It's not easy to strike the right balance of suspense and romance. With She Can Run, I wanted to capture the thriller audience and satisfy romance readers with a careful mix of story elements. My particular blend is a factor of my eclectic reading tastes.
I grew up reading Nancy Drew. As a teen, mysteries were far more interesting than teenage angst. I had enough angst of my own, thank you. So when all my friends were reading adolescent specific novels, I was ripping through my mother’s extensive collection of Agatha Christie books. Being a total geek, I went through books like other girls went through lip gloss. In high school, I discovered Stephen King. Romance came into the picture in college. Once I read my first Nora Roberts, I was hooked.
As much as I enjoy a grisly murder mystery or a scary creature feature, I’m also a hopeless romantic . Stories need to end on a positive note. I like it when characters go through the ringer, but in the end, I need my happily-ever-after. I crave the emotional payoff.
When I write I use color-coded note cards to plot the layered elements of romance and suspense. I put them on a giant magnetic board to get a visual impression of the story and the blend. When I've completed a novel, I give it to a romance writer friend who ensures the romance is strong enough. And then it goes to my husband who reads it to make sure the romance doesn’t overpower the thriller/mystery elements. He issues a "man-friendly seal of approval" when he thinks the mix is just right.
Melinda Leigh is a writer and avid martial artist. She holds a 2nd degree belt in Kenpo Karate, studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and teaches women’s self-defense. She lives in a messy house in the suburbs with her husband, two teenagers, a couple of dogs and one neurotic cat with an inexplicable fear of ceiling fans.