I've been talking recently to Louise Allen, who will be joining us in one of our regular Friday guest slots, later in the month, to chat about her new linked series. Those Scandalous Felshams are currently two books in from Harlequin/Mills and Boon, with four more to follow.
Interviewing Louise about writing six books got me thinking about the nature of series, and all the different types there are.
The classic is, of course, the continuing story of one protagonist, often an amateur sleuth or a policeman. Holmes, Poirot and Inspector Lynley pass from case to case, and from book to book.
But there are now other variations in series. Linked books, like Louise's -- a set number of books where the cast of characters have their own chance centre stage, but have supporting or walk on parts in other books. Then there are the grouped books, like Harry Potter or the Narnia Chronicles, where the story develops, in full, over six or seven books. In Dickens’s time his books often began as serials, which might have felt similar to readers.
I’ve also identified another variation, though I may be getting a bit pedantic here. It’s what I think of as the themed series. Something like Sherilyn Kenyon, and the Dark Hunters -- where the protagonists are a part of a group, but they don't always, or necessarily, interlock. You know the world you will be entering when you open the book, but the characters and setting might be very different from what has gone before.
Then there is the happy accident. We’ve all heard the story of the minor character who demanded their own book, sometimes to the author’s surprise. And of course there’s the successful book (or film) that produced demand for sequels, prequels and any other quel you could think of.
Another kind of series is the trilogy. I was going to say that this is a fairly new phenomenon, and then I remembered The Lord of the Rings! A brilliant leading exponent of this writing method is currently, of course, Nora Roberts. Three linked books, three love stories, one challenge, often paranormal, building over three books to the final showdown. There is also another touch to this: publishing houses releasing the books rapidly over a period of months, so that the reader is not left waiting too long for closure.
As a reader, I'm wondering whether I have a preference. I love them all, but I think I may have a sneaking weakness for those linked trilogies.
At the moment I’m waiting, of course, for Ash’s story. Plus the last in Nora Robert’s Seven trilogy. My friendly neighbourhood librarian informs me that won’t be out here until November, and she is ahead of me on the list, but I have been able to get my paws on the latest Elizabeth George, Careless in Red which is now top of the TBR pile.
The Title Magicians are writing across the spectrum -- stand-alone, links, trilogies.
So -- contributions ladies?