If you are a blog hopper of author and/or readers' blogs, you've probably seen multiple posts on reading/writing novels in a series as opposed to stand-alone novels. I have nothing new to offer on the subject. It's just something that's been on my mind the past week as it is something I'm personally struggling with.
As a reader, although I very much enjoy a knock-out stand-alone, I absolutely love books that are connected by recurring characters. Johanna Lindsey hooked me years ago with the Malory Family. Suzanne Brockmann keeps me coming back for more of her sexy, rugged Navy SEALs. I didn't read either of these series in order because I didn't realize the book that initially hooked me was part of a series. Although it became apparent as I read, and after, I gobbled up any of the previous books before moving forward.
There's something comforting and intriguing about reading stories populated with people you already know. After recently reading Lara Adrian's KISS OF MIDNIGHT (see detailed thoughts in my previous post), I can't wait to read the upcoming connected books featuring her vampire warriors.
I applaud these authors, and all authors who write connecting books, because--dang--it's hard. Writing any book is hard. But connecting books offer a unique challenge. At least that has been and continues to be my experience. Jinxed, Charmed, and Seduced featured recurring characters and on-going, changing relationships. Everybody Loves Evie (coming 3/08) picked up where All Abut Evie (coming 5/07) left off. It featured Arch and Evie's evolving relationship, as well as her personal journey and several recurring characters and themes.
Currently I'm writing The Fall of Rome (coming 7/08) which follows Romancing the West (10/07) which follows Lasso the Moon (out now). The western trilogy is connected by recurring characters as well. Especially challenging if you are a seat-of-the pants writer like me. You can't simply fly into the mist willy nilly because you are grounded by what you have written before. The process is less spontaneous and more calculated because you must be consistant... with what you've written before. The deeper into a series I am, the harder it is to start that next book. My mind is populated with many characters, their relationships, continuing plot threads and so on. How do you bring a reader, who is perhaps reading the series out of order, up to speed without boring them with back story? Also, you don't want to give away too much about a character or event as it may be a spoiler for a previous story.
So, here I am, on book three, with a colorful cast and on-going relationships and plot threads, suffering from TMI (too much information) struggling with where and how to begin a story that, I'm certain once I'm 'in the zone', I will love. Just now, however, it's causing some sleepless nights. Brain. Buzzing. Although it could be worse. I could be blocked. Wish me luck as I struggle to connect with my connecting books. *g*
As a reader and/or author, how do you feel about series books?