Thursday, March 31, 2011

S is for Suspense

This week I'm pleased to welcome author Lynn Romaine who will talk about the 'S' word--Suspense


“Suspense is a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety about the outcome of certain actions, most often referring to an audience's perceptions in a dramatic work. Suspense is not exclusive to fiction, though. Suspense may operate in any situation where there is a lead up to a big event or dramatic moment, with tension being a primary emotion felt as part of the situation. In the kind of suspense described by film director Alfred Hitchcock, an audience experiences suspense when they expect something bad to happen and have (or believe they have) a superior perspective on events in the drama's hierarchy of knowledge, yet they are powerless to intervene to prevent it from happening.” (from Wikipedia)

Well, there it is – the S word. Many of us love it, read it and even write it. Like a lot of young girls, my first suspense book, Rebecca by D. DuMaurier, got me hooked. I fell in love with anything dangerous--from DuMaurier to Victoria Holt to Mary Stewart.

So when I started my first novel eight years ago, I never considered writing anything but murder and mayhem, the heroine in dire straits, always coming out the winner.

Whether you are a reader or a writer, why do you like suspense books? The question is probably a moot one, since most of us would say we read (and write) for the pleasure of it.

And all stories contain tension or suspense, even a cozy mystery, where something is at stake. Whether it’s Pride and Prejudice or Silence of the Lambs, we hold our collective breaths and hope for a good outcome. Happily it’s fiction and we know when it’s over, we’ll still be safe and sound in our comfy armchair.

Let’s get to the S word and connect it up to the Lisbeth of my title. Suspense is the best way I can think of to write tension and I don’t have to try hard to make sure it’s included. Just have a stranger leap out on my heroine, grab her and toss her to the ground. The good part is I can also turn her into a super-heroine, who fights her way out of the man’s clutches and, better still, she can get even by jumping into his car and backing over him! Pretty gruesome, right? What’s a middle-aged woman like me doing writing that kind of stuff? Well, it feels great to create a world where women have the upper hand, where they are not mincing about, afraid they might wander down some dark alley.

So I write suspense. My best recent model of the perfect heroine is Lisbeth Salander, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It’s no accident this book has sold over thirty million books. Lisbeth does what every female secretly dreams about—getting even with the bad guys. So I write suspense where I can guarantee this happens. I am now working on book six and, as usual, it looks like it is going to end badly for my heroine, Sonny Betancourt, who is stalked, run over, beaten up, and eventually kidnapped. But never fear, I write suspense and my heroine always wins.

You can find Lynn Romaine on the web at: and at

Buy this Book

Coming June, 2011
Turquoise Morning Press



Rosemary Gemmell said...

Oh, I do like suspense, Lynn, so I enjoyed your post! Rebecca is one of my all-time favourites, as well as Jane Eyre. As for Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart - their books still sit on my shelves for a re-read! With such tastes in common, I really must check out your novels.

Marie McGaha said...

I love suspense, it's my favorite genre. The scariest book I ever read was called City of the Dead. I don't remember who wrote it and I think it's out of print now. I couldn't read it at night, even with the lights on, and could only read like 5 pages at a time without being so scared, I had to put it down! Of course,I was only 19 then but it gave me the willys and love for suspense.

Teresa K. said...

Oh I do love suspense also. I think one of the most suspenseful movie I watched was Salems Lot and Tommyknockers by Stephen King or even Misery had me on edge.

Thanks for your great blog post.

Teresa K.

Carol McPhee said...

I know how enthusiastic you are about suspense. For me, though, I write it, it's not my choice for a read other than for critiquing. Suspense winds me up tight with anticipation where I'd prefer to relax. lol. You do it well though. Carol

Judi said...

Thanks, ladies, for the supportive comments. Suspense rules - now if only I could sell a million books!

Fiona McGier said...

Ah suspense, where females can be the winners who foil the plots of the evil about wish-fulfillment! Thanks for sharing your insights.

Theresa Grant said...

I started with Rebecca too! Nothing like a good suspense.

Tracy March said...

Hi Lynn!

I love suspense. I write suspense. Suspense rocks! And I totally agree that Lisbeth Salander is a wonderful, multi-dimensional protagonist. Wish she was mine!

Ilona Fridl said...

Fun post! It really made me think about why I love reading and writing suspense. I always loved a book with action and you can get the adrenaline going!

Therese said...

I love reading suspense! Sometimes books wind me so tight, I feel like my skin is going to peel off before I find out what's going to happen. But that's fun! And I agree-Lisbeth Salander was an awesome heroine, loved those books, and loved that she got even! I will definitely check out your books, since it seems we have a common interest in reading choice!