Friday, March 22, 2013

EXPLORING THE TWISTS AND TURNS WITH SUZANNE FERRELL



My guest romance author, Suzanne Ferrell. Not only does she write on the edge of your seat Romantic suspense, but also writes western historical, and  erotic romance. She is a busy woman. She writes absorbing stories and works at night as Labor/Delivery nurse and has delivered over 200 babies in her career. On any given day you can find her working on her latest craft project or listening to good music (and rock –gotta love her for that!). 
I've read her romantic suspense and they tend to grab you and not let you go. As a writer, I had to ask her how she manages to produces an engrossing tale filled with danger and suspense and yet maintains the romance of it all-without dropping either one.
I love the thrill of a suspense and the feeling of danger especially when one weaves in romance. It ups the ante. It makes for a more interesting story, don't you think?


That’s the thing I like about it. Putting the hero, heroine or both in a situation where their lives depend on each other heightens the emotional, physical and often the sexual tension. It pulls the reader (and writer) in and should keep the pages turning.

What's the hardest part of writing suspense for you? 

I tend to tell you who one of the bad guys is, or hint at it. I don’t write mysteries, well at least not straight up who-done-its. Having said that, I did fool my editor Tanya on who the ultimate bad guy in Close To The Edge is. (I think that’s a good thing.) Usually the reader can see the bad guy coming in my books, but not necessarily the hero and heroine. I like to think of my books as action/adventure with danger around every corner and a ticking-clock forcing the characters to act in order to survive.

So, the hardest part, is putting enough believable twists and turns into the book to keep that sense of danger moving along. Then there’s the whole romantic side that has to come into play. I've read books where the characters are in mortal danger and they just stop to have sex, because hey, it’s a romance, sex must play into it. OR there is no sexual tension anywhere in the book, and poof at the end when the suspense is done, they’re in love.

That’s probably the hardest part of writing romantic suspense. Finding the believable balance.

I agree with you there, Suz! What do you have to do, once the story is done, to tighten up your suspense and danger? 

This question is making me smile. My son calls it “getting my Ludlum on”.

I've read all of Robert Ludlum’s books and one of the things I learned he does is as the book is getting closer to its climactic end, the writing gets tighter.

I try to employ this structure in my books. Shorter, succinct sentence structure. Shorter paragraphs. Lots of action verbs. I tend to flip POV scenes more frequently, so the reader gets the feel of things moving. What’s the hero doing? What’s the heroine doing? What’s the antagonist doing? What are the secondary characters doing? Boom, boom, boom. Keep the reader’s brain involved.

Another trick is to force a character to do the last thing in the world they’d ever want to in order to save the person they love. Sort of like Indiana Jones has to face down the snakes in the pit. In HUNTED my heroine had to go back and face the camp where she’d been tortured as a teenager in order to find something. She also has to repel down the side of a mountain—again, another fear she has. And ultimately, she has to face the cult leader once more before he dies.

I did the same thing in Close To The Edge with my heroine…but I can’t tell you what, or it will ruin the book for you! J

What's the best thing about writing suspense? 

Getting to push the envelope and letting the characters react to what you write. In KIDNAPPED, my heroine is abducted out of a parking lot on the same night she’d planned to kill herself. Talk about a wake-up call! From that moment on, she’s forced to deal with the hero and his injured witness and eventually help them. In HUNTED, my heroine’s cover in WITSEC is blown and she forces the hero, at gunpoint, to help her. And my hero and heroine in Close To The Edge are investigating a seemingly harmless little case, when they find a dead body.

Often their first reactions set in motions events that make the situation worse. I’m at that point now in the book I’m writing. The heroine’s actions make sense, but they make the situation worse. A friend once told me, the best thing to do is kick your characters to the floor and once they’re down, kick them a few more times for good measure.

Your latest book, CLOSE TO THE EDGE, is to be released March 25th. I like the premise of it and I like the sense of humor you employ. I have to say, the opening line caught my eye and made me laugh, “Her ass was by far the finest he’d ever seen in this town.” And the “ass” in question is dumpster diving, of all things. What made you think of dumpster diving?

The book came about after a PI talked to my local RWA chapter. He was talking about public dumpsters being public domain and anyone could take anything out of it and it couldn't be considered confidential. This is the opening scene that played out in my head.

It doesn't start out dark and terrifying, but Bobby’s arrival in town sets in motion events that could destroy the town. These two [characters] are hip-deep in cow manure and don’t even know it yet. That to me can be suspenseful. Finding out your sleepy little ordinary world might not be as peaceful as you once thought. That the neighbor or acquaintance you once thought “normal” isn't quite all together right-in-the-head as you supposed.

Well, the opening line certainly got my attention! Suz, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions and share your latest book. 

To see the full opening scene, do click on the excerpt link at the end of the blurb.


                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Close To The Edge is the second book in the Westen series. The series is about life in a small Midwestern town, but this particular book really lent itself to suspense.  
After facing death as an undercover narcotics cop, Gage Justice has come home to heal. His recuperation is cut short by his father’s unexpected diagnosis of cancer and subsequent death. Now he’s honoring one of his father’s last wishes by taking over as the sheriff of his boyhood home, Westen, Ohio. Biding time until his father’s term is finished, he fights boredom more than crime in the sleepy little town—that is until one sexy little teacher-turned-Private-Investigator literally falls into his arms.

Bobby Roberts is looking for adventure. After giving up her own dreams to raise her two sisters after the death of their parents, she’s been trapped in a schoolroom for nearly two decades. The suffocating claustrophobia of the classroom has set her on a new career path. She arrives in Westen, complete with brand-spanking-new PI license, a handgun and a simple case—investigate a lien on property of a dead man.

Little does she realize her “simple little case” will lead her into the world of one sexy sheriff and the path of a murderer intent on keeping them both from discovering his secrets or stopping his plans that could destroy Westen. Excerpt
Available March 25,2013 Amazon


                                                                                 
Suzanne discovered romance novels in her aunt's hidden stash one summer as a teenager. From that moment on she knew two things: she loved romance stories and someday she'd be writing her own. Her love for romances has only grown over the years. It took her a number of years and a secondary career as a nurse to finally start writing her own stories.  A double finalist in the Romance Writer's of America's 2006 Golden Heart with her manuscripts, KIDNAPPED (Long Contemporary Category) and HUNTED (Romantic Suspense), Suzanne has also won The Beacon Unpublished and the CTRWA's contests in the erotica categories with her book, The Surrender Of Lacy Morgan, now an online e-book with Ellora's Cave. Suzanne's sexy stories, whether they be her steamy Western Eroticas, her on the edge of your seat romantic suspense, or the heart warming small town stories, will keep you thinking about her characters long after their Happy Ever After is achieved. Where you can find Suzanne: www.suzanneferrell.com, www.romancebandits.com 

36 comments:

~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome, Suzanne, to Over Coffee! I have plenty of coffee, tea, lots of goodies, and for you I stocked diet coke--hey, it's caffeinated!

Oh, and if you bring that rooster with you, keep him on a leash please and if I catch him up near the coffee bar and near my blueberry crumb muffins I'll pluck him. Just sayin'

Mark Koopmans said...

Now that was a rocking great interview... thanks Suzanne for sharing, especially as I may have a wee bit of mystery romance in me somewhere...

PS... Aloha Sia,

Congrats!!!

You're the GRAND PRIZE winner from my "Got Green?" Blog O'hop!

Why don't you shoot me an email, to be shure to be shure, :)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Suz!! Hey Sia! Great to see you both this fine morning. Suz, I'm just going to say "yeah, what SHE said!" about writing suspense. Ha! It's always challenging, but always fun. And you do it SO well! Looking forward to your latest. Made a note to go order it on Monday!

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Sia! Hi Suz!

Great interview! Love the sound of your latest book, Suz - you know I'm a big fan of RS. Can't wait to get my copy of Close to the Edge!

Jo said...

Sounds like a good story.

Sia, the size of the font is OK for you youngsters, but I have trouble reading when its so small.

JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

Susan Sey said...

Good morning, Suz & Sia! Wonderful blog today & Suz, that excerpt makes me want to read on STAT! Can't wait to dive in!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Sia!

Thanks for inviting me and REALLY thanks for having some Diet Coke on board. Couldn't get through a morning without it!

I think The Golden Rooster is Down Under with the Aussies today, so the blueberry scones are quite safe!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Mark!

Thanks. Sia made it super easy and anyone who knows me, if you give me a chance to talk about writing and books, I'll just take it and run with it! LOL

I imagine most writers have an element of suspense and romance in them and their stories.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Congratulations on the upcoming book, Suzanne! Yes, I hate it when people just stop and have sex. Really, you were just shot at and you're on the run - you're actually thinking about sex at a time like this?

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Jeanne!

It is fun pushing the limits on the action and suspense elements in books. Right now the hardest part I'm having in my MIP (Mess In Progress) is figuring out how to put the romance in it. Sort of hard when the hero and heroine aren't in the same room.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Anna. I'm glad Close To The Edge has your interest. It's a bit slower build than Kidnapped and Hunted, but it's set in a small sleepy mid western town, but once bodies start dropping, things heat up...in more ways than one. :)

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Jo! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll give Close To The Edge a read. I had a great time writing it.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Susan!

I promise I'll have Close To The Edge up on all the ebook sites by Monday morning.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Kick a character when she's down is cruel but necessary!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Alex!

There's a reaction to adrenaline that people have that can cause the sex in the romantic suspense to work, but I think the author has to let it flow naturally and understand what adrenaline does. Me, I can hold it together through most emergencies, but once that passes, I need find a quiet place to cry...not gentle tears, mind you, I bawl...loud, sloppy, rudolph's-red-nose kind of crying! Sex, proabably wouldn't help me. :)

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey L. Diane!

Yep. The minute you give the character what they want or make things go easy, well the book is over.

~Sia McKye~ said...

'Morning. I'm not sure how good it is just yet, I'm still on my first cuppa and dragging from 10 hours of work yesterday.

My fist couple of sips of coffee was outside on the patio while looking at all the snow that fell over night. Bracing air and pretty. Hmmm...wasn't it officially Spring this past Wednesday?

Suz, a good hostess always remembers her guest's additions, um, I mean caffeine choices.

Caren Crane said...

Sia and Suz, I love this interview! Suz, your friend was so right about kicking your protagonists to the floor and then kicking them some more. I have a tendency to want to pull my punches with my protags. Rewrites, for me, are always where I have to go in and make things worse. Oh, and make my heroines more likeable. They tend to act a bit too much like me at first. Ha!

I can't wait to read Close To the Edge. I recently finished your western erotic novella, Bella's Touch and it was fabulous! I am always impressed by how hight the stakes are for your characters. :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Sorry, Jo. It's small? Sheesh. I need to check out my fonts. Mostly, I use the font from the article I receive.

I was really tired last night when I was finalizing this.

I'll pay closer attention to that.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Sia! You are a great hostess! All the Banditas love come over and hang out with you over coffee or Diet Coke!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Caren,

I think it was Jane Graves who told me about being mean to your characters. I love the book Scene and Structure and Bickman talks about this propels the story further. And some days after a really rough shift, it's nice to be mean to the characters!! LOL

Thanks for the love for Bella's Touch. I really loved writing that one and it was important that my hero learn several lessons in that book before he got his HEA.

~Sia McKye~ said...

The minute you give the character what they want or make things go easy, well the book is over.

See, that was always hard for me. It's taken me time to appreciate it. Prolly cause I'm not that way with people, lol! Now, I console myself with they WILL have a HEA and it will be all the sweeter for the problems.

I like the idea of making a character face their fears--like Indiana Jones had to do with snakes. Gives you something to cheer the character for doing. :-)

Suzanne Ferrell said...

I'll tell you a little secret about Bobby Roberts, Sia. She's clostrophobic...and that's all I'm gonna say about that. :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh, I intend to read it all, Suz. I'll let you know what I think. :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Suz! Hi Sia! Lovely to see you both here. Sia, can I have a nice big cup of tea and a Danish. Actually it's very early in the morning here in Australia, I'm having the cup of tea without the Danish in real life. Suz, love your idea of Ludlumizing! How great that you learn from the masters. I try to, but then I get so wrapped up in the story, I realize I'm reading for what's happening rather than the technical stuff. Means a lot of re-reading. Oh, well, I suppose the way they suck you into the story is what makes them the masters!

CLOSE TO THE EDGE sounds fantastic. And what wonderful covers! Hope you sell a million!

Nancy Northcott said...

Hey, Suz and Sia--

Great interview! Suz, I love the part about forcing characters to do things they never would otherwise. And the bit about kicking them when they're down.

Writers are so mean. *g*

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Anna C!

The reason I figured out Ludlum's style of increasing the tension for the reader was because I'd read 3 or 4 in a row. (Couldn't read any more than that or I started thinking someone was following me! LOL)

And thank you for the kudos on the covers. I LOVE my cover artist, Lyndsey Lewellen. She always gets to the heart of what I want on the covers to pull readers in.

jo robertson said...

Great interview, Sia and Suzanne! I love hearing about writers' processes, especially romantic suspense writers like Suzanne because it requires a bit more effort to keep two threads of the story going in a believable direction.

Looking forward to reading the next one, Suzanne!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Nancy! Another Bandita heard from. And aren't we the meanest people, when it comes to characters, that is!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Jo!

The two threads is difficult isn't it? The plot for the suspense has to make sense. The plot for the romance has to flow right. AND the two have to intermingle without it sounding too contrived. You do an excellent job of it too!

Carol Kilgore said...

Sounds like a great book! Great to meet you, Suzanne. I really enjoyed the interview.

Happy Weekend!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Carol! Great to meet you, too!

This is the second book in the Westen series. Book 1, Close To Home, isn't quite as suspenseful, but it does introduce you to the town and some of the secondary characters who play a part in Close To The Edge. Hope you'll check them out.

Joan said...

Sorry to be late to the party ladies! A "mysterious" power outtage hit my area and I was volunteering to comfort the kitties at the Humane Society.

But anyway...LOVE me some Suzanne Ferrell! Her stories have an energy that starts at page one, grips you by the throat and speeds you to the ending wanting more! She does suspense right but the sexual tension....sizzles.!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Aww, thank you Joan!

Sorry to hear about the power outage, but I know the kitties were happy to have you comfort them.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Anna! fabulous to see you! I've had to do the back to work thing and I haven't been on FB much to say my usual chat stuff. I love Irish tea. I drink it when I'm not enjoying my caffeine by coffee IV. :-)

Nancy, great to see you, too. Yah, writers can be really mean. But the ending always makes it great.

Jo--I agree. I've read romantic suspense that the author dropped one or the other thread and you're left with the reaction of, really? I look at those who do a good job with the blend. Yes, the love story ups the ante in the danger and if it's done well, buying that little respite in the firestorm has even more impact. Sex does happen in the middle of all sorts of situations. But there has to be a reasonable flow to that set up.

Joan, Aww, kitties. Hope they can find homes. We got snow and a bit od ice but no outages, thankfully.



~Sia McKye~ said...

carol,glad you enjoyed the interview. :-)