Awesome author, guest post…
This week, I’m hosting a guest post from a wonderful author who has been generous enough to speak to me about a topic that I’m particularly interested to hear more about. This has all been organised as part of the Book of Apex Blog tour arranged by Andrea over at the Little Red Reviewer. To be honest, I had about a million questions but this post will focus on just one (for now!). I’m always curious about how authors manage to write more than one series at the same time, how do they keep the characters separate and the plots fresh and unique? Alex Bledsoe has agreed to guest post on this very topic giving me his own perspective. Tell me you didn’t just explode! (I actually hope you didn’t because somebody has to clean that up).
In case you’re unfamiliar with Alex Bledsoe let me give you a quick, though very impressive biog! Born in Tennessee Alex grew up about 20 minutes away from Nutbush – I couldn’t resist putting this bit in here (not often you get to put Nutbush in a sentence! and, yes, I’m a bit of a child but I love that name and it makes me want to burst out into song!) Alex now lives in Wisconsin (apparently the home of trolls – which, strangely, makes me want to go and visit!) Anyway.
The Eddie LaCrosse novels – sword and sworcery combined with hard boiled style mystery – ‘Raymond Chandler meets Raymond E. Feist’ says Publisher Weekly. This series includes five novels starting with The Sword-Edged Blonde (which I’ve just read and will review later in the month) followed by Burn Me Deadly, Dark Jenny, Wake of the Bloody Angel and the recently released He Drank and Saw the Spider.
The Memphis Vampires including: Blood Groove and The Girls With Games of Blood.
The Firefly Witch : three short stories including The Firefly Witch, Croaked and Back Atcha
And, the Tufa novels – including the Hum and the Shiver and Wisp of a Thing. A wonderful series about the Tufa people of East Tennessee – an excellent blend of fantasy – not urban fantasy really, more country or rustic fantasy.
Plus, A LOT of short stories – including the lovely tale ‘Sprig’ included in The Book of Apex Volume 4.
For info and ease of reference here is the official site for Alex.
So, as you can see above – Alex is pretty well placed to talk about the complexities of writing multiple series!
Firstly, Alex, welcome, and thanks for the guest post.
Lynne was kind enough to invite me to her blog today, and asked me if I’d post about writing book series. I should say up front that I’m really only talking about myself; other writers may have totally different opinions. So here we go.
Lots of authors, especially in what is known as “genre” fiction—mystery, science fiction, horror, etc.—write series. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance are almost entirely built on series. Readers love to return to characters they know, and I’m including myself in that: I’m a loyal reader of several series myself.
Writing a series presents its own challenges. Writing multiple series, as I and many others do, is even more complex, and comes with its own set of issues.
The primary challenge is ensuring that the different series don’t all sound the same. This is more than simply switching genders or locations, as one of my heroes, Robert B. Parker, discovered with his Sunny Randall books; as well-written as they were, it was clear to any long-time fan that he’d simply switched the gender of the hero from his Spenser novels, made her sidekick gay instead of a black thug, but otherwise essentially kept the same tone. They were Spenser mysteries in drag.
My first series—my first character, really—was the Eddie LaCrosse mystery/fantasy novels. Since they’re a high-concept series (secondary-world fantasy stories written as if they were Forties detective novels), a lot of storytelling decisions are based on the genres to which they harken back: the stories are told in first-person by Eddie, and there’s always a mystery, and usually a crime, at their heart. The first-person voice means everything has to be seen from Eddie’s perspective, which is actually a great help when you’re trying to decide how to present information. Did Eddie see it? If not, then somebody has to tell him about it. Many other genre tropes are presented and tweaked, and for me, half the fun is finding ways to drop in anachronisms without losing the suspension of disbelief.
My second series is the Firefly Witch short stories and (hopefully soon) novel. The actual protagonist of these stories is Tanna Tully, but for the most part her husband Ry is our point of view character. That was a deliberate choice, made for the same reason that Conan Doyle has Watson tell the stories of Sherlock Holmes: the narrator acts as the filter through which we see the hero. If Holmes told his own stories, there would be little drama and certainly no great reveals. Similarly, if Tanna explained how her magic worked, it wouldn’t be…well, magic. Ry’s astonishment in the story hopefully mirrors the reader’s.
The Tufa novels, on the other hand, are completely different. They’re set in the modern, contemporary world, and use cultural references every reader should know. They’re written in third person, and frequently change perspectives based on who’s in a particular scene. Most crucially, there’s no central character: a protagonist in one novel may show up in only one or two scenes of another. The place is the connecting link, and the shared folklore of the Tufa community.
The Tufa novels also present a completely different challenge when it comes to thinking up new stories. For both Eddie LaCrosse and Tanna Tully, trouble comes to them; they work in professions that bring them in contact with people already in trouble, and that makes it very easy; every knock on the door means a new story. But for the Tufa, it has to be a more organic process, something that is ultimately driven by the tensions within the Tufa community itself.
In all three series, though, there’s one central issue that I have to watch out for, and that’s repetition. No one wants to read the same story over and over, and I certainly don’t want to write it. So with each idea I consider, I have to really boil it down and ask myself, is this fundamentally the same story I’ve told before? If it is, then I disregard it and try again.
And that, briefly, is how I address writing multiple series simultaneously. Thanks for letting me ramble on, and if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them. And thanks to Lynn for having me!
Brilliant, and, thanks again Alex 😀