Guest & Contest: Eliza Daly

Writing Outside the Box and My Comfort Zone

I usually write lighthearted women’s fiction and romantic comedies, like my debut novel released last October, Under Her Spell. While writing my first romantic suspense, Identity Crisis, I soon realized that cracking jokes when my hero and heroine were running for their lives wasn’t going to work. Sure, even suspense novels need a light moment now and then, not only to allow the reader to take a breath, but also the writer. However, comedy doesn’t really set the right tone for a romantic suspense. I challenged myself by writing Identity Crisis. I wrote outside my comfort zone and grew as a writer.

I start a new book by brainstorming pages of what ifs. What if you woke up tomorrow and discovered you were placed in the Federal Witness Security Program (WITSEC) when you were too young to remember? I quickly realized that my brainstorming ideas for Identity Crisis were heading down a darker path than my usual comedies, so I set my brainstorming aside for a few days. However, there is no turning off my muse. She was intrigued by the whole WITSEC idea and insisted this was also the perfect opportunity for me to put years of art forgery research to good use. So I appeased her by writing the first chapter, then the second, and before I knew it, I’d completed the rough draft. I found three major differences between writing comedy and suspense.

A comedy voice is quite different than a romantic suspense voice. That elusive author’s voice is comprised of the author’s word choice, sentence structure, tone, etc. The hero and heroine have a few light moments in Identity Crisis, and they share some fun banter, but writing a romantic suspense required a different voice and writing style. It was a struggle to constantly reign in my comedic voice, even when bullets were flying.

A romantic suspense is two stories in one. It requires a romance and a suspense plot, and together the plots must move the story forward. As a romance writer, you would think that I would be all about the romance, but I am so intrigued by art forgery and WITSEC that they overshadowed the love story. In the end, I needed to strengthen the story’s romance. A romantic suspense plot is more complex than a romantic comedy plot. I’m a total pantster, so I had to develop a plotting method to keep the story on track. I definitely became a better plotter while writing Identity Crisis.

A romantic suspense has deeper emotions than a romantic comedy. Every story needs emotion, but with a romantic suspense, lives are in jeopardy, not merely love. The heroine Olivia is on emotional overload when she discovers her dad and she were placed in WITSEC when she was five years old and that her life isn’t what she thought. Some days when I finished writing, I was as emotionally drained as Olivia.

Not only did writing outside my comfort zone enable me to grow as a writer, but it gave me the confidence to write other genres. Since writing Identity Crisis, I’ve written a young adult book and dabbled in another romantic suspense. In the near future, I plan to combine the comedy and suspense genres and embark on a lighthearted amateur sleuth series. A series where the protagonist can literally laugh in the face of death.


Contest button

Thank you so much to Romancing the Book for having me here today and helping me celebrate the release of Identity Crisis. I will be giving away a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to one commenter. To enter to win, please leave a meaningful comment or question about my post. The winner will be announced April 1 in the comment section.  Be sure to leave your email address so that Eliza can contact you. Thank you for stopping by!


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Eliza Daly's Author PicEliza Daly’s first attempt at creative writing was in fourth grade. She and her friends were huge Charlie’s Angels fans and she would sit in her bedroom at night writing scripts for them to act out at recess the following day. She was Kelly Garrett. Fast forward to the present, she’s still writing stories about beautiful women who always get their men. The journey from fourth grade script writer to published author wasn’t an easy one, but it was always an adventure and the final destination was well worth it.

When Eliza isn’t traveling for her job as an event planner, or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she’s at home in Milwaukee working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband Mark, and her cats Quigley, Frankie, and Sammy.

You can find Eliza on the web at Website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


39 thoughts on “Guest & Contest: Eliza Daly

    • I never would have dreamed of writing a RS except my muse wouldn’t leave me alone. I guess I need to listen to her more often. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  1. I love how you dared to venture in a new genre, but still maintained some of your lighthearted humor and flirty banter within the pages of the romantic suspense! I’ve yet to try your books but I always love dangerous, cut-edge thrillers laced with humor to ease the tension. Thanks for a thoughtful post, Eliza!

    ♥ Karielle Stephanie @ Books à la Mode
    thestephanieloves AT gmail DOT com

    • It was quite the learning experience Karielle. My first two books couldn’t be more opposite, but in the end I’m really glad I took the leap and wrote Identity Crisis. Thanks for stopping!

  2. Kathleen O says:

    Eliza great post.. I have not had the privilege of reading any of your books…yet…But can bet I will start off with this one..

  3. may says:

    I love suspense AND romantic comedies! Your new book sounds terrific! I will look forward to your next series since I especially love light-hearted suspense!

    maybe31 at

  4. Anne says:

    Your ability to write in many genres is great. This talent allows you to be so creative and versatile. Your book sounds compelling and special. Best wishes and much happiness.

  5. Maria D. says:

    Great post about how you managed to switch subgenres and recognized the need to change things about your author’s voice that you are comfortable with while yet keeping true to your writing. Do you have any plans to visit the “WitSec” world again and possibly turn Identity Crisis into the beginning of a series?

    • Great question Maria. I don’t plan to write a WITSEC series, but you never know. I’ve done so much research about it that it would be great to use it in another book. I am writing another book on the world of art forgery, which I hope to release next summer. It’s women’s fiction with strong romantic elements. Thanks for stopping and for the question!

  6. Sandra says:

    I for one am glad you are so adventurous in your writing! I truly enjoyed reading both Identity Crisis and Under Her Spell. I look forward to your next release!

  7. Nancy Goldberg Levine says:

    I also write romantic comedies although my first book (now out of print was mainstream. I tried my hand at humorous mysteries, but I didn’t have the discipline to follow through, so right now, I’m sticking with comedy.
    NutsieNan(at)aol (dotcom)

    • I usually know I want to write a book that has to do with a topic, such as WITSEC, and then brainstorm ideas within the topic. My brainstorming ideas free flow for hours or days, so it’s hard to say how many. I don’t go with any of my first ideas because they’ve probably been done dozens of times so I try to brainstorm out any cliched plots. Thanks for the question!

  8. Linda Mc says:

    That’s awesome that your ventured out into new writing territory. I’m curious how the adjustment was for you from being a panster to working more as a plotter for this story?

    mcdonald38 (at)

    • It was difficult and a bit time consuming, slowing down the writing procuess, because I had to find a plotting method that worked and put it into practice. But it was worth it in the end. Thanks for stopping!

  9. erinf1 says:

    Thank for sharing and congrats to Eliza on the new release! Wow.. I have the utmost respect and admiration for you! It’s very impressing that you were able to write in a completely different genre! Best wishes for the future!

  10. Cris says:

    Congrats on the new release, and welcome to my favourite genre! I’m always in awe of people who write for a living– especially those who do so in multiple genres! I feel like I can barely string together a coherent sentence in my ‘genre’ (science) without agonizing over it for 20 minutes and wanting to pull my hair out!

    P.S. That bloke on the cover? Total hotness. He can protect me any day! 😛


    • Thanks Cris, he is pretty delish isn’t he? I admire people who write strictly romantic suspense. It’s a tough genre. But in the end I’m glad I took the leap. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Angela Love says:

    Congrats Eliza Daly on your book…..I love comedy romance but I LOVE romance suspense more and I have to say this book has me wanting to read read read!!!! Thank You for going out of your comfort zone to give us readers MORE!!!!! May you continue to grow as a writer so we can continue to grow as readers!!!!!

      • Angela Love says:

        Lol….I have no copyrights to the last line of my post so you can have it….:) I just wanted to let you know that as you grow as a writer we grow as readers and that means alot!!!! well it means something to me….

  12. Rita Wray says:

    Very informative post. I love both romantic comedy and romantic suspense.


  13. Martha Lawson says:

    You are a new to me author, which I love finding. Your book sounds amazing and I can’t wait to read it. I love romantic suspense! I find the storyline about witness protection fascinating, don’t think I could ever do it! Thanks for the giveaway. Putting this one on the wish list!

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  14. BookLady says:

    Congratulations on your new book, Identity Crisis! It seems like a very exciting story. I enjoy romantic suspense with a little humor. Thanks for sharing your info on writing outside the box.

  15. Congratulations to Angela Love, the winner of a $10 gift certificate. Thank you to everyone for stopping by. I had a great time reading all the comments!

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