There was a time when soaps ruled daytime TV. As a teen I was hooked on One Life to Live and General Hospital. If I raced home from school I could watch both. I was euphoric when the half hour episodes stretched to one hour. Two hours of back to back addictive drama!
Daytime serials: My drug of choice before I discovered coffee.
I was not alone in my addiction. Millions of viewers watched multiple soaps daily and many still do to this day—albeit in evolved episodic formats. In the 1990s primetime soaps emerged and we got our fix via shows such as Dallas, Dynasty, and Knots Landing. One thing daytime and primetime soaps have in common is that there’s usually one central family with assorted friends and lovers. The obligatory troublemaker and a nefarious villain or two. We become emotionally invested in the recurring characters and an ongoing story arc. We tune in week after week to see what’s going to happen next. Who’s sleeping with who? How’s so-and-so coping with such-and-such illness? Are X and Y ever going to get together?
This trend evolved yet again. Complex continuity seeped into primetime drama. The soap opera format can be found in shows such as Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, and Private Practice. Then there were/are the small town serials such as Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure, Dawson’s Creek, Gilmore Girls, and True Blood. Again, the common thread, the thing that hooks us and keeps us coming back for more are the recurring characters we know and love and the complicated, entwined story threads. We just have to know how things are going to play out!
Which leads me to the popularity of literary continuity series—especially in the romance genre. Susan Mallery’s Fools Gold, Robyn Carr’s Virgin River, Debbie Macomber’s Ceder Cove… to name a few.
In 2012, I launched a small town contemporary series called “The Cupcake Lovers.” Each novel features a new hero and heroine, but every story takes place in the same small town—Sugar Creek, Vermont. Every story revolves around some element of the local charity and social club—The Cupcake Lovers. The characters you meet and love (or hate) in book one—FOOL FOR LOVE—continue on into book two—THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE—and book three—ANYTHING BUT LOVE—and so on. There are multiple storylines that twist and turn and evolve throughout the series. So many complicated relationships. So many secrets and revelations! At one point I said to my editor, “I feel like I’m writing a soap opera.” Probably because, sans the melodrama, I pretty much am. I have to say, once again I’m addicted. And so are readers. I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to receive notes such as…
“Can’t wait for Luke’s story!”
“Please tell me Adam’s going to find love!”
“Daisy Monroe’s is a hoot. Wish I had a grandma like that!”
Each Cupcake Novel sets up the next story. Each story follows the lives of recurring characters. Resolutions to old problems and revelations leading to new twists. I’m writing these tales and half the time even I don’t know what lies ahead. Anticipation and curiosity fuel, what is for me, a delicious joyride!
What about you? Were you or are you a fan of daytime or primetime soaps? Are you addicted to any particular book series? What appeals to you most with the “soap” or “serial” format?
For a chance to win a signed copy of FOOL FOR LOVE, the first book in the Cupcake Lovers, answer one or all of the above questions… and good luck!
Storytelling comes naturally to award-winning author Beth Ciotta. Dubbed "fun and sexy" by Publisher's Weekly, Beth specializes in writing Romantic Comedy with a Twist of Suspense and is published in contemporary, historical, steampunk, and paranormal romantic fiction. A retired professional performer, Beth now pours her artistic passion into her writing. To learn more about her colorful life, visit her website at www.bethciotta.com
***Beth's winner is Lisa W. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address!***