I Often Give Myself Very Good Advice…
One of the most challenging aspects of writing romantic suspense is that you basically have to split yourself into pieces to get it done. If you’ve read Alice in Wonderland lately, you probably have a good idea of how romance writers operate – we spend a lot of time arguing with the creative side of our personality, which is approximately one part reckless adventurer, one part sex-crazed nympho, one part dark and scary gremlin, and one part petulant teenager. Together, all these parts operate the fingers to get the words on the page, but most of the time, it’s like herding cats.
First and foremost, there’s the romance, which is the heart and soul, and in a lot of ways, the easy part of the story, for me at least. Giving characters serious, toe-curling chemistry and then dumping them in a messy, impossible situation is the best part of the process. I don’t know about other writers, but I take great glee in making things as obnoxious for my hero and heroine as possible – after all, you don’t want to make it too easy for them, do you? It’s more satisfying if they have to work for it!
The second part of the process is the suspense, and this is where the serious challenge comes in, because you’re trying to accomplish a bunch of different things at once. You want the audience to wonder what’s coming next, you want them to worry about the characters, and you want to avoid anyone figuring out the puzzle before you’re ready. So, you have to write the conflict with all of its intricate little pieces, and then you have to go back and hide all of those pieces to keep your characters in the dark. Then you have to rewrite the story backwards, or so it seems – do all the pieces fit? Does it all make sense, or does the villain just reveal himself/herself out of nowhere without enough evidence?
And then you still have to wind the romance story thread back into the suspense and make the two threads complement each other and work together to tell one complete story.
It’s exhausting. And exhilarating.
The best emails I get are from readers going, “OMG, I never would have guessed he was the villain! So scary!” Those are the emails that make me hop up and down with delight, but I’d be lying if I said that the whole process isn’t a hair-pulling, nail-biting, coffee-swilling nightmare of a writing exercise that takes loads of outlining, structure, shredding of notes and ideas and sanity, and something no sane writer should undertake. Ever. Which is why, of course, I have two sequels planned for the Bright’s Ferry series – SAFE FROM THE FIRE, for February, and SAFE FROM THE STORM, for next summer. LOL.
Because, when it comes down to it, the cheerful, loving, playful, flirty persona is really only happiest when the crazed, deranged, “let’s write a serial killer storyline” persona has dragged the characters through the muck to make sure that they really deserve their happily ever after.
Isn’t writing fun?
Nursing a broken heart and a couple of bullet wounds, no-nonsense Evie Asher leaves her career with the NYPD to move into her grandmother’s old house in a small New England town in the middle of nowhere. She wants nothing more than a new start and a chance to forget the mistakes of the past and get her life back on track, minus the shootouts. Her plans are shattered when her new neighbor, the town’s hunky young mayor, starts receiving death threats from a dangerous stalker. Evie is unwillingly drawn back into a world of peril, and while her bruised heart tries to resist the out-of-control sparks that zing between them, she is forced to stay close to keep him safe as the stalking quickly turns to murder…
Colin Daniels has his hands full running Bright’s Ferry as their popular and busy young mayor. He doesn’t have time for stalkers or threats, much less a lovely gray-eyed cop with control issues who insists that the stalker is a member of the community, someone he knows and loves. When the situation takes a deadly turn, Colin finds that he has no choice but to give up some control himself and rely on Evie to protect him until they can unmask the killer. Passion sizzles between two stubborn hearts as they clash over the best way to handle a dangerous situation, but can they keep each other safe as the dark closes in?
SHIVERING AND COMPLETELY DRENCHED, Evie dropped her backpack on the Daniels’ porch. It was a beautiful hundred-year-old farmhouse that was obviously in the process of being restored – scaffolding protected a new wing off the side of the two-story structure. Evie spared only a quick glance around – her teeth were starting to chatter.
Fingers tight with cold, Evie raised a hand to knock.
Come on, come on.
Someone had to be home, judging from the sporty little SUV in the driveway sitting behind a more utilitarian truck. The lights within blazed with beckoning warmth and the smoky scent of a fireplace teased Evie with promises of heat and comfort.
She knocked harder, kicking the door for good measure, stumbling back as it jerked open.
“What the hell, Tom? Can’t a guy take one Sunday afternoon – ”
He broke off abruptly, hazel eyes widening.
Evie tried to form words, but her brain inconveniently chose that moment to shut down, obviously overloaded by impending hypothermia and the sight of six plus feet of bare, tanned muscle standing in the doorway, clutching a blanket around his waist with lean, elegant hands. His skin had a light sheen of sweat and his dark hair was ruffled over those bright hazel eyes.
Even the inner cop whimpered and she gave it a mental shove.
Pull it together, Asher.
“I’m so sorry to bother you, but I was looking for Mr. or Mrs. Daniels – ”
His brows snapped together with a frown.
“They’re dead. Over a year now. Car accident.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I was headed to the old Asher cabin down the road and my car got stuck.”
“You were trying to get out there in this?”
Incredulous, he gestured and the blanket slipped just a bit, exposing another inch of taut waist and a narrow pelt of dark hair under his navel that arrowed downward in a most interesting manner.
Evie swallowed and kept her eyes on his.
“I just need a phone to call the garage, if that’s okay.”
“Colin?” The breathy voice drifting down the stairs had Evie’s face heating in a blush, despite her shivers, as her brain stuttered back into working order.
Two cars in the driveway, panting sex god in the doorway. Way to go, Asher. You just cock-blocked your new neighbor.