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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The Thrill Of Suspense Across The Ages Blog

In the past I wrote about the re-branding of my reader facing social media and other advertising and marketing materials.  In the last ten days everything moved from being about me, Kathy Clark, sometimes Bob Kat, the young adult author to what I, and my husband on two of the three series, write about, suspense.

So we branded the author slogan, The Thrill Of Suspense and a secondary longer slogan by adding the phrase Across The Ages.

This blog has now been re titled The Thrill Of Suspense Across The Ages. 

Here are some of the graphics you will see on line…but behind it is me and what we write about.

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Oh yeah…being from Texas originally the liberal use of stars in all the graphics?  Yeah…it’s in the DNA.  Being a big state you also learn that a lone star would just not do.

You’ll also find the brand on Pinterest and the following QR codes are for point and loading your smart phone for getting on our main author site

www.TheThrillOfSuspense.com

or this blog site.

www.TheThrillOfSuspense Blog Site

I’d love to have you on The Thrill of Suspense street team so clock on the Mail Chimp link and fill it in. http://eepurl.com/Z5ypX  

WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathy_Clark_(American_author)

AUTHOR SITE:   http://www.thethrillofsuspense.com

BLOGhttps://kathyclarkauthor.wordpress.com/

FACEBOOK:   https://www.facebook.com/kelly.welch.cul8r

TWITTER:   @93nightwriter

PINTEREST:   http://www.pinterest.com/BobKat1993/

 

The Thrill Of Suspense Across The Ages; Marketing An Author’s Brand

As a New York Times bestselling fiction author, once, and having authored and had published 32 books with total sales over nearly 3.5 million across way too many years to remember, Bob and I joined the Romance Writers of America [RWA] deep in the heart of Texas, on July 23–26, for the 2014 #RWA Conference in San Antonio.  I had stepped away from the #RWA organization after being a National Board member and went to Hollywood to write for the big screen which can explain my time away from the organization and writing books.  The biggest change I noticed was the high quality expertise surrounding the 2nd major task of any successful best selling author, marketing.

In 2012, my husband Bob and I relocated to the #Austin area and we went back to writing novels.  The trip to San Antonio was a short drive and the week was a great time to get away.  We had released 8 books in two years, so it’s not like we’ve been goofing off. What they didn’t realize was how much we would learn about marketing our books and, more critically, our brand.

Whether you’re being published through a large publishing house or self-publishing your books, the effort, skills and intuition needed to market your brand and your books is nearly equal.  So we came back and went to work to sharpen our message to the book market in general and to work on finding and communicating better with our readers and fans.  The result was that we now have a consistent reader facing message.  Bob always knew that an advertising slogan is a short, memorable group of words used in advertising campaigns to draw attention to one distinctive feature,” Bob continued.  “Our passion is suspense so our slogan had to be The Thrill Of Suspense Across The Ages.”

We have three different active suspense series currently.

The Young Adult series, CUL8R [See you later for the non-texters], is all about the 15 to 18 year old reader.  It is a time travel series with the last book, RIP, taking place in 1911 at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park Colorado who were very supportive of our work. Having RIP on the shelf with the another famous work of fiction by Stephen KingShining, is a real rush.

aaThe New Adult series, Scandals, is about the 18 to 26 year old generation.  There are two books published thus far, Due Dates and August, 2014 release of Killer Date.  “Millennial “kids, mainly in 18 to 26 year old group, have a great deal of organic suspense built in based on our five sons.  The stories and heroes of these books will keep your heart rate up.  Our NA books are not YA with sex or YA with training wheels removed.  These are bonafide adult suspense stories with twenty something’s talking on the heavy lifting in the story.

0000picFinally, and with one foot still in the romance industry so Kathy doesn’t co-write this series with Bob, the Denver After Dark series is heavy on the suspense and deep into the romance, hence Romantic Suspense.  The 2nd book, Cries In The Night” recently was a finalist in the 2014 #ColoradoHumanities book awards and was recognized in the Amazon 2014 Breakthrough Novel Award.

     AFTER MIDNIGHT  CRIES IN THE NIGHT

The activities we’ve undertaken to implement what we learned is that The visual image and simple message on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, the webpage http://www.thethrillofsuspense.com, our email address thethrillofsuspense@gmail.com and template and this blog must all look and feel the same.

Our readers can simply see what we’re about and that’s important. The #RWA San Antonio experience helped us hone our message. These are writers that sell millions of books in a couple of years which took me twenty years to accomplish. With the marketing activity undertaken this first week back we can check marketing off our to do list...for a couple of days.

We was skeptical of the value add of the week at the conference.  Kathy knew what was coming as she used to eat and breath this stuff.  Now Bob’s a believer and more importantly he is seeing the upside to marketing and marketing through a prism to help focus all that we do.  We’ve been fortunate enough to win awards and contests and have earned amazing reviews and ratings…maybe now new readers will have an easier time finding us.  Now it’s time to write.

 

So you’ll see this image from here on…

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Take advantage of our Newsletter offerings and The Thrill of Suspense street team http://eepurl.com/Z5ypX  via MAIL CHIMP

WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathy_Clark_(American_author)

AUTHOR SITE:   http://www.thethrillofsuspense.com

BLOGhttps://kathyclarkauthor.wordpress.com/

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SCANDALS Book #2 – KILLER DATE 18 days to go

BLOGGERS / REVIEWERS….Your FREE ARC available on 8/4/14. Write Kathy at thethrillofsuspense@gmail.com

18 Days and Counting for release of book #2, KILLER DATE. Today’s excerpt is after he meets Jenny at SCANDALS.

Book #1, DUE DATES, on sale on Amazon for $0.99 athttp://www.amazon.com/DUE-DATES-SCANDALS-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00GQC1S3O/

These are being blogged to catch you up on the release PR for book #2, Killer Date in our Scandals series.

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———————————————————————————————–
ABOUT KATHY CLARK, d.b.a. Bob Kat
WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathy_Clark_(American_author)

AUTHOR SITE: http://www.thethrillofsuspense.com/

BLOG: https://kathyclarkauthor.wordpress.com/

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#suspense #newadultromance #newadultfiction #romancenovels #austin#romance #thriller #thrillersandsuspense #thrillernovels #rwa

NEW ADULT Book Release SCANDALS Series; BABY DADDY

NEW ADULT SERIES Releasing November 20th…SCANDALS Series Book #1 – BABY DADDY
 SCANDALS BABY DADDY 10282013
An excerpt…where Christopher and Killeen visit one of Christopher’s ex girlfriends trying to solve a murder. 
 
“Would you all want something to drink?” she offered.  “Water, coffee, soft drinks?”
“Not for me, thanks,” I said and a similar response came from Christopher.
“So how have you been?” the pretty doctor asked Christopher.
“Outside of Roger’s death…pretty good.”
“I still can’t get over that.  I thought he had given all that up.”
“Well, that’s why we’re here.  We don’t think it was an accident.”  Christopher leaned for back in his chair, but I could see he was watching her reactions.  “You might not have heard, but our building got bombed a few days ago.  I’m thinking the killer is close.”
“Bombed?”
“Our offices…kaboom,” Christopher spread his hands apart in an exploding pattern.  “One of Roger’s other kids, Liberty, was in the hospital for three days…almost killed her.”
“I had no idea.  Wow!  Any idea who might have done this?”
“We have a few suspects.”
Janet interrupted.  “Is that why you’re here?  On business?”  She smiled and crossed her legs and letting her skirt slide up her thighs.  “I was hoping it was because you missed me.”
I suddenly felt like they had forgotten I was in the room.  And it kind of pissed me off.
“I thought you were engaged.”
She held up her left hand so he…and I…could clearly see there was no ring on that finger.  “I realized he wasn’t the one.  So, I’m back on the market.”
Subtle.  Real subtle.  She was definitely not going to get my business.
“Good to know,” Christopher said.  “But today, I need to find your father.  Do you have any idea where he is?”
Janet’s body language changed as she crossed her arms across her chest as if she had suddenly felt a chill.  “You mean the man who screwed my mother, then walked away?”
That sounded familiar.  Completely against my will, I had a hint of empathy for her.
“Have you talked to him recently?”
“Recently?”  Janet thought for a moment before speaking.  “The Thanksgiving after the election Stephanie and I still hadn’t heard from him, so we hired Murray to track him down and see if he wanted to come home…you know extend him an olive branch kind of thing.”
“You hired Murray the frog!” Christopher exclaimed.
“He creeps me out too, but he fits in with the homeless scene,” Janet said with a little half-shrug.  “Anyway, Murray came back the week after Thanksgiving with a present from our dad but no contact information.”
“A present…?”
“It was a beaten-up old shoebox with dog shit wrapped in newspapers.  That’s the last we’ve heard from or about him.”
I could see that in spite of her tough-girl attitude, she had tears in her eyes.  I tried to lighten the mood.  “And I thought my Thanksgivings were weird.”
Neither Christopher nor Janet so much as glanced my way.
“So, no idea where he might be?”
Janet shook her head.  “Anywhere where there’s free food or a bar, I’d guess.  If we could do it over again…we wouldn’t.  When Steph and I were growing up we fantasized about who our father could be.  We were better off not knowing.”
After a prolonged awkward moment of silence Christopher spoke, “He’s an asshole.”  Christopher stood.  “Well, it’s been great seeing you again Janet…say hi to your equally gorgeous sister for me, would you?  We need to double date some time, maybe tear it up on Sixth?”
“I’d love that…you have my number.”
Fuck, even I had her number, I thought with a snort.  I must have actually snorted because both of them turned to look at me.
She held her arms out, and he gave her a hug.  A professional yet personal lip-on-lip kiss happened, and I could see Janet’s arms pull him closer to her.
“It was nice to meet you Janet,” I spoke up in order to shorten Christopher’s time in her grip.
Janet looked over and smiled as she released him.  “Yes…of course. It was great to meet you, Kiley.”
“It’s Killeen,” I corrected her with an equally insincere smile.
“Thanks, Janet.  I’ll let you know what we find out…bye.”  Christopher waved as we headed out the door.
  Once in the car, I couldn’t get the body language and familiarity between Christopher and Janet out of mind.  It wasn’t any of my business, but I just had to ask as Christopher sped along the interstate heading back to the office.  “How long did you and Janet date?  I mean, was it serious?”
Christopher’s eyes darted toward me, then back on the road as he cleared his throat.  “Date?  We went out a couple of times…”
“After the case was over?”
He hesitated.  “Technically, no.  I know…I know…conflict of interest.  She was hot…I was young.  Okay?”
What else could I say without seeming like I was jealous?  Which, I was surprised to realize, I was.
“Today was the first time I’ve seen her in years…she still looks the same, though.”
“So, are you going to call her?”  Oh God, had I said that out loud?  I need to re-adjust my filters.
The car quickly sped up as we exited the interstate and Christopher took the U-turn lane to reverse direction on the interstate.  He looked in the mirror and exhaled deeply.
THE BLURB
An inheritance brought her more than she ever could have imagined…
Killeen Ames had it all…beauty, brains, a college scholarship, a rich and handsome boyfriend.  Then she found out she was pregnant and the boyfriend disappeared and the scholarship is in jeopardy.  A stranger arrives at her door with the news that a father she had never known had died and she was his heir.
But not his only heir.  She and four half-siblings meet for the first time and learn the shocking details of a popular music star who had been their father and Scandals, the private investigation agency he has left them.
Killeen’s decision is further complicated when she meets the totally irresistible manager of Scandals.  Her attraction to him is immediate and volatile, but she knows they have no future.  She has a secret she can’t share.
Someone doesn’t want them to stay and take over the business.  In fact, someone wants them all dead.  Their lives depend on whether or not they can figure out who he is and how to stop him before he succeeds.
THE AUTHOR
Kathy Clark has 23 women’s fiction/romance novels with sales over 3 million copies in more than 10 languages and have been on the New York Times’ bestsellers’ list and won her numerous awards.
In September 2012 she went Indie and launched a new suspense series, Denver After Dark.  Book #1, After Midnight.  Voted The Best Indie Suspense of 2013 and won a prestigious Readers’ Favorite Suspense Award in 2013, book #2, Cries in the Night followed in October, 2013.
Also in 2012 Kathy teamed up with her husband Bob Wernly to write a Young Adult Time Travel Mystery/Romance series called CUL8R (See You Later) under the pen name of Bob Kat.  Book #1 OMG (Oh My God), when they go back to 1966 to save a girl’s life, was released in October, 2012 and was named as the Best Indie Young Adult Suspense of 2013 and was a Beverly Hills Book Awards finalist.  Book #2 BRB (Be Right Back), when they travel back to 1980, recently won a Readers’ Favorite Young Adult Award in 2013.  Book #3 BION (Believe It Or Not), when they go back to 1927 and join a circus to save a boy, was released in July, 2013.  They also teamed and wrote a fictionalized version of Bob’s fraternity days at Kent State University in 1970.  The mixture drama of senior year, military draft lottery to supply the Vietnam war and the Kent State shootings.  This novel was named as a finalist in the Best Indie Mainstream Book of 2013 Awards.
Their New Adult series Scandals, kicks off the book #1, Baby Daddy in November, 2013.