Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Returning to the scene of the crime

I like to write romance. I like the developing love story, the baggage that the protagonists bring to the party - lots and lots of baggage, please - and I definitely like the happy ending. I can find plenty in the real world to depress me, so between the covers I like things to have a positive resolution and hope. I'm an escapist reader and I write for those who feel the same way. So why do my books always seem to have a crime in them?

And it's getting worse. The romantic suspense have crime, that's a given, that's the suspense bit. I love writing them, and exercising my darker side. But now the rom-coms are going that way too. Summer in San Remo had what I call a light dusting of crime, but the sequel, on which I am now working, centres around attempts to catch a con artist, and the two others that are floating about in the ether, have jewel and art thieves. They are still the lighter, more glamorous side of crime, if you can call crime glamorous, which is, of course, very debatable. No one wants to be on the receiving end of a crime, but there is no doubt that we like reading about them. I expect learned theses have been written about this, but I think it comes down to vicarious excitement. A little walk on the wild side, from a safe place. My rom-coms are about jewel thieves on the Rivera and the Ocean's Eleven type efforts to thwart a villain, but even if it's jewels and art it's still crime. Theft and fraud, but still crime. Somehow it seems that stealing art and jewelry make it more romantic. Which is weird, when you think of it, but there it is. Two of my favourite films are the two versions of the Thomas Crown Affair, which must have an effect on the romantic comedies. Also there is the plotting. Not the kind that goes into the book, but the sort you see on the screen or page, a team or an individual planning and executing something that eventually runs like clockwork. Sometime the watcher doesn't even understand what's going on, but it's still fascinating.

No one dies in the rom-coms, unlike the romantic suspense, when quite a lot of people die, and some of then in a quite unpleasant ways. My next romantic suspense has a gruesome opening setting, of a murder/suicide, although you don't actually see anything. I think my imagination, and yours, can paint a picture without too much description.  I know that detailed descriptions are quite popular at the moment in some books, but its not for me. I'm more interested in the effect that the horror has on my hero and heroine, who manage to lose each other on that night, and only re-discover each other after a long period apart. And, of course, that means there is quite a lot of baggage ...

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