Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Temptation Tuesday - The Lure of Intrigue!

This Tuesday we welcome Julie Miller, who wears a number of hats but today is wearing her INTRIGUE one...and shares why this line is so very wonderful to write for! Welcome Julie!

Hey, gang--I'm here to talk about all things Intrigue today. But first, I'd like to thank our hosts for inviting me to be a guest blogger here today!

As my (egad!) 31st book comes out this month (in the U.S.--6 months later in the U.K., I believe)--PROTECTIVE INSTINCTS, I'm beginning to think I might know a thing or two about Harlequin Intrigue. If you have any questions about the line (if you're an aspiring writer, they are looking to acquire new authors, btw), I'd be happy to answer them. Here's a little trivia--the very first Harlequin Intrigue came out in 1984--THE KEY by Rebecca Flanders. I read it. I loved it. I was hooked on the line from the very beginning. I've long been an avid reader of Intrigues, and now I'm fortunate enough to be able to write the books I love--sensual, deeply emotional, fast-paced romantic suspense. Usually with a twisty mystery. Always with an emotionally satisfying ending.

In 2009, Harlequin celebrates its 60th anniversary. And, the Intrigue line celebrates its 25th birthday. So I guarantee you, there are exciting things happening with the line to celebrate--revisiting favorite mini-series, books by some of the line's most beloved authors, an exciting continuity that includes everything reads love about Intrigue and more.

Since the "intriguing" excitement is buzzing through my veins, I thought I'd just share a fact or ten about Intrigue.

1. They're all breathtaking romantic suspense books. (no laugh out loud comedies need apply--if the story doesn't have fast pacing, lots of danger (physical and/or psychological), action, great villains.

2. Intrigue is a welcome home for larger-than-life heroes. (Ahh, yes. The #1 reason why I love Intrigues--those big, bad men of honor, whether alpha protectors or genius scientists who use their cunning more than their brawn, will always do the right thing in the end--save the heroine (especially if she was brave enough to save him first!), take down the bad guy, and make a faithful promise to the woman he loves. And, he'll be sexy as all get-out while he's getting the job done.)

3. Intrigue is also home to smart, savvy heroines. Whether cops or criminalists, virgins or single moms, these are strong women. Now mind you, she might not know their own strengths when the story begins, but I guarantee you, by the time the story is done, she will have discovered she's smarter, stronger, more resourceful, etc., than she ever thought possible. She'll have solved the mystery, rescued the hero, faced down the bad guy, protected her family, and stood up for what is right and just. She can be shy or bold, innocent or experienced in life and love. But she's got what it takes to survive and thrive, and to be woman enough to love that larger than life hero.

4. The bigger and badder the villain in an Intrigue, the better. He can be an evil scientist plotting to take over the world. A stalker with an obsessive passion for a woman who doesn't want him. A misguided scientist who believes his ideas are the ones that will save the world, no matter what it costs the innocents in his path. A mobster. An abusive ex. A jewel thief. A cop gone bad and more. The villain in an Intrigue has to be a worthy opponent for the hero and heroine to track down and take down--the more dangerous he is, the more resourceful the H/h must be. Readers want that satisfying sense of justice at the end of a romantic suspense--whether the villain goes to prison or goes up in a blaze of glory--and Intrigue delivers.

5. There's a myth about Intrigues that says they're all about the flash and bang of action and danger. That's only part of the story. Intrigues are deeply-emotional stories. Sure, there's the obvious external conflict between the good guys and the bad guys. But there are deep, well-rounded characters in an Intrigue. After all, it takes someone with a lot of integrity, a deep feeling about a person or cause, a bone-deep sense of honor and justice to stand up to danger and defeat it, right? Emotions run high and run deep in an Intrigue, and that means the romantic emotions are equally intense. Now the love scenes can vary from sweet to steamy, but that sensual, emotional intensity is always there.

6. Mini-series are especially popular with Intrigues. Many of Intrigue's most popular authors established themselves with a connected community of characters. Debra Webb's Colby Agency. Rebecca York's 43 Light Street. Tracy Montoya's Mission: Family. Dana Marton's SDDU military heroes. Delores Fossen's Secret Babies. (and, ahem, shameless plug time...) My own Taylor Clan and Precinct books. My Kansas City cops are back this month to launch a 4-book mini-series called The Precinct: The Brotherhood of the Badge. Faithful readers will recognize a lot of the characters from K.C.'s fictional Fourth Precinct. But you'll get to meet the Kincaid Brothers--all cops, all men, all determined to do whatever it takes to solve their father's murder. You can read an excerpt from the first book, PROTECTIVE INSTINCTS, at my website at . PROTECTIVE INSTINCTS is Sawyer Kincaid's story. In July, you can read Atticus Kincaid's story in ARMED AND DEVASTATING. Then, in October and November, respectively, the mini-series continues with Holden Kincaid's story, PRIVATE S.W.A.T. TAKEOVER, and Edward Kincaid's story, KANSAS CITY CHRISTMAS. Remember what I said about larger than life heroes? I think you'll like these four brothers.

7. Likewise, inline continuities are annual fare in the Intrigue line, and 2009 will be have a special celebration in honor of Harlequin's 60th and Intrigue's 25th--an eight-month long continuity called THE KENNER COUNTY CRIME UNIT. Set in the Four Corners region of the Southwest U.S., you'll meet FBI agents, CSI investigators, a Native American tracker (my hero!), profilers, wealthy inventors and more--all trying to solve the murder of an FBI agent, which leads to uncovering the theft of millions of dollars, which leads to a crime family, which leads to... Twisty mystery. Droolworthy heroes. Strong heroines. Danger and action. Hmm. Even I'm looking forward to reading it!

8. Intrigue is a line that features rookie and seasoned authors alike. So whether you have an old favorite you look forward to reading, or you like to try something new, you'll find a romantic suspense story to love.

9. Some of your favorite big-name, best-selling authors started at Intrigue, and many still write for the line. Suzanne Brockmann. Tess Gerritsen. Aimee Thurlo. Rebecca York. Debra Webb. Need I say more about the quality of the line?

10. Intrigue is popular across the world. We've gotten wonderful fan letters and emails from Iceland, Pakistan, Germany, Brazil, England, Australia, France, Sweden, Italy, and, of course, Canada and the U.S.A. They love romantic suspense. They love a mystery. They love a good romance. Who doesn't?

And little ol' me gets to write for Intrigue? You betcha. Yes, I write other things--steamy military and law-enforcement hero romances for Harlequin Blaze, and ST paranormals--but Intrigue is a good fit for me. It's what I love to read, and I love to write it. And I'm thrilled to know I'm not alone in my love for Harlequin's line of breath-taking romantic suspense!

Thanks again for spending some time with me today!

Happy Reading,

Julie Miller


  1. How steamy do you have to be with Intrigue. I've read quite a few and some are very sexy indeed, while others just glance across it...
    I've got a WIP targetted to the Intrigue line, how did you first get your foot in the door?
    Um there's probably a thousand other questions, but those two are my starters... thanks.

  2. Hey, Natalie--
    Thanks for getting us started with questions. ;)

    Intrigue books can have a variety of levels of sexuality, though it's rare to find one that's completely sweet. A lot of it depends upon the author's voice and comfort level. Most do have at least one fully-developed love scene, generally not more than 2-3 (the extras wouldn't be as fully-written, simply because there's not room for that much sex with the length of the books--and it's more important to get the pacing/tension/danger/emotions right). Depending on the author, the love scenes can be metaphoric or more graphic, though none of them will be as graphic as say, a Blaze.

    I got my foot in the door by writing the very best romantic suspense book I could--ONE GOOD MAN. Denise Zaza, my editor, says she has a lot of slots to fill and is looking to acquire new authors. But... while she gets a lot of submissions, she gets many that aren't really Intrigues. So be sure that you read a lot of the books (by different authors, not just yours truly ;)) to get a feel for the tone and pacing of the books. There needs to be a deep, emotional relationship that develops, which is heightened by danger (be it psychological and/or physical) and action. The danger in an Intrigue forces the characters to reveal several emotions, which leads them to revealing romantic emotions once barriers have been peeled away.

    Beyond that, I kept my foot in the door by being able to write 2 or more of those breathtaking romantic suspense novels each year. Denise is looking for someone who can write regularly for the line.

    Good luck with your writing!

    And keep asking questions. It's late night where I am, but when I get up tomorrow morning, I'll be happy to chat more and answer questions.


  3. Hi Julie,

    Is it true that Intrigue prefers settings in the USA and/or characters that are American?

    I'd love to target Intrigue, and have written a novel based in Australia with Australian characters. Would the Intrigue editors consider this type of novel?

  4. Hey, Angie--

    Yes, I think they'd consider it. While it's true that Intrigues are primarily American-based settings with American-based characters, they do have a couple of international writers in the line, and are expanding their scope.

    Dana Marton's sheikhs in fictional empires, and foreign settings for her SDDU special ops books, have been especially popular. Also, I've seen Intrigues where a character is foreign, but the story is set in North America--or vice versa.

    To my knowledge, we haven't had any Australian-set stories yet. But as Intrigue expands its author base, the scope of where the story takes place and who can be in it is also changing. We don't have an Aussie author yet (that I know of)--maybe you could be the first!

    I do know that, more than setting or nationality of characters, it's the tone of the story that counts in an Intrigue. Tone and pacing. If those are right, they'd definitely want to see your book.

    Good luck!


  5. Wow, these are great questions so far! I'm worn a number of career hats, but none of them "cop" or "FBI agent" or "private detective", LOL. Any tips or recommendations for getting that authentic Intrigue feel?

  6. Hey Angie we could set off the market, put some hunky aussie blokes in there and shake the place up a bit. Although sometimes I don't think they'd get our sense of humour.
    Julie thanks for answering that question. I've read a few of your novels, haven't got armed and devastating yet, but the guy on the covers looking like something I might like to find out more about. *g*

  7. I have been reading Intrigues as long as they have been in existance and although I certainly haven't read them all I have enjoyed all that I have read.

  8. Hey, Margaret--
    Well, I've got a few different answers for you. First, and foremost, remember that it's about the characters--Intrigue is still ROMANTIC suspense, so the readers are going to engage more in the characterization of your H/h/villain and supporting characters and their emotional/relationship growth than they're going to want a lesson on police procedure, how a CSI operates, etc. You don't have that many pages to go into great detail, anyway. So bear that in mind when creating Intrigue characters. You want to suggest their job, but the focus should be on them as a man or woman more than as a crime-solver. So sprinkle in a few details as you go along. Or, as I often do--find one or two aspects of their character, get those facts right, and use them in the characterization. (i.e. in my October Intrigue, PRIVATE S.W.A.T. TAKEOVER, the hero is a sharpshooter on a S.W.A.T. team, so he knows a lot about guns, and is likely to take action rather than stand back and think for too long. I mention a few details about guns, and I have him react to situations as a savior/protector rather than an investigator/detective)

    Second, I want to point out that your characters do NOT have to be in law enforcement. Some of the best Intrigues are about "regular" folk who get thrust into a dangerous situation and have to find it in themselves to be brave, to take action--to be resourceful enough to survive, etc.

    Third, basically what you see on TV or in the movies is enough detail to include in your Intrigues to satisfy readers. Beyond that, I've found the HOWDUNIT series from Writer's Digest books (technical stuff in layman's terms) to be a valuable resource on weapons, police procedure, poisons, autopsies, etc. And my favorite kind of research for details is that I've made friends with cops, DEA agents, trauma nurses, etc., and they LOVE to answer questions.

    Be accurate with the details, but know you don't need a lot of detail. It's more important to get the emotions right. The fear/action/danger/sense of honor/need for justice/willingness to protect/etc.

    Good luck!

  9. Julie, thanks so much for your informative and helpful answers.

    I'm looking forward to more 'research' reading Intrigues, though I always get involved in the story and forget that I'm supposed to be analysing it! I'm looking forward to reading your new releases from your mini-series.:)

    Kind Regards,

  10. Thanks, Angie! Thanks, everyone!

    This was fun. And the Pink Heart Ladies were very welcoming and helpful. So much so, that I'm planning to drop by for a visit again in October ;)

    Hope to see everyone then. Plus, now I've got this blog bookmarked, so I'll be a dedicated lurker from now on.

    Take care, all!