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Crossing Genres

My Exploration into Crime Writing

They say you should write what you read, but what if you love two distinctly different genres? I fell in love with romance from an early age, devouring Johanna Lindsay’s novels featuring strong, stubborn men and feisty damsels in distress, as well as an unhealthy number of Mills and Boon and racier novels like Lace and The Thorn Birds. I lived the heroines and daydreamed about finding such a man. It seemed obvious to me that one day I’d write my own romance novel.

Then as I matured, I moved on to crime. I read a Sydney Sheldon that my parents had in their bookcase and I was hooked. I sped through all of his books, then went on to Robert Ludlum, Michael Connolly, David Baldacci and the list continues…

Funnily enough, when I finally sat down to pen my own book, it was romance that I tried first. I signed up for a romance writing short course and loved it. I was addicted. After many false starts I finally finished a 50K word romance novel – and boy was I proud of it. I knew it wasn’t a work of art, but it was a fine starting point. It motivated me to write harder, learn more about the romance writing craft, delve into conflict, relationships and resolutions. I devoured every book I could find on the topic. I joined the RNA and went through the New Writer’s Scheme. Words cannot express how valuable that lesson was for me. Eventually I got a romantic suspense novel published and self-published some of my older works, that I’d reworked. I was a bona fide romance author. Woo-hoo!

Then the inkling began… If I could write romance, surely I could conquer crime thrillers too? My reading tastes became more crime oriented over the years and now I rarely read romance anymore. I’d been writing romantic suspense for a few years, so I was ready.

I outlined a suspense novel, tentatively, after reading in-depth about creating suspense, conflict in crime novels and analysing all the hundreds of crime novels I’d read in the last ten years. Then I outlined it a second time, and a third. I left the outline for a while and wrote another romance. Then went back to it and fleshed it out, worked on some of the more complicated plot points and ironed out some creases in the story. Now I was ready to put pen to paper.

It took me three months to finish the first draft. I wrote every day for about 3 hours. That was the only time I had available. Luckily, I’m a fast typist and if the story is flowing I can hit 6000 words per day with relative ease. I sent the draft to my mother, who is a big crime reader too. She made some valid points and I reworked the manuscript a second time, smoothing the rough edges and building in deeper conflicts, past traumas and adding tension.

I think the hardest part for me was the plotting. With romance, the story is more character driven. So while there is a plot, it’s the personalities of the characters that drive the story forward. While this is true to a certain extent in crime, a good, well thought out, intricate and clever plot is worth it’s weight in gold. The idea behind the story that hasn’t been done a thousand times before – that’s what really got to me. I laboured over the plot for ages in the outline, slept on it, researched certain angles and added more layers. This is an art in itself and is way more difficult that I expected.

When it came to writing the novel, layering on the suspense, foreshadowing and building tension required a great deal of thought. Often, I’d reach a point in the book, and go back and add in some foreshadowing earlier in the novel before continuing. Or I’d set something up and then it wouldn’t materialise… and I’d have to go back and rework that section.

On the flip side, the development of the characters came easily to me. Their past traumas, the psychology of the villain, the developing love interest between the main characters were all things I’d done before, practiced and got right. I felt this was a strength that I’d carried through from writing romance.

The danger, of course, is adding too much romance into a crime novel – and this is something I am aware I may have done. Old habits die hard. But since this is my first attempt, I’m not being too critical of myself. My second thriller, set in the United Kingdom, will be grittier as I get a handle on the tougher nature of crime novels and the lack of demand for romance. I’ve already outlined it and am waiting for the moment to sit down and let it take me on it’s journey.

What I’ve Learned:

1.     Writing romance will set you up nicely for developing characters in crime novels. Your additional insight into what makes people tick will give your characters depth and hidden layers that will be useful in other genres.

2.     Building suspense is a multi-layered process and (in my opinion) impossible to get right in one draft. As your story changes and develops, tension will escalate, but foreshadowing and plot points will need to be reworked.

3.     Plotting is crucial to a fast-moving story. There can’t be any holes, and to drive a 80K word story, it has to be complicated or intricate or else it won’t sustain the novel. Plot twists are hard to get right, as so many things have been done already and you don’t want your reader finding the book predictable.

4.     Reading thrillers and analysing what other successful writers do is a worthwhile pursuit. I’ve made notes on countless other books and learned from them. Be your own teacher, if you want to try out another genre.

5.     Give it a go. As a storyteller, there is no reason why you can’t tackle another genre, especially if you read it and enjoy it as well. I took ages to work up the confidence to write my first thriller, but I’m so glad I did.

UNDERCURRENT

BY LOUISE ROSE-INNES

UNDERCURRENT is the new suspense novel by Louise Rose-Innes, and is currently under review with various publishers.

Sign up to Louise’s newsletter to be notified of it’s release date.

Ex-special forces private investigator, Munro Crane, is forced to betray the man who saved his life in order to see justice served.

A seemingly innocuous assignment leads Crane into a web of murder, deceit and betrayal where he must question everything he believes in.

Donna, my violin-playing heroine

Research for Donna, which is book 3 in my Levante sister series, took me to some very interesting places around London, namely parliament square, Westminster Cathedral, Buckingham Palace gardens, St. James Park and of course, the Southbank Centre where I watched – mesmerised – while the brilliant London Philharmonic played.

 

The violinist I chose to watch, was the magnificent Ray Chen who performed Brahms’s Violin Concerto. At one point he burnt out all the strings on his violin, and had to borrow the first violinists bow for the encore. It was a frenzied, mesmerising performance and it highlighted the phenomenal talent that musicians possess, as well as their onstage charisma and complete unflappability under pressure.

My heroine, Donna Brunner, is an Austrian violinist who manages to secure an audition to play with the LPO. What a prestigious orchestra that is! I realised that my heroine would have to be very talented indeed to secure a position there. But with Dame Serena Levante, the famous opera diva and national treasure, as her mother, why wouldn’t she be that talented?

So the story begins…

Donna arrives in London for her mother’s funeral, where she meets her three half-sisters as well as the handsome family solicitor, Greg. Greg is kind to her when she needs a friend, and helps her recover from the bitter betrayal of her last relationship which left her self-esteem in tatters.

As with any good romance, you can guess what happens next. Friendship leads to love and before long Donna runs out of reasons for not being with Greg. The only problem is a man almost ruined her career once before, can she take the chance it will happen again?

Set in London and Surrey, this romance glitters with glamorous details of Chelsea and Mayfair, Surrey country villages and local flavour. It also highlights events on the classical music scene and gives a sneak peek into the lives of the musically gifted and the shenanigans that go on in the professional music industry.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing Donna, even though her personality is more subdued and introverted than the rest of the Levante sisters. At first, it was a challenge to make her as interesting, but then her personality exerted itself and before long she was burning up the pages with her own exciting story and road to fame. The fact that she was coming from a position of insecurity and anxiety (something many of us can relate to) only made her journey more interesting.

Donna will be released on August 1st but is available for preorder now.

DONNA (BOOK 3 – THE LEVANTE SISTERS SERIES)

Donna’s problem is she’s too naive. She knows that. Her ex-fiancé strung her along for years, when all the time he was married with no intention of leaving his rich wife. Then, when her birth mother dies, leaving her a legacy and a life-line, she packs up and moves to England. Here, she meets her three sisters and is welcomed into a life more glamorous than she ever imagined.

A talented violinist, Donna plays at her late mother’s funeral, wowing the congregation with her skill and mesmerising beauty. She also grabs the attention of her late mother’s solicitor, Greg, who being tall, charming and successful, is used to getting any woman he desires – and he’s out to get Donna.
Fresh from her breakup and determined to focus on her musical career, Donna is not interested in being anything more than friends, but as their friendship develops, she realises she’s more than a little infatuated with Greg. The only problem is Donna is not prepared to put her heart on the line again. Not for anyone.

The Inspiration Behind My Latest Book

Floria (Book 1: The Levanté Sisters Series)

There were several factors that came together to inspire Floria, and indeed the Levante sisters series. I live in beautiful Surrey (in the U.K.) and wanted to set a novel amongst the rolling hills, sprawling properties with their golden facades and quaint little villages with picturesque churches and twinkling streams. With Floria (and the subsequent books, I was given the chance.)

View of the Thames from Richmond Hill

One hazy afternoon last summer, I was sitting on a bench in the terraced gardens in Richmond, and thought of a story about a famous opera singer. Someone who put their career before anything else, even her own children. Someone who was so driven to succeed that music became her only love. Her name became Serena Levanté.

This woman had two facades, a public one and a private one. Publicly, she was a brilliant singer, world renown, a ‘National Treasure’, but privately she held dark secrets…

Pregnant at seventeen she gave her twins up for adoption, not knowing or caring where they went. Then again, a few years later, she abandoned her third daughter to her Spanish lover, compensating him financially to raise their child. It was only Floria, several years later, who grew up in the family home in Surrey, but who suffered cruelly due to her mother’s neglect.

Floria – based on a plus-size model

Floria was raised by au pairs and the kindly Italian housekeeper, Violeta, then sent off to boarding school at a young age. Despite all this, Floria has a happy, breezy manner, a bubbly personality and is socially very well-liked. She is something of a wild child though, a flamboyant party-girl, with a desperate need for attention. It’s no wonder, really, given her upbringing. Too much money, too little love.

I also made her voluptuous, not your normal skinny IT girl. This was so she could learn to shine, as herself, and succeed in her own right. Her journey is one of self-discovery and self-love, as well as a romantic one.

When Serena Levante dies under mysterious circumstances, her past is revealed in a blaze of publicity. Who murdered her? Was it for a missing painting? Who are these illegitimate children she left her fortune to? The press have a field day and Floria is caught in the middle of it. On top of all this, she’s still reeling from her boyfriend dumping her for being a ‘bimbo’, and a liability to his politicking career.

At her mother’s funeral, Floria meets her half-sisters, Mimi, Donna and the feisty Carmen, all very talented musically (of course). Mimi is a pop singer, Donna a violinist and Carmen opera (like the mother she hates). Floria is the only one who does not posses their mother’s phenomenal talent.

So the first book in the series, Floria, starts with the heroine in a state of devastation. Dumped, dumbstruck by her mother’s death and the subsequent revelation of her three half-sisters… And of course, then there is the hunky finance whizz, Josh, who has the potential to make everything better… or much much worse, and send Floria flying into a downward spiral – which is why it would be much better for all concerned, if she could just stay away from him. But we all know that’s never going to happen… 🙂

Floria is out 7th March!!

COMPETITION ENDS TONIGHT!

To stand a chance to win an Amazon voucher worth $100, a Kindle Fire and 3 books in my Island Romance series, click on the link below.

New Series and Pre-order

Welcome to 2017! I hope it’s a wonderfully happy and peaceful year for everyone.

I’ve got big plans for this year! The first book of my new contemporary romance series, FLORIA, is due out March 7th. It’s a sizzling, fun-filled romance that was an absolute joy to write.

Floria is a party-loving socialite with a famous opera singing mother and a wealthy politician boyfriend who is soon to propose. Life couldn’t get any better!

Then, after an unfortunate incident involving the paparazzi (and a jacuzzi) her boyfriend dumps her – and that very same week, her mother is found murdered in her Surrey mansion. Suddenly, everything she thought was secure in life, has fallen down around her. While dealing with her heartbreak, she has to contend with the police murder investigation and the unwelcome press.

Then her mother’s solicitor informs her she has three siblings, who all stand to inherit part of her mother’s fortune. After a lonely childhood and being shipped off to boarding school, Floria is ecstatic that she has three sisters with which to share her life. They all meet for the first time at Dame Serena’s funeral. But not all of them are as eager to welcome the new changes into their lives as Floria…

Enter dashing saviour of damsels-in-distress, Josh Hamilton. Financier and all-round good guy. The sparks fly between Floria and Josh as he endeavours to help her set up her new business, so she can prove to the world she is more than just an empty-headed socialite.

But Josh is unavailable and Floria is focused on her new business so any relationship between them is impossible and would only cause trouble. But then that’s what Floria is good at… Trouble.

I loved writing this book. Floria is such a bubbly, vivacious heroine who is friends with everyone and everyone loves her. She has a knack for getting into trouble, which makes for some LOL moments, but is so deserving of love that one can’t help rooting for her at the same time.

FLORIA is due for release on March 7th, 2017 – but is available for pre-order now. So do pop over and grab yourself a copy.

Take advantage of pre-launch deals, contests and special offers, and sign-up to my monthly newsletter.

(All subscribers receive a free copy of my last release, A PASSION SO WILD, as a thank-you!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research for My Latest Series

For my latest series of contemporary romance books (The Levanté Sisters Series) I travelled into London to do some much needed research.

The beauty of living in Surrey, is that London is only a half-hour train ride away. It was a brisk, but sunny winter’s day as donned with my trusty Barbour jacket, I set off on the train to Waterloo station.

My talented and beautiful violin-playing heroine, illegitimate daughter of Dame Serena Levanté, arrives in London for her famous opera diva mother’s funeral. Reeling from her recent break-up and anxious about meeting her sisters for the first time, Donna feels lost and alone.

Enter the dashing hero – family solicitor, Greg – who takes the sad, but very lovely Donna under his wing and shows her around London. This is where the sparks first start to fly.

As I was writing this scene, it suddenly struck me that it had been a while since I’d been to the city, and even longer since I’d done the tourist thing.

I have to admit, there are few sights more wondrous than crossing Westminster Bridge on a bright winter’s day. The sun shone off Big Ben and coated the magnificent Houses of Parliament in a golden glow so bright it took my breath away. The ancient clock conveniently struck twelve o’clock as I made my way along the bank of a grey and restless river Thames. I stared up at it’s beautiful golden face, along with hundreds of other tourists, and listed, enchanted as it chimed twelve times. I got shivers as I thought about how this clock had been setting London’s time for centuries.

Westminster Bridge was typically lined with red London busses. It made a great photograph.

louisewestminster

After gazing in awe at the Houses of Parliament, and admiring the coats of arms on the cold, stone walls, ornate wrought-iron gates tinged with gold, and perfectly landscaped lawns, I walked up Birdcage Walk and through St. James park to Buckingham Palace. This is the route, I imagined, my hero would have taken with the woman who would become the love of his life by the end of the book.

St James Park was alive with wildlife, both of the tourist and animal variety. School children chased birds on lawns covered with fallen gold and bronze leaves, while suited men talked earnestly on mobile phones and groups of tourists gawked at the beautiful but wintery scenery. I felt humbled to watch a surprisingly violent, but very macho fight between two colourful, big-chested geese (at least I think they were geese) over a dull-looking female. Who would be victorious and end up as her mate? Appropriate really, given the context of my visit.

louisestjamespark

The Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace shone brightly as the clouds parted and the sun hit it like a laser-light. The golden statue, wings spread, was blinding in its intensity.

buckingham-palace

Then men with rifles appeared, along with a motorbike escort and the gates to the palace opened. A cavalcade of darkened cars emerged and disappeared down The Mall. I couldn’t see who was inside, but it seemed a fitting end to what had been an inspired walk and a great research opportunity.

After that I made my way through Green Park to Piccadilly, and of course, Fortnum & Mason’s for some much-needed tea and scones – and of course some Christmas shopping. They always have the most delightful things to give as gifts.

PS. The window dressings at F&M are excellent this year. I fully recommend making the trip just for that!

Floria, Book 1 of the Levanté Sisters Series is due out in February 2017, and available for pre-order soon. 

The Levanté Sisters Series (Books 1 to 4)

When much-loved opera diva, Dame Serena Levanté is murdered in her Surrey mansion, she leaves her vast fortune, not only to her legitimate daughter, Floria, but also to three illegitimate daughters (Mimi, Donna and Carmen) who were adopted at birth. The four young ladies, reeling from the revelation that Serena is their birth mother, meet for the first time at the funeral. The series follows Floria, Mimi, Donna and Carmen as they come to terms with their famous legacy, their own startling musical talents, and their quest for love and happiness.

Book 1 – Floria (February 2017)
Book 2 – Mimi (April 2017)
Book 3 – Donna (June 2017)
Book 4 – Carmen (August 2017)

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