Friday, February 13, 2009

Killing Me .... Softly?

Carol Steward here to share why I love writing suspense. Christian romantic suspense to be more specific. What is it about this genre that works SOOOO well? Mystery, heroism, faith, and justice.

For me, it's the perfect blend. When I was a child, one of my favorite books was Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parish. I still have that book, and I still love it as much as I ever did. I can't wait until my grandchildren are old enough to share it with me. (pictured to the right) It's adventure filled story about three siblings who solve an old family mystery that has eluded generations of children before them. And of course, the mystery is heightened by the fact that the kids are ordinary siblings who bicker and fight, keep secrets, and overcome the odds of finding the treasures hidden by their great, great, great grandfather when he left for the Civil War.

In spite of that first love of mystery, the fast-pace of suspense and drama have captured my grown-up heart. Since my father was a deputy sheriff, I suspect that is where my initial interest in crime and justice was first born. We lived in a small town, and though life was pretty quiet, there were a few incidents that encouraged me to move from writing pure romance to suspense, where the hero and heroine overcome all odds to find true love, no matter what is falling apart around them.

My earliest recollection of true suspense was when I was about 8 years old. My family lived in and owned a small motel in northeastern Colorado. Dad had been a deputy in Wyoming, and after they bought the motel, he was asked to serve again as a deputy. Dad had just come home from work and was watching the news when he heard about a jailbreak in our hometown three hours away. My teen-age sister had checked some guests into a motel room right after school, and suddenly dad became suspicious. By that time, the car was gone, and it appeared the men had stopped to clean up and had taken off again. He grumbled all evening about "missing" them. Late that night, Mom and Dad shoved all of us kids to the far side of the house, called in backup, and took the revolver (hey, it was a long time ago) off the piano. He was barking orders to us, talking on the phone to the dispatcher, telling each officer where to position themselves, and putting his uniform back on. As soon as other officers arrived, Dad and the other cops surrounded the room, front and back of the building, and arrested the felons. What my parents didn't know was that I'd snuck back into their bedroom and was watching the entire (uneventful) arrest. Had I written it, it would have been far more interesting. What I still laugh about to this day is the fact that these felons had broken out of the very jail where we'd lived, (just like in old Westerns, the sheriff and deputy lived in the same building as the jail) and escaped to the motel where the current deputy lived. Truth is really not much stranger than fiction.

As a reader and a writer, I love when everything is going wrong in the story, danger is looming, and just thinking about the hero or heroine can turn them into a "superhero" who fiercely defends the other, beyond any of their normal abilities.

Like true life, writing suspense has a lot of conflict and things going wrong. And yet, reliance on God allows good to overcome evil and love to prevail. Had I not lived with a hero or two, or several, I probably wouldn't enjoy suspense so much. I know that God can use any of us to stand up to evil. And we can win. It's certainly more fun to write it than it is to live it, though God never lets a good suspense go to waste. :o) Maybe that's why quirky crimes have "happened" to me. God is simply providing motivation for me to share with all of you.

Happy reading, and writing. Stay safe out there!

Carol Steward


Margaret Daley said...

Adorable picture!!!

PamelaTracy said...

What a great story. Tell us what the jail where you lived looked like! You did your job, you writer you, I'm hooked.

Carol Steward said...

Yes, he's a cutie! I'm glad you think so too, Margaret!

As for the "jail" home, it was two or three levels, with the sheriff's apartment upstairs, ours in the basement, and the jail and offices were on another "level" and "wing" off the back. It's a sandstone building with blonde brick, if I remember correctly. I hear stories of it, but since I lived there from birth until 3, when we moved to Colorado, I only remember what it looked like from the outside. From what they tell me, it was "compact" inside, and the rooms were the kind that you had to go through one room to get to another. I doubt it is still used as living quarters these days!

Debby Giusti said...

Great story about your dad going up against the bad guys! Love your grandbaby. What a cutie!

Debby Giusti said...

Great story about your dad going up against the bad guys! Love your grandbaby. What a cutie!

Dana Mentink said...

I totally agree. Suspense is a "perfect blend."