Friday, June 4, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger Gloria Marlow

Gloria Marlow joins us today to talk about writing the romantic suspense. Here's Gloria's bio:

I'm the author of four romantic suspense novels, Flowers for Megan, Shades of Silence, The Butterfly Game and the soon-to-be-released Sweet Sacrifices. I've been married to my high school sweetheart for twenty-four years. We have three wonderful children, a great son-in-law and a beautiful grandson. I live in Jasper, Florida and work as the ESE Job Coach for the local school district. I'm also busy working on my next novel.

Thanks for having me as a guest blogger!

Many people think that we writers write from experience, or at the very least from some deep pool of private fantasies. Let me assure you, I’ve never been stalked by a serial killer, I’ve never lived during the 1930’s, I’m not psychic, and I have never experienced nor fantasized about being wrapped in plastic and left on the side of the road with a dead butterfly on my chest.

My first romantic suspense novel happened quite by accident. It was supposed to be a simple love story. I was just as surprised as my heroine was when she came home to find her family murdered. I actually didn’t know who the killer was until he revealed himself. But from the moment it was done, I was hooked on writing romantic suspense.

There is a fine balance to writing romantic suspense. There must be enough character, setting, and emotional details to make the reader care about what is happening, but there can’t be so much extraneous detail that it bogs the story down and keeps the suspense from flowing as it should.

In my second novel, The Butterfly Game, the killer leaves a butterfly that not only shares the same name as the woman but some visual or character trait he sees in them. It took research to learn enough about the butterflies to match them to the women. It took work to keep that research from seeping in too deeply and watering down the suspense.

I like to think my books are character driven. Just like in real life, things happen in the lives of the people populating my books, some of those happenings are good and some are bad. Where those events take the characters and how they are affected by them is entirely up to the characters themselves.

Look at any fairy tale and you’ll see character driven suspense in action. What made Cinderella attend that ball despite her hardships? What made Prince Charming so determined to find her? What drove Sleeping Beauty to the room where she touched the spindle? What caused the Prince to fight his way up those stairs and kiss her? Why did Rapunzel’s voice attract the Prince traveling past her home? Why was she able to sing when she’d been locked in a tower for years? What did Belle see when she looked at the Beast, and what about her tamed his wild heart?

In my newest novel, Sweet Sacrifices, my heroine, Kendall, could have found a different way to care for her child, but her need to give her son the family she never had is greater than her need for anything else, and she chooses to marry a stranger. Our hero, Luke, could have refused when his mother suggested he marry Kendall, but his loyalty to his family demands he wed her. By the time the suspense element comes into play, the reader knows Kendall and Luke well enough to care whether they die, or whether they live happily ever after.

As a reader, I find it terribly disappointing to invest even a chapter worth of my time into a novel only to find that after several chapters, I still couldn’t care less what happens to the characters.

As a writer, I try to keep my characters realistic and human, even the villains. I want the reader to care so much about the characters that she wants to dedicate several hours of her life to reading their story.

When the suspense is over and the characters finally face their happily ever after, I want the reader to be left as I am, with the lingering and satisfying memory of her vicarious adventure.


DebH said...

hi Gloria

i so love the fact that the Prairie Chicks introduce us to different authors. i like reading romantic suspense but don't always know where to look for authors. after reading your post, i'm definitely going to look for your books.

i'm generally an easy person to suck into the story - but i'll put the book down if the characters aren't interesting. i will eventually finish the book (mainly because i spent the money on it so i'm going to finish it, by golly). when i'm invested in the characters though - i devour the book in one sitting. i also tend to return for a re-read as well.

thanks for sharing about your work. i'm glad to learn about another author.

Janet said...

Welcome to The Prairies, Gloria! And what a great post. I've not read any of your books, but I will now. The Butterfly Games sounds very intriguing - and I love the twist you put on it (and the research you would have had to do).

You mentioned villains, making them human as well - do you write from your villains' POVs? I love when an author does that - really gets me into the head of the bad guy and ups the stakes even more for the main characters.

Looking forward to reading your work - and, again, welcome :)

Karyn Good said...

Welcome to the Prairies, Gloria. Glad to have you here today talking about writing romantic suspense.

I love to write and read romantic suspense. I always find it interesting to create that balance between the characters and a thrilling plot. I love taking everyday people and putting them to the test against extraordinary and terrifying circumstances, to have them fall in love.

Can't wait to read your work and good luck on your next novel!

Anonymous said...

Hi, everyone. Thank you for the warm welcome! I hope you all enjoy my books when you read them. Yes, I do show the villians' POVs in my first three books. In Sweet Sacrifices, I don't, because it just never quite worked. In the one I've just finished, I do it again.

Helena said...

So glad you could visit the Prairie today and give us a glimpse into your writing life, Gloria. I'm glad to know about your books and will watch for them.

Surely anyone who could unexpectedly kill off the heroine's family has to become a writer of suspense! I have had a character show up in one of my stories without checking with me first. He's not a murderer, but who knows, maybe one day I'll find myself writing a suspense without planning to. Isn't the writing muse wonderful?

Jana Richards said...

Hi Gloria,
Thanks for joining us here on the Prairies! Welcome!

I'm working on edits for my second romantic suspense. To me they are like a puzzle and the trick for the writer is to make all the pieces fit.

But even the most skillful, amazing plot won't be enough if you don't have characters that readers will care about and root for. You're wise to carefully think about your characters and what makes them tick.



All of your books sounds like a good read. I'm loking forward to reading them.


Autumn Jordon said...

Congrats, Gloria on your new contract. Sweet Sacrifices sounds interesting.

I can't agree more. I love a good plot, but it's the characters that will keep me turning the pages way into the night.

I enjoyed reading the interview. Jana does a great job.