is for series, which is what I’m currently writing. The Kearton Bay series, to be exact, which consists of four novels featuring different main characters each time, but with the same setting and with a backdrop of characters that have featured in all four novels.
There are obvious advantages to writing a series. For a start, you don’t have to think of a new setting each time, and you don’t have to create a whole new cast of characters. When you open the laptop and write Chapter One, you’re heading back to familiar territory. You’re visiting a place you’re familiar with, to meet up with people who’ve become great friends. You know the characters and their quirks; you have a soft spot for them and find it easy to write about them; you don’t have to sit there for hours on end trying to decide who is related to whom and working out a back story for your lead character because you’ve already done it. You’ve put in the groundwork right at the beginning.
On the other hand, there is the big issue of continuity. When I started writing Book Three, I decided to change something which meant amending Book One. I was lucky because There Must Be An Angel hadn’t yet been published, so it was easy to go in and tweak something to make it correspond with the new twist. However, Angel is now officially out there, and I can’t change anything. Book Two, A Kiss From A Rose, will be out there in September, which means I really have to be careful with what I’ve written, and make absolutely sure that it ties up with Book Three before it’s too late. There’s an awful lot of checking and re-checking to be done, and I have long lists with characters’ birthdates, important dates in their timelines, even eye colour and favourite food!
The other thing, of course, is freshness. I have to confess that, after completing the first two novels, I needed a bit of a break from Kearton Bay. I’m currently writing short stories and working on a novella length one, just to do something different without taking too much time off. I’m on a schedule, after all, and can’t take too long a break, but a little time spent in a new location with new characters is a delight, and I think it’s essential to stop me getting too jaded.
And after I’ve finished Book Four? Well, I have an idea for a stand alone novel, but then I have plots for three more which I think will form a new series, set in the Yorkshire Dales. I’ve got just the place in mind as inspiration, and I have some lovely new characters who I’m dying to start working with. But for now, Books Three and Four are my priority.
I’m not the only Write Romantic writing a series. Helen Phifer is the author of the hugely successful Annie Graham books, published by Carina Uk; Jessica Redland’s Whitsborough Bay series is to be published by So Vain Books; fellow Fabrian author Jo Bartlett is writing a series set on the south coast in St Nicholas Bay, and the first – The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come – was published in November; while Alys West’s series is a brilliant urban fantasy collection, the first of which, Beltane, will hopefully be available soon.
I love reading series. There’s something so comforting about opening the covers of a book and finding yourself back amongst characters you’ve come to know and love.
Recently, I finished reading the third in the Heartfelt trilogy by Adrienne Vaughan. There was something wonderful about opening the covers of those books and heading straight back to the lovely island of Innishmahon to catch up with old friends like Marianne and Ryan, Dermot and Kathleen. I was very sad to finish Secrets of the Heart and realise that I wouldn’t be visiting the island again. Because, that’s another great thing about a series – the joy of loving a whole new group of characters and becoming part of their lives, and knowing that once a book is finished, you can always head back later to find out what they’ve been up to. My mother, upon finishing Angel, asked me quite anxiously, ‘This second book, are Eliza and Gabriel still in it?’ I replied that they were but the story was really about Rose and Flynn. ‘But Eliza and Gabriel are in it?’ she persisted. I assured her they were and asked, ‘Why? Do you like them?’ ‘Oh yes,’ she replied. ‘They’re lovely, and I want to know they’re all right.’
I can’t tell you how happy that made me! I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve struggled with the third in the Bridget Jones series. In spite of loving the first two novels, I haven’t managed to get past the half way point in Mad About the Boy. I just can’t stop grieving for Mark Darcy! And I can’t quite get over the feeling that, as a reader, I’ve been cheated of the happy ending that was promised for the two lead characters in The Edge of Reason.
Characters like Rupert Campbell Black in Jilly Cooper’s fabulously naughty Rutshire series; the wonderful Merrily Watkins in Phil Rickman’s mystery series; or, lately – for me at any rate, though I know they’ve been around for years – the delicious Ross Poldark and the delightful Demelza in the Poldark books of Winston Graham, are just some of the many, many characters whose lives I have followed and loved as I’ve read each book in the series. There are so many more. In fact, I’ve just reminded myself of a book I have waiting on my Kindle right now! Time to end this blog post and fit in some reading time…
Have a great day xx
Remember, There Must Be An Angel is currently free on Kindle, but the offer ends on 23rd April so hurry! Click on the image in the side bar to get your copy.
Why not visit some of the other blogs taking part in the A to Z Challenge?