Monday, October 29, 2012

Write What You Fear?

At Amazon

My guest this week is Linda Lovely, author of the new romantic suspense Final Accounting as well as the Marley Clark mysteries.

We’ve all heard the old saw—write what you know. Oh, really?
Fortunately, most authors of romantic suspense, mysteries, and thrillers have never been shot, beaten, handcuffed, kidnapped, stalked or targeted by a relentless assassin. So does that mean we can’t write about heroines and heroes thrown into terrifying situations?
Of course not. There is a way to write what we “know” when we place our heroines/heroes in dangerous situations we’ve never experienced. Method actors do it all the time. They draw on the real emotions that gripped them at some point in their lives.
I suffer from “moderate” vertigo and a fear of heights. Years ago, when I was a partner in a PR firm that prepared feature articles for corporate clients, I covered the Miss Universe contest for a Hollywood lighting equipment manufacturer. The client specified it wanted a photo (I was both writer and photographer) taken from “above” to spotlight its lighting equipment with the Miss Universe contestants on the stage below. To get the shot, I was allowed to climb the scaffolding during rehearsals. (Did I mention this contest was NOT held in the USA where OSHA standards might apply?)
As I scooted along the beam, the whole rickety structure seemed to sway. I was terrified. Sweat beaded on my forehead. My heart raced. My fingers were so sweaty I could barely focus the camera. I got dizzy. Closed my eyes. Tried to steady my breathing. I watched a sweat droplet plummet and wondered if the lady below thought there was a leak in the roof. The incongruous thought made me want to giggle. Edge of hysteria? Maybe.
I’ve now published three books. The plots are quite different. But—what a surprise—my heroines all suffer from vertigo and a fear of heights and find themselves in situations where they must overcome those fears to survive.
In DearKiller, Marley Clark climbs to the pinnacle of a lighthouse to flee a gunman. In No Wake Zone, the sequel to Dear Killer, Marley must leap from a rooftop to the scaffolding of a roller coaster to lure a killer away from her cousin. In FinalAccounting, my new romantic thriller, Nexi Ketts rappels into the depths of a cave that’s deeper than the Statue of Liberty is tall.
Do you take advantage of your fears and remembered emotions when you write? If so, do you have fears that resurface in different guises in your manuscripts? 
Nexi Ketts has reinvented herself—new name, new look, new life. She makes her living catching corporate cheats, partial atonement for dear old dad’s embezzling ways.
A fling with a handsome cop ends badly when he tries to kill her. She flees, naked, causing a fender bender, and making it damn hard for Detective Barry Gerton to think clearly. A second vicious attack convinces Barry the secretive Nexi, who has her very own FBI dossier, is the target of a professional assassin.
Determined to protect her, Barry unexpectedly falls in love. Nexi yields to the same sizzling attraction. Trust is another matter... Nexi has secrets to guard. And Barry’s been burned before.
Yet once the couple lands in Jamaica, trust is no longer a luxury. Amid the trappings of paradise, they need each other to survive a heart-stopping, cross-island game of hide-and-seek and a harrowing descent into the depths of Dragon’s Throat cave.

Linda Lovely’s romantic suspense novels pair suspense, action, and adventure with romance and humor. Final Accounting, her newest thriller, previously claimed finalist spots in RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart and Daphne du Maurier contests. Dear Killer, the first in Lovely’s Marley Clark romance-laced mystery series, was a finalist in the 2011 RWA Golden Quill competition for published novels.


Polly Iyer said...

Excellent post, Linda. I was just talking about putting yourself in the body of your main character with a writer friend. You're right. A writer must become the person s/he is writing about--not only the H/h, but the secondary characters too. Come to think of it, I wonder why all my heroines are smart-asses. Hmm, food for thought.

Linda Lovely said...

Thanks for stopping by, Polly. Yep, we can use our experiences (and personalities) even if our heroines encounter very different situations. What a shock, my heroines tend to have smart mouths, too.

Marni said...

And I've made Nora Tierney a bit of a smart ass, too . . .
As for fears, I have a crumbling spine and fear the day I may end up wheelchair-bound. In The Green Remains I have not one but two men confined to their metal carriages.

Linda Lovely said...

Marni, let's hope all the wheelchairs remain strictly on paper. Hope Sandy didn't dump too much water on you.

Ellis Vidler said...

Linda, so glad you could be here today. I'm glad to see Final Accounting out too. I bought it the first day and love it. I can see how some of the things in the article fit into the story. Cool! :-)

Linda Lovely said...

Thanks, Ellis. I had a lot of fun writing Final Accounting. It's fun to be brave (on paper) and conquer our fears.

Suzanne said...

The layers of fears in a protagonist can play a tremendous role in the development of the protagonist's character arc in a series. Many things we fear are just what's on the surface. You can drill down/peel away layers and find bigger fears. So a protagonist, having faced one particular fear early in the series, discovers that there are worse fears.

Many years ago, I sought therapy to help me with my fears of spiders and flying in airplanes. The therapist, in a slightly condescending speech, informed me that most people fear specific things for no concrete reason, and these phobias were all about the Freudian subconscious, yadda yadda. For example, he wanted to know, had I ever been bitten by a spider? "Yes," I replied, "and the ones in South Florida, where I grew up, are as big as your hand." I then told him about the plane crash I'd been in when I was about ten years old. He stared at me, speechless, a few seconds. Then he said, "You don't have phobias. You have fears that are justified. If I'd had your experiences, I'd have those fears, too. Good luck." And that'll be fifty bucks.

Gloria Alden said...

I don't have many fears, but I do have a fear of heights, too, and although I don't often have bad dreams, when I do I'm often on a narrow and very rickety walkway high in the air and can't find a safe way down.

Cindy Sample said...

Hi Linda. A very insightful blog post as always. I didn't know you had a fear of heights. So that's why you keep torturing poor Marley.

I'm fine with enclosed heights like 100 story buildings but chair lifts make me hyperventilate. Nevertheless, I make myself ski once a year just to prove I can get over it. And Laurel, my protag, is just like me so I'm making her ride a zip line in Hawaii.

Wait until she sees what happens to her on that ride. What we do to our poor characters!

Carole St-Laurent said...

Great post, Linda. I didn't know you had vertigo. I never experienced the feeling until just recently. Not fun. No parachuting for me!