Friday, May 02, 2008

Counting Down to Hidden Fire Day 2

Behind The Scenes

In the mystery genre, which is a favorite of mine, books tend to run in series featuring a protagonist and a group of secondary characters that grow throughout the series. People may come and go, relationships may change, but the books build on each other. Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, Sue Grafton, P.J. Parrish, Barbara Parker, Janet Evanovich, J.A. Jance --- the list goes on, and I have all of them on my shelves (and as I discover more series characters, more and more are going onto my eBookwise as well, because there's only so much room in the house, and only so many trees I'm willing to feel guilty about killing).

In romance, though, 'series' tend to be spin-offs rather than series. There might be hints and references to what happened before, but the major players in book 2 were probably secondary characters in book 1. Allison Brennan, Karen Rose, Catherine Coulter's FBI series, Roxanne St. Claire's "Bullet Catchers" – they're all stand alone books that have roots elsewhere. Suzanne Brockmann's "Troubleshooters" books seem to straddle both categories.

When I wrote Finding Sarah, I hadn't envisioned it as a series of any sort. However, when I finished, one of the secondary characters, Colleen McDonald, wanted her own story, which ended up being Starting Over. I picked her up and moved her across the country, with only the vaguest references to what had happened before she left Pine Hills—and her trigger for moving was not part of Finding Sarah at all. Also, I wasn't sure I'd be able to sell Finding Sarah, and I didn't need a book 2 if there was no book 1.

Randy and Sarah insisted they weren't done yet. Another dilemma. Hidden Fire was going to be another romantic suspense, but my hero and heroine already knew each other and were already in the typical HEA required by the genre. How to begin? I put the two of them together and let them go. To maintain the conflict and tension of the relationship, I fast-forwarded a few months, and pulled Randy out of the scenario letting Sarah re-evaluate the relationship. After all, she'd spent most of Finding Sarah wanting to be independent. Second thoughts, anyone?

Remember: Leave a comment on any Countdown post this week and I'll enter you in a drawing for a free download. Hidden Fire or Finding Sarah -- your choice, since you might want to start at the beginning. And check my website for Behind the Scenes looks at all my novels and short stories.


Chiron O'Keefe said...

Good point about series vs. spin-offs. As much fun as an HEA can be, it does pretty much wrap up the storyline.

One exception might be in the Shopoholic series. Perhaps because the heroine has "issues" that aren't resolved, the HEA she really needs is with herself. Food for thought.

Sounds like you took an interesting spin on how to maintain the conflict and tension. Bravo!

--Chiron O'Keefe

Terry Odell said...

Nora Roberts (JD Robb) does the series in romance very well, I think, in her In Death series. I can't begin to go there, but at least she's set a precedent