I like desserts too, but I prefer oatmeal raisin cookies over apple pie. That, at least, conjures up an image:
So why do I write suspense? Why am I, a recluse writer from Cluculz Lake, drawn to the darker side of human nature?
They say you write what you like. Five of my top favourite movies (in no particular order) are:
I am David
Enemy at the Gate
Shot Through the Heart
My favourite TV shows:
The Good Wife
The Big Bang Theory (even suspense writers need to laugh)
Last but not least, some of my favourite novels:
War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
The Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
The Bleeding Heart, by Marilyn French
Heaven's Prisoner, by James Lee Burke
The Traveler, by John Katzenbach
I have many other favourites writers such as Lustbader, Pyeatt, Hoare, V.L. Smith, Engber, Grisham... but I digress. I'm here to understand why I choose suspense over all the other genres. Why indeed. I'm curious if any of these answers resonate with you, if you're a suspense writer?
1. I dislike conflict in my life and writing suspense gives me a chance to work out those demons. (I'll delve more into this at the bottom)
2. I like a quiet routine and feel safer getting my thrills through books, movies, TV.
3. Reading about how ordinary heroic characters fight the system and even themselves to do the right thing always appeals to me.
4. I enjoy witnessing the triumph of a protagonist risking all to save someone s/he loves.
5. I connect with characters who love deeply but have difficulties expressing it, and therefore often lose out in the end.I write suspense novels because I'm comfortable doing so. Things can always change, but for now the other genres feel too foreign to me. Writing historical adventures or historical romance, I wouldn't know how to begin. S/F look like more work than I'm capable of. While I can see myself attempting a children's book one day, comedy is a stretch I can't imagine making.
I've written 6 manuscripts; two are published. It wasn't until number four that I realized my books had a reoccurring theme. Each story touches upon the complexities of the parent/child relationship.
My first manuscript (unpublished) Always Father's Child, deals with the relationship of a girl and her father. A coming-of-age story. In the opening scenes, we're at his funeral. The story then travels back in time where the protagonist tries to shake his influence on her life. It's only through his death that she realizes her mistakes.
My second (first published) novel, Dead Witness, available now in Kindle/Kobo, is the story of a woman orphaned at 14, who cannot overcome the loss of her parents. Determined to never abandon her own children, after a horrific encounter, she's ready to give up her life to save them.
Kiss of the Assassin, yet to be published, is the story of a child who witnesses the murder/suicide of her parents, and spends the majority of her adult life striving for the love of her guardian, a man who, throughout her childhood, hints that she'll return to the orphanage if she displeases him. He trains her as an assassin to advance his career. He's motivated by proving to his estranged father that he was a worthy son and should have never been abandoned.
Broken but not Dead, is the story of professor Brendell Kisepisim Meshango, a Metis woman who was never loved by her mother, but who will die if she must, to save her daughter from a deranged psychopath.
None of these characters mirror my life. I was loved by devoted parents. But having known loss, I suppose my head needs to understand what my heart often can't. Writing suspense enables me to delve into the emotions that might otherwise render me useless. Through my characters, good and bad, I live out my fantasies and win in the end. Because, as we all know, we don't always win in life.
And this is why I love suspense, the uncertainty of it.