Hank Edwards is a wonderful author and a huge influence on my writing. His knack of exquisite comic timing is something I covet and his friendship is another. He has several ongoing series and his readers just can’t seem to let his characters go. I’m very fond of Charlie Heggensford. . . So, I asked Hank to stop by and give his perspective on the lure of book series
The Lure of a Series
Most every author dreams of writing that one book that grabs the imaginations of a host of people and leads to a long line of continuing adventures. Over the decades, countless series have been created that did just that: Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Dune, The Shopaholic series, Stephanie Plum, Harry Potter, the Space Odyssey series… the authors, characters, and genres are vast.
But what makes a good series? And does every single book really NEED a continuing story?
A good series, to me as a reader and a writer, needs first of all strong characters with evolving traits, challenges, and relationships. The story lines cannot feel forced or repetitive or the readers will lose interest. If the characters don’t evolve from book to book, if they keep experiencing the same issues and struggles and never seem to grow, readers will grow bored and seek out new entertainment.
When I started writing, I never intended to get into the business of creating a series. But the first book I published, Fluffers, Inc., was so much fun to write, I thought it needed a follow-up. So I wrote A Carnal Cruise, the second book of my Charlie Heggensford Stories series. After that, I had another idea for Charlie to get into trouble (he excels at it!), and so wrote Vancouver Nights. I’ve moved on from Charlie, but he’s never far from my thoughts, and I may get another book or two written for him yet. A fan just wrote recently asking about the series and saying she wanted to see Rock and Charlie spend time together as a couple rather than have them be apart, and, you know, she’s right, Charlie deserves some quality time with his man. Hmm…
As a reader, I’m amazed sometimes at the ways a writer can keep a series fresh. I am a big fan of crime novels, the police procedural type, and am in awe of John Sandford and his Prey series featuring Lucas Davenport. Over the years a lot has changed for Davenport, but the core of his character remains, and I have loved watching him change during the course of the books (23 so far!).
Sometimes a writer begins a book knowing that it is the first in a series. This happened with me back in 2011, when I started writing what was to become the first book in my Venom Valley Series. The overall story arc was too great to finish in just one book, I needed at least three to tell it the way I envisioned it in my head. I self-published that story and it’s follow up, but now both have been picked up by Wilde City Press, the fantastic new gay fiction press created by Ethan Day and Geoff Knight. Cowboys & Vampires – Venom Valley Book One is now available at wildecity.com, and it’s a crazy mash up of vampires, zombies, Native American spiritualism, and witches, all set in the American Old West. Crazy, right? The second book, Stakes & Spurs – Venom Valley Book Two, will be available mid-summer, and the yet-to-be-titled third book will be out in October, perfect for Halloween season. This was an example of knowingly setting up a series from the beginning and leaving little Easter eggs along the way that may be called back to in future books. It’s all about the planning. I’ve always said if I ever got the chance to talk with JK Rowling, I would ask her about how she storyboarded her amazing Harry Potter series (I use Scrivener, an amazing writing tool), and if she knew how each book would play out when she first started writing the series.
Back in 2009 I wrote a novella titled Holed Up. It was, to me, a one off story — a witness to a terrorist plot needs protection and a brash, tough-on-the-outside agent is assigned the duty. It was well-received and people would occasionally ask me about Pearce and Mark, wondering what became of them afterwards, what they were up to now. So I decided they needed another story, Shacked Up, and set the story in Washington, DC. In this second book, I added not just a mystery (or two!), but the stress of trying to navigate the waters of a relationship. Pearce opened up to Mark (and myself — I didn’t know his reason for becoming an agent until I wrote that revelatory chapter), and now the two are in a new adventure, Roughed Up, which takes them to the tropics where Pearce finds himself stuck without his normal resources as he rushes to find Mark who’s gone missing.
Over the course of the Up to Trouble series, I think both Pearce and Mark have changed in believable ways, and I hope my readers feel the same way. I have ideas for some more mysteries for these two, and have started planning ahead, laying the groundwork for successive books in the series as I’m working on a current one.
So tell me, what series do you enjoy reading? Are you excited when you find the first book of a new series, or do you like starting from the beginning of a long established series so you can read the books one after the other? Leave a comment here and one lucky commenter will receive a free copy of my m/m suspense romance book Roughed Up, in epub, PDF, or mobi. Thanks for stopping by!
So – what series do you enjoy reading? If you are writing a series – what keeps you interested?
Tomorrow Kimberly Kincaid talks about foodie romance and self publishing.
FBI Special Agent Aaron Pearce and his lover Mark Beecher are taking a well-deserved vacation relaxing on the beaches of Barbados Island. They spend lazy days in the sun, on scooters seeing the sites, or in their room making love.
When Mark sees a young girl in a bar who may be in danger, he begins an informal investigation into her situation, even as Pearce reminds him they are not citizens and have no legal power on the island. Mark is determined, however, and, while investigating on his own, is taken captive by a sex slavery ring.
Pearce panics when Mark goes missing. He has a good idea what happened to Mark and who has taken him, but he cannot prove it. While working with the Barbados Royal Police Force, Pearce realizes he has become the detective’s prime suspect, and understands he needs to conduct his own personal investigation if he has any chance of finding Mark before his lover either sold into sex slavery or murdered.
Hank Edwards has been called “silly” and “irreverent” and “a dirty old man,” and all of these descriptions are true. He was born and still lives in a northwest suburb of Detroit, MI, and has been fortunate enough to see a number of novels published, including the Charlie Heggensford series of funny sexed up adventures available from Lethe Press: “Fluffers, Inc.,” “Carnal Cruise,” and Lambda Literary Finalist “Vancouver Nights.” Another five books are available from Loose Id, LLC, including the suspense novella “Holed Up,” and sequels “Shacked Up” and “Roughed Up,” the medieval time-travel romance “Destiny’s Bastard,” and the contemporary romantic comedy “Plus Ones.”
His self-published novels, “Bounty” and “Bait,” the first books in the Venom Valley Series, a gay romance, vampire/zombie mash up set in the American Old West, have been acquired by a newly established publisher and will be re-released with new titles and covers in 2013. You can “Like” the Venom Valley Series Facebook page (www.facebook.com/venomvalleyseries) to get sneak peeks and tidbits of future releases.
He is also a member of the Story Orgy group (www.facebook.com/SOGroup), a clan of writers who self-publish anthologies filled with steamy, prompt-inspired stories. “And the Prompt Is… Volume One,” “And the Prompt Is… Holiday Edition,” and “And the Prompt Is… Road Trip,” are all available in a variety of e-book formats.
- Here’s to hoping . . . Self Publishing by Hank Edwards
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for October 10 -14, 2011
- Embracing Challenges by Toni Blake
- Group Dynamics and Writing with the Story Orgy
- Series Business – Three Types of Series by Misty Evans