Posted On May 13, 2013 by Print This Post

The Lure of a Series with Hank Edwards

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 RoughedUp_coverlgimaginations 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!).

COWBOYSVAMPIRES4-190x300Sometimes 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 — Shacked-Upa 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!

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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.

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ROUGHED UP:

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.

***

Bio:

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.

Find out more by visiting his website at www.hankedwardsbooks.com or “Like” his Facebook author page at www.facebook.com/hankedwardsbooks

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16 Responses to “The Lure of a Series with Hank Edwards”

  1. 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?

    I love, love, love reading series. I’d say it’s predominantly what I read. I love finding new, great ones that are just starting out. But it can be so, so frustrating to have to wait when you just want more (cue the AT&T commercial with the kids wanting more). So I do love finding older series that are done or nearly so, that way I can devour them in one fell swoop.

    Right now, current favorites are: Black Dagger Brotherhood, JR Ward; Hearts of the Anemoi, Laura Kaye; Mark of the Vampire, Laura Wright; The Raven Cycle series, Maggie Stiefvater; Bloodlines, Richelle Mead; Cahill Witch Chronicles, Jessica Spotswood; and of course, Harry Potter. That’s just to name a few. As I said, most of what I read is part of a series.

    If you are writing a series – what keeps you interested?

    I haven’t started writing mine, yet. But the one I’ve been outlining and working up is about the members of a rock band who end up in a small town. It was inspired by Robin a few months back when she was searching for band names for one of hers. My suggestion wasn’t picked (Sons of Sin), but it got me thinking and now a series has developed. I can’t wait to work on it.

    Posted by Stephanie | May 13, 2013, 12:23 am
    • I can’t wait to read about the “Sons of Sin”!

      Posted by Robin Covington | May 13, 2013, 8:46 am
    • Hi Stephanie!

      Staying interested in a series is tough (Charlaine Harris admits she got bored with Sookie and friends after the eighth book in the series, and readers could tell!), but I think if the characters are interesting, it can work. Plus I like to switch the POV in my books between characters so I think that helps keep things moving, you know? The single character POV is difficult to maintain for a full series.

      Your series sounds awesome! Lots of possibilities for those Sons of Sin to butt heads and possibly meld into small town life. Keep us posted, and thanks for commenting!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | May 13, 2013, 6:26 pm
  2. I think of classic characters like Sherlock Holmes when I think of a series. Well rounded and well written, they can continue forever.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | May 13, 2013, 6:48 am
    • I agree, Mary Jo! To keep a series interesting to you, the writer, as well as to the reader, you need to start with well rounded characters with a few mysteries to them. Just like a relationship, even the writer needs to be surprised by his characters once in a while! Thanks for commenting!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | May 13, 2013, 6:28 pm
  3. Hank – I love reading the Psycop series by Jordan Castillo Price and the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward.

    But, I’ve found that some series lose me after a few books. Why do you think that happens? Have you begun a series and then lost interest as an author?

    Thanks foe being here with me today! Hugs!

    Robin

    Posted by Robin Covington | May 13, 2013, 8:48 am
    • Hi Robin! Thanks for having me on the blog.

      I think you can tell when the writer gets bored with his/her own series. I stated above that Charlaine Harris has admitted to getting bored with Sookie and her friends after book eight, and we readers could tell! I think readers tend to drop off if there’s nothing new to say with a series, it becomes the same story and plot revisited. Just like a relationship, the writer has to spice things up a bit now and then with something different.

      Posted by Hank Edwards | May 13, 2013, 6:30 pm
  4. Morning Hank…

    I’m a big fan of the Stephanie Plum and Harry Potter series. =)

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | May 13, 2013, 8:56 am
    • Evening, Carrie. I have read most of the Plum books, I think I’m behind one, and I love them. Goofy humor and a bit of suspense with a glimmer of romance, what’s better? And, of course, who can resist Harry Potter? Such an amazing series.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | May 13, 2013, 6:32 pm
  5. I love series, two of them that have stuck with me through the years are the Lensmen series by E. E. Doc Smith and both the dragonrider and tower series from Anne McCaffrey. As an author I have been influenced by both. A short story I wrote for a class turned into two novels. A third lingers, telling the tale of the next generation, but they keep dancing out of my reach.

    Always wanting to fly it is not unexpected that I wrote a series recounting the tales of a race of dragon shifters. The Dragshi Chronicles (starting with Dragon Destiny) will be making their appearance later this year as they transition from one form to the next.

    A pet peeve, reading a series and not being able to find one of them. I hate getting lost in a series, seeing the notice of the next tale, and having it never appear.

    Posted by Helen Henderson | May 13, 2013, 10:33 am
    • Hi Helen,
      Those series sound interesting, I’ll need to look them up. And your books sound intriguing as well. I’m just skimming the surface of fantasy and dragons these days, so I’ll have to add yours to my TBR list. Not sure if you’re a Stephen King fan, but have you read his Dark Tower series? That’s another great one, and a bit of a fantasy realm as well (can’t believe I left it out of my post!).

      And I agree with your pet peeve. Another one is when a series isn’t listed in chronological order anywhere. I’m big on reading a series in order.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | May 13, 2013, 6:35 pm
  6. Hello, Hank!

    I believe great characters are key to a series. Claire and Jamie in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and Susan Elizabeth Phillips Star series characters are among my favorites. I started reading John Sandford last month. Lucas and Weather make a great couple!

    Thanks for being with us today.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | May 13, 2013, 2:22 pm
    • Hi Jennifer,

      I really do love Lucas and Weather. I was glad to see him settle down, and she does not take crap from him. It’s kind of fun to see him deal with their foster daughter and Weather well he’s being such a tough detective. Great series. I’ll need to check out those other series you mentioned. Dang, my TBR list is getting really long!

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | May 13, 2013, 6:37 pm
  7. Thanks for a great post, Hank! It sounds like you didn’t plan to write a series when you plotted your first book. Did you run into problems with the subsequent books in the series because of things that took place in the first book?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | May 13, 2013, 7:33 pm
  8. I love series books. As a reader who becomes engrossed in the story, I enjoy continuing their journey. I tend to like a location series more than a character series. You meet new characters in a familiar setting and get to check in on past favorite characters.

    Posted by karin | May 14, 2013, 8:29 am
  9. Stephanie – you are the winner! Hank and I will be in touch!!

    Posted by Robin Covington | May 14, 2013, 7:06 pm

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