Guest: Maggi Andersen

Hi Jen, thank you for hosting me on your blog. I thought I’d talk about writing the romance in my romantic suspense, Murder in Devon.

The woman in jeopardy is a popular form of romantic suspense. The pleasure of reading one comes in discovering how she overcomes the adversities she faces, along with the developing love relationship. When Casey Rowan goes on a mission to find the murderer of her best friend, she puts her life in danger, and angers the cop Rod Carlisle in charge of the investigation.

Tessa remained unconscious the next day. Returning to her lodgings, Casey found Detective Chief Inspector Carlisle waiting at the gate.

“Ms. Rowan, I need to ask you a few questions. Are you feeling stronger?”

“Yes, thank you,” she fibbed. It struck her how good manners persisted even in the worst of times.

He led the way to two overstuffed armchairs placed in “conversation mode” in the front room. They sat and looked at one another. For the first time, Casey took in the details. On that fateful morning, she’d remembered only Carlisle’s blue eyes. She now saw he was a Scot, midway through his thirties. Tall and slim with straight, dark brown hair. Good looking, some would say, appearing reasonable and kind. But appearances weren’t to be trusted.

I had to keep in mind that while in romantic suspense it’s acceptable for a heroine to lean a little on the hero, modern readers want strong women. I could not allow Rod Carlisle to solve the murder alone; Casey had to be a major participant in the solution and drive much of the action.

He enfolded his cup, apparently warming his hands. “We try to get digital evidence as soon as we can. Donald’s computer was of vital importance to our investigation, as is his mobile, and we can’t have you or anyone else blundering in and damaging evidence.”

“My private inquiries can’t hurt, if I’m careful. There are surely instances where the media has helped in an investigation.”

Rod rubbed his chin. “Journalists don’t always report evidence accurately.”

“I’m aware not everyone is good at their job,” she replied. “But I happen to be pretty good at mine.”

Women make great detectives. Look at women detectives in fiction: Barbara Havers, a policewoman in a series of books by American crime novelist Elizabeth George; Lady Emily Ashton (later Lady Emily Hargreaves), a young woman sleuth in a series by Tasha Alexander set in the 1890s, and Kerry Greenwood’s Pyrnne Fisher, set in Melbourne, Australia, all favorites of mine.

A romantic suspense moves along at a fast pace, so the romance had to develop quickly too, from a casual meeting to a committed relationship, the passionate attraction that draws them together, and the conflict which drives them apart. Casey and Rod have dangerous situations, road blocks, dead ends and several red herrings to cope with. I worked to break up the tension too. A great advantage of writing a romantic suspense over a straight suspense novel is you can intersperse the tension with a romantic scene, either sensual or humorous then shoot back to the more tense moments.

She took off her coat and hung it on the rack at the door. She wore her favorite short black skirt, teaming it with a wraparound black top. Rod had arrived first. He leaned on the bar

and smiled at her approach. She felt light-hearted, as if the universe had righted itself a little with Tessa’s recovery. Some semblance of order restored.

His lips formed a silent whistle. “You dressed up.” He wore jeans and carried a leather biker’s jacket.

“Too dressy?” She glanced at the other casually dressed diners.

“I’m sure all the males here are appreciative, particularly Milo. You’ll be good for business.”

Motivation is most important. Not just what motives Casey Rowan, or Rod Carlisle, but also the villain’s. If the villain lacks good strong understandable motivation for their evil pursuits, the whole story falls apart. Readers want to know what drives them. They can relate on some level even to anti-heroes if they understand them. No one is completely evil, and to be presented as black and white makes for boring reading.

And lastly research. While much of my ideas of police procedure and criminal behavior have evolved from movies and television shows, they aren’t always accurate. I needed to look further.

To summarize, Murder in Devon is a merger of two popular genres. The story is a romance between two people attracted to one another and brought together by a murder. Casey and Rod are at odds in their pursuit of the truth. And, as their romance heats up, the situation becomes even more complicated. The villain has to be formidable enough to match these two. What happens to Casey and Rod alternates between good and bad, and downright dangerous, testing their ability to cope, and I hope the ending will satisfy one and all.

 * * * * *

Maggi Andersen and her lawyer husband are empty nesters, living in the country outside Sydney, Australia, with their cat and the demanding wildlife. Parrots demand seed, possums demand fruit, and ducks visit from the stream at the bottom of the garden.

Andersen always felt she was meant to be a writer, but raising three children and studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing degree came first. Georgette Heyer has strongly influenced her historical romances. Her love of romantic suspense came from Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt.

Her current favorite writers are Elizabeth George and Sue Grafton. In her spare time, Maggi enjoys reading and watching movies. She swims and goes to the gym to keep fit. Her novel, Murder in Devon, will be released by Black Opal Books in Spring 2012.
Maggi’s Website.

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3 thoughts on “Guest: Maggi Andersen

  1. Maria D. says:

    Great post! I do think the plot and action needs to move a little faster in a romantic suspense than say a historical romance but the romance is definitely an important factor in the story and I think that’s why I enjoy romantic suspense so much…life doesn’t move at a snail’s pace and neither does love!

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