Wednesday, September 01, 2010


I’ve heard it said that if a writer is targeting New York publishers WWII is a taboo time period. I wish I could say something insightful at this point, like, “I knew it was only a matter of time before WWII settings opened up.” But my venture into this time period wasn’t all that conscious, not in terms of making an easy sell or even proving the masses wrong.

First off, I should explain that DANGEROUS ALLIES is not like any of my other Love Inspired Historicals, mainly because it’s not a western. Not even close. It’s a romantic spy thriller set in 1939 Nazi Germany. The hero is an American naval officer on loan to the British government. MI-6 sends him into Germany to photograph the blueprints of a Nazi secret weapon. The heroine is an exiled Russian princess and the hero’s contact inside Germany. Because this book is an Inspirational, the main characters are facing the consequences of their wavering faith. I won’t spoil the story here, but when the reader discovers why the hero and heroine became spies in the first place their lack of faith in a “good” God makes sense.

Needless to say, DANGEROUS ALLIES, is not a traditional Inspirational romance. The main characters are spies. They lie, cheat, steal, and (in the case of the hero on one occasion) kill to get the job done. They operate under the assumption: sacrifice one to save a multitude. But the larger sacrifice could be their very salvation. Heavier than my normal stuff.

So why did I write this story at all? It’s important to note that I wrote DANGEROUS ALLIES during a very looooooong dry spell between sales. I was so frustrated after my first publisher dumped me that I quit writing altogether and cancelled my membership in all of my writers’ groups. I knew I was heading down a dark road. I couldn’t keep chasing the sale anymore. I was a bit too obsessed. In fact, the pursuit became my sole mission.

Something had to chance. I purposely took a step back and started working on my own faith walk, something I had let lag to dangerous indifference. I also started reading books that were not romances, namely thrillers written by men for men. I very quickly realized these books, though well-written and fascinating, lacked the depth of character, emotion and romance I preferred. And then it occurred to me. If I was going to collect rejections, I might as well swing for the fences and stop playing it safe. Enter the WWII time period, a time of true heroism that hasn’t been overdone. I was inspired. I took what I knew about romance writing and what I’d learned from all those male-targeted thrillers and melded the two inside the taboo time period. I added the Inspirational thread for me, and my Daddy, too, a WWII vet who always says, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

I had no real plans of selling this manuscript, until I was having dinner with my editor one night and told her the above story behind the book. She wanted to see the manuscript. It wasn’t right for LIH, she informed me. But she made some solid suggestions on how I could work to fit the story into the LIH line. I made the changes and a few months later she bought the revised manuscript.

Moral of this story: Swing for the fences. Never play it safe. And stop chasing the sale. You never know what may come of looking beyond the obvious.

Renee Ryan writes for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Historical and Love Inspired line. Her fabulous editor is Melissa Endlich. For more information, you can visit Renee at


  1. Renee!

    I'm glad you found your way around the circle and are back to writing!

  2. Fascinating plot! You really did take a leap into something different than your usual writing. Do you plan to follow this new path and write more stories from this era?

  3. Hi Renee, this sounds like an amazing book and I can't wait to read it. so glad you found your way ooxoxox back into writing. You are too good to waste LOL. oxoxox

  4. Hi all,

    Thanks for having me here, Cheryl. Waving at lizzie. Oh, yeah, it was quite a trip around that circle.

    Thanks Tanya for your sweet words.

    cheryl c, I'm working on the next in the series right now. It'll hit the shelves next September. I'm still in the early stages and realizing just how hard suspense is to write.


  5. I started this book today, Renee, and I am LOVING IT! Good for you for swinging for the fence. I love this era!
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery