Thursday, July 22, 2010
Writing a series is an interesting process. When I began the book that would become Ravenous, the first Dark Forgotten story, I had no thoughts of sequels. When my editor said to start planning for more, I had to start thinking in a hurry.
What kicked off the rest of the story for me was one question—if demons were escaping into our universe, where were they coming from? I had always assumed a fiery pit sort of place, but what if my assumptions—and everyone else’s—were dead wrong?
This question led to Scorched, which gives a lot of information about that demon dimension. Another question led to Unchained, and so on. In fact, every book raises a fistful of new ideas I simply have to grapple with.
Unchained tells the story of a slayer who also happens to be a mother—how does a woman deal with a conflict like that? And what happens when life returns to a world frozen in time? Is it all bluebirds and butterflies, or does life mean something else? And what happens when the hero has to choose between mere weeks of passion and a dreary, lifeless immortality dedicated to duty?
And, of course, at the end of Unchained, there were more things I needed to know. And so the Dark Forgotten books continue—and they shall do so, as long as people want to read them.
How long should a series be? I think as long as a series continues to be driven by curiosity and compelling characters, it can carry on forever. However, there are logistical problems. How do new readers catch up? How does the author keep details straight? These are all problems that are cropping up for me after only four finished manuscripts—even with copious notes, I have no idea how authors ten or twelve novels into a series manage! Fortunately, these days we have the Internet. I’ve managed to keep some things tidy with the Monsterpedia, where I’ve spelled out some information for both myself and readers.
So, to help me understand the series phenomenon from a reader’s viewpoint, here are a couple of questions:
1. What do you do when you find out about a new series?
a) Buy/borrow the books from the beginning and read them in order
b) Dive in partway through and then go back to the start if you like what you see
c) Get a friend to tell you what’s happened so far.
2. If “official” summaries of the books were on the web, would you
a) Avoid them like the plague
b) Use them to catch up before picking up a book partway through
Tell me what you think, and please share anything else you think I should know!
One commenter will win a book from my series – whichever one they’d like!
Excerpts from all three are available at www.sharonashwood.com
And, just for fun, my Unchained heroine, Ashe, stands ready to help you rid yourself of any monster infestations in your life ... check out her do-it-yourself monster removal advice.
And here you can check out the book video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbExjMvR8-0