Why I Love Romantic Suspense

By Angela Smith, author of Fatal Snag and Burn on the Western Slope

Fatal SnagWhy do I love romantic suspense? It’s a question asked of me often, and I usually have the same spiel as an answer. You know, I’ve always read, always loved romance, liked suspense and then I started working at a prosecutor’s office and yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah.

It’s a difficult question to answer because loving romantic suspense, loving to read and write and loving to write romantic suspense has just always seemed to be a part of me. But when I really dig deep, I see a glimmer of how that love originated, or at least how it developed into my writing.

It all started with the movies. I grew up watching Kung Fu and Looney Toons with my dad. Maybe they aren’t romantic suspense, but they have some suspense and even some romance, right? And then there are the movies I loved as a tween (even though that word didn’t exist back in my day). Not the normal Top Gun, Dirty Dancing, or The Princess Bride movies (even though I love those!) but movies that aired on cable every summer when I was a kid and movies that I couldn’t get enough of. Movies that I feel are often overlooked but still good, which is why I’m listing them today.

Movies like Stakeout. Oh my goodness I love the movie Stakeout to this day. Back then, I would watch it every single time it came on, and it wasn’t near enough. Of course it didn’t hurt that I had a crush on Emilio Estevez. Even today, that movie cracks me up, but the undercover investigations and romantic twist are what kept my eyes glued to the screen. Even as a child I loved that undercover investigation stuff. Is it any wonder I now love to write about it?

One Crazy Summer, although not necessarily suspense (depending on how you look at it) would be my second in a list of top three often overlooked but awesome movies that shaped my love of romance. It was that particular time frame, between 1986-1987, when my sister and I were staying at home by ourselves, baking sugar cookies, and watching movies during the hottest part of the day.

Last, but certainly not least, is Centennial. Although it was already at least a ten-year old miniseries by the time I remember it and it aired at nighttime, for a while it came on once a year every summer and, for twelve days, my entire family was glued to the screen. I never read the book, written by James Michener, but I remember the time it stopped playing. My heart broke. I thought I’d never see it again. And, sadly even though I can find it now, I never did watch it again.

Of course there’s Top Gun and Dirty Dancing. What woman between the ages of 30-40 doesn’t love those two movies? More romance with action, adventure, and yes, even some suspense depending on how you look at it. And even though they are labeled as part of the top romantic movies of the 80s and are well deserved, I have a few that shaped what I love to write and who I am now. Stakeout, One Crazy Summer, and Centennial are my three.