I am please to welcome Emma Elliot to the blog today. Her novel As Darkness Gathers shows characters skirting the cliff's edge. She shares some thoughts about crafting a world of such complex emotions.
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As Darkness Gathers is, essentially, about betrayal, about varying degrees of the destruction of trust. Trust is essential in any relationship, and any chipping away of that has a rippling effect in one’s life and in his or her interactions with others. The story revolves around Finch, a woman whose reality is turned on end when she’s involved in a plane crash. Surviving that horror is only the beginning of her struggle.
“The line between friend and foe is blurred.” I think that line sums up the struggle the heroine is faced with in the story. You know how to relate to people when you know where you stand with them, when you know of their agendas toward you and their attitudes, when you know what motivates them in their interaction with you. Understanding those aspects affects your approach to the relationship. When there’s a lack of clarity regarding those aspects, you’re left in a more vulnerable position.
In As Darkness Gathers, increasingly frightening events make Finch question those around her. Someone wants to hurt her, and she isn’t sure whom she can trust. I think Finch navigates this uncertainty with a lot more aplomb than I ever would. She’s afraid and angry, of course, but she doesn’t allow it to cripple her. She refuses to be cowed and doesn’t allow the experience to make her bitter. She has a lot of grace and strength of character, even as she struggles to determine whether those she loves are the ones she can trust.
I love a good mystery, which probably comes from cutting my reading teeth on Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, and the Bobbsey Twins books. Intrigue of a multitude of sorts drives any story: the uncertainty of a relationship in a romance, the personal trials in a drama, the political machinations in a thriller, the outcome of a battle in an historical…. But I love the intrigue of a suspenseful novel, the tension and anxiety, the apprehension and puzzles.
If there’s a secret recipe to combining romance and suspense, I haven’t discovered it yet. I’ve written two different books within the genres. The first, A Thin, Dark Line, is a character-driven story that is very much a romance with a suspenseful subplot. My latest release, As Darkness Gathers, is more plot-driven, and I’d say it’s a suspense novel with a romantic subplot. I think the balance and weight of the two genres largely depends on the story and the character’s journey over the course of it.
Romance and suspense are two genres that are perfect for exploring the human story. Both—love and anxiety—have an internal and external impact on a person, and when the romance and suspense are woven together, you can better dig into the visceral fears and desires of a character. Romantic suspense is an excellent platform to study human reaction, interaction, and motivation.
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