L J Ross: Broader Relationships Within The Crime Genre

To continue with the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s 60th anniversary celebrations and with the romantic suspense theme on my blog, today I have the amazing L J Ross talking about the broader aspects of ‘romance’ in her best selling DCI Ryan books.

Romance and romantic suspense comes in many forms, not just the hearts and flowers relationships but the toxic and damaging ones too, how would you describe the romance included within your novels?

I’d say the romance included within my novels is both aspirational and real. It ranges from quiet chats beside the television in old flannel bath robes, to excitinglife-or-death rescues in some of the most atmospheric parts of the North-East. Often, though, my readers tell me the most heart-warming moments are the everyday ones, where there’s real thought and emotion behind the many small acts of kindness one person can show to another.

Is it as straightforward as calling it romance?

I think there’s definitely ‘romance’, including the ‘meet-cute’ moments when one character first meets another, but I’d say my books are really about broader relationships: friendships, romantic partnerships, toxic partnerships of all kinds and, of course, the ultimate antithesis to romance in the form of antagonists we all love to hate.

What is it about romantic suspense that draws you to write it or include it in your books?

I think there’s something uplifting about taking the reader on a journey of discovery – and there’s no greater discovery than when one person falls in love with another, or learns to be kind to one another.

What sort of balance between the romance element and the suspense element do you have?

I’d say my books are evenly split. On the face of it, my DCI Ryan books are crime fiction, but the more readers delve into the series they often find that the thing that most draws them into the stories are the developing relationships between the six main characters.

Do you come up against any regular misconceptions about the genre and how do you dispel these?

I think there will always be readers who have strong polarised preferences for either suspense or romance, and they will never enjoy books which balance the two as much as ones that reflect their own preference. However, I’ve found that many readers who came to my series by reading ‘Holy Island’ have found themselves surprised that they rather like romantic suspense fiction after all!


Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory.

When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation.

Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set on the spectacular Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, cut off from the English mainland by a tidal causeway.

The Writing Process

I have been invited by ChocLit author and Romaniac pal, Laura E James, to take part in a blog hop where we answer a few questions about our writing process. Laura posted last week; it’s fascinating to see how everyone works. You can go to her blog by clicking HERE.

In the meantime, here’s how I do it …

1. What am I working on?

I am currently working on my third full length novel called, Where It All Began. The premises or theme, if you like, of the story is what mothers do for the love of their child; it looks at the extremes of that love and the reasoning behind their actions, both good and bad. There is, of course, some romance and a bit of a mystery.

Screen shot

2. How does my writing differ from others in that genre?

Ooh, a tough question. First of all what genre am I writing in? Romance. Suspense. Mystery. Crime. Women’s fiction. Yes, to all of those, I suppose.  When I was writing my second novel, Closing In, which is currently with my publisher, I was often asked the genre. My reply was that it’s a mixture of romance and crime, so I coined the term ‘crimance’. Where It All Began has those elements too, so I’m carrying on in the same genre of ‘crimance’. How does it differ? I can only say is that I write it my way, with my voice.

3. Why do I write what I do?

That’s a more easy question. I love reading thrillers, whether they are police procedural, suspense or mystery, I really enjoy that sort of story. Equally, I enjoy reading about relationships; all that love and stuff! Combining the two is what I get the most pleasure and satisfaction out of when I’m writing.

books for blog

4. How does my writing process work?

My process has developed over time. These days I like to come up with a theme or a premise first. Once I’ve got that then I can start creating scenarios, mysteries, conflict. The characters seem to come along simultaneously. Sometimes, especially at the early planning stages, there is such a mish-mash of ideas going on in my head that I’m sure if you look at my thoughts, they would resemble an old fashioned jumble sale circa. 1975, about 10 minutes after the doors have opened, where everything is a complete mess, items tossed around, discarded, picked back up again, put in the wrong place and every now and then you find a gem of a buy for 10p. By the time the sale is over, you’ve come away with some great items and some not so great ones. In the safety of your own home you can sort through and decide what to keep and what to put back in for the next jumble sale. Well, that’s my writing process.

Jumble Sale of Thoughts
Jumble Sale of Thoughts

Next week, I’m passing the baton onto my fellow Harper Impulse author, Teresa Morgan who blogs as The Wittering Woman and this is what she says about herself.

I was born and bred in Surrey, but since 1998 I have lived in sunny Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset. I live with my two sons – trying very hard to hold onto my Surrey accent!

I am at my happiest baking cakes, putting proper home cooked dinners on the table (whether the kids eat them or not), reading a good romance, or sitting at my PC emptying the thoughts from my head onto the screen.

I love writing contemporary romance, creating heroes readers will fall in love with. Men who in reality, let’s face it, just don’t exist.  I love creating stories with a touch of escapism.