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May 29, 2012

Kathy Ivan - Why Romantic Suspense?

Somebody asked me the other day why I write romantic suspense.  I thought about it for a few seconds, realizing there are really several reasons why I write it.  Since it's a genre near and dear to my heart, I thought I'd share a few of them with you today.

1.  I WRITE WHAT I LOVE TO READ.  I've always been a sucker for a good mystery/suspense story.  I was weaned on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, trying to figure out the culprit/bad guy or girl always set my heart pounding, my pulse racing and my brain whirling with the possibilities.  There was nothing better than spending a Saturday afternoon curled up with these friends I'd made, living the adventure with them and knowing that good would always triumph in the end.

It was a dark and stormy night--
2.  FIGURING OUT WHO DID IT.  I'll admit it, I love a good puzzle.  Figuring out the real clues from the red herrings that have been dropped along the way by an author, coming up with the usual suspects and the not so usual suspects while delving into the mystery is a big turn on for me.  I love being able to follow along with the hero and heroine of a story, live out the adventure with them, and know who the villain is.

3.  I GET TO GO ALONG WITH THE CHARACTERS ON THE ADVENTURE.  How many of us in real life get to diffuse a bomb?  Or land a plane where the pilot and copilot have been incapacitated?  Find a missing child?  Save the world from evil domination?  Within the pages of suspense/mysteries I get to do all of these things and more.  I can live vicariously, seeing through the eyes of the player on stage in the book and experience the kinds of things I'd never get to do in reality. 

4.  ESCAPISM.  This ties in with #3 above.  I get to go to places I'd never ever be able to afford when I get lost in the pages of a story.  I can travel to Antarctica as easily as a tropical island.  Wrangle cattle in Wyoming or tread the boards in New York City.  Jaunt to Monte Carlo on the arm of a tuxedoed handsome stranger.  All without leaving the comfort of my easy chair.  Does life get much better than that?

5.  ROMANCE AND HAPPILY EVER AFTER. In a romantic suspense/mystery in addition to solving the crime, thwarting the villain, and possibly saving the free world, we have romance.  Unexpected yet inevitable.  Your hero and heroine dance their forbidden dance of passion, fighting the inevitable attraction while chaos burns around them. 
Yet in the end, all the threads are tied up, all the questions answered.  Everything is right with the world, and love always wins in the end.  Could anything be better than that? 

Ask yourself the same question:  Why do you like to read (or write) romantic suspense/mysteries?  I'm sure you're reasons may differ from the ones I've listed.  Tell me all about yours.  I'd love to hear them. 



As a kid, I absorbed Nancy Drew and my love of mysteries came from there. I've never stopped. About age fourteen I discovered romances (thanks Mom!) and haven't stopped. My unpubbed book is a romantic mystery and I write funny sweet short stories. Something resonated with me back then.

Oh, and occasionally, I toss in a few historicals (like Ms. Essex!)

Sasha Summers said...

Great post Kathy! I'll admit, I'm a genre hopper - so I don't always read romantic suspense. But when i do, I like the combination of tingly suspense and anticipation PLUS the romance angle.

Addison said...

Great post, Kathy!

Like Sasha, I'm a genre hopper, too, but I've always loved a good romantic suspense.

Re: Nancy Drew....I got curious and went back and read a few a couple of years back, curious if they'd be as fun as an adult. They are!


Liese said...

I was a Nancy Drew fan too! Also Trixie Beldin. For some reason, our elementary school library put all their copies of Nancy Drew for sale (I think they weren't considered "good" literature) and I bought them all. What a find!

Great post, Kathy!

Pamela Stone said...

Good morning all,

Great post. I have never really read much suspense, but I do love to escape into a good romance. I love the HEA. Living vicariously through the characters and getting to fall in love over and over is awesome.

Karen Cote said...

I think we are kindred spirits Kathy. Lol. I related to everything you said. You KNOW how much I love RS. I'm not much on Suspense-romance because I'm geeky enough that if it doesn't have the romance stuff, then I'd rather read true events. Tons of fascination in history. As an author I can pick up those stories and turn it into a HEA love story. Fun. Fun.

Yep...I do love visiting you guys. So warm and entertaining.

Kelly L Lee said...

I got hooked on suspense/mystery when I was VERRRRY young - I still have my collection of Trixie Belden mysteries and can't wait until my girls are old enough to read them. I love romance, but I gotta have a side dish of DANGER to make their journey a difficult one. :)


I read and wanted to be Trixie Belden. I can't believe so many of us loved her.

Sylvia said...

Hi Kathy,
I loved Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and have considered going back and rereading them all. I jump genres as a reader and even as a writer. I go through spells where I want a good romantic suspense and then I'm off to women's fiction. Right now I'm about to start our own Sasha Summers book Medusa and hope to finish it by this weekend.

Alisha said...

Great post, Kathy! I cut my teeth on romantic suspense like Sandra Brown's books. Love them! All the mystery and intrigue with some romance sprinkled throughout. And they say to write what you read and vice versa. I had all the Nancy Drew books and my mom still has them. I should re-read them. I thought theu were so spooky when I was a! Have a great day!

Liz Lipperman said...

Great post, Kathy. It brings to mind what someone once told me was the difference between romantic suspense and mystery.

In RS, you know who the killer is almost from the start, but in a mystery, you have to wait until the end to find out.

In today's publishing world, the lines have been blurred, which to me is a good thing. I believe I write Romantic Mystery. That's a whodunnit with romance.

I fell in love with RS reading Sandra Brown like Alisha. I was lucky enough to have one reviewer compare my RS to hers. I wonder what she was smoking??

Elizabeth Essex said...

Kathy - I LOOOVE romantic suspense. I especially love romantic suspense in a historical setting. But you hit the nail on the head for me with "going along for the ride." That is exactly why I read romance.

THanks for an excellent post! :)

Phyllis said...

You know, I am the oddball out over here. I don't remember if I ever read Nancy Drew....if I did, it is beyond my brain's memory.

I do have an active romantic suspense imagination partly fueled by my former jobs, but I grew up playing in role playing games with my brother, cousins and friends. I always played spy or war scenerios. No doubt there was a cop or two I portrayed.

Needless to say, I really grew up in the genre.

Kathy Ivan said...

Thanks everybody for stopping by today. I've been out of touch most of the day but reading all the comments and seeing so many of you totally "get it" when I'm talking about reading and writing, whether it's suspense, historical, mainstream fiction. I'm definitely a cross-genre reader, but you'll always get me if you have a wonderful well-defined romance between the hero and heroine and a happy and satisfying conclusion to the conflict of the story.

Again, hugs for all of you dropping by and leaving your comments. I do appreciate them.