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Sequels, series and familiar characters

May 24, 2011

I just got the contract in and signed for the sequel to my book, Life Lessons. The next one, Breaking Cover, has been completed for a while, but now I can start the editing and publishing process. And a third adventure for Mac & Tony is in first-draft form. At the same time I was reading Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb, which is the 32nd book in that series. And it got me thinking about why I like series so much (and I do, although I can guarantee I’ll never write one with 32 books in it.) And why some people don’t.

I think it’s a question of whether you read a book for the characters before all else. Because if you value novelty of plot, or literary skill, or freshness of narrative, then those things are hard to maintain in a series. Even the very best begin to have a familiar feel to them after the first few books. But if you are looking first for characters you can identify with, then each addition to the series becomes a chance to visit with friends, and find out more about them.

My husband says it’s also a chance to be a little lazy because all the world-building and expectations are already set up for you (either as reader or writer). But then he loves real literature, like Thomas Pynchon and Faulkner, and things translated from the Spanish original. And I admire but cannot emulate that.

So I’m going to continue to write series, I’m sure. And to read and enjoy them. And to try to figure out what blend of the old and the new works best to drive a series forward.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. rdfan7 permalink
    May 31, 2011 11:22 am

    First off, congrats on both LL & BC! I loved LL and am excited to read the sequel BC, can’t wait to see what is in store for Mac & Tony.

    As for me, I love sequels, but of course you have to be a fan of what the author wrote in the first place.

    I also agree with Josh Lanyon (Adrien English series), that sequels give fans a chance to discover and really get to know the characters. Just because the characters remain the same doesn’t mean the story-arc gets stale.

    I’m also loving L&C, Thank-you for your “free” story (which is better than many of the stories I’ve paid for recently)

    • June 1, 2011 1:12 pm

      Thanks so much for the kind words. I love doing the writing, and still find it hard to believe that people are willing to pay me to have this much fun. – Kaje

  2. Christie permalink
    June 9, 2011 8:44 am

    Just got through reading “Life Lessons,” which I enjoyed so much, and I’m just geeked that not only do I have one finished sequel to look forward to but a short story as well (and, potentially, a second sequel). I’m a huge fan of J.D. Robb and there can never be too many Eve Dallas books for me but I’ve also read series where you know the author is getting tired of the characters and the books have gotten stale. However, the series is successful and obviously the author still has a contract to fulfill and neither the author nor the publisher wants to do away with a steady income. (Well, writing is uncertain enough and there are bills to pay unless you’re independently wealthy!)
    Josh Lanyon (another favorite writer) ‘finished’ his Adrien English series after five books, although he said in his blog that he could return to it someday, so maybe ‘knowing when to fold ’em’ isn’t such a bad thing.
    If you decide to branch out from Mac & Tony at some point, I’ll still be one of your readers following you down a different path.

  3. June 9, 2011 10:19 am

    I hope readers will find freshness and interest in the continuing story of how Mac and Tony make life, kids and careers, and the pressures of family and friends, all fit together. The short story is just a couple-of-days-in-the-life thing, because I had a little stuff I wanted to put into LL, between the climax and the epilogue, and couldn’t make it work. Nothing exciting, but maybe an extra taste for those who liked the characters.
    I don’t think I’ll get too many books out in the Mac & Tony series (although plots do keep popping into my head). But I have other stories to tell. And I have a day job so hopefully the money doesn’t come into it. (Although I also have a kid in college and another on the way, so you never know.) I just sent the first of my werewolf books to my editor for a quick look to see if she’s interested, speaking of branching out.
    And yeah, I hope we get that Adrien English Christmas story from Josh some day.

  4. Jenni permalink
    July 4, 2011 12:09 am

    Well, late to the party in purchasing Life Lessons, but in some ways that is a good thing -not so long to wait for the sequel! I enjoyed the book so much that I ‘googled’ and have now read just about everything I can find, including the phenomenal news of a sequel and yep, the short story too. Thanks for a great read, it had all the elements I enjoy. Congrats…and when can we expect the next?!!

    Cheers

    • July 4, 2011 10:17 am

      Breaking Cover just went to proofreading and formatting, so I’m actually hoping for late July instead of August. Depends on how backed up the publisher is though. When I get a firmer date I’ll announce it here. I have a bunch of other stuff submitted, waiting to hear back. I’m really pleased you liked my work (especially the one you had to pay for.) It’s still a relief and a thrill to hear that people enjoy my writing.

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