Some of the most suspenseful stories involve isolating the primary characters in some way. Shipwreck your hero and heroine on a desert island and they must interact, often in interesting—and sensual—ways. If that island is not so deserted (i.e., there are other folks with less-than benevolent intentions around), and they must also put aside their differences to work together for survival. Seclude them in an out-of-the-way airport during an ice storm, throw in an escaped murderer among the other passengers, and you’ll create a scenario that is ripe with suspense. Send a crew of miners to a newly discovered planet, sabotage their ride back to earth, then toss a man-eating alien into the mix. For writers, isolation is a very helpful plot device.
In my paranormal romance Wait Until Moonrise, I use magic to isolate my hero. The curse of a spurned sorceress traps Welshman Nicholas Pierce, Earl of Beaumarith, in his family castle in 1774. No one can see, hear or touch him, but he is far from dead. Trying everything he can think of to attract attention, he succeeds in only one thing: convincing subsequent inhabitants of the castle that it is haunted.
Fast-forward to today when American Bria Leighton visits the castle in search of her family roots. One night in the moonlit ballroom, she hears Nicholas’s voice then she sees him watching her. Stunned to be noticed, Nicholas quickly discovers that they can also touch each other. He remembers that the curse gave him one possible out: his true love can free him in the moonlight. Bria must be his true love and the key to his freedom.
But he must convince her that he’s more than a ghost. And when the sorceress returns, determined to have Nicholas for herself at last, he must protect Bria from becoming another victim of the witch’s magic.
Do any of you have a favorite situation in which to isolate characters? To what remote locations does your imagination take you? While you ponder that, here’s a short excerpt from Wait Until Moonrise:
“I must admit you dance almost as well as your mother.”
Startled, Bria whirled around. A man stood in the doorway leading onto the patio, arms folded over his chest, one shoulder resting against the door’s frame. Moonlight surrounded him like an aura, forming a halo about his black hair and shadowing his eyes. Then, he tilted his head, and silver light poured over his features like clear, sweet water.
Bria stared. Only in dreams had she seen such a beautiful masculine face. Dreams and one disturbing portrait…
“You look prettier, though, when your mouth isn’t hanging open,” he went on in a bored tone.
“Who…who are you?”
As her voice whispered across that hushed, moonlit room, the stranger fell still. Then, slowly, eyes black and wide, he lowered his arms. “You can see me?”
The query came to Bria as a hoarse, disbelieving whisper, words of doubt trembling on a precipice of mad hope. Frightened by the emotion in his voice—by the sudden, stark sensation burning in his black eyes—she backed away. He, in turn, moved toward her, away from the open patio door, into a patch of shadow…and promptly vanished.
Wait Until Moonrise, a winner of the Emily Award for Best Paranormal Romance, is available exclusively at Amazon.com for the next few weeks. Coming soon to Barnesandnoble.com.