I love building relationships between main characters. In writing romance in particular, it’s a lot like playing matchmaker – creating the perfect yin for another character’s yang. “Yin and yang” is a Chinese concept that describes how seemingly opposite forces are interconnected and interdependent. Sort of how you want any exciting, romantic couple to be.
In MIDNIGHT CALLER, my debut romantic thriller, FBI agent Trevor Rivette was created first. Handsome and intelligent (as most leading men are), he’s also serious, intense and hiding some pretty troubling aspects of his past. I wanted to balance him by creating a female lead with more lightness – but not too light, since after all it’s a dark thriller. Rain Sommers emerged from that. She’s a witty, somewhat eccentric radio show psychologist who has developed a following among New Orleans’s Goth community due to her famous (and many years ago, murdered) mother. See? I told you, not too light.
In fact, that spooky “following” is how she becomes entangled in Trevor’s serial murder investigation. This is important, since in romantic thrillers not only do your lead characters need to have a strong physical chemistry, there also has to be a darn good reason for them to be brought together repeatedly in the plot.
There are multiple ways to make your male and female leads “opposites” of one another. They can be from different socioeconomic backgrounds, or have vastly different personalities and life experiences. Or maybe they simply have motivations or goals that are in conflict. It’s often a mix of some or all of the above. But despite their differences, there also has to be something each finds so compelling about the other that they ultimately can no longer fight their attraction and end up in one another’s arms.
Like the yin and yang, being together should strengthen each character somehow. For instance, Rain’s occupation takes a role in the relationship building, as her training allows her to help Trevor begin to acknowledge and deal with some of that darkness in his past.
In romantic thrillers, it’s the danger that brings the characters together (and I love experiencing it while I sit safe and comfy in my favorite reading spot). But it’s their very real connection that ensures they will remain together – and in your mind – long after the book is closed.
MIDNIGHT CALLER/MIRA Books
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