I am a mystery writer.
The two sides of me have been battling for years and finally had it out, once and for all, when I was planning Lady Anne series. Which would win? Well, oddly enough, they decided to share a series, and the end result was Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark, Book 1 of the Lady Anne series, now available.
I wondered from the outset whether I was taking a chance. Would romance readers embrace the mystery elements that are a strong thread in the series? Would mystery readers get impatient with the strong romantic undertones? Would paranormal fans be put off by the rationality of my heroine? Would readers of historical romance be offended by the gothic and paranormal touches that enliven the novels?
In other words, was I trying to be too many things to too many people?
I threw caution to the wind because ultimately, I came back to the central core of my beliefs about writing. I’m your average reader, in a lot of ways. As long as I write what I would like to read I ought to be okay, right? I do hope that’s true.
But I set out from the beginning to find the balance, that perfect symmetry that would please me as a reader. At first that was a fairly simple. Book one, Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark, is where Lady Anne Addison and Lord Anthony Darkefell meet, and there is immediate antagonism mingled with a powerful romantic and sensual attraction. Fun, right?
It seems I may have hit the right note, as Marlene at Once Upon a Romance says, "Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark is a gothic, historical, mystery with a lot of romance and wonderful characters. Ms. Simpson pulls off the creepy, spine-tingling thrill of the gothic with great flare and keeps the reader on her toes with a very intriguing mystery." (My bolding!)
In book two, Lady Anne and the Ghost’s Revenge, things are getting a little more intense in the romance department, as they are likely to when a man is serious about a woman and a woman is attracted to a man. Still, no big deal. They are investigating a mystery and spend a lot of time together, so the sexual chemistry works. Mulder and Scully, right? David and Maddie from Moonlighting.
But... I did run into a dilemma. When two people are seriously attracted to each other, sexual intercourse often happens… full on, passionate sexual engagement. Even back in the day men and women did end up in bed together. However… you can’t do that in a mystery novel! But I wasn’t writing a mystery novel; the Lady Anne series is a romance series with mystery plots attached.
Yikes, I thought, what have I gotten myself into? Should Anne and Tony make love in Book Two? Or should they wait until Book Three, Lady Anne and the Gypsy Curse? Or should they make love at all???
I’m not saying they have or they haven’t, but it’s a distinct possibility with two people who can’t seem to stop kissing each other! (Not in public… no PDA’s in Georgian England!)
Ultimately, I have settled my mind to this; as with every other aspect of every novel I have ever written, I will do what comes naturally for the characters and the reading public will decide whether I have successfully found a way to balance the two elements, the romance and the mystery. Have I done it? Have I walked the high wire?
Time – and readers – will tell! Visit me at http://www.donnaleasimpson.com/ and let me know!