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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Karen Harper

Why An Amateur Sleuth?

I enjoy books with private eyes, forensic and detectives. But, I must admit, I prefer reading and writing amateur sleuth heroines. I find it easier to identify with a main character who is an “average” woman, who suddenly encounters a terrible, often deadly, situation—and, perhaps with the hero’s help, solves it, saving her own life and maybe that of others.

I have written romantic suspense novels in which the heroine was a scuba diver, a midwife, a cancer researcher, a rose grower, a lawyer, an Amish woman—ah, variety is the spice of my novels. That’s also the teacher instinct in me: I write to entertain and entrance but also to educate—to let my readers learn something new about a life they will never live but can identify with.

Another reason I write amateur sleuths is that it is easier for an author to make the heroine deeply involved with the crime she must solve. An “average” woman would probably not be solving a kidnapping or murder if she were not personally impacted, and that ups the emotional impact for the reader. Granted, in professional sleuth novels, it’s possible to have the hero or heroine police officer, P.I. or forensic tech know the person murdered or abused, but it’s more of a stretch. However dedicated, those sleuths do their work as part of their job, not because it was their child (Dark Angel) or their sister (Below The Surface) or their mother (Deep Down) who has been lost.

And one reason I always have a new pair of heroes/heroines in my romantic suspense novels, even if I’m occasionally writing a series: I find it really challenging to sustain a romance book after book between the same two main characters. Some authors do a great job with that, but I prefer the feeling of falling in love anew in each novel. Once that happy-ever-after happens, the story is over for me, and I move on, though my characters never really leave me. So one of my mottos is, “Professional author in search of amateur sleuth!”


Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

I liked your post, especially the idea of new characters who fall in love and treat the reader to that wonderful beginning stage of a relationship. Also, very interesting was the different types of heroines you've created.

booklover0226 said...


I like the idea your heroines have had a variety of professions.

I look forward in reading your works.

Tracey D

robynl said...

'falling in love anew' is a great storyline.