It such a pleasure to be here today. I thought we could discuss books in a series.
I was four books into my career when I penned my first trilogy. I didn’t know enough about marketing to give it a name although it’s now often referred to by readers as the Texas trilogy. The books—Texas Destiny, Texas Glory, and Texas Splendor—were about three brothers who were shaped by the Civil War and were trying to make a go of it in West Texas.
I love writing books in a series for the same reasons that I enjoy reading them. I have the opportunity to visit with the characters a little bit longer as they appear in each book. As a writer, I come to know the characters more in depth so writing the subsequent books, while not easier, usually—not always but usually—seems to go a bit more smoothly. As often happens with writers, it isn’t until I’m actually writing the second or third story that I fully understand all that will happen in those stories.
My latest trilogy—the Lost Lords of Pembrook—comes to a close April 30 with the release of Lord of Wicked Intentions. When I first met Rafe in She Tempts the Duke, he was all of ten years old, whining about being cold and hungry while his brothers were trying to figure out how to escape the tower in which their uncle had imprisoned them. When we see him as a man, he’s the owner of a gaming hell. He’s distant and hard, refusing to give any hint as to what transpired the years his brothers were away and he grew into adulthood. Unfortunately, he was also very secretive with me. Not until I started writing his story, did I really get to explore the effect that the years had on him and what truly occurred during those years. No spoiler alerts here.
But as a series progresses I think a writer might encounter what I perceive as a peril. Expectations are higher for the next books in the series, especially for the final book. Readers anxious for the next book might have to wait months to read it. All the while, when I’m working on a series I worry that readers have too long to ponder what the final story might be, and they will be disappointed. I remember the original Star Wars trilogy. The first movie was fun, but the second was my favorite. Although I enjoyed the third, I didn't think it was equal to its predecessor. And so I worry.
Another challenge is that readers’ approaches to series vary. Some readers are adamant that they must read the books in order. If they don’t start the trilogy when it first comes out, they may have difficulty finding the earlier books so they may bypass the series completely or they might not want to play “catch up”.
While I don’t mind reading books out of order, I know some readers enjoy a series more if they are able to read the books in order. I also know readers who buy the books when they come out but don’t read them until they have the last book in the series in hand. I admire that patience.
What is your approach to reading a series? Do you mind reading books out of order? Do you wait to read a series until you have all the books in the series? Is there such a thing as too many books in a series? What is your favorite/least favorite part of reading books in a series?
One lucky poster will receive an autographed set of the 1st two books in the Lost Lords of Pembrook series. Another lucky poster will receive an autographed set of the 1st two books in the Darkness Before Dawn trilogy that I wrote with my son under the name J. A. London.