NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Monday, March 13, 2017

ROMANCE:  WHY?  By Kathy Ivan

As a writer, I’ve talked to a lot of people about what they like to read, especially when it comes to the genres I write (contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance).  But it seems when the subject of mystery and suspense comes up, there are two different schools of thought.

There is the reader who absolutely, positively does not want all that romantic fluff in their story.  They are the stick-to-the-facts readers, who want the meat and bones, the action and adventure of the plot without a lot of the secondary storylines which they think clog up the works. Purists who want to see the antagonist and protagonist battling it out until the very end.  They want their mystery and
suspense to be all-encompassing with no deviation for anything outside the scope of the mystery.
On the other hand, you’ve got the reader who loves having a little extra.  They want to see and know what makes the hero, heroine, or villain the person they are.  They want to juicy backstory, including that crazy attraction between the hero and heroine that seems to pop up at the most inopportunite times. 

I fall squarely into the second camp.  I am a romantic at heart.  As a writer, I love writing romantic suspense because it adds so many dimensions and layers to the story.  What could be better than taking a hero who is hot on the trail of a ruthless villain, closing in with each page, and suddenly there’s this character who shows up and steals his attention.  Keeps him off balance, because his thoughts have shifted, and he’s no longer laser-focused on one goal.

Adding in romance can change the entire dynamic of not oly your story, but your characters.  Suddenly, emotions begin creeping in at the most inopportune moments.  Instead of figuring out the villain’s next move, the hero or heroine’s thoughts are divided.  As the feelings grow and intensify, you’ve got the added complication of your lead character being given a vulnerability he or she didn’t have in the beginning—namely their new love interest.  This person can now be used as a bargaining chip by the bad guy. 

I love layering in all the complexities of a romantic relationship between the hero and heroine that you’d find in a romance along with the pulse-pounding excitement of the suspense.  Tensions are ratcheted higher.  There’s danger around every turn, which can lead to some very…interesting…extracurricular activities. 

And, one of the best things about writing and reading romantic suspense?  You get TWO satisfying conclusions.  The mystery/suspense is solved and the bad guy is taken out of commission.  That’s a good thing.  Plus, you get to have that happily ever after when all the dust has settled, and your hero and heroine can finally admit their true feelings for each other, and you get that tingly feeling when you close the pages, knowing everybody ends up happy (well, everybody but the villain). 

So I’ll continue to write my mysteries and suspense and they will always have a romance, because I love the intricacies and twists and turns, but mostly I love the satisfaction I feel when love wins.

Kathy Ivan is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author.  She’s currently writing the New Orleans Connection series of romantic suspense.  The latest book, Fatal Intentions, releases on 3/31/17.  It’s available for pre-order at these vendors: 



7 comments:

Anne Marie Becker said...

Kathy, I love the layering of the two story arcs, too. I just got back from a weekend at a book festival where many of the people who stopped in seemed baffled by the idea of romance and suspense together in one story. They seemed to either want mystery/thriller or romance. I'm happy to say I think I converted many of them. ;) Why not have two great stories in one?

Toni Anderson said...

I'm with you, Kathy. I'm baffled there are people who don't understand RS is a legitimate, established genre.

Daryl Anderson said...

I'm in your camp, Kathy. To me, romance and suspense go together. After all, it's the human connection that makes fiction worth reading, and what is more human than love?

jean harrington said...

Kathy, I do understand your dilemma between mystery-romance in a crime-driven story. I've run into the same problem and tried to solve it, as you have, by keeping in a measure of romance to offset the grimmer aspects of the crime. Bottom line, it works.

jean harrington said...

An addendum: In romantic suspense, the word "romance" comes first. Think of your average bottle of ketchup--the first ingredient is the most important one. A debatable point here, I know, but then, no analogy is perfect. Just wanted to toss this into the mix!

Rita said...

Have you noticed main stream 'male' authors writing suspense have been adding in romance? I am fed up with all the "ewwww romance" people. I used to get upset when people looked down their nose at me and said "I don't read romance." Now I look down my nose at them and say, "Yeah I can tell."

Marcelle Dubé said...

I do like a little romance in my mysteries--but the mystery always comes first for me. I think of the romance as the spice in my mystery main dish.

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