Day 6 Joyce Lamb – Celebrating the HEA

The Power of Story

What I love most about writing romantic suspense is that I have all the power. Well, my characters and I have all the power. OK, I don’t have any power — my characters have it all. But that’s OK, because I still get to make them who I want them to be … at least until they take over. OK, it’s sounding like I have no control at all. But the truth is, as the author I get to create a world in which the bad guys get what’s coming to them.

In these days of self-serving politicians and greedy bankers, I want justice to win, dang it. And that’s guaranteed when I’m writing (or reading) a romance. And the bonus: People get to fall in love, weather their trials and tribulations, and come out better, stronger and happier.

Joyce Lamb True VisionYou know what’s another bonus? Free therapy. I always joke that the reason I write romance novels is because I’ve needed a lot of therapy over the years, and therapy’s expensive. So I created my own. I work out all kinds of issues when I’m writing a book. For instance, two of my romantic suspenses, Caught in the Act and True Vision, helped me work through some issues I’ve had with the newspaper biz (my day job).

Caught in the Act features a newspaper editor paying the price for running a story based on anonymous sources, something that has since become a huge no-no for many media companies today. True Vision features a local newspaper reporter who loses her job when she conspires to get into the paper a story about a crooked auto dealer, which also happens to be the newspaper’s main advertiser.

Both stories helped me explore the challenges that media companies still face today – balancing getting the story first without getting the story wrong and covering a big story even when advertisers, whose ad dollars support the media, might not like it.

Mixed in with those explorations is lots of romance and steam. Of course! Because that’s kind of the whole point, right? And there’s no better therapy than romance and steam. That’s why I celebrate romance every day, by reading it and writing it (and blogging about it!).



One of my favorite up-and-coming authors is Ana Barrons. She writes gritty, sexy romantic suspense with majorly Alpha heroes. Yum! My favorite book by her (so far) is Son of the Enemy, in which the FBI agent hero is the son of the man who (supposedly) killed the heroine’s mother. Tense AND hot! Who could ask for more?


Questions for the Author:

1. Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

The most adventurous thing I’ve ever done was climb a waterfall in Jamaica. I had to actually climb THROUGH the rushing water, which was no easy feat, let me tell you. Plus, I was wearing contact lenses, so I had to keep my eyes closed or risk having my contacts float away. So, really, I climbed a waterfall with my eyes closed. Whee!

2. Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

My answer to this question goes hand-in-hand with the next question about the book that changed my life. I’d just finished reading Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon. And that book did NOT have a happy ending, and I was so irked that that was the moment where I thought, “I’m going to write a book with a happy ending, Mr. ‘The Laughter’s Dead’ Sheldon.”

I immediately sat down with my dad’s electric typewriter (yes, it was that long ago) and started banging out my first romantic suspense novel. I had no idea at the time that I was writing romantic suspense (it was the early ‘80s and the subgenre hadn’t really been defined, as far as I knew). All I knew was that my story would have a happily ever after at the end.

My dad stopped in my room (I was only 17) and asked what I was doing, and I said, “I’m writing a book.”

And he said, “OK.” And I didn’t stop writing until I had several romance manuscripts to store under my bed. For the next several years, I went to college then got a job as a journalist at the local newspaper – somewhere along the way, someone wisely told me I needed to get a job to support my novel-writing habit so I could pay my bills. In the meantime, I built my journalism career and wrote novels in my spare time. It took me a really long time to finally get The Call, and by then it was so unexpected that I at first thought my agent was a telemarketer wanting to sell me something.

That was a hilarious conversation.

3. Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

See above 🙂

Joyce is generously offering three digital copies of True Vision to give away, two to US readers (entry form below) and one to International friends (international readers enter here).


Joyce LambJoyce Lamb is a USA TODAY best-selling author of romantic suspense and three-time RITA finalist. She’s also curator of USA TODAY’s Happy Ever After blog devoted to romance novels. Find her at


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  • Kathleen O

    Great interview…I loved Sydney Sheldon’s books too. They were always a great read. I am looking forward to reading your book.

    • JoyceLamb

      His books were always so very clever. I loved that!

  • Kim

    Sydney Sheldon was my first foray into romantic suspense as a teen. I couldn’t get enough!

    • JoyceLamb

      I know! What’s your favorite? I LOVED If Tomorrow Comes. I even enjoyed the Lifetime movie (or whatever it was). Tom Berenger was such a hottie then! Those lips!!!

  • Fern Martin

    I really enjoy Catherine Coulter and Nora Roberts romantic suspense books.

    • JoyceLamb

      Me, too. Nora’s Hot Ice was the book that made the light bulb go off in my head that I was writing romantic suspense. What can I say? I’m a slow learner sometimes. : )

  • Sheila M

    I love to read romantic suspense and I like happy endings as well!

    • JoyceLamb

      Amen, sister!! : )

  • Toni Linenberger

    I love Romantic Suspense also. There is something wonderful about a happy ending after turmoil.

    • JoyceLamb

      Yep. I figure, hey, if people with all those intense problems — AND bad guys chasing them — can overcome, what’s my excuse?

  • Linnea Bassin

    I actually started college as a journalism writer, then dropped that and majored in Political Science. I do enjoy Romantic Suspense along with other forms of romances.

    • JoyceLamb

      Good move! : )

  • Carrie

    I love reading romantic suspense. Before I discovered romance, I read a lot of suspense novel. Now I can still read suspense but also get the happily ever after.

    • JoyceLamb

      Exactly! I miss the romance now when I read straight suspense, though a lot of times, the romance is there. It’s just not as intense.

  • Writing romances as free therapy? Maybe I’ll try, too, because reading like a fool is amusing and interesting, but not resolving my issues… 😉

    • JoyceLamb

      LOL! I hear you. When I start feeling tense, I blow up a few things and kill off some bad guys … ahhhh.

  • And thanks for the international part! We readers from all the world appreciate a lot!! Marinella (in Urbino at the moment).

    • JoyceLamb

      You’re welcome! : )

  • Mary Dieterich

    I’m glad there’s romance authors to give us HEA’s, because you don’t get that too often in real life! Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Hi Joyce,

    Great seeing you at RWA. It was San Antonio, right? Conferences make be foggy-brained, even two weeks later:)…but I definitely appreciate your point about romantic suspense and power (and yeah, the characters dictate, but its fun to make it as hard as possible for them to see the light, though:)…And thanks for your insights, and the recommendation. Romantic Suspense Rules!

  • Stephanie M.

    Yes, I’ve never really thought about it before…Romance books (all sub-genres) are my therapy. I’m always looking for a new therapist and will add you to my TBR list. Thank you!

  • Martha B

    I Love, love, LOVE the HEA column (blog) on USA Today. Because of that column, I have discovered (expanded) and tried new authors and different genres. I really appreciate ALL you do to make that happen. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to see (and hear) the conversation between you and your agent when you received “The CALL”. Kudos to you for following your dream of writing!

  • Patty Vasquez

    Hmmm.Maybe I need to take up writing, because I really want the bad guys to get what’s coming to them, too. And the whole idea of therapy and control isn’t bad, either!

  • Jen C

    Here! Here! Writing is definitely therapy.

  • Becky Rabalais

    Reading is my therapy. Thanks for a great interview!

  • Beverly Long

    You are a fabulous romantic suspense writer and as far as the therapy goes, I think it worked. You seem quite well adjusted to me.

  • TrishJ

    Yes, yes. Happy endings are important. But the road to that final page is the fun. Whether comedy, drama, and/or action, you just know it will work out. I love your books. So glad you read that book without the happy ending!

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I love happy endings! But a book with a little bit of vengeance sprinkled in amongst the romance is my kind of therapy 🙂 Romantic suspense is definitely one of my go to genres and I can only imagine how cathartic and therapeutic it would be to write your issues into a book. Great post and I look forward to reading more of your books.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I love happy endings. Actually I come to exppect them. How wonderful that your get therapy from your writing.

  • Brenda E

    Great post. Loved your statement that writing these is free therapy – I feel the same way about reading them!

  • Geraldine Pierson

    I love happy endings and I when I buy a E-book I read the reviews to see what people say about the book. I do not want to buy a book if there is going to be an unhappy ending. I read to be happy so I do not want a book that makes me cry or unhappy all the time. A little is ok.

  • Karin Anderson

    When I went to Jamaica, climbing the waterfall was fun, but the most adventurous thing we did was go to the market. I was actually pretty good at haggling. 😉


    I love happy endings too. Great to read about the therapy. Your book looks great too.

  • Pamby50

    I loved Rage of Angels. Sidney Sheldon didn’t always have HEA.

  • Debbie Oxier

    Never cared for his books.

  • rebecca moe

    What a great “book that inspired you” story! Thanks for sharing.

  • Ann Mettert

    Great story. And YOUR books sound good. 🙂

  • mariannewestrich

    Life doesn’t provide enough HEAs … so I need to have them in my books! 😎

  • Anne

    I laughed my way through your essay, thank you for sharing. Like you, I need happy endings. You just made my “new author to read” list.

  • Felicia M. Ciaudelli

    How awesome – thank you SO much for sharing with us!

  • librarypat

    You were so lucky to have family cooperation for your writing. So often support and understanding aren’t forthcoming. Your response to RAGE OF ANGELS was a good one for you and for us, your readers.
    Patricia on rafflecopter.

  • Ruth

    I love romantic suspense. Romantic suspense reignited my passion for reading. Thanks for the post.

  • Judy Goodnight

    Must look for your books – romantic suspense has been a favorite of mine since the days of Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney.