Friday, April 13, 2007

Writing Linked Books by Kate Walker

Some readers love linked books, others are not so keen on them, so for me the important thing about writing books in my own self-contained mini-series, the important thing is to make sure that each book stands on its own and tells one separate story. Then any reader who picks up one story doesn’t have to buy and read all the other books in the series to make sense of the whole story.

I was reminded of this only this week when a reader wrote to me, asking about the books in The Alcolar Family trilogy. Well, it’s a trilogy of books and an on line short story that appeared on eHarlequin and the Mills & Boon site. This reader had found the middle book of the Trilogy - The Spaniard’s Inconvenient Wife and wanted to know the titles of the other two books so that she could read them all. That was tricky, coming to it so long after the original trilogy has been published (The Alcolars came out in 2005) but at least I could help her find the short story – Wife For Real – that started it all off. That’s now published as an ebook and is also to be found on the Mills & Boon web site to read on line.

And all that reminded me that I had meant to come on here and talk about my latest pair of linked books – the ones I’ve called the Sicilian Brothers duo – the first of which Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride is out now in Presents. The second The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge will be published in June (UK) and July (USA and Australia). And I wanted to make sure that everyone knew they are linked – there’s nothing worse than reading a book and then wishing you’d got your hands on the first one.

The Sicilian Brothers duo came to me when a lovely reader and a friend I met at the RWA Conference a couple of years ago told me her brothers’ names and I said that Guido and Vito Corsentino were just perfect names for Presents heroes. Lori told me that I could ‘borrow her brothers’ names – they didn’t mind either! – and I’ve written these two books with each brother as the hero in one. The stories, as I said, are totally separate, but each book has connecting points – the first one (Guido’s story) takes place in the middle of the second one (Vito’s story). That meant that I had to know what had already happened to Vito before I even started writing Guido’s story. If you read the book then in the opening scene you’ll find that there is already a clue to what has happened – when even Guido doesn’t know what has been going on in his brother’s life.

Writing a new hero is always a fascinating process – I’ve just finished a book with a sexy Spanish hero and getting to know him took some time – even then he had one last little secret that I didn’t know until the very last scene. So working with two devastating Sicilians was even more fun. I had to make sure that they were each heroes in their own right – tall dark, handsome and stunning – and yet make them separate and totally individual. I think I succeeded. I hope you do too.And don’t forget that as the first of these books is out now, the contest Lee is running to celebrate that is still open over on the Contests page. Of course The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge will be appearing soon and as that will be a very special book for me – my 50th published title - then look out for some very special celebrations too. I’ll be working with Lee on those and we’ll have lots of prizes to give away – so watch this space.

What about you? Do you love books that link to each other and perhaps bring back characters you've met before? Or do you prefer stand-alone stories?


Lois said...

I loooooooooooove series and connected stories. They give you something to look forward too, when you know there is another book or two or so coming out. Sometimes you simply just do not want to say goodbye to come of the other characters, and you don't with connected books. :)

But the big plus for standalones is that you don't have to wait for another book to come out or have to look for previous ones if you're a bit obsessed with keeping them in order to read and the like, regardless if you actually have to. LOL :)


Mona said...

I don't like series unless it was done your way. Like each book would be telling a separate story. I had this frustrating experience before with a suspense series because the first book ended at a point you're dying to know what will happen next and it was still some time before the next book came to stores. It's almost like one big book in two parts.

By the way I wanted to thank you for your e-mail. I'm sure going to enjoy that series :)

Kate Walker said...

Hi Lois

Thank you for answering - like you I enjpoy meeting up with past characters and, hopefully, seeing them happy. The one time this disappointed me was when an author had given two characters a happy ending in one book but when they appeard in another one later they were always arguing and I wished I could have left it with the first ending. I try to bring in my older characters in a happy way - perhaps with a baby or something.

But I agree you don't want to wait too long for the next book to come out - that's why I made sure I wrote my two Sicilian Brothers books close together so that readers only have to wait till July to read the second one

Hi Mona! You're lucky aren't you because you won all of The Alcolar Family in one set so you can read them straight through. I hope you enjoy them.

I know what you mean about books ending when you're dying to know what happens next - The Lord of the Rings does that and a long historical series I read called the Game of Kings. One thing is that it makes you want to read the next one! But then sometimes you've forgotten what happened in the first by the time you get the second.

But in a really good series, I don;t mind


Linda Conrad said...

Well... Since my latest series is a six-book plus an online serial, I guess I have to say I like both reading and writing series. :) Have loved yours Kate!

Threes are great. Just enough.
But I think six like I've done is toooo many. For one thing, even though each book is a stand alone, there is a suspense thread running through them that won't wind up until the end. And they couldn't all be scheduled to come out together. Argh!! Don't you know, I have a few obsessed readers who are NOT happy about that!

Still, I'm with Lois, it seems there are always some characters that I don't want to leave behind. And series are great for letting you have a glimpse of what comes next.

All in all I guess I'll stick to writing and reading series -- but just not six -- ever again!

Maureen said...

I usually enjoy connected books because you see some favorite characters again and also have often met the characters in the book.

Kate Walker said...

Hi Linda

How lovely to hear from you - and what a wonderful compliment to know that a fellow author has loved my series of books. Thank you! I shall keep a look out for your Shadow series - do you have any idea when it will come to the UK? More titles to add to my TBR pile!

I can imagine the problems of following a series through six books - that's a lot to remember and plait together! Three was just enough for me.

Good luck with it all - I hope it's a wonderful success for you.


Kate Walker said...

Hi Maureen
Thak you for answering - I think that's the best thing about a series, isn't it? The way that you can catch up with favourite characters. Just a glimpse of what they're doing adds an extra enjoyment to the boo you're reading. And of course the characters who have already reached that Happy Ending, can help by giving advice to the ones who are still on the journey!


deseng said...

I love connected books because most stories don't tell enough for me to be satisfied with the ending. I am the type of person who wants to know more than just one book holds. I have reviewed a lot of books and some have been series books and others are not. Series books have so much depth and detail to them along with a multitude of characters. These are my favorites.

I just want to add that I like all genres. Your genre is my favorite though.

Love your books!
Michele L.

liz said...

Hey Kate,

1st congrats on the 50th title. Cant wait to meet your Sicilian's Brothers.

As to what kind of stories I like...Hm...I guess it all depends on my mood and how much I loved the 1st book and its characters and how much I want to know about their story.

I have also read some of your books and like them lots. And have a couple of them in my TBR pile and cant wait to get to them.


Kate Walker said...

Hi Michelle - and thank you for the lovely compliment. When you're a reviewer you get to read so much that it's really special for an author to have you say that you love my books. Thank you!
Series books really do have a chance to bring in extra detail because they have the extra time and space. And they can tell a longer story that way. It's a lot of fun working on them, too

Kate Walker said...

Hi Liz - I hope you enjoy those Sicilians when you get to read about the, I enjoyed writing the stories and my editor says that she loved both books.

You;ve made me wonder now - which books of mine are on your TBR pile? Nosy minds want to know. Thank you for saying you've enjoyed the ones you've read. You can't say anything nicer to an author!

diane said...

Your series is great! The characters are so appealing.

sharon said...

Series and connected stories are so compelling. I always feel so involved and this series is the best.

pearl said...

Linked books are always enthralling. Love the characters.

bamabelle said...

I absolutely love connected stories and series! I always seem to feel more invested in the characters in these type books.