To celebrate the upcoming release of my third novel, Driving in Neutral—a love story about claustrophobia—I am running the 75 Days of Phobia series. Yes, I know seventy-fives days, that’s a lot. A real hell of a lot. Thanks to everyone who’s been following along and everyone who’s joined in to talk about creepy clowns, creeping spiders, creeping leeches. As Olivia, the heroine in Driving in Neutral says to Maxwell the claustrophobe, “Everyone’s afraid of something.” Author EE Carter is no exception, and she has good cause.
Do you remember what you were doing on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at around about 6.20pm?
I was driving 130km/h down the M1 towards the hospital with my husband in the passenger’s seat unsure whether he was unconscious or dead.
I knew fear that day. Fear uproots you from the perfect plans you made for that evening. It pulls everything into sharp focus and makes you pay attention to the things which are truly important.
Fortunately, my husband made a near-full recovery from his stroke but that moment of fear has been life changing.
And so too it is in the world of romance, where fear walks two steps ahead of love.
Consider this, in all romances the heroine or the hero (sometimes both) have to put something at risk in order to win the love of their life. That thing at risk may be a secret from the past, overcoming a past betrayal or an external challenge – a dragon… the wicked step mother… the scorned lover… the entire advancing French Republican army… Regardless of what the nature of the obstacle is, our heroes and heroines have to overcome their fear to get to their happily ever after. Game of Thrones author George RR Martin knows this only too well, thanks to his penchant of building up major characters and killing them off without qualm. He wants us to live in fear:
“We’ve all seen the movies where the hero’s in trouble … but you know he’s going to get away. I want my readers and viewers to be afraid when my characters are in danger.”
And he’s made it work.
However, we write (and read) romances. We love our happily ever after (we’ll even settle for a happy for now), so it’s a real bummer when the hero and heroine aren’t with us at the end.
I’ve included an extract from my upcoming novel, Warrior’s Surrender. It was written while my husband was in the hospital for two weeks.
The blanket of fear, which had only been hinted at back along the passage, settled oppressively around him, warning him to turn back.
He could die down here and no one would know.
Frey would never know.
Who would protect her?
Did she know how much he loved her?
The thought of her spending endless lonely years without him was infinitely more terrifying than the thought of his own death.
Oh Frey, my love. I don’t want to leave you!
Terror sunk its talons into his heart and, with each beat, the pain became a physical agony. The tormented cries of the poor soul in this mine might have been his own.
Then a memory of her smile, the recollection of Frey’s courage, the feel of her naked flesh under his hands as he brought her to the peak of desire, the sure and steady realisation of her reciprocated love played across his mind.
Perfect love casts out fear.
The talons withdrew and Sebastian basked in a feeling of peace as though a warm sun emerged from behind a dark cloud.
A breeze from somewhere pushed at his back. Sebastian took a step or two forward just as his torch died.
–Elizabeth Ellen Carter
Find out more about EE Carter www.eecarter.com and her books.