I want to start by thanking Delilah for letting me come hang out here with you all today. She’s always very gracious about sharing her space, and that’s something I admire.
So, setting the mood… For a party, for a date, for a story, for romance. It’s a pretty important thing for all kinds of reasons—you don’t want the fun, happy party you’ve planned for your toddler to dissolve into the shrieks of a dozen kids when the clown you hired is too scary, right?—but in a romance novel, setting the mood can mean different things.
What sort of mood would you expect for a sweet romance? Light, not too complicated, still romantic, but nothing extreme, right?
What about romantic suspense? Generally, I would think darker, lots of tension in all situations, romantic and otherwise. Though I will say I like some lighter moments even in those sorts of stories, too. Too much non-stop tension isn’t good for reader or characters, is it?
Paranormal? One of the reasons I like those so much is they can be any mood, any tone, depending on the story. Like them dark? Plenty of choices. Lighter? Lots of those, too.
One of my favorite authors for setting the mood is not even a romance writer, but Stephen King does it so well, drawing a reader into his characters’ stories and making them feel every bit of fear they’re feeling, setting the mood so when the character is sure the monster is about to jump out at them, you feel it, too, then feel the rush of relief when it turns out not to be the monster (yet!) but just a dog or someone innocuous. I think Gerald’s Game is fantastic for that—when that book came out, my mother-in-law started reading it, but didn’t get very far, because she was too afraid, so she handed it off to me without even finishing the book. It scared me, too, and I loved every page of it.
But romance writers do it every bit as well, setting the mood for their stories, the right tone to pull readers in to meet the characters and want to know more, to have to know more. Plus we get to set the mood for other things, like falling in love, like a heroine having her heart broken to bits when it seems the romance really can’t work out. If we’re doing it right, we’re right there with them when we’re writing, the way we hope readers will be when they get their hands on our stories—appalled when one of the characters does something awkward or stupid, perhaps changing our minds about a character we were afraid couldn’t be redeemed, and most especially feeling the emotion when our characters are falling in love.
We know it isn’t supposed to be easy for them. In fact, we try very hard to make it as difficult as we can for them to get to that happy ending. But we want them to get there, so we give them the opportunity to have little moments that help them not give up, to make them want to keep fighting whatever foe they have so they can live happily ever after. Sometimes getting the mood right is easy, but sometimes it’s really hard, and the characters don’t want to cooperate—“What? You want me to fight with John? Well, I don’t want to fight. I want to step back and get some ice cream.”
For me, a good soundtrack helps with getting the mood right, but not always. Right now, I’m trying to figure out the songs that will work best to put me in the right frame of mind for the story. Plenty of good songs for a fight, so many romantic songs to sway the mind into the proper mood.
I’d like to know how you get into the right mood for your ‘story’, whether it’s household chores, or a date with your S.O. Is it music? It is a scent? Is it a piece of clothing? What can you count on to change your mood when you need to? I have a paperback copy of Hunting Medusa to give away, so everyone who comments will get their name entered into a drawing via RandomResult.com My thanks again to Delilah for letting me come and play here again.
About the Author
Elizabeth Andrews has been a book lover since she was old enough to read. She read her copies of Little Women and the Little House series so many times, the books fell apart. As an adult, her book habit continues. She has a room overflowing with her literary collection right now, and still more spreading into other rooms. Almost as long as she’s been reading great stories, she’s been attempting to write her own. Thanks to a fifth grade teacher who started the class on creative writing, Elizabeth went from writing creative sentences to short stories and eventually full-length novels. Her father saved her poor, callused fingers from permanent damage when he brought home a used typewriter for her.
Elizabeth found her mother’s stash of romance novels as a teenager, and-though she loves horror- romance became her very favorite genre, making writing romances a natural progression. There are more than just a few manuscripts, however, tucked away in a filing cabinet that will never see the light of day.
Along with her enormous book stash, Elizabeth lives with her husband of more than twenty years. When she’s not at work or buried in books or writing, there is a garden outside full of herbs, flowers and vegetables that requires occasional attention.
The Medusa Trilogy, Book 1
When Kallan Tassos tracks down the current Medusa, he expects to find a monster. Instead he finds a wary, beautiful woman, shielded by a complicated web of spells that foils his plans for a quick kill and retrieval of her protective amulet.
Andrea Rosakis expects the handsome Harvester to go for the kill. Instead, his attempt to take the amulet imprinted on her skin without harming her takes her completely by surprise. And ends with the two of them in a magical bind—together. But Kallan isn’t the only Harvester on Andi’s trail…
Andi couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. She’d worked into the night after the vacuum salesman’s appearance, until she couldn’t see straight to continue with her beading. Then she’d sunk into the bubble bath long enough to be nearly asleep. Today, she’d repeated everything but the bubble bath. Plus she’d driven into town to ship the big order she’d finished early.
Now she sat in the dark beside the front window, watching the forest. Waiting. Trying to convince herself nothing was coming. No one.
When the phone rang, she jumped about two feet in the air, barely keeping in a shriek. She shut her eyes and took a deep breath, forcing herself to laugh weakly as she picked up the receiver. “Hello, Aunt Lydia.” She didn’t need caller I.D. to know when one of her cousins or aunts was on the phone.
“I didn’t mean to startle you, my dear,” came the quavering voice. “I just wanted to touch base with you. It’s been ages since I’ve seen you.”
Her slightly psychic great-aunt must have spoken to Andi’s mother. “I know. I’ve been busy working.” She thought of the small stack of boxed beaded bracelets sitting on her desk upstairs for another customer whose order wasn’t even due for a month and a half.
“You’re aware you could do that here, too, right?”
Andi smiled in the darkness. “I know. I’m not feeling much like company right now.”
“You don’t have to visit your parents, you know.”
Her laugh escaped before she could stop it. “That isn’t very nice of you, Aunt Lydia.”
“Maybe I’m getting selfish in my old age.” Her great-aunt chuckled. “But I’d like to see you.”
“Maybe in a few months.”
The older woman sighed. “All right. But I wanted you to know I was thinking of you. I love you.”
Andi felt her eyes sting a little. “I love you too.”
“Your mother knows she wasn’t there for you eight years ago, Andrea. Perhaps it’s time to let her be there for you now.”
Andi’s eyes dried. “I need to go, Aunt Lydia.”
“Of course, dear. I hope you’ll come soon.”
She looked back at the window and murmured, “Maybe. I’ve got to go, Aunt Lydia.”
Something had moved outside.
Something too tall to be one of the does that frequented the clearing each evening, though not tall enough for the bull moose who came occasionally. Just the right size for a sneaky Harvester posing as a vacuum salesman.
She thumbed off the phone and sat up straighter, her other hand coming to rest on the dagger across her knees. For a long moment, she didn’t see anything. Then a dark shape slid between the trees, a few yards nearer to the house.
Her heart hammered against her ribs and she curled her fingers around the dagger hilt. That was no animal. At least not of the wild variety. No, this was a two-legged animal, and she had the terrible feeling this one really was a Harvester, no matter what her mother had said yesterday.
Let him try, she thought, setting the phone back on its base. He’d find this Medusa wasn’t going down quietly.