Today on my blog I have a guest post from A.L. Michael on the pros and cons of writing a series. Enjoy!
Blurb: Sometimes, Happy Ever After is where the real trouble begins…
Chelsea Donnolly wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. But if there’s one thing the bad girl from the estate liked better than trouble, it was a challenge. So, to the amusement of her best friends Evie, Mollie and Ruby – and the disbelief of her teachers – this bad girl turned good.
These days, Chelsea is the kind of girl people are proud to know – and, after a surprise trip to Venice, she has a ring on her finger to prove it. But to get there, she’s had to learn to keep her deepest secrets from everyone – even her fiancé. And when wedding preparations threaten to blow her cover, Chelsea can’t help but wonder: in her battle to the top, might she have left the best parts of herself behind?
On Writing a Series: Pros and Cons.
I never thought I’d write a series, I never really thought I had the stomach for it. I’ll let you in to a little secret: my attention span, not so great. And there’s something really beautiful about finishing a book and it being done, being completely finished and complete, almost like you’ve created these characters, set them up and left them in a good place, so they can carry on living their lives somewhere, separate from you. Like being an imaginary matchmaker or soul soother. I’ve done my part, and now you’re free.
Series aren’t like that. Because you’ve got to remember that they’ve still got places to go in the next two books, you’ve got to hold back on revealing everything at once, you’ve got to remember the intricate details of one character’s history and a throw away comment in book one, and make sure you don’t accidentally give that quirk to a different character in book two (yes, I did that. It was a stressful moment).
But series offer a lot of joy, because you don’t have to say goodbye to your characters. They become those wonderful toys you can take down from the shelf and play with again and again. They become real, and growing, because when you get them down from the shelf, they’ve changed since the last time you’ve met them.
I was hesitant about doing a series where you follow a different character in each book, because normally when I read books like that, I get annoyed. I get attached to the first character, and I don’t want to have to move on to the second. I spend time looking for snippets of the first character in the next books, not wanting to betray them. But in reality, it’s a world you’re creating, and getting to return to that world, and see change, is really magical. Both for the writer and as a reader.
I am a fan of going back to stories. I loved that Dawson’s Creek ended on a ‘years later’ episode (though I had some issues with how a certain character was pigeonholed after years of growth and change!) and now that Gilmore Girls is returning after almost ten years, I couldn’t be happier. Why? Because I love that ‘Years Later…’ return, I love to see that the characters are the same, but different, that they’re living their lives and (hopefully) have their shit together. On the other hand, in movies, I used to hate sequels, especially if there was a romance element, because that first, fun flirty bit is over, and either the couple are now ‘settled’ and not at all flirty and snappy, or they’re not together anymore. I don’t want too much real world in my sequels, thank you very much. I want people to have their crap together and be happy.
This series is a little different, because everything takes place consecutively, there’s time for subtle change, but it’s really that each woman is dealing with her own stuff in the wake of their friend, rock star and trouble maker Ruby Tuesday, dying and leaving them a studio space on Camden Square. In the first book, Evie Rodrigez fought to make the studio start up successfully. In this book, Chelsea Donovon is fighting the demons from her past with Ruby, whilst trying to deal with her rich boyfriend’s awful family and the realisation that they might be more different than they think. In book three, it’s Mollie’s turn to figure out her place in all this. All three girls are held together by their friendship, and by Ruby, and I love getting to explore each character fully, but I also love being able to write their interactions with each other, see them become good friends again, and get nostalgic over more of their memories with Ruby, that appear as the books go on.
Writing a series has been so much fun, and the great thing is, they can still be read as standalone novels, so if, like me, you’re a bit wary of series, then this shouldn’t be a problem at all.
The only downside I can see is that the separation process after three books is going to be a lot worse – it’s so much harder to say goodbye.
About the author:
A.L. Michael is hurtling towards the end of her twenties a little too quickly. She is the author of ‘Wine Dark, Sea Blue’, ‘The Last Word’, ‘My So Called (Love) Life’, ‘Driving Home for Christmas’, and ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, based upon her experiences as a London barista.
Her new three book series, The House on Camden Square, starts with ‘Goodbye Ruby Tuesday’ and focuses on three friends as they try to open an arts centre in Camden, in memory of their rock star friend.
She is a Creative Therapeutic Facilitator, currently researching the power of creative writing to be helpful in recovering from eating disorders, and likes running writing workshops that link together the body and the mind. When she’s not writing, she likes yoga, trying to bake healthy treats and was a hipster before hipsters were hipster. Well, she likes Chai lattes and owns a Mac.