Designing a Thriller – Guest Post Virna DePaul

Host – Jordan Dane

I’m thrilled to host my friend, Virna DePaul. Virna is an esteemed member of the International Thriller Writers and recently interviewed me for ITW’s wonderful e-newsletter for my latest release, but Virna and I had met once before at a Romance Writers of America annual conference. We struck up a conversation at a Karen Rose workshop on writing suspense and had lunch after. At the time, Virna hadn’t sold yet, but she left a good impression on me that she was determined to succeed. Boy has she ever. Welcome Virna DePaul, TKZers!

Thank you to the Kill Zone and in particular Jordan Dane for having me as a guest today!

Roller coaster rides. Haunted houses. Horror flicks. And of course, suspense and thriller novels. What do they have in common? They scare us, yet there’s always a certain number of riders, participants, and readers willing to go back for more. Again and again, we seek out experiences that make our hearts race, and alternately tighten our muscles with anticipation and make us dizzy with relief. Why?

Because these experiences affirm our existence even as they wash away its ordinariness. They give us the illusion of being out of control and ultimately triumphant even as we remain both safe and, let’s face it, relative victims to the whims of fate.

We’ll board a roller coaster only because we know the ride will be quick and we can choose to never ride it again. We’ll see a horror movie only because we know we can walk out of the movie theater or cover our eyes at any time. And we’ll read a thriller novel only because we know we can put the book down until we’re ready to dive back in.

Of course, the key to any great thriller experience is that even given these options, we are swept away in spite of ourselves. We forget reality and simply soak in the larger-than-life wonder of the moment. We feel, we agonize, and we rejoice even as some part of our brains know we’re being manipulated by words, images, or mechanical engineering.

I write romance, both contemporary and paranormal, but my novels always have a suspense element in them. Much like a roller coaster architect, I enjoy designing a thrill ride for my audiences. I take into consideration who they are, what their expectations are, and how I can mix things up to bring them something fresh and new. I wield plot to provide suspension, loops, or a straight drop. I use characters to transport a reader to another time and place, keeping her safe even as I provide her maximum thrill and catharsis. I especially like knowing that at the end of my novels, readers will always have a happily-ever-after in the romance plot. And finally, I enjoy the fact that despite being the architect of my novels, I embark on a wondrous journey, too.

In my Para-Ops series, I take my readers from Washington D.C to North Korea to Los Angeles to France. I introduce them to an elite special ops team comprised of a vampire, werebeast, mage, and wraith. In my contemporary novels, I explore the world of undercover cops and state special agents who chase down drug lords and murderers. But always, no matter the genre or the specific plot, I strive to give my readers two things: a thrilling ride that sweeps them away, and enough satisfaction and hope at the end of the story that they can’t help but want to take the ride again.

How about you? Do you seek out thrills just in books or other places, too?

Experience Virna DePaul’s “intriguing world” protected by an elite Para-Ops team with a unique set of skills. In Virna’s latest release, Chosen By Sin (Para-Ops #3), you’ll meet a werebeast hero, a vampire heroine, and a host of other paranormal creatures such as a mage, human psychic, wraith (ghost), demons, and dragons. You can learn more about Virna and her series at and

Virna DePaul is a former criminal prosecutor and now national bestselling author for Berkley (paranormal romantic suspense), HQN (single title romantic suspense; Shades Of Desire (Special Investigations Group Book #1, June 2012)) and HRS (category romantic suspense; It Started That Night (May 2012)). Writers, join Virna’s mailing list to access her archive of monthly writing “cheat sheets.”

Blurb from Chosen By Sin:

The longest life isn’t always the happiest one…

Five years after the Second Civil War ends, humans and Otherborn—humanlike creatures with superhuman DNA—still struggle for peace. To ensure the continued rights of both, the FBI forms a Para-Ops team with a unique set of skills.

For now, werebeast Dex Hunt serves on the Para-Ops team, but his true purpose is to kill the werewolf leader he blames for his mother’s death. Biding his time, Dex keeps his emotional distance from his team members and anyone else he might care for, including a mysterious vampire he met in L.A.

As a doctor, vampire Jesmina Martin has dedicated her immortal life to healing others. As a scientific researcher, she’s trying to prolong life spans, in particular those of her adoptive dragon-shifter family and the werewolf who saved her as a child. Her greatest hope lies with Dex, a werebeast she believes can gift immortality to others.

Only Dex knows nothing about his gift or the fact Jesmina wants to harness it. After a passionate night together neither expects to see the other again. Weeks later, they are reunited in France and forced to acknowledge a fragile miracle—a new life struggling to survive. At the same time, they must stop a group of rebel shape-shifters hoping to unleash every demon in hell. But before Dex and Jesmina can save their child or the world, they must relinquish their secrets, face their fears, and open themselves to love.

Buy the book HERE.