What Took so Long? Why Romantic Suspense is the Next Big Thing from Tor Romance
by Anna Genoese, Consulting Editor
For the past few years, the word on everyone’s tongue when they’ve talked about romance has been “paranormal”: vampires, werewolves, space pirates, psychics, witches and wizards! Paranormal romance has grown by leaps and bounds from a quirky subgenre to a multi-million dollar train everyone wants to jump on.
What about other romance genres? Are they still around? The answer is a resounding yes! Even bigger than paranormal, as we readers know, is the romantic suspense novel. Spies, Navy SEALs, kidnappings, danger, action, and adventure!—all the hallmarks of a great tale.
But many other genres include these elements too. What makes romantic suspense different?
In one word: characters. The most successful romantic suspense novels bring us, the readers, into the lives (and loves!) of the characters.
If you look closely, you’ll see that over the last few years, romantic suspense readers have outnumbered paranormal romance readers by quite a bit. According to the Romance Writers of America’s 2005 survey, the $1.2 billion romance industry makes up over half of the mass market paperback market… and 58% of romance readers buy romantic suspense novels.
Writers like Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown mix danger with hot romance—and skyrocket to the top of the bestseller lists. Any reader who goes into a bookstore or a supermarket knows names like Iris Johansen, Catherine Coulter, and Suzanne Brockmann—all romantic suspense authors who have crossed over into the consciousness of mainstream readers, male and female alike.
What does this have to do with Tor’s romance program? Well, we’re building on our success with paranormal romance and moving into the mainstream. Don’t worry, we’re going to continue publishing fantastic paranormal romance every month—but we’re adding romantic suspense novels to the program, starting with Tor Paranormal Romance’s most successful author—USA Today bestseller Susan Kearney.
Susan, formerly one of Harlequin Intrigue’s top-selling romantic suspense novelists, is diving head-first back into those steamy waters with Kiss Me Deadly. The story is set near Susan’s home, Tampa, Florida, a lush, tropical area she knows well. Six women lawyers win a 360 million dollar jackpot. Only someone else wants the ticket—and the jackpot—and the women have all become targets.
And because this is a romance, the heroine’s best hope of staying alive is to trust an undercover agent—a man she used to love, whose betrayal left her shattered years ago. In the able hands of bestselling author Susan Kearney, this compelling story is a great flagship title for our new romantic suspense program.
Kiss Me Deadly by Susan Kearney, a romantic suspense novel from Tor Romantic Suspense, will be available in your local bookstore in July 2007. You can see the book video at www.susankearney.com.
How Books and Movies Come to Be
by Mitchell Graham
People disappearing from a cruise ship? The first time I heard of such a thing, I was in the middle of preparing for a trial for the cruise line I represented—one of our ships had hit a pier too hard. Just before jury selection got underway, I was urgently summoned back to my office by our general counsel.
A twenty-seven year old Michigan man had vanished from one of our biggest ocean liners without a trace. The accident, as we were calling it, had occurred in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The U.S. Navy’s Air-Sea Rescue Team was called in to search; since he was nowhere to be found on the ship, it was assumed that he had somehow fallen overboard. An examination of his cabin revealed a single smear of blood in the living room. Beyond that, there were no signs of violence. After two days the search was called off. The man was never found, nor was the blood in his cabin ever identified. In short, there were no witnesses and no clues. And the ocean is a big place.
Inevitably, the man’s family filed suit against our company, alleging negligence, and I was called on to defend the cruise line. We won because no one had any idea what had happened to the missing man. Experts testified the ship’s safety railings were high enough and we had more than adequate security available.
In the end, it was believed he had committed suicide.
A fact I uncovered during my trial preparation stayed with me for many years. I felt certain the plaintiff’s lawyers would ask if there had been any other mysterious disappearances from ships, so I researched that point. Though they never did, I learned that over a ten year period, more than seventy people had vanished from cruise ships around the world.
When I began to write Majestic Descending, my plan was to focus on this startling piece of information. As is often the case with most books, the story took on a life of its own and went in a slightly different direction.
At a writing panel in Atlanta, I casually mentioned the book I was working on to fellow author, Jack Dann, and told him about the shipboard disappearances. Jack is a consulting editor for Tor/Forge and asked to see the manuscript. They offered to buy it, shortly thereafter. Through a series of bizarre coincides, actress Sondra Locke heard about the Majestic’s sinking scene through her lawyer and expressed interest in seeing whether it could be translated into a movie. We spoke by telephone and hit it off right away.
At lunch, she asked the inevitable question, “Mitchell, what gave you the idea for this book?” As I told about the mysterious shipboard disappearances I could see the wheels turning in her head. A movie option agreement was signed the following day.
Mitchell Graham’s newest novel, Majestic Descending (0-765-31812-1, $24.95 / $31.00 CAN, a June Forge Hardcover) will be a major motion picture and in theaters Easter 2008.
The Spy Who Billed Me
by R J Hillhouse
One of the biggest secrets of the shadowy world of spies is that spies are for rent. The $24 billion private intelligence industry offers its services not only to the US government, but to individuals, corporations, and foreign clients. James Bond now bills by the hour and you can hire him.
Anything the CIA can do can be purchased from the private sector with no government oversight. What kind of things can you hire a spy to do? Money laundering, product sabotage (as in a competitor’s product), risk analysis, competitor analysis, hostile takeover assistance, labor relations assistance (including the incitement of labor unrest for competitors), assistance in dealing with hostile non-governmental organizations (i.e., sabotaging and spying on groups like Greenpeace), support in dealing with unfriendly governments—the black arts of espionage are available on the open market.
How does this work? Secretly, of course. Most clients really don’t want it to be known that they’re hiring spies. Typically they use a third party to disguise the transaction, hiding it in a well-padded contract for consulting, marketing, or lobbying services, contracted through a foreign branch of a multinational corporation. Recently when a Russian company was vying with a Bermuda-based investment fund to take over a large Russian telecommunications firm, the Russians hired the private spy shop Diligence to essentially steal a confidential internal audit on its competitors from the well-known accounting firm KPMG.
Diligence set up an operation worthy of the CIA, MI6, or the Mossad. They began with phone chats with KPMG secretaries in Bermuda, claiming they were organizing a conference on the island. Through this cover story, the Diligence spooks acquired enough intel to select the target for their false-flag op. (A false-flag operation is when someone is duped into thinking they are cooperating with a different country or organization.) They courted a British KPMG employee, wining and dining him as they convinced him they he would be working as a secret agent for the British government.
The private spies trained their KPMG agent in basic spy techniques such as how to send messages through “dead-drops” without being detected—in this case, they used a rock under which he could leave message on his way to and from work. The Diligence team employed basic counter-intelligence tactics to ensure that their agent was not a double-agent. They surveilled him and made sure rendezvous spots were not being watched. And in the end, they presented the poor bloke a Rolex as a memento of appreciation for Her Majesty’s Service.
It all would’ve worked beautifully, except, it seems, Diligence had its own counter-intelligence problem. Someone dropped off internal Diligence documents and a copy of the audit report at KPMG’s New Jersey offices. Diligence was sued and settled out of court.
So the next time you need a spy, remember, one is only a phone call away, easily reached via your shoe-phone.
R J Hillhouse’s newest novel, Outsourced (0-765-31577-7, $25.95 / $31.95 CAN) is a June hardcover from Forge.
How Alien Is It?
Senior editor David G. Hartwell discusses The SFWA European Hall of Fame, edited by James & Kathryn Morrow
A few decades back some unfortunate things happened to the practice of translating works of SF from other languages into English. The problems started in the 1960s, when the cost of commissioning good translations began going up steadily, and then accelerated in the 1970s with the collapse of the anthology market.
In the early 1960s, Damon Knight became interested in translating short SF stories from the French, and produced a fine anthology, French SF, that stayed in print in paperback for many years. Knight didn’t make much off of the project; for him, it was largely a labor of love. In today’s environment, however, such an anthology would be unlikely to stay in print long enough to break even, and anthologies of all kinds generally sell far fewer copies than they did in the 1960s and early 1970s
In novels, the economics of translated fiction have changed even more markedly. In the early 1960s, the cost of translating a foreign-language SF novel into English was equal to only about half of such a book’s first-year royalty earnings—so long as you hired, as the translator, a grad student from a non-Ivy League school with a strong language program. Today, on the other hand, the cost of the translation is about triple what a typical SF book earns in royalties.
What to do?
One answer is the Damon Knight solution: Do it as a labor of love.
For years, Jim and Kathy Morrow have been going to the international SF meeting in Nantes, France. They became aquatinted with the many cultured, intelligent and often famous (in Europe) SF writers in attendance, none of whom could get their works translated into English because of the cost.
The Morrows thought about this at length, and convinced the Science Fiction Writers of America to give them a grant to support translating the best of contemporary European SF. Then they talked first-rate translators into donating part of their services to the project, and went over every translation with a careful editorial eye. It took years. But the result of hundreds of hours of the Morrows’ time, essentially donated to the field, is the single best book of SF from other languages in many decades, an historic event in world SF publishing.
I am particularly pleased to have been able to see this book through publication by Tor. I think it is going to have strong and continuing impact on the SF world internationally, at a moment when we need all the international communication and understanding we can muster.
--David G. Hartwell
The SFWA European Hall of Fame (0-7653-1536-X, $26.95 / $33.95 CAN), edited by James & Kathryn Morrow, was released by Tor in June.