Monday, August 18, 2008

The Lure of Secondary Characters - Donna Alward

All of you who like reading linked books, raise your hand.

All of you who like WRITING linked books, raise your hand.

I think there might be LOTS of raised hands at the moment.

As long as there are secondary characters, there will never be a dearth of story ideas for an author.

I've read many articles lately on the lure of the series, and I for one am glad. There are benefits and drawbacks, and to hedge my bets I love series that are all connected but that stand alone as far as reading. One of my favourite series ever is Nora's MacGregors. All of them could be read separately, but you really want to read them all. I've read lots of Nora - from suspense right down to the category stuff, and the MacGregors are still my favourites.

Of course sometimes series need to be read as a series and the downside to that is if you miss one, you might not buy the rest.

As a writer, I'm always happy when I get to write linked stories. I often feel at the end that while my hero and heroine have found a happy ending, there are always a few characters that are left. They are open questions. So when I wrote HIRED BY THE COWBOY, there was a character, Mike, that wouldn't let me go. He became the hero in the follow up, MARRIAGE AT CIRCLE M.

Officially, these two books weren't a series, but they were linked by the ranch, Windover. And in doing Mike's backstory, another question was raised. Who was this woman, this cousin Maggie that took Mike in from foster care when she was still so very young herself. And where was she now?

That question led to Maggie's story in FALLING FOR MR. DARK AND DANGEROUS. It's set in the same general area of south-central Alberta. Maggie has a teenage daughter and runs a bed and breakfast. And she likes things just the way they are. No muss, no fuss. No rocking the boat. She's been hurt one too many times. But when US Marshal Nate Griffith arrives on her doorstep, he challenges all of that. And in the end, he'll challenge everything she thinks she knows.

FALLING FOR MR. DARK AND DANGEROUS is out this month, and in my mind it was the end of the "Windover" books. But then I had an e-mail the other day asking if there was going to be a sequel. And of course my mind kept spinning around one other character - Grant Simms, the RCMP officer that worked with Nate. Who is Grant? Why is he where he is? And the lure continues....

Readers AND authors...what do you like or dislike about series?


Pat Cochran said...

So many times I finish a book but am left with so many questions. A book
following up and, in it's connection,
answering some of those questions is
a real joy to me!

Pat Cochran

Lois said...

Oh geez, I love series books -- I mean, if I pick one up and it had secondary characters that I get into, and to know there is a book with them, or there will be a book with them, it's something great to look forward to. And you also get to see the people you already loved again, so it's a double goodie.

The bad side. . . having to wait for the next, having it end. . . but there might be the question of too many. I really haven't hit this problem, that there are just too many books to read, but that could be an issue. And I also really don't read authors where reading in order is a must (but I do it anyway LOL), but that can be an issue too, whether stand alone or not is better. :)


HollyJacobs said...


As a writer, I love working with a series of books. I did seven Perry Square books for Silhouette Romance, and one unifying secondary character, Pearly Gates, still gets her own fan letters! LOL I have a new trilogy starting for American Romance, and really, I guess what I love best is that I'm able to return to characters I love and see how things are going for them.

As a reader, it's the same thing. I fall in love with a writer's characters and so love getting to come back and see more!


Estella said...

I love series books. You get to revisit old friends.

Ellen said...

I like series because like others I like following secondary characters into their own stories to see what happens to them. What I don't particularly like is a loooong time between the books when you have to have the previous story in your mind in order to understand what is happening. A long time being defined as six months or more.

Donna Alward said... too! That's why I love reading AND writing them. Like Lois said, it's nice to visit old characters, or even if you read out of know a couple that is together and you get to go back and read THEIR story... I mean we all know the HEA is there, but we love the journey anyway.

Holly - yay on the new trilogy!

Estella...thanks for popping in - it looks like you like series as well.

And Ellen...I know what you mean. It is one of the reason I like standalones - so you don't actually HAVE to read them to understand. I know with the series i have coming up, each of the stories exists in its own right and it's the setting that is the unifying factor. More than six months IS a long time if there are things you need to remember.

Lisa said...

I love series books because you get to find out what happens with the other characters. I'm just glad that they are getting better at marking series books as such. I have picked up books in the past and realized afterwards that they were the second or third in a series and it just kind of ruins reading the first book, since you have usually found out most of the storyline.