Well, if you pull out my fingernails with a pair of pliers, and hold a blowtorch to the soles of my feet, I’ll confess why I love writing dark romantic suspense. Because it’s the only genre where a writer can write in a heartfelt and unironic way about honor, gallantry and courage.
These must take the form of subliminal messages, of course, because these are untrendy themes. We worship money and careers, are obsessed with externals and our parental feelings are often expressed in terms of maneuvering to make sure our kids get into the right schools and meet the right people. Money, power, status. And, of course, love. Love as status symbol, love as hotness factor, love as two high incomes meshing. Those are the themes of which novels, if not dreams, are made of.
It works for many but not for me. I want knights, even in tarnished armor, I want men and women who are unbending, unyielding, brave and honorable and every single other Boy Scout attribute, plus hot. Because sex is the cauldron in which all those elements of two human beings are put and fused together until they become one.
In short, I want a hero. And I want him slaying those dragons with the help of his woman.
What is my job as a romance writer? The job description includes providing gripping writing, a strong a narrative arc and likeable characters, of course. But more than anything else, I must convince you, reader, within the space of about 400 pages, that what my hero and heroine are undergoing represents a bonding experience so strong that they will spend the rest of their lives together. I want there to be no question in your mind as to whether or not they will be able to overcome the problems life throws at them and still remain a couple, none.
He walked through fire for her. The suspense subplot is an exciting way of depicting the difficulties of life. A symbol of them, if you will. The danger subplot tests them both and finds them both strong and courageous and honorable. You know they are going to make it and that they will stay together forever.
I also love that moment in my books when both realize, while the bullets are whizzing around their heads and the bad guy seems to be winning, that they are no longer alone. They are facing this together and, together, they will prevail.
In my latest trilogy, The Protectors, for example, you will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Sam and Nicole (INTO THE CROSSFIRE), Harry and Ellen (HOTTER THAN WILDFIRE) and Mike and Chloe (NIGHTFIRE, February 2012) will be together to the end of their days.
It makes all that hard work worthwhile.
(Originally published on June 1, 2011 at Denise A. Agnew’s blog)