TR Ragan joins us to talk about her experiences in writing across different genres, including both romance and thrillers.
Faith McMann comes home to a nightmare: her husband is killed and her son and daughter are taken. Although the intruders leave her for dead, she survives. Crippling grief and fear for her children make life unbearable. Until her anguish turns to anger…and she trades victimhood for vengeance.
Frustrated with the law’s efforts, she takes action to rescue her children—and wreaks havoc on the brutal criminals who tore them from her. With her family and newfound allies at her side, Faith descends into the hellish underworld of human trafficking, determined to make those who prey on the innocent pray for mercy.
The forces she’s up against have already proven that their ruthlessness knows no bounds. And there’s nothing they won’t do to turn Faith’s crusade into a suicide mission. But they’re about to learn that nothing is more dangerous than a mother fighting for her children—especially one who’s earned the nickname Furious.
Writing in Different Genres by TR Ragan
After reading Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor and being taken away to another world, I knew instantly that I wanted to write a romance novel and provide readers with that same wonderful sense of escapism. My first novel, Return of the Rose, a time travel romance, took me five years to write. I caught the attention of an agent and I thought I was on my way. Not even close. I wrote my second time travel and it wasn’t long before I was told that time travels were a dying breed. Next came contemporary romance, and then romantic suspense.
I finaled in Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart contest six times, signed with two agents, and wrote more than a dozen novels, but I couldn’t get published. I came close a few times, but no contract. It was time to make another change. Although I had been writing for twenty years and had devoured novels by Tami Hoag, Laura Lippman, and Lisa Gardner, it never occurred to me to try my hand at writing a thriller. Not until my frustration with the industry grabbed me by the throat and squeezed. It was time to kill off any character who dared walk through the door of my imagination and failed to perform. Boring dialogue—off with his or her head. No personality—shoot him dead. Need tension—bring in a serial killer.
The first thing that struck me as I set out to write my first thriller, Abducted, was that researching real-life serial killers was a far cry from the research I had done for my romance novels. The second thing I discovered was that the villains of my imagination didn’t come close to the real life heinous monsters hiding behind thick shrubs on starless nights. Those killers mutilated and tortured. So I set out to do the same. No more stumbling into the arms of a broad-shouldered hunk. No more happy endings. It was time to dismember and devour. Time to go deep into the minds of some of the worst criminals who ever lived. Time to go for the jugular.
And that’s what I did. Every day I slipped into my villain’s mind and plotted and planned new ways to kill and destroy. And then later that same day, I rushed back to help Lizzy Gardner, the protagonist, do everything in her power to survive, despite the incredible odds against her.
When I finished Abducted, I knew I had something special. Tired of waiting for the industry to decide whether I would make it or break it as a writer, I self-published Abducted in May 2011. The second time my book hit the top five on Amazon, more than one publisher contacted me. After all these years, I finally had their attention.
In 2012 I sold the first three books in the Lizzy Gardner series to Thomas and Mercer, and since that time, I have sold over two million copies. I am currently writing the third book in my Faith McMann trilogy and negotiating a contract for a brand new thrilling series that will have readers locking their doors and turning on the lights. Do I regret not writing a thriller over a decade ago? No way. I traveled through time, I fell in love over and over again, and now I get to make sure that good conquers evil at every turn. Everything happens in its own good time.
Through the years, one piece of advice I was given over and over again was to find a genre I liked reading and writing and then stick with it. I was warned that I would dilute my focus and brand if I were to write in multiple genres. My advice to new writers is do what feels right for you. I personally love when authors take risks and genre hop. Here are some of my favorite examples:
J.K. Rowling — Of course, Rowling’s Harry Potter books are immensely popular, but at the moment I am reading her 2013 crime fiction novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling. The characters are sympathetic and likeable. I can’t put the book down.
Stephen King — I never know what I’m going to get when I pick up the newest Stephen King novel. I loved his psychological thriller Misery. He’s known for his horror novels, and I’ve read them all, but he also writes fantasy and crime. I found myself rooting for ex-cop Bill Hodges in Mr. Mercedes. It doesn’t seem to matter what genre King explores. It’s the three-dimensional characters that pull me into his stories and keep me turning the pages.
Lisa Gardner — She’s one of my all-time favorite thriller writers. I’ve read all of her books, but I’ll never forget the intense emotions I felt while reading The Killing Hour. Lisa Gardner’s journey from writing romance to thrillers inspired me to do the same. Once again, it’s her characters that suck me into a story and keep me turning the pages. I must know what happens to them.
There are many authors who write in multiple genres. Anne Rice, Tess Gerritsen, Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, and the list goes on. Popular indie author, Jana DeLeon, recently gave up a lucrative cozy mystery series to write her first thriller, Malevolent. She’s hoping to reach new readers with her Shaye Archer series. But the most important part, in my opinion, is that she’s following her heart, even if that means taking a few risks.
About the author
T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. Her exciting Lizzy Gardner series (Abducted, Dead Weight, A Dark Mind, Obsessed, Almost Dead, and Evil Never Dies) has received tremendous praise. In August 2015 Evil Never Dies hit #7 on the Wall Street Journal Bestselling List. Since publishing in 2011, she has sold two million books and has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, PC Magazine, Huffington Post, and Publishers Weekly.
Theresa grew up in a family of five girls in Lafayette, California. An avid traveler, her wanderings have carried her to Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, China, Thailand, and Nepal, where she narrowly survived being chased by a killer elephant. Before devoting herself to writing fiction, she worked as a legal secretary for a large corporation. Theresa and her husband Joe have four children and live in Sacramento, California.
Furious, the first book in her most recent Faith McMann series, will be released March 22, 2016, followed by Outrage and Wrath.