I’m often asked where my ideas for my romantic suspense books come from, and the answer is
inevitably “everywhere and anywhere.” I’m always collecting ideas on what-if questions based
on current events or something I read or heard. I never know what will spark an idea or plotline.
Sometimes, those ideas never go anywhere because once I start thinking through the situation, I
realize it’s not enough for a book or it’s too flimsy.

Since I write realistic fiction, I also want the storylines to be believable.

I’m more of panster (one who writes without outlining the entire book), so I try to spend more
time figuring out the central mystery before I start. I might not know all the details of the
plot—or sometimes, who the villain will be!—but I do know where I’m going and who my main
characters are. I also attempt to cloak the villain and their motives so the reader doesn’t guess
who the bad guys or gals are in the first few chapters. I then add in as many twists and turns as I
can to keep the reader—and the hero and heroine—guessing as to the identity of the villain and the

Here’s how I came up with the ideas for some of my romantic suspense novels.

The plotline for Dangerous Christmas Memories came from a small newspaper article about celebrities who got
married in Vegas on a whim but didn’t think it was “real” until one of them wanted to tie the knot more than a decade later. I spun that into a plot about a couple who married in Vegas, then the wife witnessed a murder and lost her memory.

In Vanished Without a Trace, I wondered what would happen if a podcaster with a show about
missing persons teamed up with a man searching for his missing sister. Illusion of Love was
loosely based on a true story that happened to a friend of mine about an internet dating
relationship that went wrong.

In my Cold War Legacy series (The Dark Guest, The Dark Atonement and The Dark Reckoning), I had such fun devising plausible storylines that could intersect both 1980s East Berlin and present-day Northern Virginia.

(The Dark Guest won 2023 Selah Fiction Book of the Year!)This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Dark-Guest-2023-Selah-Wins-642x1024-320x500-1.jpg

With my most recent story, Christmas Cold Case, the what-if fueling my imagination centered
around a woman whose parents were murdered on Christmas Day when she was a toddler—and
how she finally returns to the scene of the crime thirty years later determined to solve their
murders. For that one, I was able to weave in some current events into the plotline as well,
making it a fun story to write.

Holiday Menace

Will Christmas be merry and bright? Lives are in danger when menacing pressures threaten to derail Christmas in this heart-pounding suspense—plus a little romance—collection of 10 brand-new novellas from some of the genre’s most popular Christian romantic suspense authors!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Menace-Romantic-Suspense-Collection-ebook/dp/B0CH8WHQ4R/

Sarah Hamaker


An award-winning author of inspirational romantic suspense, Sarah Hamaker loves writing books “where the hero and heroine fall in love while running for their lives.” She’s an AWSA-certified writer and speaker coach and podcaster of “The Romantic Side of Suspense.”

Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband, four children, a first-grade foster child and three cats.

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