Monday, May 21, 2012

Why I Write Romantic Suspense

I read my first historical romance novel at the age of 11 (maybe 12). A feisty Scottish heroine, an alpha English lord, an Elizabethan setting, stirring action, sex scenes without the word “seed.” I was hooked. A few hundred novels and a few years later, I became disconcerted by the material I was reading. No, I didn't turn prudish. The monarchy system of government and the peerage system go against my belief in democracy and meritocracy. When it got to the point where I wanted to reach inside the book and slap the heroes for being lazy or sexist, the heroines for not standing up for themselves, and other characters for mindsets that were acceptable at the time, I knew I had to stop. (Yes, I know the sub-genre is more than European historicals, but westerns aren't suitable for someone with mysophobia. Actually, no historicals are suitable for someone with mysophobia.)

I turned to paranormal and urban fantasy romances because I liked the kick-ass heroines. Then I noticed a small detail that grated on my nerves and killed the sub-genre for me: humans were portrayed as clueless idiots who survive at the whim of the undead or creatures that go furry (or feathery or scaly or stony or whatever) on occasion. Hmm. For some reason, that doesn't sit well with me. Personally, I think humans are pretty intelligent (although, you wouldn't know it if you follow politics), resourceful, and innovative. And I think plenty of other people agree with me. If you read comic books, you'll know that two of the most beloved superheroes are Batman from DC Comics and Iron Man from Marvel Comics, both of whom have no supernatural powers.

Luckily for me, I was introduced to romantic suspense by Tami Hoag and Sandra Brown. Romantic suspense is great fit for someone who can't leave a crossword, Rubik's cube, jigsaw puzzle (2-D and 3-D), Soma cube, or any type of brain teaser alone. I NEED to solve them. I love to solve puzzles so much that my career has been about solving puzzles, from troubleshooting software programs to tracing money to solve accounting anomalies. With romantic suspense, I love figuring out who'd done it and sometimes how. I love that my brain can be engaged when reading romantic suspense and mystery novels. I love the process of solving the mystery, I love the "Aha!" moment when it comes together, and I love the climax when the baddies are taken down, especially if it involves a little hand-to-hand. (I read comic books, remember?)

So, that's why I write romantic suspense. Hopefully, other people like me enjoy reading them because it can be expensive to be a comic book collector. And I recently developed a taste for Hunter boots.

8 comments:

Rita said...

I love Suspense. I maintain all books have a degree of suspense. Romance there is always the question of how will the H&H get together. In ‘regular’ books it’s how will the protagonist make it to the end? I didn’t see the movie Titanic until it was on TV. Hey I knew how it ended. In outright Suspense books there is plenty and I LOVE it. The best is romantic suspense.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Nicely said, Ann. Romantic suspense has it all. ;)

I, too, crave that puzzle-solving part of a book, and nothing delights me more than a good twist. (Except when I'm trying to write them into my book...then, perhaps, "delight" is not the right word.)

JB Lynn said...

Fun post! I love good romantic suspense, but I must admit that there have been RS books I've wanted to throw across the room too.

Wynter Daniels said...

I love suspense, too. There's nothing more exciting than a great suspenseful hook to keep me reading - and writing.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Well said, Ann. I love a good suspense story, and if there's a hint of romance in there, all the better. I, too, have problems with books whose heroes are arrogant misogynists--what sane woman would want to be with one?

Kathy Ivan said...

Romantic suspense is definitely near and dear to my heart. Solving the puzzle of not only who did it by why they did it--that will keep me turning the pages. The romance part had better be just as satisfying as the suspense though, or I'll feel cheated. I want the baddies caught and the hero and heroine to be together when everything is wrapped up at the end.

Great post.

Ann Bruce said...

@JB Lynn: There are plenty of RS books that make me want to slap the heroine for being TSTL or the writer for putting in a deus ex machina. The basis for RS and mystery is what I love.

The bases for HR, PNR, and UF, on the other hand, tick me off so no matter how well written, I have a hard time reading them because they are so counter to my personal beliefs.

Maureen A. Miller said...

Excellent points, Ann. The brain stimulation in Romantic Suspense keeps me captivated.