Sunday, October 18, 2009

So...What Do You Do?

It's the question that almost immediately comes up whenever we meet new people for the first time, an easy way to get an idea who this person is (and to fill any uncomfortable silences <g>).  After all, what we do for a living often says something about who we are as people.  That’s definitely as true for fictional people as for real ones, and one of the most interesting parts of a book can be reading about what the hero and heroine—and even secondary characters—do for a living.

When it comes to Intrigue, and romantic suspense in general, protagonists in law enforcement tend to be fairly common, which certainly makes sense.  Police officers, federal agents and investigators are more likely to be drawn into criminal matters or dangerous situations than the average citizen.  But there are plenty of Intrigues that don't involve characters in law enforcement.  From cat burglars to dream researchers, rock stars to toymakers, illusionists to cartoonists, Intrigue heroes and heroines have been a varied group over the years.  That's certainly true for my books. Personally, I tend to lean toward the type of romantic suspense where the main characters aren’t involved in law enforcement.  I love the added tension of two people without any investigative or protective training thrust into circumstances beyond their experience, usually for very personal reasons.  As a reader, I was probably influenced by the fact that that was more the case when I started reading Intrigue way back when, as you were more likely to find two regular people caught up in a mystery.  (Anyone remember when heroes in law enforcement were rare enough in Intrigue that there was a Lawman promotion one year to point out books that had them?)  Plus, I’ve always enjoyed reading about interesting and atypical careers and learning more about them.  As a writer, I wanted to write a wide variety of story types, and characters with a wide variety of careers are a natural extension of that. 

The hero of my first book was a bounty hunter.  Since then I’ve had a doctor hero and business executive heroine in BEAUTIFUL STRANGER, followed by a pro football player hero and writer heroine in A STRANGER’S BABY.  My latest Intrigue, November’s TRUSTING A STRANGER, features a hero who’s a corporate attorney and a heroine who's an interior decorator.  And yes, each of their careers—and why they chose them—says a great deal about who they are.  That’s not to say I wouldn't—or won't—write about characters in law enforcement, anymore than I wouldn't read one.  Actually, I just submitted a proposal with a hero who's a homicide detective.  I'm working on a few more proposals as well, each of which involves characters with completely different careers from any of the above. 

What about you?  What are some of the careers you enjoy reading about in Intrigues?  Can’t get enough of those cops, secret agents and bodyguards?  Are there some interesting careers you'd like to see more of?  Or what are some careers you've read about that were interesting, in Intrigue or otherwise?  Anything you might not have thought you’d want to read about beforehand that turned out to be fascinating?  

Technically, I’m supposed to be blogging Monday, but I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to get online, so I’ve decided to turn this into a two-day extravaganza.  One commenter will win a choice of BEAUTIFUL STRANGER or A STRANGER’S BABY, featuring characters with the careers mentioned above.  The winner will be drawn and announced late Monday.

Kerry Connor

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How did I pick my genre?

Recently, someone asked me where my weird ideas come from. I guess she meant, why are you so into paranormal? Why do you write about werewolves and demons and monsters from another time continuum?

When I was in elementary school, the D.C. Public Library sent a “book basket” to every classroom every month. In fifth grade, when the teacher put RED PLANET, by Robert Heinlein, up on the eraser ledge, the cover illustration made me want to read the book. So I rushed up to get it before anyone else could.

Thus began a lifelong interest in science fiction and fantasy. They were a big part of my recreational reading for years, with adventure and mystery thrown in.

In the early sixties, I didn’t have a television set. I got a TV for one reason–so I could watch a cool new program that my friends were talking about--Star Trek.

So I come by my interest in the paranormal honestly. The first novel I wrote was a kids' SF story, THE INVASION OF THE BLUE LIGHTS, about a bad alien and a good alien that land in the woods across the street from my house. (Only I gave the house to a 12-year-old boy who was a lot like my son.) In the 80's, the big romance boom started, and a friend asked if I’d like to write one. When I told her I hadn’t read any, she brought me shopping bags full. And I discovered they were all about the subplot that I’d loved in the science fiction and adventure novels I read–the development of a relationship between a man and a woman.

At first, I wrote straight romances. Then I figured out I was better at romantic suspense. And after a few romantic suspense novels, I began incorporating SF and fantasy elements into my stories. At first I wrote what I called stealth paranormals. There’s a ghost in my third Intrigue, WHISPERED IN THE NIGHT. And the hero of PRINCE OF TIME is a space alien. But the reader doesn’t find that out until she’s gotten a chance to know and love him. Now I’m fortunate that Intrigue lets me write books that are frankly paranormal. Like my latest, MORE THAN A MAN. The hero, Noah Fielding, has lived for hundreds of years, although he doesn’t know why. Then a dying millionaire discovers his secret and will do anything to find out the reason for his long life–even kill the woman Noah loves. It’s a fast, emotion-packed story that was a lot of fun to write.

What kind of Intrigues do you like best? And how do you like paranormal elements in them?