Series: my ultimate never say never (again)?
I have written ten books, none of which had anything to do with each other. Two were non-fiction, one management, one about e-learning, you find the red thread. My fiction stretches from contemporary family fiction to sci-fi, and – soon – erotica, even though I once thought I’d never do that, either… But not one of my novels, as ‘gay’ as they may be (to find a common thread across my fiction), has any recurring characters.
I’ve always felt torn about series, and I guess it stems from my experiences with Science-Fiction books I’ve read. When Star Trek Enterprise was cancelled, all we had left were the books, and there were plenty of them. Lots of series across the various crews and then some. But at some stage it seems they lost control, or they lost me. That’s for sure.
When the Borg literally killed billions and billions of sentient beings across the Federation (don’t worry, you needn’t understand Star Trek to follow my reasoning), I had enough, and when Andor finally left the Federation, I had read my final book. Thing is, killing people is bad enough, period. But billions and billions? Callously, just to churn out three or four more books, to squeeze those final drops of cash out of a dying franchise? Without me.
Ever since then, I’ve been like a kid who’s burned his fingers on a series, twice shy. I read a few books that were part of series, and I’ve always walked away disappointed. The first book amazing, the second good/great, the third? Well, let’s say that some books had better not been written.
And this is where my main criticism of book series comes in. Authors primarily write series to make money. And don’t get me wrong. I understand the need to do that. Given that Amazon has pretty much destroyed the chance of any author making a decent living with a small print of books, to make a living on 99 cent books you need to sell lots of them, or you take the same book, add a few wordy chapters about the landscape and food, split the book in three and sell it at 3 * 99c = $2,97.
Yes, there are series that probably needed to be split up, like Lord of the Rings. The fact they sliced Bilbo into three films shows just how much different the world of publishing was back then… And just how much “transportation” you can put into a film. Digressing. Sorry.
Money seems to be the driving force behind most series, and while I struggle as an author to make ends meet, and the monetary side certainly seems appealing, I also want to write stories that I care for, not just stories to make money. See, to me, writing is art, not a craft, writing is my passion, not just my job. There are subtle differences between the two, and while I have no disrespect for authors who churn out ten books a year, I’m not sure I could, not sure I’d want to. Sugar daddies anyone? I cold use one or two…
ntil a few weeks ago, I wasn’t even tempted to write a series. I could’ve easily left it at the exclamation mark and walked away. But I guess somewhere in my subconscious, all those discussions with authors and colleagues in Tampa, Munich and Bristol must’ve begun to influence me. Their pleas for understanding for the economic need for series, and that sometimes, it actually is founded in the need to write a story in more than one installment.
About two, maybe three weeks ago, I had a dream. It was a short dream, and for once, I remember it vividly. It was a dream where two of my first characters come to visit me: Dan & Jonathan. Remember that in Family Ties, which is loosely based on my life, the main characters are based on real people, they will not come to me in dreams. That is the story of my life in that book. But Jonathan’s Hope was the first novel sprung completely from my subconscious.
When I had written the book, it had begun with just a simple image, a widower walking around a frozen lake with his dog and then sitting down in front of an open fire in his cabin. That was it. The rest is my most popular book to date. Yes, Jonathan’s Hope is very romantic, it is probably the one book that traditional romance readers find easiest to take to heart, even though it isn’t about the “romance” at the core. But few realize that, few linger long enough to understand the subtext and the real story being told. They come for the romance, read the romance, and enjoy that. As it is with books, that is perfectly fine…
So, here I am, with a burning image in my mind, Dan and Jonathan are back in my mind, and they have a story to tell me. Question is, do I tell it? Does that make me a serial writer? If yes, do I care? I think there is only one way to find out… I have to write it. Jonathan’s Promise is scheduled for release in 2016!
Let me know your thoughts on series, do you write series? Read series?
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Have a good week.
PS: Don’t forget that you can pre-order my new novel Spanish Bay with a nice 50¢ discount, from my website only. Release date: 10/10. Yeah, before we get all moist over Jonathan’s Promise, can we focus on the next release? 😉