Tripping over Tropes
When I first got into writing fiction, little did I know that I’d end up writing three romance novels back to back in three years. I have always fantasised about writing across genres—thrillers, romances, action adventure, historical. But when you have a publisher (Harlequin at that), you can’t really overlook the fine print: if you are meant to write a romance you can’t go off on a new track and produce a horror manuscript.
So, after my first book—The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal—which was a romance based on the revenge trope came out, I tried my hand at a chick lit style romance. The result was Trouble Has A New Name, which was set at a destination wedding based on the fake fiancé trope. But the thought of starting a new manuscript with yet another of the tried and tested tropes did not quite excite the writer in me. Luckily for me, the romance genre is vast enough and allows enough room for play. When it was time for Book 3 to be written, I decided to try my hand at romantic-suspense. And voila, that’s how No Safe Zone—the latest book—happened.
I have always wanted to write romantic thrillers but was daunted by the prospect. I wondered if I would be able to tweak the elements of the genre—create a fast-paced action plot as well as write compelling characters. Adding romance to the mix and bringing in chemistry and sensual tension to all the goings-on was not going to be a breeze. But as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Moreover, I wanted to go beyond the specific framework of tropes.
In No Safe Zone, the romance thread hinges loosely on the trope of second chances. Since I was writing a romantic-suspense I had more room to play around with the themes of misunderstanding and trust, loyalty and betrayal. By enlarging the scope and bringing in the two lead’s relationships with their families into the plot, I could delve into these emotions in a more meaningful manner even while keeping the narrative fast-paced and action-driven.
Writing three back to back romance novels has been a learning experience. And I am looking forward to more exciting times as a romance writer while tweaking with the elements of the genre.
Would love to know if you have felt constrained by the limitations of the genre? And how you have dealt with it.
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I leave you with a short excerpt from No Safe Zone:
A woman in a short dress was running full tilt at him. As if she was being chased by the devil and completely oblivious to the fact that she was on a collision course with a speeding bike.
He swerved to avoid hitting her but with cars parked all along on both sides, there wasn’t much room to manoeuvre. Grinding to a halt a hair’s breadth away from her, he let fly a vile curse.
At the very same moment, she grabbed at him, trying to save herself from hitting the asphalt.
He heard his shirt rip down the front. His hand shot out and grabbed her around the waist.
She was breathing hard, her forehead slick with sweat and her eyes burnt with an intensity even her fear couldn’t diminish. The same intensity that held him in thrall all those years ago.
His breath whooshed out of him as she flung her arms around his neck to stop herself from sliding down.
She struggled for breath, “H—help. Please…”
She dragged her arms away from his neck—and leaned against the front of the bike for support.
He pulled his helmet off. Their eyes clashed and he saw reflected in those limpid brown eyes a gamut of emotions—panic, bewilderment and a flash of gut-wrenching hurt. But they were gone in the blink of her eye.
She wrenched herself away from him, as if scalded by his touch.
“Goddamn it,” she cursed between pants. “Of all the people to run into, it had to be you!”
Kabir often wondered what it would be like to run into her again. Would she smile politely at him? Or perhaps, ignore him? He should have known that with Qiara it would be nothing short of dramatic.
His mouth twitched in a bitter smirk. “Happy to oblige. Why on earth are you running as if the devil is behind you?”
She gulped nervously. Ranveer’s killer was probably creeping up on them, ready to attack. No sooner had the thought crossed her mind, than a whiff of hot breeze skimmed her cheek. Something shot through the space between them and a metallic thunk ricocheted in her befuddled brain. She swung around to find a neat hole punched into the body of the car behind her.
Adite Banerjie is a published author and screenwriter who lives in New Delhi, India.
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