Saturday, February 26, 2011
Wildcard Weekend: To series or not to series
By the early 19th century, many writers earned their living by writing serial stores. Sometimes the serials were published in weekly newspapers (Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers). In Britain the penny dreadful was particularly popular, a type of serial booklet printed on cheap paper and sold weekly in installments for a penny apiece (Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, David Copperfield, and Oliver Twist among many others).
Then there are book series, that don’t rely on a cliffhanger so much as a common setting, characters or story arc. In the early 19th century, James Fennimore Cooper became wildly popular for his Leatherstocking Tales (of which included The Last of the Mohicans). And, by the late 19th century, Americans were producing the dime novel, the true antecedent of today’s mass-market paperback, printed on cheap paper and sold inexpensively for a dime.
Today, it seems that while the serial story has become less frequently published (though still alive and well, as demonstrated by eHarlequin.com’s Daily, Weekly and Featured serial reads), it seems it’s the series that’s grown ever more popular. From Laurens’ Cynsters to Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series, and Kleypas’ Hathaways to Cole’s Immortals After Dark, romance series are thriving.
I enjoy reading romance series, when the characters evolve out of the world or overall story arc. I like to revisit the settings and ‘check in’ with characters to see how things are developing in their relationships –but only if it’s a natural progression of the current story.
When I wrote An Imprudent Lady, I never intended for it to be a series. I had a simple Regency story to tell of young lovers, separated for nearly two decades, suddenly bumping into each other again; I wanted to explore what they would go through to reconnect. But as I wrote the story, the heroine’s siblings began to share little bits of their own stories and, by the end of AIL, I felt compelled to tell their stories. Thankfully, Harlequin decided to buy those too!