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Friday, September 02, 2011

Paula Roe: The Beauty of Reading a Series

 
The other day I was scanning my to-be-read shelves for something new. I wanted a stand-alone book, one I knew would end at "The End" while I impatiently awaited the next installment of my many curently-reading series: Mary-Janice Davidson, Jeaniene Frost, Kelly Gay, Karen Marie Moning, Vicki Pettersson, and Michael Grant, to name just a few.

Can you guess where this is headed? Yep, to my dismay, ALL of my TBR were book 1 in a new series. Glimmerglass. Vampire Academy. City of Bones. Wicked Lovely. Fallen. The list went on and on.

Despite my frustration, I’m totally down with the series love. You can delve into another world, rich with character and atmosphere and really get to know what makes those people and worlds tick. It's the return of something familiar, coupled with a brand new story, or an extension of those characters, watching them grow and evolve (sometimes literally). I see it taking off brilliantly in urban fantasy and paranormal, where one book just isn't enough to sustain the larger-than life world the author creates.

Category romance also does well with interconnecting stories/series (The Fortunes, The Dantes, even our very own Diamonds Down Under) and a perfect format for this type of story because you don't have to wait as long for the next book. Because the downside is when I love a series, I have to have ALL of the books NOW! A major bummer when the author is still writing it. Of course, on the flipside, if I take a chance and splurge on more than the first book, what happens if the series sucks? I'm stuck with a bunch of books that make my librarian happy. My bank account, not so much.

So, as I explore and begin to sketch out my own medieval/fantasy series set in an alternative universe, I need to know from you, the readers. What keeps you reading a series? What turns you off? What do you want to see that hasn't been done yet? What’s done brilliantly? I'd really love to know!


Paula Roe writes category romance for Harlequin Desire and her next release is Bed of Lies (February 2012). In the little time she has left, she designs websites, teaches her son and is drafting out the abovementioned medieval/fantasy series that includes shapeshifting trees and space wormholes.

15 comments:

Helen Lacey said...

Hey Paula
Great post. I love series books. I think I got hooked as a teenager when I first Virginia Andrews Flowers in The Attic series - I couldn't get enough of these books - and was despairing when she passed away. Luckily they kept up with her characters in the VC Andrews books.
The first category series I read was Ruth Wind's The Last Roundup - fabulous books. Now I look for series books and love it when I read a new author and discover they have more books planned with secondary charatcers. I like the idea of really getting to know the characters over the course of several books.
And shapeshifting trees sound fabulous!
Great post :)

Rachael Johns said...

I LOVE series too, although I can't keep up at the moment. I'm loving Janet Evanovich's which I came late too and Susan Wiggs Lakeshore Chronicles. It's being totally invested in the characters and in love with their world that makes me want to keep coming back and finding out what's happening with them. IT's like hanging out with old friends :)

Grandma's scrapbook said...

Great post!

Sonali said...

Loved the post Paula. I got hooked onto series really young through The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. Currently im reading the Bad Blood series by Harlequin and it's great. But i'd say my all time favourite was the Harry Potter series. I remember i couldn't wait for each book to come out.

Melanie Milburne said...

I love series too, Paula, and like you want them all there at once so I can read them one by one.
Thanks for a great post!

Louise Cusack said...

Great blog, Paula. I love writing series, but love reading them too. You're right about how you can showcase a world across books, and my current faves are Kelley Armstrong's "Bitten" and Maggie Stiefvater's "Shiver" - lovin' those werewolves. There's nothing more delicious that adoring sub characters and eagerly awaiting their love story. Thanks for bringing up happy memories!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Love series, Paula. It has the feeling of coming back to a place to hang out with your buddies. I've got quite a few on the go at the moment, including J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood. (sigh). I just love the worldbuilding and the different characters POVs.

There are some series that I still read because I want to know what's going on. I must admit while I laugh during Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, the triangle between Morelli & Ranger have gotten a little old for me. Hence why I take bigger breaks.

Looking forward to reading your fantasy :))

Kylie Griffin said...

Paula, I love series - reading and writing them.

While the down-side can be the wait for an author to write the next one, a bonus can be discovering a "new" author and realising there's a whole complete series just waiting for you to buy and read them! :-)

Paula Roe said...

thanks for dropping by, everyone! I also loved Virginia Andrews, Helen, but got hooked very early on with Elynne Mitchell's Silver Brumby series :-) And wow, I still have that Ruth Wind series!

Sonali - I simply adore the Harry Potter movies but have to admit I've never read the books :blush:

I think I may have to try Kelley Armstrong and JR Ward because everyone raves about them.

I do think a series can be a double-edged sword: on one hand you may have a fab series that your readers/editors/publisher loves but you may also want to avoid going down the "I wish she'd stopped at book x." I'd rather go out on a high, like Keri Arthur and her Riley Jenson series :-)

marybelle said...

For me to continue with a series I NEED to care about the characters or world created. The problem with series is that long wait for the next book. I have to admit, I have on occasion, not begun a series for that very reason.

Keziah Hill said...

I love series too. But they work better for me if they are limited to about three or four. After that I lose track of where I'm up to and resist trying to work it out. I've abandoned J R Ward and Janet Evanovich foe that reason.

Paula Roe said...

Marybelle, I totally agree. If suddenly the character is doing something that creeps me out or is totally out of character, the author has lost me.

Keziah - I think the longest series I've read is Keri Arthur (9 books) and JD Robb (uhhh... sixty or something? LOL) I'd much rather see a fab series end solidly on a high than have it die a slow, uninteresting death. On the flipside, if you're simply using the same world but with different characters (like Nalini Singh does) that can work exceedingly well. Same characters can be massive overkill.

Michele L. said...

Yes I do love a great book series! There have been many I have read and they all ended with a HEA which I love. I can't stand to read books that leave you hanging, end terrible, or leave you with a question, did she or didn't she? I started this kid series of books and stopped reading them they were so depressing! It was the Lemony Snicket series.

I want to read a story that is fun, clever, suspenseful, romantic, sometimes scary, with a great ending where everything is wrapped up. I understand a series might leave some things unanswered but I need that feel good feeling at the end. So anyway, that is my opinion which might not add up to a hill of beans! LOL!

Paula Roe said...

I agree with all that, Michele - good to know!

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