Friday, November 5, 2010
Roxanne St. Claire is a bestselling author whose most recent novel, Edge of Night, I loved & just reviewed, and nearly thirty novels of romance and suspense. A four-time nominee and one time winner of the prestigious RITA Award for outstanding romantic fiction, her books have also won the National Reader’s Choice Award for best romantic suspense for two consecutive years, as well as the Daphne du Maurier Award, the HOLT Medallion, the Maggie, Booksellers Best, Book Buyers Best, five Awards of Excellence, the Aspen Gold and many others.
Chick with Books is thrilled to have Roxanne St. Claire stop by today to share a bit of herself and insight into her writing those great Romantic Suspense novels (and a bit of insight into Samantha & Zach of Edge of Night)! Join me in a warm welcome to Roxanne!
The Delicate Balance of Love and Danger
Thanks for the invitation to visit this glorious blog that celebrates books of all kinds. I’m delighted to be here, to answer questions and comments, to giveaway some books, and to talk about the impossible tightrope between passion and peril that a romantic suspense author has to walk every day. By nature of my genre’s name – romantic suspense – the books I write are a delicate balance of love and danger, and for the stories to work, they must include dual “arcs” that put the characters in jeopardy physically and emotionally from page one to the end.
That’s no easy feat, I assure you. In fact, I pretty much tear my hair out and scream at the computer on a daily basis while I walk that line. I’ve heard romantic suspense writers talk about “the percentage” of romance versus suspense, and whether or not a book is a ROMANTIC romantic suspense or a SUSPENSEFUL romantic suspense, and I admit to being confused. To be perfectly honest, I can’t separate the two.
For me, the story threads are completely entwined, usually joined by a subplot or two. And all of those elements have an effect on one another. If you pull out any one of these threads, you wouldn’t have a complete novel. I don’t really “balance” love and danger in my books as much as I braid them. With every scene, the danger escalates and the sexual tension tightens. The suspense element -- whether it is a woman on the run, someone searching for a missing person or treasure, a killer on the loose, or a crime that has to be solved -- has to have an impact on the character’s emotions, and that profoundly affects the relationship at the heart of the story.
The good news is I mostly do that organically…and with a little hair tearing. For example, in my novel released this week, EDGE OF SIGHT, Samantha Fairchild has witnessed a professional assassination and the killer has her face on tape. She needs protection and can’t get it from the police because ten years earlier she’d witnessed another killing, that time in a convenience store, and her testimony put the wrong man in jail. When she worked to correct that mistake, she shed some extremely unfavorable light on the Boston PD, so now they won’t help her. So she seeks protection and gets it in the form of Zach Angelino, a former Army Ranger…and her former lover. Not only does Samantha suffer from self-doubts after putting the wrong man in jail, now she’s faced with the same task. This time, her “partner” in the process is a man who dumped her three years earlier when he went to war and never contacted her after a torrid, three-week affair. But Zach’s come back completely changed by war. No longer the confident, cocky, flirtatious young Ranger she’d met at her friend’s party, he’s wounded inside and out, and his experiences in Iraq stripped him of the belief that he could protect anyone, let alone the only woman he ever loved.
So, just by nature of the plot and backstory, the suspense elements add to the romantic tension and vice versa. If you took one thread away (Sam and Zach’s romance), the whole story of the professional killer on the run wouldn’t have nearly the emotional impact. And if it were just the story of Sam and Zach reuniting after three years, there’d be no way to highlight their character flaws and weaknesses and show how their love helps them conquer those issues to become whole again.
Yes, this is hard work, and I have the bald spots to prove it! But the most difficult part (writing the story!) is over and now I get to enjoy talking to readers. That’s what I’m here to do! Leave a comment or a question and I’ll pop in and out today to reply.
And if you’d like a taste of EDGE, I’ve got a “freequel” (free read prequel) up on my web site. In the short story Taken To The Edge, readers can experience Sam and Zach’s first meeting, their passionate affair, and their painful breakup and meet some of the characters who will make up the stories of the Guardian Angelino series. Enjoy!
Thank you Roxanne for sharing a bit of yourself & your writing process on Chick with Books today! And writing such a great post!
To all my Chick with Books readers, you can find Roxanne's "freequel" at Roxanne's Website, and while you're there check out Roxanne's "informal bio", where you'll learn things like, how she fell in love with words reading Gone with The Wind, and did a guest appearance on Bosum Buddies. Don't forget to Read my Review and ENTER THE GIVEAWAY of Roxanne's latest book, Edge of Night right here on Chick with Books!