I’m a huge admirer of writers who take risks and try new things in their work, so I’m especially delighted to welcome guest author Kassandra Lamb as she discusses her foray into romantic suspense. Below is Kassandra’s essay, followed by a description of her trilogy written under the name of Jessica Dale, buy links, her bio, and contact links.
Outside My Comfort Zone: A Mystery Writer Tackles Romantic Suspense
by Kassandra Lamb, writing as Jessica Dale
Twice in my fourteen-year writing career, I’ve opened my eyes in the morning with an entire story laid out in my mind. Not just a general idea, but all the plot points. And some of the scenes were already writing themselves as I scrambled into my clothes and headed for my computer.
In both instances, the stories were not my typical traditional or cozy mysteries. The first, a novella, was as much a horror story as a mystery, with a male protagonist and a couple of ghosts. I published it as a stand-alone that Halloween.
The second time this happened, it was a steamy romantic thriller (very steamy).
Why, I asked myself, was my muse trying to divert me down this new path? But when your muse grabs you by the throat like that, you have no choice but to write down the words. Otherwise, they will keep you awake nights until you do.
So, I took a deep breath, created a new pen name (because of the steam level of some of the stories), and dove into the world of romantic suspense.
I didn’t think it would be that hard to write some more books to round out “Jessica’s” bookshelf. After all, my two mystery series had romantic subplots. I knew how to write a love scene.
Ha! Writing romance is not as easy as it looks. An occasional romantic moment as a subplot is not nearly the same thing as filling half a novel with the ebb and flow (that sometimes devolves into a tug of war) of a budding love story.
AND all the while, one has to maintain the tension of a suspense story! You can’t let the romance slow the pacing down.
But even though writing romantic suspense was harder than I thought it would be, there was one advantage.
In many romances I’ve read through the years, the conflicts/misunderstandings between the couple seemed a little contrived. But in romantic suspense, the mystery part of the story provides plenty of opportunities for tension, without having to reach to create conflict between the main characters.
And fighting for one’s survival (or for those you love) alongside an attractive member of the opposite sex, that definitely makes for a bonding experience.
For me, the writer, this new challenge has made me stretch well beyond my comfort zone. I just completed the third book in a sweet-romance trilogy that starts with that first novella, Payback—the one-part mystery/one-part ghost story that sprang from my subconscious so effortlessly, thus luring me into believing the other two books in the trilogy would come as easily.
But now that they’re done, I’m pleased with the outcome. During the course of the three books (each a complete mystery), two gun-shy souls struggle to overcome the disappointments and betrayals of the past and learn to trust each other, the strength of their love, and most importantly themselves.
Even though it’s been hard at times, I’m glad I accepted my muse’s challenge and stepped out of my comfort zone (or, to be more accurate, allowed myself to be dragged out of it). I’ve learned a lot.
And I’ve developed a whole new respect for romance writers!
Please note: To celebrate the completion of the trilogy, I’m putting both Payback and Backlash on sale for 99 cents from 9/28 through the following week. (Payback will remain at 99 cents.)
About the Unintended Consequences Trilogy:
One autumn afternoon changed everything!
Payback ~ James Fitzgerald is looking forward to a relaxing weekend with friends. Instead he walks into a blood bath, and a cryptic message points to him as the killer. As he attempts to both clear his name and resist his attraction to his lovely neighbor Carrie, he discovers some shocking truths about his family…and wonders if he should’ve let sleeping ghosts lie.
Backlash ~ Taking it slow is no longer an option for James and Carrie’s new relationship when her teenage son appears at her door, leading her abusive estranged husband right to her. But the batterer brings more baggage to the Virginia woods than just his rage at the wife who ran away.
Backfire ~ James’s divorced friend Mary finally goes on a date, which culminates in a hope-inspiring kiss. Until the middle of the night when a rapist breaks into her apartment—a masked man who smells like her date’s aftershave. Frantic, she flees to James’s secluded house in Virginia. But no place is safe, for her rapist is determined to possess her…and even the ghost of her murdered friend may not be able to protect her.
Jessica Dale is the alter ego of retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer, Kassandra Lamb. She has been a human resources administrator, counselor, business owner and college professor. Now she enjoys writing romantic suspense stories with a psychological twist (and the occasional ghost). She is the author of the Unintended Consequences trilogy, the Binding Love duet, and the romantic thriller, Bartered Innocence.
You can connect with Jessica/Kassandra at: