Series! I love book series! Musta been Encyclopedia Brown. He hooked me. Things got more complicated with the Lord of the Rings, and then I found nirvana–romanceland, where series abound! Victoria Holt’s family series spanning hundreds of years written as Phillippa Carr got me first. Then there were Jude Deveraux’s Montgomerys….. Ahhhh. No surprise that when I began writing myself, I was attracted to writing series.
There are as many different kinds of series as there are romance novels–series about brothers, sisters, friends, families, hometowns, military or secret organizations. Some series end–trilogies are most popular–while other series are what Suzanne Brockmann calls the “neverending” series that can go on forever. (Her Tall, Dark and Dangerous series for SIM is a good example, which she’s moved into single title with a new SEAL team and FBI agents.) Whether a series is published quickly–boom, boom, boom–one month after another, is usually determined by how closely the books are related in storyline. For example, a series about a bachelor auction with a closely-tied plotline would likely be published close together, possibly one month apart, to conclude the story for the reader quickly, while a series like Beverly Barton’s The Protectors can be published months and years apart because the series is connected by the characters and the organization, not by an overarching plotline that will be concluded at some point.
My PAX series is of the “neverending” variety. There is no overarching plotline, even while there are numerous fun tie-ins between the books. The books are related by organization, such as Suzanne Brockmann’s or Beverly Barton’s series. Even as some minor points are concluded in subsequent books, each book stands alone and they are designed to be readable in any order so that new readers can come into the series at any point.
I did write the other kind of series, the kind of series that includes an overarching plotline. It didn’t start out that way. I have a big old three-ring binder that I started in 1988. The book was called Deception’s Bride back then. I was dreaming about writing romance. Emphasis on the dreaming. What I did instead of writing was keep a big fat notebook of research, ideas, plans, drafts of chapters, but not much else. Like, not much real writing. I wasn’t ready to start writing. I was still dreaming. It was all very detailed, however. The scan you see is my 1988 diagram of the castle layout from my big fat notebook. (That piece of paper is 17 years old! It’s like an artifact! LOL.) Eventually, I did start writing in 1992, but I didn’t start with that historical. I started with contemporaries. I was still scared of that historical. Around 1999, I screwed up my courage and went back to that big fat notebook. And I realized I had more than one story. In 2001, the book I dreamed about in 1988 was published as My Lady Imposter, and two more linked books followed. Each book stands alone, but there is an overarching plot that weaves throughout that all stems back to one murder that occurred before the first book began. In the first book, you THINK you know what happened back then, but in the second book, you discover another layer, and in the third book, another layer. The story became something much bigger, and much more complicated, than I imagined back in 1988, or could ever have written then.
The most common question I’m asked in reader email is–what about Lizbet and Marigold, the other two sisters from my Sword and the Ring medieval series??? When I brought this series to market in 2000, I conceived it as five books but I sold it in a three-book deal. Is the series complete as a trilogy? It is. In fact, at one point I considered NOT even writing the third book, My Lady Knight, and I deliberately ended the second book, My Lady Runaway, as if it were the last book in the series. But, of course, I resurrected the storyline with a new twist in the third book, peeling away the next layer of the story. To be honest, the year I wrote My Lady Knight was probably the worst year of my life. I told my publisher, I can’t write this book. I offered to pay them back the advance and just PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY. If you have any idea how obsessed I am with my writing career, that should give you some inkling of how bad that year of my life was. My editor at the time responded with incredible generosity and offered me all the time I needed, just please write that book. And so I did. And for that reason alone, My Lady Knight is probably one of my favorite books because I wrote it during a very bad personal time when I thought I couldn’t write a book but somehow I did. And that it was a book that tied all the way back to 1988 and all my dreams of writing was somehow apropo. Saving that book was in many ways like saving my dream.
So will I ever tell Lizbet and Marigold’s stories? I hope so! I would love to. Not right now and not in the near future, but sometime. After I wrote 1200 manuscript pages in a row with my beloved Castle Wulfere characters, I needed a change and I missed contemporaries–and I had SO many new ideas to pursue. The series was “concluded” in the third book, but I have no doubt that there is yet another facet of that story to be peeled away. Actually, I’m sure, because I know what it is. And someday…. Someday, I’ll tell you what it is. :heart:
As a writer, I love returning to the story world again and again, which is what I’m loving about writing my PAX books. I’m working on my eHarlequin online read, a PAX prequel, and I love being in that story world–it’s like going back to my hometown. What do you think about series? Do you like the “neverending” series or the kind that are tied up in a triology? Got any favorites to share?