Continuing on with the romantic suspense guests post to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, today I’m pleased to welcome Rosie Travers who talks about how her books are difficult to pin down into one genre …
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?
A complication. As a reader the most important element of any novel for me has to a gripping storyline, so in my writing I would describe the romance between my characters as a subplot, as opposed to the main focus of the story. I like to create feisty female lead characters – these women aren’t necessary looking for, or indeed need, a romance in their lives, and when it comes along it brings added complications, more hurdles to jump in their emotional journeys.
Is it as straightforward as calling it romance?
I wouldn’t describe either of the novels I’ve had published so far as ‘romance’. The Theatre of Dreams crosses many genres, the main focus of the story is the relationship between two actresses, united in their desire to save an historic seaside theatre. The novel was written with the intention of being essentially fun and uplifting, as well as a tribute and a lament to the loss of a traditional part of the entertainment industry – the seaside pavilion. The big question is will the plot to save the pavilion succeed? The romance is an added bonus.
In Your Secret’s Safe With Me, again the romance is not paramount to the main plotline which focusses on the changing family dynamic between Becca, her mother Pearl, and younger brother Freddy, following Pearl’s surprise engagement. The family uproot from their London home to a tightknit coastal community. When Becca encounters Nick, an old flame, he warns her the family are in danger, but she has no reason to trust him. As she becomes aware of some illicit activities on the waterfront, she faces a dilemma. Is he warning her away because he’s actually embroiled in the illegal activities himself?
What is it about romantic suspense that draws you to write it or include it in your books?
I write the type of books I like to read – a story that will keep me guessing with unpredictable plot twists and turns. When a reader tells me they ‘didn’t see that coming’ I know I’ve hit the right note. In both books I’ve published so far, my heroines have a lot at stake if their course of action goes wrong. It’s important to keep readers on tenterhooks.
What sort of balance between the romance element and the suspense element do you have?
There always has to be an element of ‘not knowing’ to make a reader want to turn the page. I like creating that element of intrigue, whether it’s a battle against external forces, the villians of the piece, or a will-they-wont-they romantic interlude. I am a romantic at heart and I like a HEA, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be tears, or some heart in the mouth moments along the way.
Do you come up against any regular misconceptions about the genre and how do you dispel these?
I dislike genres because my books just don’t seem to fit into an easy pigeonhole. I was once at a book fair and a browsing customer asked me what type of books I wrote. When I said ‘romantic comedy’ she moved swiftly on! We can’t please all the people all of the time, but I do now generalise my novels as ‘women’s fiction’ because they encompass so many different themes – family drama, romance, suspense, all served up with a good dose of humour. It does sound like a bit of a hotchpotch so I’m always glad when people tell me it’s worked for them!
Career girl Becca Gates’ organised life is thrown into chaos with her mother, romantic novelist Pearl, announces her surprise engagement to Jack, a man she has only just met. Worse news follows when Pear tells Becca she intends to leave London, quit writing and retire to her new finance’s idyllic waterside home on the south coast. Becca is determined to prevent Pearl from making a disastrous mistake, but when she arrives at Rivermede, more shocks await when she stumbles upon a familiar yet unwelcome face from her past. As Pearl embraces her new life amongst the local sailing fraternity, Becca receives a grim warning that all is not as calm as it seems at picturesque Rivermede, and if she wants to keep her family safe, she should keep them away. But why should Becca trust the man who has betrayed her before, the man who broke her heart, the man who thinks he knows all her secrets?