Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Unexpected Virtual Book Tour Stop...Why I Write Romantic Suspense

Did you kn0w about my virtual book tour? Well, sit down a quick spell and I'll tell you about it. I've been on the 'net promoting the first book of my new series, The Seven Year Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel). As life would have it, my blog tour took a slight detour yesterday when the poor blog tour host fell sick and was unable to host. Since I hate to let a perfectly good post go to waste, I'm sharing it here.  

****And BONUS--if you leave a comment and include your email address, I will include you in the drawing for a brand new Kindle Fire and a $25 Gift Certificate at the end of the book tour (3/1).****

So enjoy my story on why I shifted from romantic comedy to romantic suspense.

The Seven Year Itch is the first in a planned five-book FBI Espionage (really counterespionage) series. In each book, the main character, Special Agent J.J. McCall, will face-off against Russian intelligence officers working in the United States under diplomatic and non-diplomatic cover. Many people say, “Well, the cold war is over. Are the Russians still relevant?” Very much so. Their intelligence residencies are just as active as ever—maybe even more so. And spying in general is the second-oldest profession and shows no signs of slowing down. 

I started this series because I actually worked in the counterintelligence field, so I have lots of insider information. For 20 years I served as an Intelligence Analyst in the U.S. Intelligence Community, the first 12 years as an Intelligence Operations Specialist in the FBI’s Russian Counterintelligence program. I worked so many interesting cases, but while I was there I never had an inkling that my life’s path would lead me to writing novels. I mean, I was reading the Tommyknockers by Stephen King to impress a guy never realizing Stephen and I would someday have something even remotely in common. Writing was something that was always in the far recesses of my mind. I never believed, at least at the time, that I had enough talent to make a career of it.

Once the writing bug bit (and it bit hard and fast), I didn’t have the desire to write non-fictional accounts of my experiences because frankly I always thought the FBI’s release process would be a pain in the neck. I also didn’t want to tread those thin lines between revealing too much and not revealing enough. So, a fiction series seemed best suited for my vision and could easily survive FBI scrutiny.

At first I avoided the spy stuff altogether and stuck to relationships. I began my career writing romantic comedy/chick lit under another name, and comedy and relationships is well within my comfort zone. My so-called love life is God’s running joke and provides me with an ample source of material. But I had always incorporated a bit of mystery into my plots which helped make them page-turners. In order to build this J.J. McCall series, romantic suspense/mystery/espionage seemed like the most natural progression. Also, the more confident I became in my ability and the more time I put between me and my access to sensitive information, the more comfortable I felt putting some of those experiences into a book or series. I knew romance. I knew how to build some elements of suspense and mystery, and my career supplied me with ample knowledge of the espionage game.

But after I finished the first draft I realized writing romantic suspense was far different from writing romantic comedy. 

This series is significantly more plot driven than those in my previous books. Romantic comedy is really character-driven. Where I could rely heavily on my humor and situational comedy to keep the audience hooked into my rom-com stories, I really need to incorporate a lot of twists and turns to help build the suspense and maintain the tension through the entire book, especially during the nail-biter ending. My romantic suspense novels are also told from multiple points of view, whereas I write in first person in chick lit. And I’ve found that even though I’ve tried to tone down the comedic element, I’m unable to stifle my comedic muse because readers are always telling me how funny the main character is. But I left her as is because the humor must be authentic if I tried not to make her funny and she’s funny anyway. The humor will hopefully balance out some of the more dramatic and serious scenes.

I cannot deny that this writing business is hard, and I’m in a perpetual state of learning. Writing romantic suspense is a different animal for me on many levels. But I don’t think you can grow as a writer if you don’t push yourself beyond your comfort zone, even if it takes you 27,000 drafts to do it.

Other Tour Stops Below...Or click here for the Goddess Fish Tour Page. 

February 11:  LizaOConnor
February 11:  STOP 2  Writing into the Sunset
February 12:  Nickie's Views and Interviews
February 13:  Christy McKee Writes for Women in the Sweet Spot of Life
February 14:  Sandra's Blog
February 14:  STOP 2  MeganJohnsInvites
February 15:  A Writer's Life
February 18:  Read Your Writes Book Reviews
February 19:  Let's Get BOOKED!
February 20:  Margay Leah Justice
February 21:  MK McClintock Blog
February 22:  My Devotional Thoughts
February 25:  Full Moon Dreaming
February 26:  Long and Short Reviews: Mystery/Suspense
February 27:  Janna Shay's Fair Play
February 28:  It's Raining Books
March 1:  Bunny's Review

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Check out my new release: The Seven Year Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel). The Seven Year Itch - Kindle ($2.99)  
The Seven Year Itch - Paperback ($8.99)

1 comment:

  1. SD, great to meet you and find out about your books.


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