyrics.
Throughout my life, the urge to write has stayed with me. I loved reading Lee Child, Michael Connolly, Michael Robotham and Patricia Cornwell, but I hung out for the development of the relationship between the characters, and often there wasn’t enough romance to keep me satisfied. And there were murders upon murders, and the more graphic and twisted the better it seemed. I reverted to reading Harlequin romantic suspense novels, and, while fantastic, nearly all were set in America.
To me, Sydney has always been a modern, exciting and sophisticated city, and I wanted to write about our military, our police, and our legal system. I decided to write romantic suspense, set in modern Australia, and I wanted to write about crimes other than murder and serial killers, crimes such as blackmail, extortion, money laundering, intellectual property theft, stalking and identity theft, to name a few. I come from a legal background, which I hope gives my writing a ring of authenticity.
My romantic suspense novel “In Safe Hands” is set in Sydney. Allegra Greenwood, a criminal lawyer on a fast track to a partnership, is blackmailed by naked photographs taken in her university days. She enlists former SAS Commander, Luke Neilson, to help her, afraid if the photographs appear on the Internet her career will be over. Luke also happens to be Allegra’s brother’s commanding officer in Afghanistan, and the man ultimately responsible for his death, which makes for some intense friction between the hero and heroine.
My first love of stories came from fairy tales. As a wee li’l nipper, I used to love hearing the stories of princesses (damsels in distress) being saved by their princes (knights in shining armour!). There was always some element of suspense – would the wicked witch/stepmother/troll/goblin/imp etc win, or would the hero and heroine triumph? When I was old enough to read a book by myself, my first reading crushes were The Secret Seven and The Famous Five, followed by the Trixie Belden series (my first hero was a redhead, thanks Jim Winthrop, sigh!). As I got older, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Three Investigators solidified my fascination with the suspense genre.
I guess that’s why I so enjoy reading the romantic suspense genre – mystery, danger, desire – all the hallmarks of a gripping story, and because I like reading it, writing it seems to come naturally. There is something relaxing, maybe even comforting, about venting onto a page. It’s a way to explore my violent tendencies – without the threat of a prison sentence! I can’t help it – I like to put my characters through the ringer. When I start a story, it’s usually spawned from a scene that just pops into my head out of nowhere. I get curious about the characters in the scene, I’ll create a whole backstory for that character – and then I just like to screw with them.
What’s their worst fear? What would really push them out of their comfort zone? What would either break them, or make them stronger? It’s perverse, I know, but it’s sooooo much fun, too! That usually drives my stories.
Recently, I’ve revisited my first love, the fairy tale. These stories, with a moralistic core, heroes, heroines and dastardly villains, seem to inspire a new blend of romantic suspense for me, and I’m very much enjoying it when special characters shanghai my story, and make it their own. I hope you enjoy it, too!