Writing a series is different from writing a stand-alone story. Well, duh. I currently have three series on the go, and I flit from one to another, fitting in one-offs in-between.
Blood & Breakfast was initially intended as a one-off, a kind of spoof on Norwegian Noir but set in my home town. I chucked in what little I knew then of Norwegian culture and away I went. I even started learning the language. A second draft brought the police detectives assigned to the case to the fore, and the story came to be seen largely through the eyes of newcomer Detective Inspector Brough.
I enjoyed writing these coppers so much I decided to give them more cases to investigate. And so the Brough & Miller series came to be. Their seventh story, Zorilla At Large! is due out any day now,
I like to write in different genres and challenged myself to write a Western, following the conventions as best as I could. It soon became clear – during the writing of the first page, in fact! – that my Western was going to be different. It occurred to me that my hero Jed’s horse was a Horse – a highly enhanced life-form with amazing capabilities. A bit like an iPhone with four legs, or Siri with a saddle. As I explored Jed’s world, a new planet was born. I’m currently working on the third Vultures’ Moon novel. It feels like the last in a trilogy (being the third – duh, again!) but whether there’ll be any more after this one remains to be seen.
Kiss of the Water Nymph is the only book I have written with a series in mind from the get-go. Hector Mortlake is a late-Victorian novelist, travelling the world with his man Cuthbert and getting embroiled in all kinds of Hammer Horror/Jules Verne adventures in the pursuit of inspiration for his fiction. His second exploit, Xolotl Strikes! is also imminent on the e-book shelves.
Writing later instalments means you have already created the main characters and the set-up, so you have to bring something new to the party. I dip into the lives of Brough and Miller and their co-workers at six-monthly intervals and catch up with what’s happened to them. The world of Vultures’ Moon becomes richer with each visit. The trick is not to keep writing the same story but to take what I’ve already created and develop it, revealing new aspects and ideas while retaining enough familiar elements to make it recognisably part of an extended narrative. That’s what I mean by writing a series is different. Why I didn’t just say that at the outset, I don’t know. I could have saved us both a lot of time. Soz.
So, while most people binge-watch series on Netflix and by other means, I binge-write them. I hope you’ll find one to suit your tastes and interests. Repeat customers are the best customers.
Thanks for reading. Keep doing it.