Author Robin Patchen-Suspense in Real Life, Suspense in Fiction
Webster's Unabridged defines suspense as "mental uncertainty." For me, suspense is waiting with fear. I don't know about you, but my real life has enough suspense in it, thank you very much.
This year alone, my family has dealt with more suspense than I'd ever throw against a fictional character. Suspense in my husband's job search, suspense in my own writing career, suspense while my oldest son was on a mission trip to a third-world country. And then there were the accidents. My daughter fell down a flight of stairs and crushed both her wrists. That was terrifying enough. Three days later, my younger son was in a devastating car accident in another state.
Getting a call that your child is being medi-flighted to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. That's real-life suspense, folks. And it's not fun. (You can read about the accidents. By the way, my eldest is safely back in the States, and my younger two will both make a full recovery, thank God.)
In storytelling, we use suspense to define a genre in which something bad is poised to happen. The villain is closing in or the storm is bearing down. It's great fun in fiction. I often wonder, when life is so filled with mental uncertainty, why do we want to read about it in stories?
My answer is simple. I love to see how people handle the terrifying blows that life deals them. Which heroes rise to the challenge, which shrink away? Which heroines find inner strength, and which cower in the corner? And why?
I want to develop the character traits of the heroes and heroines in my books. I want to be strong and brave and willing to take on the giants of my life. From fictional heroes and heroines, I learn how to be courageous. In Christian fiction, I learn how to be courageous not because I am strong, but because the Lord is my strength. I want my readers to see that in my stories. I hope my family sees that in my life. I've sure gotten a lot of practice this year.
Why do you read suspense?
About Robin: Aside from her family and her Savior, Robin Patchen has two loves—writing and traveling. If she could combine them, she’d spend a lot of time sitting in front of her laptop at sidewalk cafes and ski lodges and beachside burger joints. She’d visit every place in the entire world—twice, if possible—and craft stories and tell people about her Savior. Alas, time is too short and money is too scarce for Robin to traipse all over the globe, even if her husband and kids wanted to go with her. So she stays in Oklahoma, shares the Good News when she can, and writes to illustrate the unending grace of God through the power and magic of story.