Nina Croft and Tracy March have a lot in common, seeing as they both write contemporary romance and romantic thrillers. But how do these authors approach writing in diverse genres? Find out in this fun, dueling interview!
Tracy: How does each subgenre influence how you name your characters — or does it?
Nina: The subgenre doesn’t influence my choice of names, as my character types tend to be the same, alpha heroes and strong heroines, but I do get fixated on certain choices. I once had four stories on the go, all with a character called Callum. I love the name, but obviously some had to go.
So Tracy, what affects your decision to write a particular genre at a particular time?
Tracy: Contracts and deadlines! I do find it challenging to transition from writing a sweet-and-sassy romance to a gritty thriller. My thriller characters get tempted to crack jokes, and I have to say, “This is serious. People are dead here! And there’s a mystery to solve, so get to work!”
Nina: I know what you mean — there’s a lot of snarky humor in my writing, but there is no place for snarkiness when the world is about to end.
Tracy: How do you know how much grit to add to your thrillers?
Nina: I’m inclined to be a little too gritty (so my editor says). My editing process for The Descartes Legacy included taking out some of the darker scenes, especially at the beginning — mainly to make my hero more sympathetic. Because of the strong romantic elements in the book, he had to come across as someone the heroine could love. Do you find it difficult balancing romance with thrills?
Tracy: It’s a delicate balance. What saves me (I hope!) is that passion is naturally heightened in high-stress situations, especially when characters’ lives are at stake. Danger can be an aphrodisiac, so there are natural opportunities there. I just have to decide when and how often to leverage those.
Nina: I love the urgency danger brings to a romance. How it can make people go after what they want, as though time is running out.
Tracy: You write super-sexy romances, too. How do you judge what heat level will work in your thrillers?
Nina: When I write contemporary romances, I base the heat level on what’s expected of the imprint (I write for Entangled Publishing’s very sexy Brazen line). But with a thriller, I just let the characters dictate how hot they get — and they get pretty hot.
You write contemporary sweet romance for Entangled’s Bliss imprint, where couples jump in the sack and the scene fades to black. Do you do the same when things heat up in your thrillers?
Tracy: Well, things can get pretty hot in Bliss romances, with lots of sexual tension, steamy make-out sessions and even nudity (gasp!). LOL! I enjoy reading all heat levels, but I’m taking baby steps writing them — like I’m writing sex scenes on training wheels! The thriller I just finished features the hottest scenes I’ve written. Maybe after a few more books I’ll be ready for a big-girl bike! That’s the skinny on the sex, but what about the thrills? A reviewer said that your thriller, The Descartes Legacy, has a Dan Brown feel to it. That's awesome, yet I'm curious about your reaction to that comparison.
Nina: Thrilled! I absolutely loved The Da Vinci Code and all Dan Brown’s other books. He’s a master at fast-paced storytelling with an intriguing mystery thrown in. Exactly what I was aiming for with The Descartes Legacy. And of course, the romance in my story is an extra bonus.
Tracy: How about some random questions before we go? What’s your favorite romantic destination?
Nina: A secluded beach on Bali. Your most thrilling destination?
Tracy: I loved ziplining in the Swiss Alps, and I thrive on the energy of Washington, D.C. Would you prefer your mother to read your thrillers or your super-sexy romances?
Nina: Definitely the thrillers! Who swears more, your romance or your thriller characters?
Tracy: Me! LOL. Definitely my thriller characters. I had to warn my mom to look out for a couple of f-bombs before she read my first thriller! Well, we’ve found some similarities and differences, Nina, but one thing is for sure. We’re both having a fun writing thrillers and romance. Here’s to readers falling in love with both!
Dueling interviews are fun, aren't they? We sure think so! And for even more author buzz, head on over to our Everything Romance Page!