Sue : I’ve been asked quite a lot recently as to what genre my second book Closing In actually falls in, there have been mixed opinions by those who have read it as to whether it’s romance or thriller. For me, it falls somewhere between the two, under the romantic suspense category. All this made me wonder about the placing of a book and if it’s possible to sit between genres successfully or to even write in a completely different genre. I’ve found it’s a topic that causes quite a lot of discussion and, as such, decided to ask around for other authors’ experiences and thoughts on genre and voice.
I had originally intended to do one post on this, but I received such great advice from the authors I approached, I didn’t want to cut anything down and have it over three installments.
I’m delighted to welcome Louise Rose-Innes to the Romaniac blog today. Louise is probably most known for her romance novels, but has recently turned her hand to a more dangerous story line.
I have a split personality. With books, I mean. My teenage reading list comprised of young adult romances, and progressed to Joanna Lindsay and Jilly Cooper fairly rapidly. In fact, I remember getting detention for reading the “naughty bits” from The Thorn Birds out loud to the boys in my tenth grade English class.
Running parallel to this was a deep-seated hunger for thriller novels. Sydney Sheldon was my all-time fave. His direct, suspense-laden style has probably influenced my writing more than any other author. Clive Cussler and James Patterson are close seconds. But then there’s also Michael Connelly and Robert Ludlum and of course the all-time spy-master, John le Carré…
Occasionally, I’ll read a Booker Prize winning novel for the literacy value, and because I feel incredibly guilty if I don’t, but other than that my personal book collection is fairly evenly spread between the romance and thriller genres.
Naturally, the same would prove to be true with my writing. When I began, I thought romance would be the easiest genre to master. I’m not convinced I was correct, but the ten years I’ve spent writing the genre have taught me a huge amount about character development, internal and external conflict and (the hardest part) how to write a good love scene. Because romances are character-driven stories, you need to understand your hero and heroine extremely well and develop them and their relationship throughout the story.
Thrillers on the other hand are primarily plot-driven. Planning is essential. All the various elements of the story have to be factored in at the right moment, from clues and red-herrings to action sequences and reveals. And this has to be done in such a way that the pace doesn’t falter, so the reader keeps turning those pages. No mean feat!
There are parallels. The lessons I learned (and am still learning) writing romance, are definitely applicable to thrillers. For instance, I found characterising my protagonist in my current thriller series fairly easy. His faults, his demons, his personal journey are all extremely well developed. The same goes for my antagonist. The depth of character that I’m able to reach in my thriller writing I attribute to the many rejection letters I got when I started writing romance. Those early submission editors saying my inner conflict wasn’t well enough thought out or my characters lacked emotional depth. Hurtful at the time, but beneficial in the long run. :-)
My latest novel, Personal Assistance (Entangled Ignite), is a romantic suspense set in a Middle Eastern kingdom on the brink of an Arab-spring type conflict. The heroine, an employee of the Arab prince, stumbles upon a highly classified document and is now on the run for her life. With the embassy shut, the only person who can help her escape is a disgraced SAS commander with a hidden agenda. But can she trust him to get her out, or will he sacrifice her for his own ends?