Each week, we invite our Crime Cymru authors to tell us a bit about themselves and their writing. This week, Evonne Wareham offers a fascinating insight into how two seemingly disparate genres can come together to huge effect.
My latest book begins and ends with a wedding. That, plus the title and the cover, might provide a hint that this is not mainstream crime fiction. Instead I write in the genre romantic suspense. What exactly does that mean? Actually more or less what it says on the tin – a crime story or thriller which also includes an equal element of romance. Two for the price of one. I know that many crime fans will switch off at this point – they don’t see that a love story has any place alongside crime, and that’s fine. We all have our own reading preferences. Fans of American authors like Karen Rose, Nora Roberts/J D Robb and Jayne Ann Krentz will get where I’m coming from. If you are looking for something a little different in crime stories, you might want to give romantic suspense a try.
How did I find myself writing in a genre that is better known in the US than the UK? Well, I’ve been writing romance for a very long time. I like writing romance – for me it’s positive and life affirming and I always want a happy ending. I’m a thoroughgoing escapist where my reading matter is concerned, and that’s what I write – but I obviously have a dark side too. I like a twisted plot, action scenes and protagonists that have gone through the emotional mill – they don’t get their happy ending without a bit of effort.
I’m a very long standing member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and for many years I was part of their New Writers’ Scheme – more years than I like to admit – which requires an unpublished author to submit a manuscript for critique every year. In my time I went through a whole list of genres from romantic comedy to family sagas, looking for the one that felt like the right fit. After a while I figured out that everything I wrote had a crime in it – even the wartime family saga had a serial killer – but I knew I didn’t want to write police procedurals or cosy mysteries.
Then I read my first Nora Roberts – it was a book called The Reef – and I had one of those epiphany moments. “Can I do this?” The answer was yes, but it still took a while and some success in American competitions before I found a publisher willing to back a British version. My first book, Never Coming Home, went on to win the RNA debut novel award that year. Persistence paid in the end. That book has a security consultant with a very murky past as the hero, a heroine mourning the loss of her young daughter and an ultimate body count to rival the ending of Hamlet. Writing it finally felt like I’d found my place. I’m still firmly committed to that happy ending, despite enjoying writing a malevolent villain or three, and I also get to make sure that evil gets a suitable comeuppance.
My latest book, A Wedding on the Riviera, is not like that first one. It’s part of a very much lighter “holiday” style series set on the French and Italian Riviera – glamorous locations, sunshine, food, love scenes – crime, but heavy on entertainment and escapism. Maybe what we need at the moment. This one involves a smooth but nasty con man who specializes in leaving brides at the altar – and a group of friends who get together to scam the scammer. I’m pleased to say that my editor did let me let me get away with a darker twist at the end though. Writing mostly in a lighter vein at the moment is a lot of fun, but I do hanker after the grittier end of the spectrum – nostalgic for that high body count. I’m looking forward to getting back to that style, and to setting a few more books in Wales – I have two on my back list that feature scenes in the National Parks – Pembrokeshire and the Brecon Beacons, so it’s probably time Snowdonia got a look in.
There are a few more of the sunshine books in the pipeline before I go back to the dark side – when I will be looking for places to dispose of the bodies. The rugged scenery of Wales has some exciting possibilities. Crime writers do find disturbing things exciting – but you already know that.
Read more about Evonne Wareham on her website.