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Starlightmntn
06-16-2005, 07:09 PM
I am struggling to properly catagorize the novel that I am querying for. Here is the blurb:
*****
Locals call the area the Hickory Barrens. There, among the forests and abandoned farmland, three lonely houses stand. When Jason Evans moves with his parents into the Masterson House, nightmares of being buried and ghostly apparitions hint at a history of murder and tragedy. Jason meets Cynthia Grey, the great granddaughter of the original Masterson family, and a presence in the house takes notice. When the secrets of the three houses and the generations who lived there are revealed, Jason must face his own role in the cloud of mystery overhanging the Hickory Barrens.

THE HICKORY BARRENS (108,000 words) is a romantic suspense novel in the style of Tawni O’Dell meets M. Night Shyamalan.
*****

In essence, it is a gothic story, a supernatural suspense with strong romance elements. I am wondering whether I should continue to catagorize it as a romantic suspense as I did above. My concerns are: (1) men don't seem to write romantic suspense, presumably because (2) protagonists in romantic suspense novels tend to be women (as a man, I don't feel qualified to write from the female perspective) and (3) men tend not write in the romance style (i.e., my writing has a different feel than a classic romance).

Am I in trouble?--Too romantic for a true suspense and too harsh (can't think of a better word) for romantic suspense? How would you catagorize Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews? I think my story is similar in balance between romance and suspense.

Thanks for any opinions!

Susan Gable
06-16-2005, 08:22 PM
I

Thanks for any opinions!

First, there are some men who write romance. :) Ken Casper writes as K.N. Casper for Harlequin Superromance. He's not the only one, either. Some of his books have a suspense thread, too.

Now, to your blurb. As long as the relationship between Jason and Cynthia is critical to the story, and takes a central part of the story, then romance applies. (As long as they also have a HEA - they have to be together in some form at the end. No longer has to be an actual marriage proposal, but romance readers want the hero and heroine together at the end.)

I think this: a gothic story, a supernatural suspense with strong romance elements - sums it up quite nicely. Why not use that when you need to categorize it in a query/cover letter?

Some romantic suspense has become very gritty these days.

Flowers in the Attic - I certainly wouldn't call that romance in any shape. :) Incest is generally frowned upon in romance. LOL. It was kind of gothic in ways, and it did have suspense. I'd just call it popular/commercial fiction. I know, that's not helpful. Sorry!

Best of luck to you!

Susan G.

Susan Gable
06-16-2005, 08:23 PM
First, there are some men who write romance. :) Ken Casper writes as K.N. Casper for Harlequin Superromance. He's not the only one, either. Some of his books have a suspense thread, too.

Susan G.

Oh, and Ken often asks his wife for input on the female POV's and such. Hey, I write male POV's. There's nothing wrong with a man writing female POV's. If you want to make sure you're not going too far wrong, get some women to read it for you - and just remember, all women are different, so you've got some wiggle room! <G>

Susan G.

Cathy C
06-17-2005, 01:13 AM
Don't forget about Tony Kariyianni, who writes with his wife as Tori Carrington for H/S. I think they've done some romantic suspense for Superromance. And then there's Nicholas Sparks (not suspense, but WOW!)

Susan Gable
06-17-2005, 02:25 AM
Don't forget about Tony Kariyianni, who writes with his wife as Tori Carrington for H/S. I think they've done some romantic suspense for Superromance. And then there's Nicholas Sparks (not suspense, but WOW!)

Nicholas doesn't quite count as romance, either, because of the missing HEA. Still, he writes love stories and does quite well at it, doesn't he? :)

Susan G.

NCwriter
06-17-2005, 07:49 AM
Harold Lowry writes as Leigh Greenwood. Not suspense, but a very successful male romance author.


On the subject of Nicholas Sparks, he says himself, “I don’t write romance novels…..I write love stories, a completely different genre.” But, boy, he sure is making a killing writing those love stories :)

Writer2011
06-17-2005, 08:02 AM
I would consider writing a Romantic Thriller.....I have tons of ideas, just can't seem to get them down on paper...

Nateskate
06-17-2005, 04:46 PM
I would consider writing a Romantic Thriller.....I have tons of ideas, just can't seem to get them down on paper...

I love the idea of contextual romance. I'm not sure that is what you are talking about. (You'll have to excuse me, I'm still quite pregnant with books, and my carrying hasn't been glamorus. After delivery, this will hold much more weight, so please excuse me)

I've called my story an Epic Fantasy, but it has a bit of Romantic Thriller in it, and all intentionally. Book two's first two chapters are sort of an elaborate flashback. But chapter three begins the core of the story, with an early thirties widow, alone in their slapped together peasant home, waiting for her fifteen year old to return from a campout with his friends. He is days late, and she goes into a panic, and begins to wonder if she's reaped seeds she's sown. Over time, you learn she is a Princess, who ran away from home shortly after turning sixteen, to get away from the dog and poney shows, and an arranged marriage.

She has kept her identity hidden. Her parents assumed she was kidnapped, and has been dead for years. She fears if she comes out of hiding, her father will storm their kingdom. But then her son gets lost in what is the most dangerous place on earth, and she has to decide where she can go for help.

She won't go home, because she fears if her father finds her son, he will not only throw him into the life she hated, but use him forever to manipulate and control her.

She quickly learns, that it's a terrible thing to be an impoverished peasant woman with a lost son, and ultimately turns to the lord of the territory for help. When he will not help her as a peasant, she discloses her true identity, and sets off all sorts of events. Of course, no one believes her at first. I absolutely love the banter going on between this lord, and the Princess. It's this dance, where she is worried that he is using her. In fact, he is using her, but he has real feelings for her. Does he betray her secret to her powerful father, because he needs his assistance,and can't afford to have him as an enemy? Without his help, he is certain to lose his kingdom to an enemy at his doorstep.

Eventually, in book three, his castle is stormed, and this lord saves her life, and they are cast into a journey where all masks come off.

Throw in there's an unseen war for their world, with a bevy of Fire Lords, Wind Lords, Giants, little people, and kingdoms preparing for war. It is an Epic Fantasy, so it all has to be very contextual.

Oh, it just gets better and better. The lost Princess had a younger sister, She is the most beautiful woman in the kingdom, and was only a child when the older Princess left. She was told her sister was kidnapped and was killed, which is used as leverage to keep her from taking risks. When she finds out her sister isn't dead, she decides the world isn't a dangerous place, and steals her fathers royal seal. She decieves a captain of the horsemen to accompany her to find her sister, which sets off all sorts of new problems. They are unaware that a supernatural menace is on the move, and they are riding straight for it.

She is eventually rescued by the very man who was was sent away years ago to rescue her older sister from the 'supposed kidnappers', and they are forced to hide in the mysterious woods.

The younger sister has inherited a gift from her mother, who is a heart reader of heart (she can literally see lies as dark words, and the truth as white). But this man is far too complex, and she can't read his heart. Every question she asks, he turns around on her, as they both intend to make the other uncomfortable. She fears him because she is terribly attracted to him, and being on a journey with a stranger, she fears giving him any leverage that will make her any more emotionally vulnerable than she feels. He, on the other hand, although recognizing her beauty, is annoyed at her immaturity, and offended at her tactics. He sees her as an impediment to his saving her sister's life, and is very wise, and knows how to hide his heart from her. Now, she throws herself into danger, and he is forced to choose which sister to save, realizing he could never face his king if he let's either daughter perish.

But strangely, just when you root for one couple to fall in love, a new person enters the triangle.

Starlightmntn
06-17-2005, 05:55 PM
Ken Casper writes as K.N. Casper

Harold Lowry writes as Leigh Greenwood.

Susan and NC Writer,

You've confirmed my suspicions! When men write in this genre, they seem to conceal their maleness. Susan, I think you're suggestion is the right way to go. It is probably a mistake for me to drop my manuscript squarely into the romantic suspense category. Cross genre or simply commercial fiction is more appropriate.

Thanks for all of the responses!

NCwriter
06-18-2005, 10:45 AM
I've called my story an Epic Fantasy, but it has a bit of Romantic Thriller in it, and all intentionally.

Goodness gracious! I'd be afraid to even attempt to write something that complicated, so you have my admiration :)

Nateskate
06-18-2005, 07:32 PM
Goodness gracious! I'd be afraid to even attempt to write something that complicated, so you have my admiration :)

Thanks. It was a snowball thing. In it's infancy, I had no idea it would turn into what it turned into, or I'd have been too intimidated to write it.