Monday, August 28, 2017

Crossing to the Other Side of the Tracks - One Author/Two Genres with NY Times Bestselling Author Monica Corwin

Hello ThrillWriters and ThrillReaders!

I have been giving a lot of thought about crossing over to a new genre. As many of you know, I write Romantic Suspense, heavy on the action/adventure with a psychic twist. Twice now, I've reached to another subgenre of the mystery/suspense realm to work with other authors and learn from them, as hopefully they too garner something from working with me.

In Chaos is Come Again, it was pulpy, rude, and funny in a way you knew you shouldn't be laughing. 

In If You See Kay Run, it was fluffy and light and funny in a way you knew your kids shouldn't see.

But now, I've signed onto a project which will take me to a new world. I'll be writing a dystopian fantasy novel. How fun does that sound? In preparation, I'm talking to various authors and one of them is New York Times, USA Today Bestselling author and wonderful person extraordinaire Monica Corwin.

Fiona - 
Monica, we're going to be talking about the shifts a writer needs to make moving from one genre to another in order to be successful in giving the reader a good story. When one reads in a genre one expects certain things. Can we start by your telling us what genres you've written and a little about your writing history/life?

Monica -
For fiction, I've written romance, contemporary erotic romance, urban fantasy, sci-fi romance, and then Murder and Mayhem is my first foray into supernatural mystery. 

I'm going to interject here that Murder and Mayhem is a boxed set that I am in with Monica -- 20 novels for 99 cents. Monica has a full-length mystery in the set. Sorry, go on... 

Monica - 
I got started writing from the military. I spent years writing intelligence reports before I tried my first romance story. It was a terrible story and is still sitting unfinished in a folder somewhere. 

After I obtained a little more experience, and advice from a romance novelist I admire, I tried again. Then I couldn't stop. I fell in love with telling these stories of people and how they find love. I still write intelligence reports but now it's geared more toward cybercrime. But the romance is always my first love.

Fiona -
Let's talk about your first love and romance novels. What key ingredients - the road map if you will - are written into a solid romance novel?

Monica - 
I think there are a lot of things that go into a good romance novel. And certainly a lot more than people expect. There needs to be solid internal and external conflict for both the hero and the heroine. There also needs to be a tension between those things for each character and then also between the two characters. Once you have those foundations, you of course need a solid plot, gone are the bodice ripper days when a hero can kidnap his heroine and cart her off to the top of a mountain. Readers want fresh stories, fast paced plot, a love story that seems authentic, and a smart read.

Romance novels have evolved so much over the last twenty or thirty years it's amazing.

Fiona - 
When you're writing a romance - where do you go for your fresh ideas?

Monica -
That depends on my goals. If I'm writing to market (for those out there who don't know means I'm writing a book specifically catered to sell based on current market trends), then I'll go to the Amazon top ten list in romance and check out the themes. I always like to make them my own so, of course, more consideration follows but at least I start there. 

I am starting to mix up my release schedule with write to market and passion projects. For ideas for my passion projects, I watch my favorite tv shows, or new ones, and read my favorite authors. If that doesn't work, I flip through books of mythology, fairy tales, and folklore. I write a lot of paranormal romance so those things usually spark an idea. I do keep a giant binder with idea clippings too in case I need something a little faster.

Fiona - 
Lets talk heat. What heat level do you write in your sex scenes? How did you come to your decision about your heat level? And how do you go about writing? 

Monica - 
I usually write pretty steamy at least a 3 into a 4 on the 1-5 scale. 
There's nothing worse, to me, than reading a book, getting to a part where the hero and heroine are about to get steamy, and then the author closes the door. It's like they are hiding all the good parts...

I want to see the fulfillment of all the tension she spent ten chapters building. Which is how I knew I'd always write full on detailed love scenes. When I write them, I usually write the first draft version which is very much fit peg a into round hole b. Once I get the mechanics down on the page I can play with the words and give it more life. 

Fiona - 
What about sex as a vehicle to move a plot forward?

Monica - 
I think it's very important that every sex scene in a book have a purpose. Whether it's to deepen the reader's understanding of a character, or how he/she feels about the other character, or as the question asked to further the plot. I think this is a mistake a lot of new romance writers make. They write sex scenes for the sake of sex scenes. Like oh, it's been three chapters, I think another one goes here.

As far as how a sex scene can further the plot, that is also the fun bit. Creating tension between the characters or their environment is one way I use them, and my favorite way, if I might add. 

I also use them to develop the love story between the characters. Do they have sex and immediately regret it? Do they have sex and one feels more than the other? It's my favorite part to come out of a love scene with a deeper understanding of my own characters. I pretty much let them drive those.

Fiona - 
Now Fiona comes to a screeeeeching halt, and shifts gears. Let's talk about crime writing.

Monica -

Fiona - 
What components are important when you're writing a crime novel?

Monica -
Well, this is my first official crime novel, however, I do have crime oriented plots in my paranormal romance stories so its not an entirely new concept for me. I consider myself a novice, though, at crime fiction. 

And watching every episode of Criminal Minds and Castle to date haven't helped me much in that regard. 

(Fiona, covers her mouth and whispers to her followers - we all know that watching TV is the worst way to research crime, 'cuase it doesn't happen that way in the real world. Though - Monica is right to watch if she's trying to get pacing and story inspiration.)

Monica smiles politely and continues - Important components I think are similar to romance. The characters need internal and external conflict. In this case that might not be centered around a love interest or lack there of but someone's death. 

In the example of my own book, it's one in the same, as the death that needs investigating is my main characters'. I think the characters are much more tied to the central plot in the case of a mystery novel, than a romance. There needs to be certain things the reader is accustomed to seeing in a mystery like the red herring and the dark night of the soul. There is less wiggle room in that regard for a mystery, than a romance.

Fiona - 
Speaking of wiggle room - do you overlap your two genres? What is your driving force is it solving the crime or solving the crime/winning the girl?

Monica -
I definitely overlap. I love crime fiction. I have since I read Dupin in Edgar Allan Poe's Murders in Rue Morgue. It was natural for me to put a little crime in my romance plots. In my case, it's more like solve the crime, solve the relationship. Often, my mystery plots and romance relationships follow a similar tangent. So by solving the crime, the hero and heroine in my books often figure out who they are as a team and who they can be as a couple.

Fiona - 
HEA! (happily ever after)

How imprtant is the outcome of the story for a reader to feel fulfilled - and to this end can you talk about your philosophy on cliff hanger endings?

Monica -
Oh man, cliffhangers a sore subject. I try to never leave a cliffhanger just because I HATE THEM SO MUCH. I hate waiting a year for an author to maybe write the resolution to a story I should already have. But when an author I love does it, I still read them, just because I can't go without knowing. As a writer, like I said, I tried to stay away. If I do write cliffhnangers, they are in novella or short story form and often lead into a main book or series.

Fiona - 
A traditional ThrillWriting Question: Can you tell us the story behind your favorite scar? (or your favorite harrowing experience?)

Monica - 
Hm...this is the hardest question yet. I don't have many scars, even after military service, and while Im sure Ive been through many harrowing experiences none that have stayed with me vividly except one. The birth of my daughter. I guess she can be counted as both a scar and a harrowing experience. I wont go into the gory details. I will just say there is nothing like realizing you hold a life in your hands, a real human life, that you created, and that you're now responsible for. Five years later and we are both still alive, but some days are harder than others

Fiona - 
Amen to that. I have four kids. When they were growing up, sometimes at the end of the day, I had to just sit back and say, "well, atleast I kept them alive to try again tomorrow."

What did you want to tell us about the different writing motivations/styles that I didn't ask you specificaly?

Monica - 
Hm I think specificity and flexibility are the only things we didn't cover. 

In romance, I often go with the flow, change things around in the plot as needed. With mystery, I can't really do that. I have to make sure the plot is completely solid before I start writing. There is no room for moving things around because of the mystery expectations I mentioned before.

It sounds like you might be a pantser for romance (hmm I'm not sure how that sounds...) and a plotter for crime fiction. Yes?

Monica - 
Im more of a planser for both. If I get too deep into details I get bored and can't write. If I don't have a solid outline I can't write. So I use post it notes and one liners for every scene. With romance I can move the post in notes at will. With mystery those post its are taped in.

And you can see this play out in my novel that is included in Murder and Mayhem.

I am so excited to be participating in the Murder and Mayhem boxed set this year. It's a departure from what I usually write but I'm having a blast delving into Supernatural Mystery. If you haven't pre-ordered your copy yet, grab it now!

Bio and Links: 

Monica Corwin is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. She is an outspoken writer attempting to make romance accessible to everyone, no matter their preferences. As a Northern Ohioian, Monica enjoys snow drifts, three seasons of weather, and a dislike of Michigan football. Monica owns more books about King Arthur than should be strictly necessary. Also typewriters...lots and lots of typewriters.

You can find her on Facebook at:, on Twitter at:, on the web at: Monica Corwin is also on Instagram:

If you want up to date information on releases be sure to follow her here on Amazon or you can join her newsletter:

Monica Corwin Paranormal Romance Author

My name is Dorian Gray. You might think you know my story? Please. That was just the beginning. Not the end.

I've lived over 100 years. I don't know why. I've sinned, deeply, but haven't we all?

Now Sybil is back. Her name is Izzy and she looks the same. Smells the same. Walks the same...but everything else about her is different. Stronger. Bolder. I want her more than ever.
I should keep her safe, and keep my hands to myself. But those dark parts of my soul still linger. I won't lose her again.

Thank you, Monica.

When you buy our 99 cent boxed set, you are supporting both me and Monica and are helping to keep informative articles, like this one, coming to you each week. 

Happy reading and writing adventures!

1 comment:

  1. Changing genres isn't easy but, with a little patience and a little education, it can be done. I write primarily mysteries but there's a romantic element in most of them. I crossed the divide and wrote a romance novel and then another. I've since written some romance short stories.

    I won't lie; it wasn't easy. The tropes and the reader expectations are very different. And then switching from long form to short form work is another matter entirely. For anyone looking to switch it up, I say; educate yourself, practice and just have patience. It will come but it will take time.