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

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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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A Writer Looks Back On July, What’s Up In August, What’s Free And What’s Coming

Actually not just “a” writer but me!  BIG difference.

The highlight this month was the release on the 25th of book #3 of the Time Travel Mystery series CUL8R [Please be cool and pronounce it see you later…not CUL8R].  Book #3 is title BION so call it Believe It Or Not and not BION…please.  Our time travelers slip back to 1927 where the challenges of solving a mystery are greatly expanded  when you’re only 16 years old.  Here’s the blurb for BION:

BION 071613 Amazon final

Can she give up everything she has in the present for true love in the past?

Believe it or Not . . . “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls …welcome to the best entertainment money can buy, the Maxwell Brothers Circus!”  

Four high school friends are able to do two things no one else on the planet can do . . . talk with dead people and time travel to that past. 

As they slowly turn the dial of their Spirit Radio Kelly, Scott, Austin and Zoey hear hundreds of sad, lonely voices of souls that have passed but apparently never moved on, pleading for help. 

A young woman asks them to find her twin brother Jesse who had run away to the circus in 1927, then disappeared and was never heard from again.  Going back and living with a circus sounds like fun.  Plus an old book provides a glimpse into the past . . . as well as a photo of Jesse.

They discover that circus life is not all glamour and fun; it’s a lot of hard work.  As usual, they jump in and quickly find jobs, places to sleep and new friends.  But most importantly, they find Jesse.  Now all they have to do is keep him alive.

For Zoey, it’s love at first sight.  If they are successful and save his life, will she be able to let him go?  

The major awards won by book #1, OMG [Oh My God] and #2, BRB [Be Right Back] really bolstered my to turn out a great time travel mystery with book #3.  Here’s a sample of some of the five star reviews [all 5 stars so far] on BION [Check them out on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Believe-Travel-Mystery-Romance-ebook/dp/B00E5141ZK/

REVIEW SAMPLE #1

Kelly, Scott, Austin and Zoey are back again, and the spirit radio is still connecting them with the past. This time it’s the 1920’s. The Golden Era. But not Gatsby’s Golden Era, the kids travel back to the site of a traveling circus and embroil themselves in the fun and danger of the Show folk’s scene. This book in the CUL8R series is as vibrant and interesting as the other I have read. The characters are regular kids, well fleshed out and realistic. I’m reminded of the Trixie Bell series of my childhood, but the kids in THIS series are fresh and updated for today’s generation. You will love reading this book to it’s exciting conclusion. All the kids came through their last adventure with bruises and scrapes and indeed, Kelly got shot!I wasn’t let down in the drama department with this installment either! These are no wimpy kids stories, but fast paced and well written adventure stories for everybody! I love them!

REVIEW SAMPLE #2

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Well, I liked it so much, I’m going to buy and read the first two books in the series! My 13 year old will also enjoy reading these as well.
The story was well written, with very likeable characters, and the whole theme of normal, everyday people using their heads to solve problems, and overcome danger was great! Its a good message to put out there for our young generation, and a good read.

REVIEW SAMPLE #3

I have read all three of the CUL8R Time Travel Mystery Series by Bob Kat and I absolutely love the latest book BION -Believe it or Not. Follow Kelly, Scott, Austin and Zoey on another adventure, 1927 Maxwell Brother’s Circus. Bob Kat delivers yet another great piece with fully developed characters, enchanting storyline and unsurpassed description. I read the entire book in one setting – I simply couldn’t put it down!

REVIEW SAMPLE #4
Even if you have not read the two previous titles in this series, you will love the storyline of BION. The author has a knack for writing captivating stories. Sci-fi fans and young adults will love the series. I was captivated from the first paragraph on. I can’t wait to read the next book in this fantastic series!

REVIEW SAMPLE #5

I love a good book with some heavy emphasis on time travel themes and this one definitely satisfied all my needs with it’s own unique twists. The writing is very high quality and stays at a consistent and entertaining approach from start to finish. The characters are very original and all have just the right amount of substance with a solid background, this combined with the great writing really ended up making this book of my favorites that I have read in the genre. There are some classical elements that can be compared to some other books but they all have their own unique style to them, the book is refreshingly new and the author has managed to successfully keep up a captivating pace from front to back.

…and there are more!

I also gave away in July copies of several books so I could introduce readers to my writing.  And I love how readers respond to a well written book.  AFter every giveaway comes orders to buy the book.

Here’s what I gave away in July…

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CODY'S LAST STAND 062913 amazon

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and the last one, Teacher’s Pet, is free through the end of the day today, 7/31/13!

Planned for August are 7 titles...6 back list hard to find romances that sold 100,000s of copies globally.  Thank you Harlequin for the opportunity to write for you and for my digital rights back!  And a New Adult Romance based on a true story. Millions were impacted by this story and that is probably an understatement. 

August is a vacation opportunity with our very best friends in the world and chance to see our five boys [actually young men].

Writing wise working on …

  • book #2 in the Denver After Dark suspense series with Cries In The Night and
  • Bob is writing the first draft of the first book in the New Adult Romantic Suspense series, Scandals.

We’ll chat later.  Catch book #1 in the CUL8R Time Travel Mystery Series, OMG, on sale on Amazon for 8/2 – 8/8 for $0.99 for the ebook and the paperback version will be dropped in price to $10.99 US.

Adios from Austin…where it’s cooling down to 100!  NOT.

Day #1 Of The Release Of Believe It Or Not {BION} #3 in the Time Travel Mystery Series! Book #1 Voted Best in 2013 & Book #2 Reader’s Favorite Top 3 in 2013!

The first day of the week long book release for BION [Believe It Or Not], book #3 in the CUL8R [See you later] Time TRavel Mystery Series went really well.

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I’ve just got some awesome favs and readers!.  Thanks to the emails, the Facebook lIkes and comments on Google + .

As a part of the BION launch I ran a free two days on a backlist book, Count Your Blessings and it hit the top 10 on Amazon earlier this week.

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For added attention to the release Friday and Saturday will see Angel Of Mercy.  This is one of Kathy’s best selling trilogies from her Romance era.

ANGEL OF MERCY 062913 amazon

Book #2, BRB, shot up to top 50 on Amazon today and OMG is picking up sales tonight.

BRB eBook Cover 2OMG eBook 3

Friday is a special pricing day for BION so check it out.  I’d love to hear your comment and reviews too.  Here’s the logline to ponder…

Can she give up everything she has in the present for true love in the past?

Believe it or Not . . . “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls …welcome to the best entertainment money can buy, the Maxwell Brothers Circus!”  

 Four high school friends are able to do two things no one else on the planet can do . . . talk with dead people and time travel to that past. 

 As they slowly turn the dial of their Spirit Radio Kelly, Scott, Austin and Zoey hear hundreds of sad, lonely voices of souls that have passed but apparently never moved on, pleading for help. 

 A young woman asks them to find her twin brother Jesse who had run away to the circus in 1927, then disappeared and was never heard from again.  Going back and living with a circus sounds like fun.  Plus an old book provides a glimpse into the past . . . as well as a photo of Jesse.

 They discover that circus life is not all glamour and fun; it’s a lot of hard work.  As usual, they jump in and quickly find jobs, places to sleep and new friends.  But most importantly, they find Jesse.  Now all they have to do is keep him alive.

 For Zoey, it’s love at first sight.  If they are successful and save his life, will she be able to let him go?  

I’ll see you in the world’s largest Virtual eBook Fair this weekend I’m sure.  Many thanks for making this launch so great.

For those that don’t know me here’s a little about me.  I am Kathy Clark, a.k.a. Bob Kat has written romance, young adult, romantic suspense and new adult romance for 25 years.  She’s had 23 books traditionally published through Harlequin and others with sales over 3.25 million in total and has indie published her most recent 4 books.  She will release 3 more books in 2013, book #2 in the Romantic Suspense series Denver After Dark, book #3 in the Young Adult Time Travel Mystery Series and book #1 in the New Adult romantic suspense series.  She has been a NY Times Best Selling author, a USA Today recommended author, an RWA RITA award winner and her indie books have won two Best Indie Book of 2013 Awards, a finalist in that competition, a finalist in the Beverly Hills Book Awards and two books are in the finals of the Reader’s Choice 2013 book awards being issued on 9/1/13.

My website is at http://www.nightwriter93.com

The time travel mystery series website is http://www.cul8rseries.com

My blog site is at https://kathyclarkauthor.wordpress.com/

All of my books on Amazon including the Romance Collections is at http://astore.amazon.com/nightwriter93-20

TWITTER: @93nightwriter

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

Night all….