In my day to day life, I tend to be rather meek and mild. I work. I write. I hang out with friends and family. I go to sleep. I get up and do it all over again.
But here I am, writing a romantic suspense novel and it just begs for car chases. Exciting car chases. Thrilling car chases. Car chases where the hero and heroine are pursued by gun-toting mafia hit men.
Generally speaking, car chases are not a part of my daily existence. Yet we are told to “write what we know.” So does that mean I should to go out and run a few red lights? Weave in and out of traffic on my local highway? Threaten a mobster? What?
Then there’s the fact that things have to happen in a car chase. You want to increase the tension beyond, “They shot their guns. She drove faster.” You want “zip, boom, POW!” excitement (or at least potential excitement). What’s a girl to do?
So, okay. What DID I know? If we’re looking at the longest car chase sequence in the middle of the book, I knew several things. I knew the car they are driving. It’s an ancient Chevy Nova. It’s MY ancient Chevy Nova, my beloved first car. I knew how that car handled curves and straight-aways. I remembered the growl of the engine when I put the pedal to the metal and sped by the other motorists as if they were standing still, as if they were losers and I was on a racetrack….um…huh. Well, you get the idea.
Then I started thinking about things that have actually happened to me in the years I’ve been driving. And, specifically, I remembered the time a huge crane backed up into my car. The crane took up most of the road, there was a line of traffic behind it, but apparently the driver thought it would be a good idea to stop in the middle of the highway and back up because he’d missed his turn. I and my dearly beloved Chevy Nova were right behind it, so we got pushed back several feet and the front of my car was smashed.
Not that I’m bitter or anything.
Anyway, I remembered how that crane looked backing towards me. I remembered how big it was, how it seemed to tower over me. I remembered how it just kept on coming and coming and coming…
Not that I’m bitter or anything.
Next, I considered a highway I use regularly. It seems to be the preferred expressway for deliveries of double-wide mobile or modular homes. Every time I turn around I’m getting caught behind half of a house struggling to make it up the relatively steep hill.
Finally, I thought about how I’d feel if I was being chased by insane gunmen on a two lane highway with a lot of traffic.
I put all of those things into the food processor of my mind, mushed it together, and here’s what came out:
The sedan was coming up fast behind them. There were so many cars around them now, so many innocent people who might be hurt or killed by a stray bullet. Katie knew that she had to act quickly. This was no time for common sense.
“Hold on,” she yelled to Luc.
Without answering or even stopping to think about what she was doing, Katie swerved out into the lane for the opposing traffic and sent Kato right up the middle of the road. They forced the drivers coming toward them over into the shoulder while horns blared and tires squealed.
The black sedan followed without hesitation.
Luc, who’d been taken completely by surprise, rapped his head on the window frame when the car jerked and swerved.
“Ow. Shit. What are you doing? Are you crazy?” he shouted.
“I hope not.”
While Luc muttered curses and prayers beside her, Katie clung to the steering wheel. They crested a rolling hill. As they started down the other side she finally saw what had caused the backup. A huge crane was lumbering slowly along at the head of the line of traffic, doing fifteen miles per hour at best.
But what caused the breath to die in her throat was the vehicle she could now see coming at them.
“Oh, crap,” she whispered.
She couldn’t believe it. She didn’t believe it. It was a house—a house for sweet Christ’s sake. Well, half a house. Half a double-wide trailer, to be precise. The oversized truck pulling it was already running in the shoulder and it still took up more than the width of its own lane of the road.
Katie’s heart pounded heavily. The road now dropped off sharply on their left, cars were on their right and murderers were behind them. They were boxed in. She heard Luc cursing, low and violently.
“You have to keep going now. Get past that crane.”
Katie didn’t bother answering because she knew he was right. She demanded even more speed from the Nova, and its wheels practically left the ground.
The truck pulling the house had seen them and stopped, but the crane still continued its slow pace forward, its operator apparently blissfully unaware of what was happening behind him. Katie was praying out loud now as she watched the gap between the two large vehicles narrow. The Nova had nothing left to give.
And the moral of the story? Just because your commute is (mostly) boring, doesn’t mean it can’t be the basis for a zippy car chase scene.
Betsy Horvath was raised on MGM musicals, old skool Harlequins, and Nancy Drew, so it should not have come as a shock that one day she’d be writing romance. The biggest surprise was that it took her so long to actually buckle down and do it. Hold Me, her debut romantic suspense novel, is available from Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books On Board, and anywhere fine ebooks are sold.
You can usually find Betsy at her website: www.betsyhorvath.com, on Twitter or hanging around Facebook.