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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Series Addiction

I have series addiction. I freely admit it. I have difficulty writing a single stand alone book. Other characters besides the hero and heroine begin clamoring for their stories as I write and plot bunnies multiply in my head until I find myself stopping in the middle of a book to jot down plots and characters for what will later become a sequel or part of a series.

Little did I know back in early December 2008 that my little Christmas freebie Christmas Hookup would be a popular download. And I certainly never realized that a year later I would feel the urge to return to the fictional town of Heil, California for a pair of sequels. Once I'd done the sequels though, I knew I'd do another and another. Somehow I'd expand the world of Riley and Elle and Forbes Ranch in order to create a Christmas love story every year. The key elements: a cowboy or cowgirl with some sort of tie to Riley, Elle, and Forbes Ranch and a Christmas Eve HEA. This year's book was released last week and a kernel of an idea came to me for next year's. I had to re-read Christmas Catch to get the kernel but it's there now and I'll nurture it to fruition come next December.

I suppose you could say that my problem lies in the fact that I vest myself in my characters, even the secondary ones. I know them. I know their motivations. Even the secondaries have depth. And that's why it's hard for me to let them go. I've already put time and thought into who they are and why they are. Why waste that? Besides, readers seem to like series an awful lot. I know I've received fan email regarding characters in books.

After Hot Water came out, I received fan mail about Corey Green who got his own story Sunstroked this year. When Sunstroked came out, I got email about Wilson North. (Yes, I'm working on Will's story now.) When Where There's Smoke came out, I had email asking about the world of the Vashon clans and the cobra shifters. And everyone wants more Holden Antaeus and Garret Renquist from Fire Season (which they'll get in Fire Storm.) Probably my biggest request is for Sean Antaeus though. The head of the black dragon Antaeus family is equal parts hero and asshole, but he intrigues a lot of readers of the Tales series. And my newest requests are for more stories from the fictional town of Forza, California, the setting of Afterburner, my DADT novella in the Honorable Silence anthology.

Something about Forza and it's history, even though it's bare bones, must have appealed to readers. And their suggestions that Afterburner's hero Sebastian Marchetti had plenty of quirky family members to fuel other stories struck home with me. Could it be that creating those memorable characters - whether secondary or not - and creating a memorable setting be the fuel, the catalyst, for not only my own imagination but that of the people who read these books? Are they just as addicted as I am?

Regardless of my addiction (and any reader addiction), at some point a series has to end. Take the Tales series for example. This is a ten book series that I've already stretched a little by adding a 6.5 book, a sequel to Sunstroked because of reader (and my editor's) comments about Wilson North. When the series does end upon the release of Sean Antaeus's book Force Majeure, what the heck do I do then? This publisher has an option for all things Darkworld and I'm not sure that with book ten I'll be ready to leave the dragons and other creatures behind. There are a lot of layers to this world. And so, when Tales ends, a new series will begin, but it won't be anything like Tales. In fact, the new series will take readers back into the Darkworld's dragon history and begin anew with a dragon warrior who discovers she's a princess.

Don't ask me for details. Don't ask me for names or titles. I've got a long way to go to finish Tales. When it's done, or close to done, I'll reveal this new Darkworld series. I'm nurturing this idea and bringing it along slowly, incorporating the ideas from the original Dark Realms stories I wrote more than twenty years ago. But if you like fantasy, well, the new series may well be your thing. It will still have romance and explicit sex, but it's more of a traditional fantasy world with swords and sorcery.

You see? My addiction knows no bounds. When it comes to ideas, I'm like a dog with a bone, gnawing at it, chewing on it, unable to leave it alone until I've found my way to the sweet marrow. For me, it means a lot more work. For the readers, it means more books and more books in worlds they already know from prior books. I have a couple of stand alone stories to bring you hopefully in the next year, but other than those, my work is all series related. From a trilogy to a series that stretches to ten books, you'll find that my addiction is a key ingredient to the drive that keeps me turning out books for you.

I don't know about you, but to me, this addiction doesn't seem to be such a bad thing.

10 comments:

Lisa Alexander Griffin said...

Keep on gnawing and putting out those series, Lex. Just got all your books loaded onto my ereader. lol.

Maddie James said...

Lex, I'm with you. I love a series--writing and reading--and it's difficult for me to put the series away. The characters, the setting, the general feel and tone of the book...the world we've built. I think it's inevitable we'd fall in love with them!

Keep going! Sounds like you're on a roll!

RowenaBCherry said...

Excellent post, Lex. You are so spot on!

But do you think a series ever naturally runs its course?

How do you think you will know when its time to move on to another world or family or set of characters?

kittykelly28 said...

I love series books too! I can't get enough of them and I love spin offs. I know a series has to end eventually (even though I don't want it to) but I am always happy when there's a spin off from it. That way I feel like I'm still with that word. :) I am going to be very sad to lets my dragons go

Kelly
kittykelly28 @ hotmail.com

Lex Valentine said...

GAH! I just spent 10 minutes reply to everyone and Blogger ate it. This is one reason I don't use it for my blogs. It's comment hell.

Lisa - You're gonna love having an ereader. I can't imagine not having one anymore.

Maddie - I think it's the maternal part of us that creates series. The nest building and nurturing instincts that females have. Not sure why men do them, but I think for women this is part of it.

Rowena - I do think some series come to a natural end. With my Tales series, I'll have gone through all the major characters by the time I get to Book 10. And 10 is about the most charismatic character of the series. I go back to his life before he was mated and show the dominoes that fall and set into motion all the other stories that happened in the series. It's a bit like a summary of the series while telling this one man's (dragon's) story. I could write another series in this world and have these characters appear off and on so readers see the progression of their lives, but they wouldn't ever be the focus again.

For me, I know when something is coming to a close when I've exhausted the theme. Series for me are tied to a theme Tales is about three friends and the matings that occur within the circle of their influence with their siblings, friends and their own matings. My Spellbound Treasure trilogy has a theme of conspiracy, loss and the regaining of lives and loves. Without the theme that binds the stories together, I probably wouldn't be able to determine a natural end to a series.

Kelly - I'll be sad to see the Tales dragons go too. But the new series will make up for that. In Fire Season, Holden and Garret have a discussion about dragons clans on the day they meet. That discussion sparked a plot bunny for me. I married the plot bunny to bits of a character I'd created years ago in an online serial story and to the original Dark Realms stories I wrote in my 20's. That spawned my warrior Terra who discovers her true heritage as a dragon princess. It's a series that will deal with dragon history and roots of the dragon families I've mentioned in Tales: Antaeus, Carrington, and Renquist. It also means I have to do some research by re-reading my own books to note all the bits of dragon lore and history I've mentioned in the past. LOL

Angela Kay Austin said...

Series books do give you the opportunity to really get to know each and every character and their world. I hate when I'm reading, and the book comes to the end...when it's filled with characters I love. I can't wait to read more about them ;-)

Lex Valentine said...

Angela - I feel the same way. It's probably another reason I'm addicted to writing series.

Dena said...

I love series too Lex! Keep it up for all us series reading lovers. denwal1@aol.com

She said...

I love series. I get to know and love characters and don't want them to leave my life. I especially love reading series where the main characters are the same in each book with new characters introduced each book.

Lex Valentine said...

Dena - Thanks! I will!

She - I've never thought about doing that kind of series but I'll make a note to explore the possibility in the future.

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