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.
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