“Okay, what’s the story? You’re a guy, and you’re writing… romance?”
It’s a question I hear often. Every convention I attend or speak at I get that suspicious stare followed by the inevitable… “Why?”
So in answer to the first comment, yes, I’m a healthy male and though no longer young, still feel in the prime of life. And I write novels that contain that to use my publisher’s words, strong romantic elements.
I have coined what is probably not a new sub-genre but I’ll pretend it is and call my novels romantic thrillers. Does this let me off? Not entirely since romance is not an afterthought in my work but an integral element… as is the thriller. Hey what’s a good book without an exquisite damsel in distress?
Having been a lifelong devotee of the thriller genre I’d taken note of the fact that thrillers were packed with danger and tension. Seldom did they contain any meaningful relationships. I admit to also reading my share of romance and women’s fiction which were fraught with romantic tension but left the excitement of the thriller behind. I wondered what the result would be if you combined the two in equal amounts.
For years, Mary Higgins Clark, a fellow Cape Cod resident whom I have met and spent some time with was crowned the queen of romantic suspense. I liked and admired her work but the difference in my writing is that my characters are in more danger. Far more! Often, as is the case of my successful paranormal, Rite of Passage, not only is the heroine’s life at risk but so is the fate of the entire world. Yep… all of civilization! Now that trumps who gets the family farm!
I had been a writer for some time and Rite of Passage had begun as your standard YA novel. After my trip to the RWA nationals that year all that changed. When 75% of the sessions were permeated with the fragrance of the occult it was difficult to come back and deliver a trite coming of age story. Having been raised around a conservative Yankee mother who secretly embraced the stars and magic I found the transition easy. So my heroine and hero left the realm of YA and joined the ranks of the paranormal. And as an added incentive to readers I decided to build in tension and conflict that would put the world as we know it in peril. An historical set after World War II I believe it has the passion and emotion that propels every good romance and some serious plot twist that send it (ego aside) toward the realm of an engaging thriller.
Why romance? After several failed attempts at something more mainstream or prosaic I happened upon a wonderful teacher named Jo Ann Ferguson, whose credentials are extensive and impeccable. She opened the world of romance writing, explaining that emotion was the key to success.
I wrote a recent blog describing what I called the four “Es”… critical elements to a good novel: to educate, entertain, escape and draw emotion. I discovered that all were important but combining the final two (escape and emotion) could make for something a page turner.
I’m pleased to say that my re-write of Rite of Passage sold to The Wild Rose Press—my award-winning publisher—and garnered a nomination and position as finalist is this year’s RomCon Reader’s Crown awards.
What’s next… a contemporary romantic thriller, titled Out of the Storm, set on my beloved Cape Cod. It was released on Amazon Kindle Select (E-books) and again combines the elements of escape and emotion as my fragile hero finds himself confronted by the adult persona of a dangerous and secretive young woman he’d met only once as a teenager. The print book will be out in a month.
My hero, Eric, still grieving over the tragic loss of his childhood sweetheart and their unborn child, must decide if Ashley Jean, who appears on his doorstep during a fierce Nor’easter is the answer to a dream or a nightmare from which he cannot escape.
A southern girl, Ashley is not only lovely and brilliant but mysterious… Lizabeth Salander meet a 20th Century Scarlett O’Hara. I’ll leave you to discover the rest.
In closing, do I love writing romance as a man? Damn Straight… but I love it more when combined with kind of excitement you expect from Jack Reacher or Jason Bourne!
Good writing till next time!
Find Kevin at www.ksymmons.com
On Twitter @Kevinsymmons
And on Amazon, Goodreads and outlets where print and e-books are sold