As a reader, I’ve always loved romantic suspense, so when I started writing, choosing this genre was a perfect fit for me. I love the layers involved in creating a novel that reaches deeper than simply solving a crime. It is a process of creating characters with a compelling backstory and romance, as well as building a unique setting around a high-stakes story. I also enjoy knowing that even when everything can’t be tied up in a neat bow at the end, I can still ensure that justice is served and the good guys win. But that doesn’t always mean that the journey to justice is easy, and that certainly holds true for my upcoming novel, The Escape.
The Escape puts two US Marshals in the middle of a dangerous fugitive hunt, but Madison James is also dealing with the death of her husband. It’s been five years since his murder, and she still has no solid leads on who killed him, or who has been sending her one black rose every year on the anniversary of his death. And no idea why this year, a rose was left in her house, on her bed.
When I started researching the US Marshals, I didn’t know very much about this federal law enforcement agency. I was fascinated by what I learned. The US Marshals Service has served our country since 1789, and while they don’t investigate or prosecute crimes, they do put their own lives on the line every day by pursuing dangerous fugitives and getting them off the streets. They are also involved in judicial security, prisoner transportation, and serve as custodians of property seized from illegal activities. I spent hours doing extensive research by listening to podcasts, reading non-fiction books by US Marshals, and, of course, using the internet. I also have an author friend who was able to get me in contact with a Marshal who answered one of my questions.
I took just as much time researching the setting for the series as I did the law enforcement angle when I decided to set this series primarily in the Pacific Northwest near where I grew up. It gave me the rough terrain I needed for the initial plane crash and subsequent chase from Idaho to Texas. While sometimes I choose to create fictional towns for my background, in this series, I stuck primarily to real places like Seattle, the Salmon-Challis National Forest, Glenwood Springs in the Rocky Mountains and then all the way to Texas.
Almost as challenging as chasing down a fugitive, is weaving in a romance into a fast-paced thriller. With a murderer on the run, there isn’t a lot of time for two people to fall in love. Since this is book one of a three book series, I’m able to slow down the romance to a more realistic pace and follow that thread through the entire series. But once again, I wanted to make sure my hero and heroine had to overcome obstacles not just with their jobs as Marshals, but in a potential relationship as well. Things that will complicate their and force them to dig up the past and find healing.
In the end, juggling suspense, romance, and setting in a fast-paced story is challenging, but worth the effort to create adrenaline-fueled fiction.
Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta. The author of more than forty
books, including The Nikki Boyd Files and the Southern Crimes series, as well as Vanishing Point, A Secret to Die For, and Deadly Intentions, Harris and her family have spent over sixteen years living as missionaries in southern Africa.
Learn more at www.lisaharriswrites.com.