Do You Want More Suspense in Your Life?

So many people have told me I have to read Catherine Ryan Hyde. So finally, I purchased one of her books – Stay.


I read it on my kindle which is often not as good an experience for me as paper. It is harder for me to get a real sense of the book. I’m not sure why. Maybe I am a tactile person, but I think the cover, the heft, the quality of the actual book affect how I feel about a book. I just don’t have the same affection or love for an ebook as I do for a paper book.

Kindle aside, I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t love it like I thought I would. It’s a great book—a lovely storyline and excellent characters. I especially loved the main character Lucas, the 14-year-old boy who is wise beyond his years and has a penchant for running with dogs. The book was well written, moved along at a nice pace, and of course, I loved the two dogs—the fact that Hyde often incorporates dogs into her stories is probably why people suggest her to me.

Despite the quality of the book, it took me longer than usual to finish it. I suppose the real reason I didn’t race to open it every evening was that the stakes just weren’t high enough.

To give you perspective, I’m not a suspense reader, in fact, I don’t like suspense in general. I like to know and love the characters and trust the author to keep the good ones safe, but I do think a reader needs to worry about those characters enough to hurry back to read the next chapter.

Hyde just didn’t make me care enough, even though I liked the characters and the story. She didn’t make me worry at all; I knew nothing bad could ever happen to them in her hands. I’m not saying I need the stakes to be life-threatening, but they do need to arouse my curiosity and wonder.

the doctors wifeAt the other end of the spectrum, I read The Doctor’s Wife by Elizabeth Brundage, and I literally couldn’t put it down. I read deep into the night and then didn’t sleep well, opening the book again as soon as I woke. I literally felt like those characters were in mortal danger if I didn’t turn those pages fast enough.

Even though I knew the book was a best-seller and that meant the beloved wife would not die, I was terrified for her and read as fast as my brain could process. I loved that book, but I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed it.

It’s like the one rollercoaster I will go on at Hershey Park. I don’t ride rollercoasters as a general rule, but sometimes when we go to Hershey Park and have an odd number or I’m feeling daring, I climb aboard the Runaway Train (if you’re a rollercoaster aficionado this one won’t even register for you, but for me, it’s about all I can handle).

I’m the same way with reading suspense novels. A steady diet of them might fray my nerves, but every once in awhile, it’s a thrill.

In the last few years in women’s fiction, suspense has been the rage. My agent has gently suggested I need to put more suspense in my own writing, up the ante to make it more marketable.

scary stuff

Each month, when I look over the Prime Reading First Pick’s, I’ve noted that there are almost always two suspense titles of the five or six to choose from. Why is it we all want to be frightened? Isn’t this world frightening enough? I do wonder if a swing back towards calmer fiction is coming.

I read today that this pandemic is the first major world-wide event since World War II that has affected every nation and every person. I’ve thought about that a lot since and it’s made me wonder what the world will be like after the pandemic. After World War II, at least in the US, the next decade brought the homogenous 50’s. Everyone simply strived to have a beautiful, calm life full of conveniences, at least until the 60’s hit and the next generation pointed out that homogenous life wasn’t fair or fun.

I have no idea what is coming, but as I work on my next novel, I find myself turning more introspective, more thoughtful, more curious about the everydayness – maybe because I miss that normal take-it-for-granted life.

How about you? Do you love the suspenseful novels? Do you think our present circumstances will swing the pendulum back towards calmer fiction?

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Cara Sue Achterberg with pupHonored,


If you’re curious about what I’m up to, check out my website,

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And If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog. And if you want to know what is really happening in the animal shelters in this county, visit, Who Will Let the Dogs Out.

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Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live in the darling town of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and three rescue dogs (who rescue me on a daily basis). Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at

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