Wednesday, July 9, 2008

And the next one along will be ...

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?


Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

I enjoy series in all the variations you described. But unlike some readers I actually enjoy the suspense of waiting for the next installment. :)

One of my favorite series was Catherine Spanglers's Shielders series.

Savanna Kougar said...

Evonne, thanks, I needed this breakdown of 'linked' books. It's a bit confusing out there to me. and you've done a wonderful job of clarifying. Plus, I need a direction on how to let readers know about my 'linked' novels. What I enjoy as a writer is continuing the story, or the life and passionate love adventures of my heroine and hero.
After all, life itself is ongoing, and doesn't stop at the realization of love, and/or the overcoming of said obstacles to love.
And since I adore the evolving relationship between my heroine and hero, I want to continue writing that love story.

Savanna Kougar said...

Careless in Red, Elizabeth George, I love that title, what kind of romance is it?

Evonne Wareham said...

Haven't got to the Shielders. Sigh - another one for the list.

Careless in Red is technically crime/police procedural, but everyone I know who reads them does so as much for the ongoing relationships as for the crime story. Lynley, the hero, has a title as well as being a policeman at Sctland Yard, and has just lost his pregnant wife in a drive by shooting, so I am expecting the book to be a bit of a tear jerker.

Lexie O'Neill said...

Interesting topic...I love series and linked books. I just wish publishers would let you know which comes first! Sometimes, for example, with the Dirk & Steele Liu books, while each book is separate, there really is a beginning.

Mel Hiers said...

Hi, Evonne! I'm looking forward to Ash's book too. I'm a relatively new Kenyon fan, not having read her until after I heard her speak at a con, and then at a program at work. Once I got started, I couldn't stop!

Lexie, I'm a Liu fan, too! I love how each Dirk and Steele is its own story, but there's a story arc within the world as well.