The Thrill Of Suspense and the Humor Of It All

Bob and I just finished and released the second book in the New Adult Scandals suspense series.  When Bob completes his first draft of our plot and character study, his anxiety is over.  As he would say, his book “is now in the hands of the professional, the real author, to do her thing and make it read like a book.”  Killer Date ramped up the suspense from book #1, Due Dates.  While Due Dates had to spend a lot of time on introducing the characters and the situation, Killer Date was able to jump immediately into the case…and the romance.  Once Reno, Jenny and Nick were hot on the trail, it became a race against time with a life-or-death finish.

DUE DATES

KILLER DATE amazon

As I neared the end of the rewrite, blow-out work and polish that I do to each book, Bob always asks, “How do you like the book?”  And I always say essentially the same thing.  “I can’t tell.  I’m too close to it.”

This kind of got Bob wondering if that ever happened to Alfred Hitchcock, the amazing filmmaker, director and writer who will forever be known as The Master of Suspense.  Much like an amateur golfer will dive into golf lessons and suddenly discover their 20 handicap can’t be improved without first tearing apart every aspect of their existing game, Bob explored how Hitchcock managed to improve the genre with each film.

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The first thing Bob’s research discovered was this quote that clearly justifies how I feel when I finish a book.  Hitchcock admitted to an interviewer, “It’s only after a picture is done that one can judge it properly.”

Sort of sounds like “I can’t tell.  I’m too close to it.”  Right?  Maybe I’m on the right track.  But while my books pulse with suspense, they always have a touch of humor.  What would Hitchcock say about that?

He was credited to having said “In the mystery and suspense genre, a tongue-in-cheek approach is indispensable.”

Many have said that his films were the equivalent of a roller coaster ride in which the passengers scream wildly on the way down but laugh when the ride rolls to a stop.  He also said, “Always make the audience suffer as much as possible” and that “there is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”  I love roller coasters, and I love Hitchcock.  Now I understand why I my characters always have a sense of humor, even when they’re knee-deep in blood.

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So blog fans, let’s look at the five most commonly found elements of humor buried in the foundation of Hitchcock’s stories.  He found a way to make his suspense unbearably fun for his audiences in five ways.

I appreciate the work of Bays J. M., 2007, Humor: Hitchcock’s Secret Weapon, Borgus Productions,  <http://borgus.com/hitch/hitch-humor.htm&gt in providing this information. 

Exploit trivial character traits

“I’ve always found that, in a moment of crisis a person invariably does something trivial,” said Hitchcock, “like making a cup of tea or lighting up a cigarette. A small detail of this sort adds considerably to the dramatic tension of the situation (Gottlieb, 1997).”

 

Create situations of irony

In the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “One More Mile to Go” (1957, directed by Hitchcock) a policeman has stopped a man because of a burned out tail light on his car, completely unaware there is a dead body in the trunk.  The more obsessed this policeman gets with fixing the light, the more uneasy the murderer gets.  Hitchcock pushes this situation to the level of unbearable absurdity as the policeman continues worrying about the light, and gets closer and closer to noticing the body.

 

Surround drama with a happy setting

“The more happy-go-lucky the setting, the greater kick you get from the sudden introduction of drama,” said Hitchcock. (Gottlieb, 1997)

One of the best examples of Hitchcock’s use of whimsical environment is in The Trouble With Harry (1955).  All is normal in this small town with grassy meadows, sunshine, and orange autumn leaves, until a dead body shows up.  Harry Warp becomes everyone’s problem – what can be done about Harry?

“It’s the juxtaposition of the norm, of the accurate average, against the fantasy… that’s what makes the thing interesting.”

 

 

Include a burlesque character

One of Hitchcock’s characters must never take murder seriously, mocking it in full delight.  The most memorable is probably Henry Travers and Hume Cronyn in Shadow of a Doubt (1943) getting laughs around the family dinner table figuring out various ways to murder without getting caught.  The shocking sense of humor often disturbs and confuses a gullible person nearby, unsure of whether they are serious.  In Stangers on a Train (1951) Robert Walker teaches a woman at a party how to strangle someone, and she gets quite a laugh out of it.  In Rope (1948) Constance Collier laughs hysterically at Rupert’s (James Stewart) idea of murdering people for sport.  In Rear Window (1954) Thelma Ritter is having a great thrill out of the possibility of a murder across the courtyard.

 

Balance laugh and tension

Hitchcock used a delicate combination of tension and relief in his suspense sequences.  Often a laugh was inserted at a key point to release some tension.  “…when you have comic relief, it’s important that the hero as well as the audience be relieved,” said Hitchcock. (Gottlieb) This assures that the audience maintains sympathy for the character.

North By Northwest (1959) is one of the best examples of the use of humor involving a chase.  Early in the film Cary Grant is intoxicated and becomes comical as he nearly drives off a cliff.  He looks down over the edge and laughs drunkenly as he pulls away.  Later when he is held by captors at a public auction he becomes a heckler in order to get picked up by the police.

From the suspense master who really knew people well and who said “The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture,” there are three interesting questions that will not be answered here.

  1. Obviously we find suspense to be very appealing.  What is so appealing about uncertainty?  In our everyday life uncertainty is anything but an inherently pleasant experience.
  2. If suspense is uncertainty, then why is it possible to enjoy seeing a movie or reading a book more than once?  Have you ever read a book two or more times or sat down and watched the same film more than once?  You already saw the movie, you know what is going to happen, but were you still sitting on the edge of your seat. How can this be?
  3. Why is it that we can care so much about the fate of a movie or book hero that we know perfectly well does not exist?

I can’t give you the answers, but it should be in your book.  I try very hard for it to be in all of mine.

 

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Favorite Best Selling Romance Author Releasing Discounted Collections On eBook

Okay okay…I realize you have to sell a lot more than 3 million books to be a favorite…

A literary genre consists of books which fall within a certain central theme such as romancemystery or crime, among others.  According to the Romance Writers of America, romance fiction may be further classified into seven various sub-genres depending on setting and plot elements.

“I wanted to make selecting a book from the millions out there to tuck into your beach bag this summer less expensive and easier,” Kathy Clark said.  “I have compiled and released nine different Romance Collections that also have similar attributes beyond genre and sub-genre.”  These include:

  • They’re all part of her romance novel back list of 21 books originally published globally by major publishers.  Their paperback sales exceeded 3.25 million copies originally and reader feedback over the past twelve months has confirmed they are still very popular today.  She has re-edited and updated them to make them current and relevant.
  • The books within each collection are all full length, unabridged romance novels and have been grouped together under common themes.
  • Individually they fit the definition of a contemporary-single title romance.  She has since broken the genre barrier by creating two new series, that, while still containing romance, are not in the romance genre.  One is an adult suspense series that takes place in Denver and the other is a young adult / teen time travel mystery series where the lead characters have the sand from Fort Myers Beach between their toes until it is dropped into some time period in the last hundred years.
  • Within each collection you will find books that were recognized as a New York Times Best Seller, or USA Today Recommended, or received a book of the year award.  All were translated into multiple languages and sold around the world.
  • The collections of two or three books is bargain priced as compared to the cost for the books if bought individually.

The Romance Collections are being released exclusively on Amazon.com during the first week of June 3rd through June 7th.  “I have written a personal introduction for each collection about why the books were grouped together and a little background on each.  I am happy to present this to you in early June because it’s the perfect time to give you a great deal on some sexy love stories that will make you laugh and cry while making your summer reading a little less expensive,” Kathy concluded.

“The easiest way to explore my Romance Collections is to go to my website and read about each one to see if there is something a reader might spark to.  Clicking on the Icon will take you to Amazon where you can also read the blurb on each Collection and each book in detail.  Have a great summer.  I hope you share it with one of my favorite characters.”

Here’s a quick rundown on each of the Romance Collections.

COLLECTIONS Romantic Comedy Romantic Comedy is a collection of two of my books that are sweet, romantic and sexy with a healthy dose of humor mixed in.  Tempting Fate is about a woman who tries to make her dreams come true in a creative way.  Most of A Private Affair takes place in the magical kingdom of Disney World which is one of my favorite places to visit and pretend to be a kid again.  I hope these books will make you laugh and make your day a little brighter.

COLLECTIONS Unexpected ConsequencesUnexpected Circumstances is a collection of two of my books that are sexy romances, but with surprise twists.  Stroke of Midnight is a modern-day Cinderella story that is loosely based on a real-life event when a waitress inherited a huge estate from a kind stranger.  Cold Feet, Warm Heart is a story of two people who are looking for love in a most unusual place, Antarctica.  Both have a touch of modern-day fairy tale with sensual love stories about lonely people who have not given up on the chance of true love.  Meticulous research was done on both books, which I feel makes them more fun to write and more informative and interesting to read.  I love both of the heroines because they are strong women who took control of their lives in creative ways.  Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride!

COLLECTIONS Best Of The WestThis one I’ve titled Best of the West because the two novels take place in the modern-day Wild West states of Colorado and Montana.  Goodbye Desperado and Cody’s Last Stand were two of my favorites, partly because they both have lots of horses, but mostly because the two heroes are super-sexy macho studs.  For those of you who love sensual, but emotional love stories, I think you’ll enjoy spending some time with Matt Montana and John Cody.

COLLECTIONS Men In Uniform These three novels are about several men and women who served in different branches of the military and how that experience affected the rest of their lives. They were set against the Vietnam era but could apply to any time our soldiers were involved in a conflict thousands of miles from home and family.  These stories will make you laugh and cry and understand the depths of wounds a war can cause.  I truly love these people and their stories and hope you will, too.

COLLECTIONS Single Dads Single Dads consists of two of my all-time favorite novels.  These are both romantic comedies because any time you have a child in the mix, things seem to quickly get out of control.

The three boys in Count Your Blessings are actually based on my own three sons, Greg, Adam and Scott.  It was a lot of fun to write their characters.

COLLECTIONS Nashville Nights Texas Days Nashville Nights, Texas Days share characters that cross over from book to book and also the fact that they are all set, at least part of the time in Texas.

Another Sunny Day and Golden Days are about the Dayton twins, one of whom is a successful country singer and the other who just wants to live a normal happily-ever-after life, out of the shadow of her famous.

Born to be Wild is about a young woman who has devoted her life to save and rehabilitate wild animals before setting them free.  Her path intersects with the Daytons.  I love stories about twins, animals and singers, so I combined them all into a fun, sexy, emotional series of novels that have plenty of laughs, some tears, a little heartbreak and a lot of love.  Spend some time with these characters and you’ll be wishing you could meet someone wonderful like Tyler, Dillon or Garrett.  If you like the TV series Nashville, you’ll love this collection.    

COLLECTIONS Pregnant and Alone Pregnant and Alone consists of two of my all-time best-selling novels.  In both books, the heroines find out they are pregnant.  Neither are married, but both are delighted at the prospect of becoming mothers.  Their circumstances are very different, but each is faced with the complications of adding the father back into their lives.  Caution:  these books are emotionally charged.  You’ll laugh and you’ll cry along with Lauren and Jessica.  They will touch your heart forever.

COLLECTIONS Romantic Suspenses Romantic Suspense is a collection of two of my books that are mostly sexy romances, but also have surprises and suspense.

Starting Over was my all-time best seller when it was first printed.  It was loosely based on a real-life event that I, of course, tweaked to make it sweet and romantic, but with a surprise twist.

Sight Unseen has strong elements of the paranormal mixed with a light mystery and lots of sexy romance.  It is based at the beautiful haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado and is part of the Rocky Mountain Magic series that I wrote with two of my best friends, Emma Merritt and Julie Kistler.  We even got to stay in the infamous room 418, but were disappointed (sort of) that we didn’t actually bump into any ghosts.

After getting a taste of suspense, I have written After Midnight, my first true suspense . . . heavier and darker but still with a strong, hot romance that is also available on Amazon.  I think everyone will agree that life is better with a little mystery and a lot of romance! When the first three Denver After Dark books are published they will be put into a collection.

COLLECTIONS Go For Your Dreams .  Go For Your Dreams is a collection of three of my books that are sexy romances about women who achieved very unusual dreams.  Risky Business is the story of a woman trying to hang on to her inheritance.  No Satisfaction is every woman’s dream about meeting that sexy rock star you were so in love with as a teenager.  But now they’re all grown up.  Starry Nights is based on the civilian-in-space program during the early days of the space shuttle flights.  All three have a touch of modern-day fairy tale with sensual love stories backed by meticulous research.  I lived my own fantasies while writing these books and hope you will get lost in dreams of your own while reading them.

For additional information and the latest releases from Kathy Clark visit her website at http://www.nightwriter93.com

Kathy’s new young adult / teen series, CUL8R, currently has two books released.  The series website is at http://www.cul8rseries.com.  The first two in the series are:

OMG eBook 3 BRB eBook Cover 2

Book #1, OMG won two book awards in 2013

BIB OMG Small Medallion Beverly Hiss Finalist

In July, 2013, book #3, BION [Believe It Or Not will be released]  Beverly Hiss Finalist